Sage & Cooper arrive in London

First a little background: Sage and Cooper are riding single-speed WorkCycles bikes around the world. Here you can check out the first two trip reports:
Around the world on WorkCycles bikes 1
Sage & Cooper are somewhere else on WorkCycles bikes

Fresh on the heels of Alexis’ escapades at Buckingham Palace, Sage and Cooper also reached London on their way down from Scotland… but not without a little adventure in Wales en route:

English country living

English country living

Here’s Sage’s explanation for the posh, English countryside accommodations:

This odd pic comes with an odd story. Cooper and I found a nice hilltop campsite on what seemed to be unowned or no mans land. We were awakened at 9pm by a man who seemed homeless and crazy. With a beer in his hand he tells us the owner of the property is psychotic and just came out of prison for almost beating someone to death. He warns us that if we stayed there the man will run us over in his jeep while we’re a sleep. He tells us to pack up and meet him down the hill at his place and he’ll give us a spot to camp. To make a long story short he wasn’t homeless, but is crazy and was telling the truth about his neighbor. He offered us to stay for several days at his gypsy like home, but one night was more than enough.

I also enjoy camping “wild” while bicycle or motorcycle touring, especially when I’m trying to cover some distance fairly quickly in a rural area. I just ride until it’s almost dark and find a nice, quiet spot that seems to be either public or wouldn’t be noticed anyway. If stealth seems necessary I skip the tent and hide the bike with whatever is available.

This has also backfired on me too. One late, cold night in the Ardennes in Belgium I tossed my sleeping bag out near a dirt track. I slept fine under the stars for a while until I awoke to the creepy feeling that I wasn’t alone. As I came to my senses I heard groaning, breathing, stomping noises all around me. Peeking my head out of the sleeping bag I was met with the noses of a half dozen cows poking at me. Better cows than psychotic ex-cons.

Sage continues about their experience riding Dutch bikes in foreign territory:

We’ve been unable to have a bike shop look at our bikes due to the shops being closed, refusing to look at bikes they haven’t sold, being too busy to look at our bikes, or wanting 50pounds for each bike check up. So three weeks ago week decided to do it our selves and I think its better that we did.

What’s up with this anyway? Two polite travelers come into your shop and ask you to perform the simplest of all services on their most critical equipment. Performing the one-month check on such simple, tough bikes might take 15 minutes if you’re thorough, and certainly doesn’t require any skill that even the most moderately experienced mechanic doesn’t possess. You refuse or ask an exorbitant sum? I don’t get it but friends and customers often refer to bicycle shops as unfriendly, unhelpful places full of elitist, prima-donna boys. I suppose this is one of the reasons we’ve only found about 20 dealers we’re willing to sign on as WorkCycles dealers.

Anyhow the bikes survived their wrenching (probably just checking that various nuts and bolts are tight, and adjusting the chain tension if they were a bit bold) and Sage and Cooper rode into London.

sage-cooper-england 1

I’m not quite sure about the context of the above image so I’ll propose a few possibilities and let you decide which you prefer:

  • London has become a cycling paradise; crowded with cyclists of all ages.
  • Our protagonists stumbled upon the helmet and yellow safety vest cycling parade. It’s sort of a London analog of the Portland, Oregon naked bike rides.
  • Sage and Cooper gleefully joined the anarchy of the local, friday night Critical Mass ride.
  • And to prove they actually visited London they sent this picture in front of some very Londoney looking old building across a river.

    sage-cooper-england 2

    In the previous installment of the Sage and Cooper adventures I discussed the various Shimano roller brakes and noted the impending arrival of the new IM80 roller brake… the brake that could solve our utility bike braking woes. That brake is now a reality; We saw them at the recent Eurobike expo and now have (apparently pre-production) samples to test.

    Eurobike 2009 15

    Firstly here is the Shimano IM80 rollerbrake complete. The fancy cooling fin is cute but more importantly the integrated cable stop means that this brake can be retrofitted on almost any front fork with a drum brake type reaction arm holder. That’s different from the previous top of the line IM70 which requires a fork with a cable stop… or handy souls like WorkCycles mechanics who weld cable stop tabs onto the brakes themselves.

    Eurobike 2009 14

    Here’s the real “meat” of the story though; the braking surface is V shaped like the IM70 but bigger, and the roller actuation system absolutely dwarfs that of all previous model roller brakes. The IM70 actuation rollers are shown at right. We’ll now install our samples on a (heavily loaded) bike and commence testing!

