Next Generation Drag Brake… Now Available!

It’s hard to believe it was November 2010 when I first wrote about the Maddock Machine drag brake development project in this blog entry.


The goal was to develop a direct replacement for the venerable Arai drag brake (at right) that had been serving the market for the past 30 years or so, but which QBP was no longer interested in producing. OEMs like Co-Motion and tandem speciality dealers like Mel Kornbluh at Tandems East bought up the last production lot several years ago and have been supporting customers who truly needed a drag brake on their tandem while keeping their fingers crossed that the replacement unit would be available before their inventories were fully consumed.  In some respects, the outstanding performance and consumer acceptance of single/rear and dual-disc brakes on road tandems mitigated some of the consumer demand for the Arai drums which helped to extend those last buys.  But, disc brakes still can’t do what a drag brake does so it was with great anticipation that the tandem community was eagerly awaiting that replacement for the Arai.

Well, today I received a note from Tom Maddock wherein he announced the Maddock Machine “Mad Dog Drag Brake” (MDD brake) is now available for purchase.


About: Pictured above, the MDD brake is functionaly the same as the Arai, but bears a more close resemblance to the “shaved” Arai drum brakes that were developed by and are still offered by Tandems East.  The removal of the large heat sink surrounding the Arai brake drum or, in the case of the MDD brake, designing a new drum without that heat sink results in a drag brake that’s 40% lighter than an original and unmodified Arai.

Cost: The MDD brake has an MSRP of $350.00, which is on par with the cost of the Arai drag brakes.  I’ll post a link to the owners manual later today once I have time to upload it to my web server.

Sources:   The MDD brake is available as the “Maddox Drum Brake” from Tandems East. Consumers can also buy the MDD brake directly from Maddock Machine by sending an Email to Tom Maddock using the following address:  Additional dealers will be announced as those relationships are finalized.

Bear in mind, this is a pretty specialized piece of kit so production volume will likely remain somewhat limited, consistent with demand.  Anyone who needs a drag brake and who has not been able to secure an Arai may want to contact the folks at Tandems East or Tom Maddock at Maddock Machine sooner rather than later.


I’ve posted a follow-up blog entry on the Maddock Drum Brake that includes some feedback from a member of the tandem building and retail community on their experience with a few customers who were early adopters of the brake. You can find it HERE.


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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6 Responses to Next Generation Drag Brake… Now Available!

  1. Hi Tandem Geek:

    Hello just found your blog. Looks great ! I’ll be sure to read up on your posts.

    We just bought a 2nd hand tandem, I belive it’s a ‘Sport Touring’ type Tandem, a Curtlo custom that is a medium / small frame model.

    Built around 1994 it has Deore XT group set, 3×7, Phil Wood hubs & Mavic rims & Arai drag brake. It’s a hot pink powder coat, so it gets attention, like it or not !

    (I was searching Arai Drag Brake & found your blog….)

    I was wondering if you have any first hand experience with using the Mad Dog Drag brake vs the Arai drag brake ? I noted some offer a ‘shaved drum’ – I assume for weight savings sake ?

    Being in East Texas, we don’t have any major mountain passes, so I don’t know if an upgrade makes sense.

    We’re slowly upgrading the Tandem to more modern specs and want to do it right.

    Thanks, if you can provide any input it’s much appreciated !

    David in East Texas

    • TG says:

      I have not used the Mad Dog brake, but know that it is very closely modeled on the Arai with a number of refinements based on input from many folks who were familiar with the Arai, including Mel Kornbluh of Mel is the tandem speciality dealer to offered the shaved Arai drum brakes — for weight savings as you note — and who was one of the key backers of the Mad Dog development. He would be able to answer any specific questions as to how they compare and can be reached via Email at or by phone; phone numbers are at the website.

      I’ve written more eloquent and longer pieces on the subject, but this shorter version captures the key aspects: In terms of “needing” a drag brake, unless you’re going to be taking on some significant descents (steep & twisty or extremely long lasting) or moderate descents but with a heavily loaded tandem, a drum brake isn’t really a necessity. A lot of new folks to tandeming would buy drum brakes out of FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) and never need them, eventually putting them into a box in the garage where they’d sit next… sort of like a lot of tandems.

      Enjoy the new tandem!

  2. Thanks a lot Mark, for your reply and insight.

    I suppose we are ok for now with the Arai drag brake the way it is.

    (I do value it as a parking brake; keeps the bike from falling over, which it seems even more prone than a single bike to do !)

    The argument could be made that with our lack of mountain passes, we have way more braking than we (currently) need.

    Besides, hauling that extra 2-3# makes me & the daughter stronger, right ?

    Best Regards, David in East Texas

  3. Peter LeCain says:

    In comment to afordableroadbikereview, I say with a tandem you can’t have too much braking. I live here in Utah’s wasatch range part of the rockies. Long descents at 9+ percent is when a drag brake shines. Around here if you are not going up you are going down, and in a hurry. The drag brake = cheap insurance. I have a Arai brake and use it often. My wife will not get on a bike you can’t stop, smart woman. Setting it as a parking brake at a farmers market or when touring is wise, and worth the weight and expense of such a device. In my opinion a fade free drag brake is the best component added to any tandem. If I obsessed over weight, I would not be riding a tandem.
    Best Regards, Peter in Ogden Utah.

  4. Hey Peter:

    Thanks for your helpful comment !

    Agreed on all that you said, braking is very important. Nice place you live in, I’ve been there, but in a car, not the tandem.

    Our hills here in East Texas, are, well, hills compared to your serious mountains. They don’t last for long. Right now, the Arai drag brake is used mainly as a parking brake. It’s very hand for that, helps the bike to not fall over – which it’s surprising how prone it is to fall over, even easier than my road bike.

    Have you had to replace the brake shoes on yours ? No clue how old ours are, probably original. I just contacted the custom builder of our tandem, found out it was made in 1989.

    Same year we were married – in other words, it’s OLD. (ha ha ha)

    Maybe we should try the shaved Arai brake to save weight ?

    Here is my post regarding our tandem:

    Wishing you safe riding !

    David in East Texas

  5. Sam says:

    Wow, last comment on 2014. Soo I will give my drum brake experience, we used it for a tour in Europe and Africa a long time ago, the 90s. Anyway we ere really loaded up, camped most of the way, cooked etc… I remember one ascent in France where the brake went soft, quick functioning and another time in Africa in the Rift Valley. But other than those the break worked really well. Could be overkill but for us essential, especial for the Stokers comfort, I Hate to break.


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