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Final Review: 2014 Jamis Hudson with Slidepad Brakes

We’ve had the Jamis Hudson with Slidepad on test for a few months now, and despite a lot of frigid days, and days that look like this (or snowier), I’ve managed to get enough rides in to get a good impression.

 

Average reviewing conditions. March 17th snow in Virginia!

 

 

You’ll remember (or not) that I did an initial review here. Overall, I can’t say that my impressions have changed very much – I still think the general setup is pretty good for the intended audience, and after a decent number of hours/miles (many at slow speed with a 5-year old out in front) I didn’t have any issues crop up. The bike is overall comfortable (though after one 2-hour ride I was getting not-so-happy with the super-cushy saddle!).

There is one significant difference between that initial review and now, concerning the brake setup. After reading my initial impressions, Ian at Slidepad was concerned there might be something wrong with my brake setup. He gave me a call, and we determined that the sliding-pad bit of the brake system had gotten (to use a technical phrase) hung up on something internally – so it wasn’t kicking in full-force. After wrestling with it a bit, I managed to pop it back into place without damaging anything, and voila! I had improved braking performance.

So – that bit of my initial review can be revised. Braking works pretty effectively,the rear wheel does not lock up as much as it was before, and the front-wheel braking kicks in reasonably quickly.

While I was talking with him, Ian also explained that their “improved braking efficiency” claim was made against a bike with rear-brake only (like a lot of the coaster-brake cruisers out there). I’d agree that this definitely beats that setup. However, I think a fairer comparison is against something like the Electra Townie 7D, which is extremely comparable in price (within $20), as well as components (with the exception of the brakes) and general intent. In that case, I don’t think that there’s going to be a big difference unless the rider of the Electra isn’t using their front brake well/at all.

The Hudson in drier (and warmer) times

This brings me to the whole “one brake lever is easier” thing. Yes, it works. Yes, it’s a valid option and frankly I can see it working out for some people (and hey, you have your left arm free to signal turns!). But in general – I still don’t quite buy it. When using Slidepad, it does take a bit of trial and error to adjust to the point where the front brakes kick in, as you go from a light “back only” to a significantly stronger “back and front combined.” When riding at speed, I did sometimes find myself unintentionally slowing much more than I meant to when that front brake kicked in. So in my mind, learning to deal with this isn’t really much less difficult than learning to deal with two brakes. Finally, I really think the whole risk of doing an endo/losing control by means of front brake, on a bike like this, is pretty minimal – the weight balance is so far back that it really takes a lot of effort to get the back wheel to pick up much at all.

In terms of the “simpler” idea on the brakes: my experience with the whole setup having a malfunction didn’t leave me more confident. I was happy it was fixable, but it definitely took more effort than getting a regular set of V brakes set up. Additionally, it’s a lot more obvious what’s wrong with a set of V brakes. I’m sure Jamis dealers will get their mechanics all set up on how this system works – but if an owner of this type of brake system walks into a shop that hasn’t seen it before, I have no idea what their results would be. If all is working fine, it’s not going to be an issue, but I can’t say how often issues might come up.

In the end, this really all comes down to personal preferences (as it so often does!). In this case, I’d prefer independent brake levers for the greater degree of control. However, if a prospective buyer is purchasing from a Jamis dealer, intends to continue to use that shop for service, and likes the whole “one hand two brakes” concept, I’d say go for it.

On Test: 2014 Jamis Hudson with Slidepad Brakes

So during Interbike (remember Interbike?) RL and Jack got to see some Torker bikes equipped with Slidepad technology. Most of you were drooling over the Torkers… but we also were intrigued by the Slidepad stuff, and now we’ve got our hands (well, my hands) on a new-for-2014 Jamis Hudson equipped with Slidepad brakes.

The slide pad for Slidepad.

So how does Slidepad work? Basically, when you engage the rear brake, one of the pads slides forward (pad sliding… Slidepad… get it?) and puts tension on a cable from the rear brakes to the front. So – your rear brake always engages first (and with more power), then your front brake engages with slightly less power. You can check out Slidepad’s video for some in-action views.

Since I’ve received this bike, I’ve been hit with a nasty 3-week cold (residing primarily in my lungs, of course!) and then subjected to snow and ice… so I haven’t had as many chances to ride it as I’d have liked. However, I’ve gotten out on the bike a few times and can offer some preliminary comments on both the bike and the brakes. I’ll be riding it over the coming weeks, and will let you all know whether my initial impressions hold up and what else I notice!

First… the bike! The Jamis Hudson is a comfort/cruiser-style bike with a MSRP of $480 – so about what you’d expect for a decent entry-level bike. This is NOT a bike that’s marketed to most of you with your serious-commuter cred… it’s aimed at getting your mom/brother/grandma/friend who hasn’t ridden a bike in 10-50 years back onto one. So, it’s got a basic 7-speed grip shift, 26″ wheels, the Slidepad brakes, a cushy seat, and laid-back pedaling position. It’s easy and comfortable to ride, as long as your ride isn’t going to be too fast or too far. Perfect for jaunts into (a nearby) town or around the neighborhood with the kids.

Jamis Hudson Sport


At nearly 30 lbs it’s not a lightweight beast (even though it’s got an aluminum frame!), but that doesn’t matter because it’s not supposed to be. It comes in one basic size, and that size is quite adjustable thanks to the quick release seatpost and the quill stem that has a few inches of adjustability in it. It seems like it could work for anyone in the 5′ – 6′ range pretty easily (possibly more, but I haven’t had any of those folks available to try it out!). It also comes with one of the nicer stock kickstands I’ve seen.

