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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've been leaning towards using drum brakes on my shovel build. I purchased some aftermarket rims originally planning on running single disc front and rear. I've seen some drum brake kits selling online and was wondering if anyone had any info or experiences with them. Do they work well (as well as a drum can)? Hard to set up? Do they look funny? (i dont know what they would look like compared to OEM HD. Any thoughts or info would be greatly appreciated!
 

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ANY drum brake, will never be equal with a disc setup. But, they are able to stop any bike, if installed correctly, and given regular maintenance. Aftermarkets ones, depending on which ones you buy, can be good, or useless. The mini drums are mainly for looks. The full size ones, work as good as OEM, but again, it depends on the style riding you do. Not made for the drag strip. But for daily rides, at normal speeds, they work fine. Most people complain that they can't stop fast enough, but that is probably because they expect them to match a disc setup. Rears can easily lock the wheel, fronts, not unless you hit a grease spot in the road. If I was building a custom, I would stick with disc, if you are going for the retro look, and drive with some common sense, the drums will work just fine. Just remember, the drums are pretty much sealed, and need to be pulled and cleaned, scuff the drum and shoes, and they will work pretty good.
 

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Most of the drum brake setups available for Harleys are replicas of stock Harley parts. If you're going to go the drum route, make sure to buy quality. Used genuine HD stuff is often better that some of the Chinese crap available, but there are American made pieces, like from Paughco. (though on the website, it said their supply of drums was limited and they wouldn't be making more.)

As for "ANY drum brake, will never be equal with a disc setup," I disagree, at least as far as stopping goes. A properly sized and engineered drum brake, like a 4 leading shoe Grimeca, will stop just as well as any disc. What you want in a brake is to be able to easily find that sweet spot just before the wheel locks up. A shortcoming of drums in racing is that after repeated hard braking the drum heats up, expands, and it's a longer way for the shoes to go, so they don't work as well. This is called brake fade. Discs are subject to fade as well, but not as much. The major reason bike manufacturers (cars too) went to disc brake setups is cost, not performance.

As for Harley Specific brakes, the discs are better, but mostly because every time they change the brakes, they get better. The '70's banana caliper on a rear 10" rotor is a better brake (condition being the same) than the hydraulic drum brake it replaced. Compare that '70's brake to a new 4 piston caliper on an 11 1/2" rotor on a 2004 Softail, and the '70's brake is horrible.

Mini drums work great...on mini bikes. 110 lbs. of bike with 90 lbs. of rider on 10" tires, those little brakes will stop pretty good. Same brake on a 500 lb bike with a 200 lb rider and the leverage of a 21" wheel and forget about it. But they will probably hold you on a hill, provided it's not too steep.
 

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Who is selling "complete" drum brake set ups? I'd be interested in checking that out. I would think it would be expensive. Are we talking mechanical or hydraulic?
 

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If you set up the rear mechanical brake right, arc the shoes to the drum and adjust the linkage correctly you will have a brake that stops great and will never need attention until the shoes wear down. You will be able to lock up the rear wheel just like with a disc but don't have to worry about leaking calipers, brake hose or master cylinder.
My choice would be the old '36-'57 mechanical brake every time.
 

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My '48 wishbone frame has had the cross tube removed, as the previous owner ran a juice drum. Is that a part I can find new? I want to put back the mechanical drum for simplicty's sake.
 

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Thanks! Is it expensive to ship from Austrailia?
Check with Steve Little, the owner. I've never bought from him, but I would think a small part like the crossover tube wouldn't be that much to ship. Plus he has a US distributor in TN, Craig I think his name is?
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I saw some stuff on J&P cycle website that are complete kits for the front.
http://www.jpcycles.com/product/240-103

Also I'm not sure if these need the harley style star hub with the offset to work, or wether they can just bolt up to an aftermarket rim flange. Thats why I was thinking that these might look weird (not being offset) on the front. I'm not too familiar with any style of drum at all seeing as how I've only ever had disc setups. Again any info would be greatly appreciated.

As far as the application I'm not going to running a high speed machine. I was more concerned with the brakes possibly locking up or if they have been known to fail. I doubt theres not many failure storys.
 

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I saw some stuff on J&P cycle website that are complete kits for the front.
http://www.jpcycles.com/product/240-103
Most of the drum brake setups available for Harleys are replicas of stock Harley parts. If you're going to go the drum route, make sure to buy quality. Used genuine HD stuff is often better that some of the Chinese crap available, but there are American made pieces, like from Paughco. (though on the website, it said their supply of drums was limited and they wouldn't be making more.)
I'd stay away from the JP, Vtwin stuff. It's all tawainese, offshore, cheaply made junk.

Reread M.O.Ther's post. Good oem parts are still around and can be refurbished. If you're going to go aftermarket, I'd say Paughco would be your best bet as they're Made in the USA and have been around for a long time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
yeah i figured that stuff was garbage. I'm having a hard time locating stuff like that around me. At least stuff that people aren't charging an arm and a leg for haha. I'll have to spend some time trying to locate some parts on here or elsewhere. Thanks for the info guys!
 
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