Next Generation Drag Brake…

The venerable Arai drum brake

Back around the summer of 2008, rumors began circulating that production of the Arai drum brakes was being discontinued.  We’d actually heard about this back in March 2008 from a very reliable source and, in fact, the last production lot had already been run and whatever builders and dealers had in inventory was pretty much what there was.

However, we also learned at the same time (March ’08) a replacement was being developed that would address future requirements for a drum type tandem brake.  Interestingly, despite all of the improvements made in rim brakes as well as in bicycle disc brakes, a drum brake remained the only supplemental brake that can do what it does so well: take a lot of heat over a prolonged period of time to slow the descending speed of heavy bikes and tandems.

In  January 2009, one of our BikeForum brothers started a thread wherein he provided some hard evidence regarding the end of the Arai product line vis-a-via an Email from QPB, wherein they stated:

XXXX, We do not have the rights to the Arai name. At this time we have discontinued their products. Arai has ceased production and is no longer in business.  Unfortunately I have no contact information for this manufacturer or any new manufacturer that has taken on this type of product to help in your situation.Thanks for your inquiry.
XXXXCustomer Service Agent
Quality Bicycle Products

Well, during a recent discussion thread on Tandem@Hobbes regarding drum brakes, Tom Maddock of Maddock Machine in Leaburg, Oregon (located just east of Eugene) signed-on with some information on the new brake:

Hello All
Yes its true, that rumor about a new drum brake being developed. The cat was released out of the bag in May by Mr. Shepard. Mr. Mel Kornbluh showed a prototype at his Tandem Expo this year.
The brake will soon be undergoing testing on a torture fixture in my shop. Based upon the results of that testing, I will be making a small number of brakes to loan out to teams for product testing and evaluation. After that T&E the first production run will be made.
Tom Maddock
Maddock Machine

I contacted Mr. Maddock and asked if he would be willing to share a photo of the working prototype, which he was kind enough to do. Moreover, he also gave me permission to share the photo with my readers, so here it is:

Yes, it looks very much like an Arai drum brake that has had its cooling fins machined off, similar to the ones modified and sold by Tandems East for many, many years.  However, closer inspection does seem to reveal a little more meat with some surface texture that may help with heat dissipation. Again, the brake is about to undergo torture tested in December.  Mr. Maddock is presently collecting first hand reports of Arai drum failures, presumably so he can develop test cases and points that replicate some of the conditions that existed when tandem teams experienced partial or total brake fade and/or failure of their Arai drums.  We knew of a few first hand reports and passed along links to the postings that described the conditions.  Hopefully, any of our readers who might have an Arai drum failure story will also share that with Mr. Maddock:


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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10 Responses to Next Generation Drag Brake…

  1. Sean Duffy says:

    When will they be available?

    • TG says:

      Just my guess…. before Co-Motion’s current inventory of Arai drum brakes is exhausted. I’ll be sure to post up any new information as it becomes available.

  2. Pingback: Next Generation Drag Brake… Update « The TandemGeek's Blog

    • Benjamin Niu says:

      Hi TG,

      The link to your latest update on the next-gen drum brake (posted on 5/12/2011) seems to be broken. I tried to click on the link and I received a 404 error.

      • TG says:

        Hmmm. Just tried all three and all three worked. Do you remember which one didn’t work for you?

    • John Stump says:

      I tried tom maddock’s e-mail as posted but did not get through. I am very interested in some drum brakes. could you please send me any info on how to get in touch with tom. Thank you.

      • TG says:

        Try the Email:

        You might also want to contact Mel Kornbluh at Tandems East if you need a drum brake ( Mel secured a pretty robust final buy of Arai drum brakes and is also monitoring the development of the new drum by Tom Maddock at Maddock Machine.

  3. Pingback: Next Generation Drag Brake… Now Available! | The TandemGeek's Blog

  4. John Berenyi says:

    Maddock Machine is currently shipping the latest drag brake production models at $350 each. Currently in stock as of July 1, 2013.

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