Now… the brakes! So I’ve got to say up front – I have to look at these from the perspective of the aforementioned non-riders rather than my own. I’m not going to be swapping out my disc brakes for these things, but again I don’t think Slidepad expects me to.

The good:
– The brakes work. The bike stops as advertised, and the front wheel does not lock up at all. Yes it’s only one bullet point… but it’s a pretty darn important one!

The neither-good-nor-bad:
– I have to say I don’t know quite where the “efficiency” claims come from. Certainly the bike stops in a reasonable distance, but I’m quite confident I can stop faster on my other bikes than on this one.
– If you’re not going fast, the front brake doesn’t engage at all, because there’s not enough force on the back brake to move the slide.

The bad:
– As a consequence of rear-wheel-first braking, it’s actually pretty easy to lock the rear wheel up – so I would definitely not want this system if I was going to ride in wet/icy/snowy conditions, where a rear-wheel slide could potentially be worse than a locked front wheel.
– The basic Tektro brake lever is one of my least favorite ones out there. Swap this out for an Avid Speed Dial lever and I’d be a much happier camper!
– The brake system is so interdependent that it makes what is usually an easy job – setting up a pair of V brakes – kind of a pain in the butt. To get everything the way I wanted it, I had to set both front and rear brakes VERY close to the rim – and I still don’t get full braking power until the lever nearly hits the handlebars (though I suspect part of that is the fault of the lever, see above). To most riders of this bike this won’t matter… but I’m betting their mechanics (probably their bikey friends, aka our readers) won’t appreciate it that much!

One of my test riders takes the Hudson for a spin


Despite my complaints on the brakes, this is an overall decent setup for a new rider (and that rider probably won’t have any issues with complaints 2 or 3). I had a couple of not-new riders (but riders unaccustomed to cruiser style bikes) check it out, and they both thought the bike was comfortable and the brakes didn’t give them a problem. I suspect most prospective buyers for the bike and brake system will feel somewhat the same way.

 

 

2011 Bikecommuters.com Holiday Gift Guide

Before the clock ticks down on Christmas shopping, we thought we’d share some gift ideas for that favorite cyclist in your life. This was a group effort, with lots of good suggestions from Miriam, Noah, Vince, Elizabeth and RL. Some of the products listed below were reviewed here, and that will be noted in the descriptions. Other items are on our own wish lists or are items we’ve seen and think are worth sharing.

Don’t forget about yourselves as you shop…with all that gas and parking money you’re saving, you deserve some bikey treats, too!

Bikes:

— Redline 9-2-5…one of the staff favorites around here. Reviewed here. Get ’em while they’re hot, as Redline drops them from the lineup for 2012.

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— Jamis Commuter 4 — Vince’s favorite, and on special if you’re in the Portland area. Swing on over to River City Bicycles Outlet for a screaming deal on this machine.

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— Urbana Bikes — Reviewed here, and the electric version here.

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Torker Graduate. Or, if you prefer a sensible drop-bar bike, check out our review of the Interurban.

Lights:

Lots of lights to choose from…many that we have reviewed and others that simply caught our fancy.

— Portland Design Works Spaceship/Radbot light set. Reviewed here.

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— PDW Cosmic Dreadnought headlight.

Supernova Lighting Systems…both battery- and dynohub-powered.

Blackburn USB/Solar Flea Lights. Reviewed here.

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Niterider MiNewt 600.

Revolights wheel lights…one of the many Kickstarter projects.

MonkeyLectric M210. Review coming soon.

LED By LITE directional lights…shown here.

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Flashbak safety light. We reviewed this in 2009 but it is one of those products that’s worth a second look.

Clothing:

O2 Rainwear’s Calhoun jacket…review coming up soon now that the rainy season is in full swing.

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Chrome Vanya knickers. Reviewed here.

Pryme Trailhands gloves. Reviewed here.

Pryme V2 Helmet. Reviewed here.

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Nutcase Gen 2 helmets.

DZR shoes. Reviewed here.

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Accessories and Stocking Stuffers:

— Anything by Banjo Brothers…it’s no secret that we have an unabashed “bromance” going on with Eric and Mike of Banjo Brothers, and we’ve been extremely pleased by everything we’ve tried from the cargo-carrying offerings there. Rather than overwhelm you with a string of links, simply type in “banjo brothers” in the search box at the top right of our site and you’ll see just how much we love their products.

Planet Bike “Captain Safety” reflective stickers…so much fun!

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— Bags by Po Campo — made in Chicago. Yay! We reviewed their rack tote and Po Campo offers a ton of other choices.

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Onetwothreespeed’s Reflective Helmet Bows.

Planet Bike Superflash/Superflash Turbo…a perennial favorite here at Bikecommuters.com, and a perfect stocking stuffer. You can never have too many of these (disclosure: I have about ten of them).

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— Gift Certificates to your local bike shop. Yeah, you should support your local shops.

Chainspirations Bicycle Jewelry…. review coming soon, and here is a sneak peak at a necklace. chainspirations necklace

Resource Revival’s recycled bicycle picture frames, bottle openers, clocks and keychains. So cool!

— Cobra Tire Tool — reviewed here. Naysayers be damned; this is a useful tool and one that fits nicely in your sweetie’s stocking (or saddlebag)!

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Got a gift idea for the cyclists in YOUR life? We’d love to hear about them…drop them in the comments below.