    39 Responses to “Sage & Cooper arrive in London”

    1. todd Says:

      all you need to conduct a thorough IM80 test are some hills and perhaps a torquey electric assist. we’ve got both here!

    2. henry Says:

      We’ll keep that offer in mind Todd!

    3. Jefe Says:

      When are any of the Shimano generator/roller brake hubs going to be available int he United States? Now that WorkCycles bikes are being distributed here, maybe you can speed this up by sending some of the hubs along with the bikes.

      I work at a bike shop here and there are a few people anxious for a good generator/roller brake hub that can stand up to the winters here. I’ve tried the Sturmey-Archer X-FDD and am not happy with it’s durability.

      I like the technical reviews. It’s nice when people care about how well something works vs. how it looks.

    4. henry Says:

      Though we finally have a good communication with Shimano (which is why, for example, we have IM80’s before they’re in production) it’s nonetheless clear that their focus is on the recreational products… and that’s Shimano Europe, based in Holland. I can only imagine that Shimano USA is barely even aware of hub dynamos, roller brakes and internally geared hubs.

      We fit the Shimano roller brakes and hub dynamos primarily because they’re the only parts available that will happily live outdoors with pretty much zero maintainence. By no means are they perfect components but for this they’re the best available.

      We’re also been talking to Sturmey Archer, who’s parts seem to be steadily improving. But they still don’t have a complete system we’re fairly satisfied with… as Shimano does.

    5. macfred (wormholetraveller) Says:

      Good news…
      Is it possible to fit the IM80 roller brake on the front fork of my \Pastoor\
      crossframe? I wouldt like to get a little more brakepower than using the

    6. henry Says:

      Checking the fit on various bikes is one of the things we’ll be doing with the samples, but in principle the IM80 should fit your Kruisframe just fine. Even if there’s a small interference we should be able to fix it with a small spacer.

    7. macfred (wormholetraveller) Says:

      thank you so far…
      If IM8o`s are available in your shop, I´ll take a trip to A`dam.
      Kruisframe is coming home…

      See you at WorkCycles (soon)!

    8. louis Says:


      when you say “more importantly the integrated cable stop means that this brake can be retrofitted on almost any front fork with a drum brake type reaction arm holder. ” , must the reaction arm holder you refer to be welded on, or can some kind of bolt-on holder similar to the one Rohloff uses with its torque arms for retrofitting Speedhubs to older bikes be made to work?

    9. henry Says:

      I’m referring to the welded on reaction arm holder found on all decent city and transport bikes. That’s not to say it’s impossible to fabricate a clamp-on holder… but it’d better be GOOD and STRONG because if it fails it could have dire consequences for you and your (possibly precious) cargo. You’ll not only lose the front brake; when the reaction arm slips it’ll wrap the cable around instantly engaging the brake…. HARD!

      Gazelle used to use a clamp-on stop with their drum brake but it specifically fits their fork legs.

    10. Peter Says:

      Re: the mysterious photo of Sage/Cooper cycling in London in a group of cyclists, that’s actually the London “Skyride”, a promotional annual cycling event where around 20km of London’s streets are closed off to normal traffic to allow cyclists to cycle round in a loop. I went along too and it seems to have been a success – 50,000 cyclists turned up – but perhaps a little too much so, with heavy congestion resulting in much stopping and starting. Hopefully they’ll close off more roads for a bigger loop next time.

      Anyway, one question about Sage and Cooper’s odyssey – are those Secret Service GTs they’re on?

    11. henry Says:

      Thanks for the added info about the Sky Ride. Is it called “sky ride” because there are no trucks and buses blocking the cyclist’s view of the heavens above? Though such events can be fun I’ve never been much of a fan of promoting cycling by blocking car traffic on a sunday and organizing a big group ride. I just don’t think it promotes cycling as a legitimate, practical way to get around. For the same cost effort the cycling infrastructure could be improved in some small way, leading to a meaningful and lasting change in bicycle use.

      The bikes Sage and Cooper are riding are Secret Service NND’s, which means Shimano IM70 roller brakes front and rear but no gears; It has a single-speed freewheel. The GT designation doesn’t actually exist for the Secret Service.

    12. Peter Says:

      It may well be: the current explanation being peddled is that it was named after British Sky Broadcasting, the major satellite broadcaster here in the UK who sponsored it as part of their sponsorship of the new British cycling team, but who knows..

