I have been working on a 26" folding MTB, and its coming together slowly. The rear wheel has a band brake and for the life of me I can't get it to work well.

I have no experience with this kind of brake. Nearest I've worked with is a drum brake on a tandem, and drum brakes on a car.

Band side - own work Band side of brake. When actuated, the silver lever on the upper left rotates, and the band is pulled up and right. Since the other end is fixed by the rusty rivet, the band has to take a shorter path and decreases in circumference thereby tightening on the drum.

Drum side - own work This is the drum which is attached to the wheel hub. It is threadded onto the non-drive side.

So when braking under no-load this brake works perfectly and stops the suspended rear wheel quickly. When riding, this brake has a barely-perceptible slowing effect, and absolutely nothing if its a downhill grade in any way.

I have tried a light sand of the drum to remove any glaze. I've also sanded the band lightly but its soft so didn't want to tear it.

Also I've applied an electrical cleaner spray called Contact60 That also made no difference to braking. The band appears to absorb the spray

So far I have not applied "brakleen" because the band is soft and am worried about it absorbing into the band, rendering it contaminated permanently.

What else can I do to improve this brake? Or should I simply replace the whole thing with a conventional rim brake ?

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    I'd probably opt for switching to a rim brake if possible. – Batman Oct 1 '17 at 3:06
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    They're known to be mediocre at stopping. I believe all you can do is try to sand or otherwise refresh the band to get its CoF back up. Remember that despite being weird elsewhere, they are a staple component in East Asia, and you can just order a whole new one for very cheap. – Nathan Knutson Oct 1 '17 at 5:30
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    Contact cleaner often contains ingredients that linger, to deter corrosion. These could make things worse. Not knowing exactly what the band is made of it's hard to know what to clean it with, but that's probably what you need to do (unless you replace it) – Chris H Oct 1 '17 at 8:09
  • @ChrisH yeah its not metal, its a vaguely spongy lining with a thin sprung steel backing. I've just finished sanding both sides more, and it feels better without really being any good. – Criggie Oct 1 '17 at 9:41
  • Virtually any brake will seem to work "fantastically well" with no load, even if it's virtually useless at actually stopping the bike. Probably you need a different brake lever with a different pull ratio, so that LESS cable is pulled (but with more force) when you apply the brakes. (IOW, not a V-brake lever.) – Daniel R Hicks Oct 1 '17 at 21:54

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