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Discussion Starter #1
Or more accurately, talk me out of it. I have been looking to convert my '99 to disk front primarily to handle loads/occasional 2 up riding, but is it really worth it? I realize drums are dangerous after a water crossing, but for how rarely that happens I'm not too concerned that aspect.

The drum also would appear more durable off-road. Anyone with experience with both want to weigh in? I'm thinking the conversion would cost in the neighborhood of $350.
 

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I own a 99 and a 15 and am getting rid of my 99 mostly because I am sick of the crappy drum brake compared to the disc. Try to take out a bike with the disc and I think you will easily decide if it is worth it or not.
 

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My humble opinion - not worth 350. Keep the drum setup in good working order. Lots a places I’d rather spend that 350. But I get why people want them. I just don’t see a big enough difference between my 01 and 96.
 

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Get the disc.
Stronger.
Lighter.
Easier to modulate.
Fewer parts.
No adjustments needed.
Not as affected by water, dirt, mud.
Better "feel".
Safer.
There are good, sound reasons all manufacturers have switched to discs.
Get the disc.
:grin:

Worth $350? What is your sweet tushie worth?
Another option: Get a newer bike w/disc.
 

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The choice is on you. It depends how much you need to slow down and how easy 350.00 comes to you. In my opinion, yes it's worth it. Very much so. Front drums suck. Don't forget you'll need the speedo drive too.
 

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I have ridden both.

Not worth it.
I'm with Smitty on this one, i don't think its at all worth it. I don't own a TW with a drum but i have owned lots of dirt bikes with drums. There is nothing wrong with a drum and when when adjusted properly they are plenty strong enough for a bike like a TW. The biggest thing you will notice with a disc is feel not power, they simply feel better than a cable driven drum.
 

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I've had both over the last 45 years almost exclusively all on dual sport bikes. I have seen fade from water crossings with a drum but nothing horrible that I couldn't deal with. Like everything else both have pro's and con's. Disk do feel better and easy to detect wear before a problem arises. Given the option I would choose a disk every time however I am not sure I would pay $350 extra to have it especially when replacing a perfect functioning drum set-up. I would say that if I drove hard and needed the security of shorter stopping distances then I might consider it. I explain it to people this way, even is the disk system gives just 12" of shorter stopping ability that could be the difference from stopping right at an immovable object to seriously damaging yourself and your bike if the drum still has 12" more to travel forward.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I'm glad to get so much input! I have a trail tech so the speedometer cable isn't a concern. The other kicker is I already have an extra drum front wheel that was included with my bike, so I could keep my 428s on for 80% of the riding I do and have another set of wheels to swap out to something more aggressive. Though part of me wonders if the trouble would be worth it, I may just be better off finding a tire that works for 99% of my riding.

If the disk can cope with 250lbs + reasonably maybe it would be fine. I probably should just find a TW with a disk to test out.
 

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Coupla things...
How much on-road riding do you do? That's where the disc will really save your bacon.
And it is not entirely speed related or the bike in question.
That 12" shorter stop that Miaugi mentions could be the difference between stopping *at* the door of that car that ran a stop sign into your path, or 12" *into* the door of blue-haired Granny's Buick.
Or that hidden log that suddenly appears in your path just around that corner.

Sometimes I think folks dismiss the need for things that they don't personally have.
I have tons of on & off-road riding & racing experience with drums & discs and I'm here to tell you that there is just no genuine reason to choose drum brakes over discs.
Except in your case, the $350.
Can you afford a better brake? Can you afford a lessor brake?
Maybe you can find a used disc front end and re-furb it?

I'll tell you what good/better brakes are worth to me...I just ordered a set of of EBC 'HH' pads for my 2014 with 1,000 miles on it. And a braided stainless steel brake hose and new fluid. That's as good as you can make a TW front brake without spending a lot more money.

Should you end up re-furb'ing a used disc setup, you are welcome to to my excellent condition (1,000 miles)OE pads for free, and I'll pay shipping!

If you decide to keep the old-timey drum brake, do be sure to keep it clean, properly lubed and perfectly adjusted. Lightly sand the drum & shoe friction surfaces to remove glazing at each service. I'd recommend you look at quality after market shoes rather than the bottom-shelf OEs..lots to choose from.
You can get grooved ones to channel water & crap out of the shoes & drum, or you can easily roll-your-own with a 3-sided triangle file. I'm sure you can find that on YouTube. It's quick, easy and it will help their wet performance.