      You’re right that such events may not be the best way of promoting cycling on a lasting basis: probably better, like you say, to improve, and then create a buzz over, the cycling infrastructure in a city rather than get excited over the establishment of a temporary cycle zone. In the London Mayor’s defence however, the event wasn’t a complete write-off, as costly as it may well have been: cycling is on the increase in London (starting from a small base, but hey, better than nothing) and so anything that keeps it in the news and minds of Londoners is arguably a good thing.

      Perhaps better news though is that some improvements to London’s cycling infrastructure are being planned too via some much trumpeted “cycling superhighways”: basically, it would appear, some slightly wider cycle lanes on a few major roads in a year or two. Nothing huge then but hopefully enough to keep numbers of cyclists rising upwards, we’ll see.

      Thanks for the detail on Sage’s and Cooper’s bikes. My question was actually a long-winded way of trying to ascertain whether the chaincases are plastic (like the GT classic Workcycles bikes) rather than fabric (like the Lux classic Workcycles bikes). Looking at the photo I’m guessing they are.

    13. henry Says:

      The Secret Service has a very tough plastic chaincase, but not the same one as the GT. It’s a more modern version with a little hatch at the rear to facilitate lubricating and adjusting the chain. This chain case doesn’t fit the GT because the GT bikes have chainstays 25mm longer.

    14. Robin Says:

      How does the IM80 compare with the 90mm drum brakes of Sturmey-Archer? (eg XL-FD)

    15. henry Says:

      We’ve also got a couple new 90mm Sturmey Archer drums to try. The fit and finish is good but if our considerable experience with their current 70mm drums and the older 90mm models is any indication they probably won’t stand up to the better Shimano roller brakes in either braking performance or reliability. But lacing then into some wheels to test is on the agenda.

      Even if the Sturmey Archer 90mm drum is great it still won’t be of any help for rear wheels; SA only offers front hubs with the 90mm drum and even if they did fit the 90mm model to rear hubs they don’t offer a range of gear hubs that meet our needs. This is actually our primary complaint with Stumey Archer; While the products look great and are steadily improving they generally don’t offer the combinations of specifications that we need. Designing our bikes to be as interchangeable and modular as possible is critical to keeping our costs and logistics under control so mixing and matching Sturmey and Shimano (or SRAM for that matter) between models and specs generally isn’t practical.

    16. Robin Says:

      OK thanks. I look forward to reading IM80 vs 90mm Sturmey Archer reports.

    17. Robin Says:

      Is the IM80 significantly heavier than IM70? Perhaps not such a big concern for a work bike I guess.

    18. henry Says:

      There’s no significant weight difference between the IM70 and IM80, at least not more than an ounce or two.

      Besides, brakes are just there to slow you down, right? Thus heavier brakes are actually better!

    19. Brian McBlain Says:

      Wet roads, rain, sub-freezing temps and aluminum rims make for a very long applicatrion time (more than the whole downhill) to “dry off” brakes of my commuter/errand bike. A bit more excitement than I want especially with racks and panniers full of groceries.

      Disc requires wheel AND fork, stem, headset, brake system, brake lever.
      (New bike.)

      Drums require a wheel build alone, and maybe a longer pull brake lever.

      Any experience with Sturmey Archur 90 mm XL-FD or XL-FDD?

      The Shimano IM80’s look no-nonsense.

      Any first use impressions yet? In combo with a Shimano dynamo?

    20. henry Says:

      I’m traveling in Japan (and researching cycling here) for the whole month of November but the WorkCycles mechanics have installed the latest Shimano and Sturmey Archer brakes and some other parts on some bikes to test. I should have some feedback to write about after I return to Holland.

    21. Robin Says:

      Anything to say yet on the IM80 vs XL-FD?
      A place in Berlin is quoting less than €40 for a IM80 which doesn’t seem too bad if they are a real improvement.

    22. Robin Says:

      I spotted a bike in a shop fitted with the new Sturmey XL brake hubs which I borrowed for a quick round the car park test. It had a useful increase in brake power over a bike with 70mm brakes which would stop but didn’t have much in reserve for emergency braking.

    23. William Bendsen Says:

      I’ve been reading at, ’cause I’m also very curious if I could get better stopping power for my bicycle just by replacing the roller-brakes from IM70 to IM80.

