Slidepad Intelligent Brake Distribution—Bring Your Bike into the Future.
There are many things about riding a bike that can seem confusing. Shifting and braking come natural to many, yet no so much for others. On top of that, everyone can appreciate a way to make a bike ride safer and easier. Converting your bike’s brakes with a Slidepad up-grade can do just that. It’s quick to do, not too pricey and I found it to work in the best of ways.
Why is braking tricky you ask? Most know that the quickest and most controlled braking on your bike requires a fairly precise input on the two brake levers. Too much front brake and your stability can be compromised (especially while turning or on a slippery surface), too much rear brake doesn’t slow you in a timely fashion. With the Slidepad system, one brake lever is all you need to grab hold of, with the system doing the rest. Although at first thought and glance it can seem complicated, in reality it is quite simple.
I first learned of this innovative product earlier during the year. I got to try it out at Interbike (although inside the hall on the carpeting). Even with the short time on board, I was impressed with the way it worked and the cool technology involved. As you look a little closer and get the info on the workings, you begin to see why it makes so much sense. Now that I have it installed on my old-school E-bike, I am more impressed than ever.
What we have here is a rear brake pad that has a sliding mechanism, as it slides from the pressure and movement on the rear rim, it transfers that movement to actuate the front brake. This way the front brake will never be over-powered and cause a stability issue. In reality it is so simple it’s hard to image that no one has come up with this before. It also acts like a anti-skid device, something that is seen on all kinds of modern vehicles today.
Slidepad has a complete installation video on their website. If you can do your own basic bike maintenance, then installing and adjusting the Slidepad system won’t take long. In addition to the needed parts, it comes with a complete set of quality brake pads to round out the package. The system can also be installed by your local bike mechanic if it seems too daunting. In fact the Slidepad system is respected enough to be standard equipment on the Jamis Hudson Sport (more bikes coming soon I understand).
When I put the Slidepad system on my 6 year-old eZip (electric-assist bike) I didn’t follow the directions to the letter (of course not, for some reason everything I seem to do bucks the norm). Slidepad recommends removing your front (left side) brake lever and using the rear (right side) brake lever to run the system. I did just the opposite and it still works just fine. The reason I did it this way on my E-bike is because the left lever has the safety motor cutoff switch in it (which I didn’t want to disable), and the throttle mechanism is on the right side.
As I try not to confuse you, I want to note that bikes in some other countries often have the front and rear brakes hooked-up opposite of the way we are used to them here in the states. I have had to switch the cables from one side to the other on many test bikes I am supplied because of this fact. And if you are used to riding a motorcycle then using your right hand to actuate the front brake is what you are accustomed to. Some bicycle riders who also ride motorcycles switch the cables (to opposite of the U.S. norm) themselves on their bicycles. My point here is as long as you are used to it, it doesn’t really matter which hand runs which brake.
Anyway, let’s get back on track with our Slidepad installation and adjustment. After removing the desired lever (the left one if you follow the instructions and you probably should) and the cable to the front brake, then you remove all the old brake pads. The new pads go on with no toe-in (something you would normally do). There is a possible issue with the thickness of the brake pad bolt’s washers (one is thicker than the other), so pay attention there.
The Slidepad brake pad goes on the rear wheel, driveline side. It has a cable built-in and is easy to distinguish from the rest. After some basic adjusting, you run that cable up to the front brake and hook it up in a somewhat standard fashion. Things are really pretty much the same, except the front brake cable comes from the rear brake mechanism instead of a brake handle. Follow the rest of the directions and you are ready to ride.
I found using just one brake handle only took a few tries to get used to. If you ride many different bikes (like I do) you may have to quickly reacquaint yourself with this feature every time you climb aboard, but that shouldn’t be a problem at all. Using just the one handle to brake becomes second nature very quickly and actually feels incredibly natural. I like that part of the Slidepad system just fine.
Here is the testing results I came up with. No matter how hard I tried (on many surfaces and during turning too), I could not get the front wheel to skid or lose traction. This is the result I do believe the crew at Slidepad had in mind. When I pulled really hard on the brake lever I could get the rear wheel to lock up, but not the front. I could tell the front wheel was working very hard to stop the bike, yet not so hard it would skid. This allowed full (and heavy) use of the brakes without worry of the front wheel losing traction, allowing me to keep full control of the bike.
Under easy brake application everything responded fully normally. If you pull them hard and fast you can feel just the slightest hesitation of brake power as the Slidepad in rear moves to pull the front brake. Most may not notice this and it didn’t affect the quickness of the stop at all. Under regular braking, once again, the bike stopped smooth and like you would expect.
During the maximum stopping testing I did I could get the rear wheel to skid some. With modulation of the brake lever this was easily controlled. In sharp turns when the rear wheel locked up (just slightly), the rear of the bike tried a little to do a brodie, but this is much easier to handle with out falling than having the front wheel come out from under you if it starts to skid. Conclusion—they worked as advertised and I am glad they are now part of my bike’s braking system.
You may have noticed that the Slidepad Intelligent Brake Distribution System works only on V brake equipped bikes. I am told they are working up a conversion for disc brake bikes. That will be interesting to try, as lots of bikes are coming with disc brakes nowadays. I am not fully convinced yet that discs are the best, but they do have some advantages, as well as disadvantages too. Not to worry as there are tons of bikes on the roads and trails with V brakes that can take this system and use it well.
The only drawback to the Slidepad system I see is the fact that my wife and I have many matching pairs of bikes and I like to equip them (in pairs) similarly. Looks like another Slidepad brake conversion kit is in my immediate future. Could be worse, and yes I want my wife to be safe and happy on her everyday commuting E-bike.
Thanks for the up-grade Slidepad, it will be put to good use, Turbo Bob.
“Cycle tracks will abound in Utopia.“—H.G. Wells.
Slidepad on the web and Facebook—The full installation video is easy to find.
This link will take you to a video I posted on my Slidepad set-up