Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Somebody stop me!!!

What is the most important component of a bike??? The engine??? Wrong!!! Its the brakes. I realized this fact, this Monday morning, when I was riding to college with a pillion behind me. I had recently gotten my bike serviced, and had gotten new brake pads for both the front and rear wheels. When you put in new brake pads (brake-shoe lining) , they don't quite stop the bike that quick n need a little while to settle in. What's more was that the rear brake shoes weren't properly put back together. The drum brakes work by a set of brake shoes (shown in image) pressing outwards against the insides of a drum, using friction to slow it down. Due to improper alignment, only one of the brake shoes of my rear brakes came in contact with the drum, giving me very little braking, despite applying a lot of pressure. Then when the second brake pad came in contact with the drum, so much braking was applied, that the rear wheel locked (stopped spinning/started skidding). So as I was riding the other day, on applying the brakes, I did not find myself slowing down adequately, and out of sheer desperation, applied the brakes as hard as I could and fishtailed to an obscene angle on each side before coming within two inches of the vehicle in front of me. I normally don't fishtail (rear-end of the vehicle swerving from side to side like a fish's tail) that much even if my rear wheel is locked, but that is when I am riding solo. With a pillion behind you, getting the rear wheel to lock isn't that easy, since the weight on the rear wheel increases (hence increasing the friction) and then even if you do lock your wheel, handling is greatly compromised because of the pillion. For those of you wondering why make a big deal of the rear brakes??? In a bike having both front n rear drum brakes, where it's weight factor easily puts it in a situation where it would have done well with both disc brakes, you need all the braking you can get and quite a lot of it is provided by the rear brakes.
PS : I used the word "brake" only 18... make that 19 times in this post.


no.good.at.coding said...

I recently got my rear brakes replaced. They'd worn out completely, there was simply no braking power left and I was completely dependent on my discs. Though I didn't face what you said, about it taking time for the brakes to settle in.

Wolfestine said...

Well sir, you probably didn't notice any difference in breaking power since you were down to zero breaking. I on the other hand had ample amount of break pads left. My front brakes (drums) were as tight as i could set them. And since in two years I had worn out a set of front brakes, i decided to change my rear one too as they hadn't been replaced since long before that. When you put in new break pads, they don't always fit in properly. They wear out from the corners first and soon settle in (Bigger the dia of the pads, longer it takes to settle in). That is why you have to tighten your breaks within a week after you put in new pads (at least I had to).

And like i said it was more an of issue of improper alignment than new break pads.