      I was really amazed to read that the IM80, 70 and 50, 31 are all scored for a loaded weight of 100, but anyway, the manual states that the front brake works with: “HB-IM70/DH-2R30-E-H/DH-3R30-H” and the rear brake works with the “SG-8R36/SG-8R31/SG-7R46”

      Good news for me, as I have the 2,4W dynamo front hub. Now I’ll just have to wait and see what the price’ll be.

      manual is here, front and rear:

    24. Robin Says:

      I couldn’t find any useful comparisons on the Shimano site. Sometimes the dealer technical manuals are more informative, but I haven’t seen a recent copy.
      On they claim they IM80 has 50% higher brake effeciency compared to IM50 and IM70 is 30% better than IM50, i.e. 20% difference. I doubt this tells the whole story, e.g. fading due to heat build up.

    25. Robin Says:

      Sorry I meant

    26. Eric Says:

      Is this IM80 a worthwhile upgrade for a bike with an IM70?

    27. henry Says:

      Eric, After a year or so of testing I don’t think it’d be worth the trouble and cost to upgrade IM70’s to IM80’s. Sure, if they need replacement anyway you might as well do it.

    28. Luis Says:

      Could you do a follow up on this topic, it’s been a year since your last report. I’m particularly interested on what you have to say about your results testing Sturmey Archer drum brakes and IM80. Could you also contrast IM80 to IM70 and the competitors.
      Are you aware of new and effective products to increase braking performance in cargo category?
      I thank you.

    29. Eric Says:

      Is the IM81 basically the same as IM80 or improved in some way? I saw one of these fitted to a Bakfiets recently. The cooling disk did look fairly large for a roller brake but there wasn’t anything else nearby to compare.

    30. henry Says:

      Yes, the IM81 is just the IM80 with a bigger cooling disk. Mechanically they’re the same brake further.

    31. Eric Says:

      OK thanks. I couldn’t find any useful information on Shimano’s site detailing the differences between the various roller brakes. Sometimes the dealer technical manuals have more information.

    32. henry Says:

      If you search rollerbrakes on this blog you’ll find various discussions beyond this one. No, Shimano has no meaningful information about these brakes on their site and their distributors also know nothing. They find out what’s inside from us.

    33. Eric Says:

      I’ve uploaded a photo of the IM81, which looks to have a ~50% larger cooling disk.

    34. henry Says:

      Yes, that’s the one. We had spec’ed the IM80 but Azor bought IM81’s. The bigger, heavier brake is OK for the Cargobike but out of place on the Secret Service. So we’re working on bringing in a stock of IM80’s as well. We’ll also fit them to the Fr8’s which are made at another factory 50km away.

    35. Michael Says:

      Glad I found this thread again. I am intent to purchase a Fr8 soon again as the finest cargo bicycle in existence globally, and was just wondering if IM80 brakes would now go on them. Does Workcycles plan to stick with the Shimano Nexus 8 internal gearing, or go to Nuvinci? Apparently there is a shop in Portland, Oregon fitting Nuvinci to the IM80 for cargo bicycles. Then, just for fun, if you added a FSA Patterson Metropolis interally-geared crank, you’d have a rather expansive gear range for the formidable Fr8, would you not, all without any bicycle “gears” anymore?

    36. henry Says:

      Thanks for the generous compliment Michael,
      IM80 rollerbrakes fit just fine on the Fr8 and are actually fitted standard to 8sp models. They’re an option on the three speed versions too.

      It’s Clever Cycles in Portland that offers the Cargobikes with NuVinci hubs. We build them for Clever.

      We’re just fine with the Nexus 8 hub for most applications but on special request we do fit the NuVinci hub to the Fr8 as well. It’s not a production fitment and it is quite a bit more expensive than the already just fine Shimano hub. I have one in my own Fr8 and there’s lots of NuVinci discussion over at the Facebook @Workcycles group:

    37. Knor Says:

      Is the IM-81 brake compatible with any of the better quality shimano dynamo hubs like the DH-3N72, DH-T660 or DH-3N80? I mean: safety is also about good lights, isn’t it? I don’t find any mentioning about it on the shimano website.

    38. henry Says:

      Knor, Shimano only makes their basic model, nutted axle hub dynamos with rollerbrake mounts. But we fit them on thousands of bikes and only very rarely have a problem. The friction is also insignificant so for city bike use there’s no reason to spend more money on the hub anyway.

    39. Jan Says:

      Instructional movies:

      Any translators here?

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