Back in March we started a product test of the Bengal MB700T disc brake on our Calfee tandem, but really haven’t offered much in the way of feedback since then. So, here’s a short status update:
During the initial use of the Bengal it worked really well. However, we seemed to be getting an inordinate amount of brake squeal, vibration and ‘chatter’ after about 100 miles of use. I tried cleaning the rear rotor, which made the issues go away for about the next 40 miles, but it soon returned. So, I put on an Avid disc rotor to see if I could isolate the root cause as being something caused by the Bengal rotor. Nope, that was’t it: the Avid rotor squealed too. The brake caliper also seemed to drift out of alignment a bit as we also experienced a lot of brake rub during that first longish test ride after some local outings. As much as I adjusted the inner pad, the brake rub just kept coming back.
I reported the initial findings to our friend Mark Johnson out at Precision Tandems who provided the brake and we noodled over a few options for next steps to see if we couldn’t isolate the problem. I wondered if the chatter wasn’t coming from the brake pads vibrating on the magnetic pistons used on the Bengal vs. the springs found on Avid’s brake to keep the brake pads “fixed” to the pistons and thought about putting a dab of “Brake Quiet” on the pads. We also wondered if the brake pads just didn’t agree with our climate and Mark sent out a set of EBC Gold pads.
Timing is everything, and we suddenly found ourselves in the middle of the tandem rally season so the brake project got sidelined while we rode our new-to-us, and refreshed Precision Triplet and our Calfee fitted with rim brakes and the Topolino’s through the rest of the Spring and Summer.
As we came into Fall, I re-installed the Bengal on our Calfee and opted to switch out the stock brake pads for the EBC Gold pads that Mark sent and also did a “start from scratch” installation of the Bengal caliper and rotor. I should also note that we’re using our conventional 36h wheels this time vs. the Rolfs used on the initial run. Shouldn’t make any difference, but a data point none-the-less.
With about 200 miles on the bike with the Bengal it’s too soon to tell if we’ve broken the code on dialing in the Bengal, but so far the rotor’s running true with no chatter at all and the grip-slip vibration is gone. The EBC Gold pads have a much more “grippy” bite on the rotor and shorten stopping distance vs the OEM pads. Unfortunately, our local rides aren’t exactly heavy-brake demand territory here around the house, so it may be a while before we really get to test them under really demanding conditions. We’ll be headed up to Chattanooga one day next weekend, but I don’t think we’ll be up there on the days when our friends doing a three-day “freeloader weekend” will be taking on the thigh-burning, knee-popping, lung-burning monster climbs with the equally challenging descents.
More to follow but, at least at the moment, I’m starting to feel the love for these Bengals again.