Co-Motion’s 2010 Dual Disc Brake-Through

In addition to doing a re-vamp of their Website, blogging, opening up a Facebook page and sending a team on a field trip to Taiwan, the good folks at Co-Motion also found time to make some changes to their 2010 line-up of tandems. Perhaps the boldest change was making dual discs standard on their steel and aluminum ‘Performance’ tandems, e.g., Speedster, Mocha, and Roadster as well as their Periscope Scouts & Torpedo models.

What also caught my eye was their new rear disc I.S. mount location; bravo! This is where I have always preferred the rear disc mount for a number of reasons. Anyway, good friend and co-owner of Co-Motion Dwan Shepard offered up the following additional information on some of the 2010 changes to a posting at Hobbes:

After a gentle provocation from [your’s truly], I thought I’d chime in on this topic of disc vs. cantilever brakes. As observed, disc brakes are standard on many of our [Co-Motion] tandem models, including the Speedster. I believe it has also been noted that the Arai drum brake is no longer being produced. That’s a game-changer for anyone looking at tandem touring, as the Arai brake was long relied on to fulfill the role of supplemental brake in situations when the rim brakes became overwhelmed: Namely long or steep descents, especially when the tandem is heavily laden with touring gear.

Of course, rim brakes are simple and mostly reliable, and familiar enough to most of us that we feel comfortable with them. However, for many people, rim brakes are inadequate for tandem touring. So, why not combine rim brakes with a supplemental disc brake? That argument has played itself out many times here on Tandem@Hobbes over the years. If you’ve been sitting back and observing, you may recall claims by one tandem expert or another stating that discs were not “tandem specific”. That myth got its start back when people like myself and Bill McCready began querying disc brake makers Hope, Avid, Hayes and others about using their brakes as a supplement to rim brakes. Without exception, these brake makers shuddered when they heard how tandem riders used the Arai brake. It’s true- no disc brake can take that kind of punishment.

But, let’s not forget, the Arai brake itself has never been a very good brake on its own. It’s an old warhorse, sure. Because it has so much mass, you can apply it and let it drag forever and it will get nice and hot, but to its credit, it won’t fail. By itself however, it does a lousy job of slowing your bike, which is why you’ve probably never seen a bike equipped with front and rear Arai drums.

Now, back to those disc brake manufacturers: Every one of them stated unequivocally that their brakes should be used as the PRIMARY brakes on a tandem. While they all expressed concern over their brake’s use as a “drag”, none were concerned about their brakes being used to stop a tandem. If you’ve tried a good disc brake on a tandem, you know it doesn’t take long to discover why disc brakes have become more commonplace than cantilevers on all kinds of bicycles.

Maybe the question we should be asking ourselves today is why it has taken for tandems to become available with dual discs. Well, we tandemists are a conservative crowd, aren’t we? We embrace innovation in one hand and eye it with suspicion in the other. Here at Co-Motion Cycles, we began offering Avid BB-7 disc brakes as a published option on a regular basis about 6 years ago. Getting to that point meant having confidence in the brake, lots of tests on the toughest descents here in Oregon, and many reports from early adopters. It didn’t take long to discover that the Avid BB-7 with a 203mm rotor was the way to go, and we soon developed new tandem forks specifically for disc brake applications as well.

The mounting points for the disc brakes are integral with the dropouts we make here at Co-Motion on our CNC equipment. For 2010, we redesigned our rear dropout to orient the disc adjacent to the chainstay, and reconfigured the dropout eyelets to make rack and fender mounting easier and more accommodating to more rack types. It’s just another step we’ve taken to ensure that our bikes are easy to get along with, and do the things you need them to do.

I’ve shared with you all on T@H several times over the years how our customers have driven the development of our bike line. We listen to what our customers are asking for, and we strive to provide what will make the most people happy. Making disc brakes standard on more tandem models is one of the decisions we’ve made based on those observations. On the Speedster, the vast majority of our sales of the model were shipping from here with optional dual disc brakes in the past two years.

Yes, you can still get a Co-Motion tandem with canti- or v-brake mounts. Our Primera tandem comes with linear-pull Avid SD-7 brakes. Or, you can order a custom version of any of our tandems with any kind of brake mount you’d like. Also, we do offer framesets, a nice option if you’d like to work with your dealer on selecting all components from start to finish. What would I recommend? A Speedster or maybe a Mocha with discs, no question. We have lots of choices, and as always, we’re happy to help you make the choice that works best for you.

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About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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