Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Anecdotal History of Tandem Braking

(Originally Posted on Tandem@Hobbes 5/28/2010)

This is based on 35 years of tandem riding experience and observation. 
First, keep in mind that a rear brake can slow a bike, but a front brake is what stops one.
In the the beginning, Cantilevers alone were inadequate (design, pad material and steel rims), so a third brake was added. (And there were some tire roll-out and blow-out stories on rim brakes alone.)
At first came some internal hub brakes (our first Gitane Interclub), then improved pads (Scott-Mathauser), Shimano had an early mechanical disc (originally on the Sting Ray and Orange Crate), Phil had a disc brake, and others.
Arai Drum "discovered" - became drum standard for the first "production" tandems of the early `80s.
Mountain bike boom, dramatically improved cantilevers, eventually leading to V-Brakes,
Which led the to the Third Brake no longer being "needed",
Which then led to new (anecdotal) tire blow-out stories due to overheating rims.
At the same time Performance tandem buyers speced improving side pulls on their 2nd and 3rd tandems.
At the same time Mountain bike market was driving more Disc Brake Improvement.
And Discs were being speced by weight conscious performance tandem buyers.
Probably some minor quibbles by some on the exact timeline, this is all IMHO, and YMMV.
The tandem braking paradox (or "Judicious" use) is this:
The faster you are willing to descend, the less likely you are to ever need a "drag" brake.  
For the faster descending team, aero braking, which increases at the square of velocity (overly simplified), takes care of all the potential energy that a slower descending team turns into heat with a drag brake. 
Now this works fine for the fast team until conditions (inclement weather, route, slower traffic, etc) place them in a situation where they need to rely on "drag" braking rather than aero braking, and they have no where to dump the potential energy (as heat) of their descent.  The laws of physics (even arm-chair physics) can be a harsh mistress.
(Other variable enter, of course.  Steeper, shorter descents in the midwest and eastern US, team weights on this forum from vary 230 to 450 lbs, rider skills, perceived risk and acceptance of risk. etc. etc.)
A follow-up comment resulted from the dialog that ensued.
Single to tandem braking comparison don't work, each has a unique braking dynamic. The single bike rider of the same weight will go into a header with the front braking force that can be applied on a tandem, due to the single bikes higher and more forward center of gravity. A descending tandem is capable of putting a much greater load on the brakes than is physically possible for a single. It isn't the total weight, but where the weight is located.
Just wanted it on file for future reference.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Smile Machine - A follow-up.

Early last spring a I submitted a story about our 1985 Santana Sovereign to Bicycle Garage Indy's (BGI) Your Bicycle, a web-to-post project I developed for BGI and hosted by Compendium Blogware.   Once a post has been up for a few months, it tends to slip from your mind.  So I was surprised to see a comment come in the other night from another mid-80's Sovereign owner.

From his comment, it sounds like the bike is still OEM - 27" wheels, non-index Sun Tour 6-Speed (18 speed triple!), having been in storage much of the time since purchase.  He also asked how the bike was for touring.  It was fun writing the reply:
Yes, we have ridden our Sovereign since we took delivery in 1985. It is currently in its third iteration, after being converted to 700c and Sun Tour Index after the first 10 years, and then converted to Shimano 7 speed in 2008 (you can follow that adventure here http://thinktandem.ning.com/forum/topics/2129999:Topic:12 ). I updated the front stem and handlebars in 2009. I am looking for a replacement for the cranks and a possible change to 10 speed in the next year or two. 
Our Sovereign has over 28,000 miles on it. That includes over 3,000 touring miles (we had another 3,000 miles of tandem touring on prior tandems), another 2,000 miles with a Kid-back, and 2,000 miles pulling a Burley Trailer with a child. It also has 27 centuries, 1 RAIN and 1 STP. I am posting a lot of adventures and experiences in the coming months at www.thinktandem.info
It has been a good bike and is almost part of the family.
We may have kept it too long for avid riders, but on the other hand, we made some career and family decision for our kids that let us stay avid riders.  All in all, it was a fair trade.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Think Tandem Going Live on NING, again

Since the Ning Network offered an extended enrollment plan, I have gone ahead and reactivated my Think Tandem network at their minimum level.  It will take 24 hours for it to post and update. I have a handful of members, and that lets me keep in touch with them while I build the rest of Think Tandem.  I can work on the plan to bring everything together - linked content here, comments, and hopefully other blog contributors, part of a nefarious plan. (Yes, Pinky . . .)

This also means I am now admin for two Ning networks, at two levels- Think Tandem (Mini), and Hoosiers Out on Tandem (Plus).  Maybe I can grow one to a Pro.  One good candidate for that is the Central Indiana Bicycle Association (www.cibaride.org), which had it's web site compromised this weekend.  A Pro account would have about 90% of the functionality they need, without apps or customization.

Not sure I will have another post or not before Hilly Hundred.  I will try to say hi get some tandem pictures while there.  I will be on a single, since this is Justin, our youngest, year to ride his single for the first time.  Don't worry, he is now 6'2", and not some tiny kid barely riding a straight.  Justin and tandem last together in 2008, and the 4 prior Hilly (at least 1 day).  Linda and I tandemed Hilly 3-4 time together in `80's as well.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Hi All

Not much tonight.  Setting testing for an RSS Feeder on www.thinktandem.info.

Thanks for your patience!

Friday, October 01, 2010

Building a network, one site at a time.

At it again, working on getting everything configured and up on running on both this blog, and my Think Tandem home page (www.thinktandem.info).  This includes getting all my long form content from Recumbent and Tandem Rider Magazine (my Tandem Lifestyle column and other reviews) updated and posted, along with all the background information from older iterations of Think Tandem.

You can also see that I blog for the Hoosiers Out on Tandems, the HOOTS, at www.tandemhoots.ning.com , (with 160 tandem team members) an organization I also administer, and part of the Central Indiana Bicycle Association (www.cibaride.org).  That also led to my being the webmaster for the 2010 Midwest Tandem Rally (www.mtr2010.org).

Of course (full disclosure) there are all the posts I write for Bicycle Garage Indy (www.bgindy.com) and BGI Fitness (www.bgifitness.com) as the Marketing Manager.  And my wife Linda is also helping there with fitness related content.  You will find those all linked in the blogs I follow.

And then there is the Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Flickr and other stuff that gets managed.  I really have to diagram it all out to keep it scheduled.

On top of all this, it has been an interesting year for tandeming in our family.  Our sons Tyler and Justin have outgrown the stokid label now that they are both over 6 feet tall.  They will still ride, but have other interests they pursue in high school.   Linda was very focused on triathlons this year, and this required a refitting of our faithful Sovereign to her new riding style.  Bottom line, it will be my lowest tandem mileage year since 1980.  That encompasses over 40,000 tandem miles, and while not in the Rudy & Kay league, probably puts us in the 90th percentile of tandem experience.

Stay tuned, a lot of new stuff coming in the weeks and months ahead.