Welcome to the PITA world of optimizing & maintaining drum brakes! :rolleyes:
 

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Drum brakes are lovely things. I used to have an RD200 with twin leading shoes that could get the back end off the ground on occasion - but if we’re talking off road, that arrangement would have been suicidal at best, where you need a more “gentle” action

And there’s the rub – what do you need it to do – emergency braking before you hit something, or the ability to lock up the front ? – I doubt that locking up the front will do you much good in any circumstances (unless you do it for fun). There’s a reason they invented ABS

Both of my bikes have different front brakes – one disc – one drum. The one with the disc brake tends to be more “fun” off-road, where at low speeds locking it up “just for laughs” is quite possible in most circumstances, but you have to be careful with it on the turns or you’re going to face plant unless you have absolute balance. Ditto (around these parts) on tarmac, where there’s often gravel in the centre of the road

Another thing I’ve noticed, is the tendency to think “hey, I’ve now got a disc brake”, meaning you ride faster simply because you “believe” you can stop faster – whereas with the drum, you tend to be a lot more careful about the bikes braking abilities (particularly at speed where “heat fade” comes into play)

As for riding through streams, both types of brake will suffer the next time you apply them – but in wet weather, only the disc will consistently suffer in (first pull) performance

What you gain in one hand, you lose in the other

Two very different braking principals, both in physics, and how you use them. Once you understand the principals of both types, you can adjust your riding style to suit. Simply having the “power” to do something, doesn’t necessitate that you should use it -and a lot of the time, having that power is useless. Imagine a TW200 with twin front discs – a recipe for disaster

Having two bikes with both types, do I prefer one over the other ? – probably not – it simply becomes a case of “adapt and survive” – they both have their advantages and disadvantages

Ultimately, it becomes the rider that counts …….
 

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Well said, Mr. Purple People Eater...and right on!

Now let's assume our "test" rider has excellent knowledge, smarts, training, experience & judgement.
Our two test bikes are identical, save one has a disc front, the other a drum.
Which one would our rider choose, if he could only have one for all his types of riding?
He could likely do 'OK' with either.
How does he break the tie?

Which one works better overall, and on pavement, gravel, grass, sand, mud, water, panic stops, uphill, downhill, in corners & curves, etc.?
Maintenance difficulty? Frequency? Time & effort involved?
Costs over time?
Resale-ability?

A hint: which braking system is used by racers in virtually every type of competition?

I can only wish my TDub had discs at both ends!

OK, that's it for me! That is all I can offer...

Be safe and STOP when you need to, or just want to...:grin:
 

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This is neither "racers" or a "competition" - I have learned to "feather" the front brake in most situations - if you need to pull on it hard you have either miscalculated or misread the conditions

If this is the case, no brake in the world will save you from your inexperience every time

Learning what your brakes can do and what they cannot do is all part of that learning experience, and will make you a better rider (should you survive)

A wise man once said "If you want a Porsche, wait by a ditch on a bend, and make an offer" - power is nothing without control - and it's that control that we must learn ....
 

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No one is questioning the value of experience but I think, as Darth has pointed out, no one with experience would chose a drum break over a disc break.

But, would I spend $350.00 to upgrade to disc on a TW - I doubt it.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
You know, this is kinda reminding me of the time a guy tried to sell me a Scirocco brake setup for my diesel Rabbit. No one doubts it would be an improvement, just if its worth the cost. Another thing I like about drums is they seem to be more storage friendly, not that I plan on letting my bike to sit for long periods but it may be a consideration for others.

I will keep an eye out for a deal on the components, but if I can't get it all before I get the rest of what I need to rebuild my forks I probably won't sweat it.
 

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I really don’t noticed that big of a difference between them. I originally considered putting disk breaks on my Black Widow but after riding it for a couple years I’ve changed my mind.
I like the drum breaks and I have done plenty of deep stream crossings. I just ride the breaks for just a bit and they are fine.
 

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I have had 7 TWs so far, 4 with drum and 3 with disc brakes. First and foremost the front brakes on both suck! I would not pay a slug nickle to upgrade to a disc from a drum nor would I pay a penny to go from disc to drum. I would spend my money on new OEM shoes for the drum and be sure to clean up the internal parts when installing them.

GaryL
 

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I think an appropriate question for those with the front disc would be do any of you ever drain and refill the line and reservoir with fresh brake fluid? A 2001 TW is now almost 18 years old and with all the atmospheric conditions these systems endure I think it might be a good practice and especially if you feel your front brake getting a bit spongy.

GaryL
 

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Discussion Starter #20
After a pretty long ride on Thursday, paying particular attention to my braking, I realized that generally my brakes are a "weapon of last resort". Off road I'm usually geared low enough that just rolling back on the throttle gets me down to whatever speed I need and on road I coast for up to whatever stop and use my brakes for the final approach.

I guess it boils down to what a lot of you have been alluding to and that is the there isn't a high difference unless its an emergency situation. And even then some people don't feel there is a very large difference. Now I'm curious, is it bad to use the transmission to brake?
 
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