Tuesday, March 24, 2009

11 EE-yikes : 5 Pivot Brakes, Modulation, Cost


"The real question is, 'Does the design work really work?'. The short answer, “OH YA!” The wide stance and vise like look of the eebrake translates directly into outstanding braking performance. Optimized leverage and modulation is realized through our multiple lever system. Our efficient structure does this all with a minimum weight; less than 200 grams per complete brake set with pads."

- EE Brakes

With the economy in shambles, and people trying to be more conservative with their money, here's a party launching out another 500 dollar brake set to market. Whats wrong with cycling?

The new 5 pivot EE brake is sure to polarize. They are ornately crafted, and on the surface, there seems be be some real work that has been put into them. In this age of KISS (keep it simple, stupid), you may have to like steam locomotives or complicated medieval torture devices to comfortably find pleasure in this creature.

However, for their steep asking price, their website was choke full of marketing hoopla and devoid of useful information. A cautious/intelligent consumer wanting to know how on earth their 'multiple lever system' generates better modulation than what was previously realized is left with little but a colorful picture of an FEA screenshot that's too small and blurry to even understand.

That is a little substandard.

If you want someone to part with their precious coin in your favor, your first rule of thumb is to give them a good reason 'why'!! Words like "bigger", "super stiff", "beefy", "pure awesomeness" etc are a tad bit overdone these days to lure someone to purchase.

So in my honest opinion, you're missing the beat. Since your design is unique, it opens itself to serious scrutiny. I suggest you consider writing a white paper on the brakes and posting it on your website so as to back up bold claims. How do your brakes work and how is modulation enhanced compared to the best dual pivot offerings? I certainly cannot see how. Give us a free body diagram of multiple leverage action. Is the mechanical advantage constant? Is the brake behavior linear or non-linear? Explain briefly the FEA involved. Pictures don't make sense if you can't read them! And if you have testing done, show us some numbers from the setup runs. This is good, and proper engineering practice.

This way, we'll hope to arrive at a conclusion as to what those extra dollars/gram is doing. Are they :

A) Affording one comfort and peace of mind in installation/adjustments and superior performance exactly as promised at the brake end?

OR

B) Just a feeling of psychological advantage of possessing a lightweight product, which is then quickly canceled out by application inconvenience through over-complication?


EE Brake installation must be meticulous and doubles the time required for simpler designs. This reviewer showed a picture of sand and grime in the linkages, and reported a nasty-sounding “crunch” when the brakes were used in wet weather (5 pivot means 3 additional crunches than dual pivot).


FEA snapshot. Good looking but deliverables are zero.

A clipping of the sequence of steps involved in installation. A mechanically disinclined person might need a fair amount of coffee to get through this successfully.


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11 comments:

  1. Absolutely hideous. I think they missed the boat at least on the aesthetics. Someone would just wants to have a product nobody else has may find these interesting.

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  2. I must say you're a formidable cycling critic. The industry must shiver just thinking about you...

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  3. Anonymous9:44 AM

    Showing me an FEA analysis really means nothing to me. I'm always a little suspicious of all this number crunching done on computers? How can you tell if they're using benchmarked software? Remember : the code in these programs is only as good as the human being who wrote it.

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  4. "Wide stance and vice like look"?

    Yeah thanks, but I see that in my local red light district all the time.

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  5. @ Phil : Oh, and you stop your car for the ladies too. Direct braking performance!

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  6. Anonymous12:08 PM

    Well written and good questions. It seems to me that this product is very driven towards the weightweenie types. Regardless, the product guys must attach documentation to support claims for the more wary of the crowd. Not only is the economy doing bad, but oil prices are gradually climbing. I reckon the shift in raw material prices could dictate the tag price of the brakes later this year.

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  7. Anon, 12:18 : Weight seems to be the selling point. However, every design has to have a solid need behind it? Whats the collective need of the cycling population at this point? Another 500 dollar set of brakes when there are 100's of others that can perform at lower price? I think the industry is just losing sight with reality. In this case, we see another manufacturer with a bright idea, yet in application, it introduces more problems than it has actually solved. This is really counter productive.

    These set of brakes may be boutique item for now, but boutique or mass produced, sensibility shouldn't be lost in the process.

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  8. bleemeister2:26 PM

    Well written review. As for braking power + aesthetics, I retrospect I don't recall ever having an issue with old school Record calipers. They looked great and got the job damn well done. As for a newer, standard double-pivot brakes, those work fine as well, even on a tandem, and don't look like someone has a case of CAD-eritus.

    It seems to me that the real overall issue is not addressed with these *cool* products being foisted on the masses. The problem, in my opinion, is way too much focus is on the weight of the bike, by both manufacturers and consumers. Do we really need another fancy lightweight (insert component here)? I'd be surprised if the average Joe does, but the manufacturer sure wants to instill that need to loosen your billfold.

    At the end of the day, to get around this just get out, ride your bike, and the bod will adjust to the bike weight very quickly.

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  9. Anonymous2:13 AM

    What was that old line from "Laugh-In"? "Very interesting, but stupid!" That's too harsh. Maybe better would be, "The path to innovation is not always straight, and it may or may not have 5 linkages."

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  10. Anonymous3:32 AM

    Apparently the designer has not stepped out of the industrial revolution.

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  11. Jan Heine, I understand, will review these brakes in Bicycle Quarterly. He did an excellent historical review of brake designs in 2008. There have been some remarkable designs through history, with the 1930's a particularly active period of innovation. It mostly comes down to programming the mechanical advantage: initially low to move the brakes quickly to the rim, then high to convert torque into high force. No single amount of mechanical advantage is optimal: either the brakes sit too close to the rim or else the force applied is too low. I look forward to seeing his review.

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Thank you. I read every single comment.