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.




  1. MS

    “a rear-wheel slide could potentially be worse than a locked front wheel.”
    So, I take it you’ve never actually ridden in icy conditions.
    A front-wheel slide/lockup is an instant crash. Once it starts, it’s essentially impossible to react fast enough to prevent it.
    A rear-wheel slide is just a sideways slip, infrequently resulting in a crash.

  2. bigbenaugust

    A rear-wheel slide is just drifting. 🙂

  3. Ghost Rider

    I locked up my front wheel out on the MTB trails last weekend. Instead of going down, my tire cut through the ice and snow to solid ground below and I stayed upright. On glare ice, yeah, front wheel lockups are a disaster, but bike handling skills have something to do with it.

    I am skeptical about the Slidepad tech — lord knows that a lot of companies have tried such systems, but this one actually seems to make a bit of sense for riders unaccustomed to (or ignorant of the technique) feathering front and rear brakes on their own.

  4. Matt

    @ MS –

    You’re quite quick to jump to conclusions…

    I have ridden on ice/snow, frequently. The way bike handling is affected is going to depend on the specific conditions (wet snow, dry snow, ice, slope, etc.)… I’ve been dumped off my bike in both front and rear-wheel slide situations. Obviously having neither wheel lock is ideal in most cases. The point was that inadvertently locking up a rear wheel (which is very easy to do with this system) CAN result in loss of control.

    @Bigbenaugust – true… in the best-case scenario 🙂

    Again, what I’d like to emphasize is how handling will work for the intended audience. A surprise rear-wheel slide for someone who may not have the best balance/agility to begin with could be problematic.

  5. john h

    The Slidepad web site has some really good videos of DIY upgrade for their product.

  6. illintechnology

    Garbage gizmo intended to frustrate new riders with sub par braking action and costly/frequent adjustments by annoyed mechanics that will suggest installing standard brakes.

  7. listenermark

    @illintechnology You nailed it.

  8. Raiyn

    (╯°□°)╯︵ ┻━┻
    I said all I dared say back when this was introduced in the Interbike coverage.

  9. Ghost Rider

    @Raiyn — when has that ever stopped you from speaking your mind? Ha ha.

    Let’s be clear — I am still quite a bit skeptical of such gadgetry, but after enough companies have tried similar solutions, perhaps one will get it right! And Slidepad could be just that company. Let’s wait and hear how the rest of the review went before we condemn this tech…after all, if people don’t try to break the mold, new innovations stop happening.

  10. bikedog

    weird – you get more braking power from your front brake, so I don’t quite follow why the emphasis in this system would be on the rear brake. Especially for a street bike. I don’t think I’ve locked up the front brake on the street (except on ice) during a quick stop, but the rear brake locks up and skids quite easily. It seems with this system you are losing a good chunk of braking power by emphasizing the rear brake.

  11. Ghost Rider

    @bikedog — the idea behind such braking systems (not just this one, but a number of other “antilock”/dual-control systems) is to prevent endos when the front wheel locks up. Your point is PRECISELY why these systems are met with derision by seasoned cyclists…who are emphatically NOT the intended user group of Slidepad and the others.

  12. Raiyn

    At this point I’d have trouble keeping my comments civil enough to not end up as persona non grata around here. I’m sure those who are curious will use the site’s custom search to find the only other thread here mentioning this product for my less fiery thoughts on the matter.

  13. Gary

    MS, I think you’re missing one point. With two independent brakes, you can still get some braking out of the front brake even when you have to back off of the rear brake because of a slide. With the slidepad system, you cannot apply the front brake unless the rear brake is engaged.

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