You don't typically see reviews of tools here, except those you can stick in a pocket or a pack
for trailside use. Especially unusual here are shop-specific tools, those that are either too large or too expensive for any home mechanic to be able to justify. Today I'm highlighting an interesting invention that is both: the $3,500 Brake-O-Matic from Bonas Labs, a small one-man operation looking to increase the efficiency and value of professional mechanics. The Brake-O-Matic is a brake bedding and burnishing machine, essentially replacing the repeated back alley sprints otherwise required to bed in a brand new set of disc brakes. As a critical step in the process that is often overlooked by eager customers who just want to ride their new bike, the bedding/burnishing procedure is ideally done by a shop before sending a bike out the door.
Living in Massachusetts, Bonas founder Jonas Mikolayunas wanted to develop a tool that was usable in high-volume shops through the brutal East Coast winters, when heading outside to bed in a set of brakes is simply not an option. Starting off with a free treadmill, and after tinkering for some time, the Brake-O-Matic was born. Jonas is serious about the science of disc brakes, even citing multiple academic articles
on his website, if potential customers should want more info on the topic.
Every bike has its place on the Disc-O-Matic.
The Bonas Labs literature intentionally refers to the process as a two-part sequence, as the tool works differently to maximize those two processes in distinct stages. The Brake-O-Matic has a simple user interface that reads the load and pressure in the system, giving an indication as to how much braking force is being applied by the mechanic. With a foot pedal the user can control the speed of the rollers, and apply the brakes as intended for the given stage of the process. Jonas has developed a thorough instructional guide for use of the machine, which is simple enough to repeat easily after a first use. Bedding
is the initial process in which pad material is transferred to the rotor, maximizing surface area contact. This results in a visible change to the rotor, either as a high-polish look, or a slight graying of the metal, depending on brand and model. Burnishing
is the phase where pressure and heat both increase, resulting in the creation of what is called a tribofilm
on the two surfaces. Without getting too into the weeds, tribofilms are a mix of all the contact materials in a brake system, and are ultimately what make the brakes feel "stickier." There is no visible tell for tribofilm development, unless you have some lab-grade spectrography equipment, but you know it when you feel it.
Thought Jonas aims to lower the pricepoint of the Brake-O-Matic as things scale up, this tool is certainly not aimed at the home mechanic in its design intent. The prototype stage of the development was conducted at a shop that sometimes peaks at 500 bike assemblies a week, so volume and efficiency were primary drivers in the final product. Jonas has even built a savings calculator that allows service managers to get a sense of whether or not their shop warrants an industrial tool like the Brake-O-Matic. Home mechanics are probably still best off heading to the biggest hill in town and doing some repeated slow-downs, but for the busiest shops out there, this could be a hugely useful tool.
With an obvious focus on user interface, long term durability, and right to repair, I think the Brake-O-Matic is a well considered tool that should serve the right people quite well. I haven't had a chance to get my hands on a set of brakes burnished on the machine, but I'd be curious to see if there's any improvement in performance in a controlled setting versus the relatively haphazard methods I tend to employ.
For those working at shops cranking out dozens of bike builds a day, you can find more information on the Bonas Labs website
Personally and unfortunately this tool looks like one of the most pointless innovations, right up there with the handle bar laser. No work shop will have the space and you can put substantial upgrades/investments into the rest of the workshop for many mechanics for the same money.
Plus sandpaper and a splash of water works just as well.
Also, I required a 30 minute coffee brake to recover from parking lot sprints if I had to do it...as the oldest, heaviest member of the service crew. This was the main issue ;-)
However, being in Europe now, it seems, as always, there are different takes on how and when to provide certain services.
That does not compute..
Obviously this is just something not done in the UK, and not common in the EU then. I have bought many bikes over the years from UK and EU and not one has ever been bedded in for me.
But yea, i ride hard and my trails are steep. If i put in new Pads or i get fresh Bikes i just go for a lap and its fine.
Wait... There's a laser for your handlebars... I thought my life was complete (if you ignore N+1) but it now has a gaping - laser firing handlebars sized - hole in it.
I proceeded to use the manual-described method of bedding them in and it wasn't until the middle of the bedding-in that I got real feeling with multiple fast stops, which really showed just how much effort it took to get them to bed in
So, if you get a brand new set of brakes and cannot get the front to grab hard in the parking lot, bed them in before the trail so you don't get a lovely scare
Wait to you see my portfolio of utrerly pointless innovations.
You heard of bull horn style bars, what if I told you about bull horn bars......
It's not that big a deal whether the shop does or doesn't do it, I just complain because it's 10 more minutes of needing my sunglasses and whining about having no peak watts.
That said, I always bed new brake pads, and when I'm changing them out I'll refinish the rotor as well. Coming from the automotive world, I've carried over a lot of rules from there to mine and my friend's bikes.
Fun fact, I once did the same thing using a Milwaukee Fuel drill for shits and giggles. I use some random polishing attachment and used it to spin the wheel while applying enough brake to not stall it.
- Have a wheelie contest where riders had to make it one lap around the store with the front wheel removed
- Wagering on a darts contest using a blow gun powered by the air compressor which would shoot bike spokes across the shop hard enough to go through a piece of plywood (aka, the wall).
- Conduct a fashion show using all of the clearance clothing rack items, few of which were even close to fitting
All of these were during store hours.
Long time since I worked in a shop, but some of my favourites were:
- Race round the shop on 12" kids bikes (at 6'3 I was definitely at a disadvantage)
- Hide and seek
- Track pump BB fights. You can jam a bb in the pump and fire it out. We didn't have a compressor which was maybe for the best
There you go
When you are actually riding a bike there is a large amount of momentum created by the wheels rolling and the mass of the bike and rider on it. This allows the bike to keep moving even while dragging the brakes decently hard.
A bike on rollers would have no momentum besides just the back wheel spinning. I feel like this would be more like trying to bed your brake pads in while just spinning the wheels with the bike in a repair stand.
I can't imagine the volume a shop would have to do to make this pay back.
But ya, if a shop said... "For $10 bucks we can bed your brakes." I'd probably do it. That's only 350 bikes to break even... After that, it's years of extra profit.
After a few months of 3-4 interval sets a week, they'll have some legs on them.
You have to upgrade to the 3D printed Ti version for $8K
We are located along side the coast and squeeling brakes is a day to day thing here.
90% of the bikes we sell are normal e_bikes for commuting but we fix all other bicycles as well.
It's not a machine we charge the customer for but it a service and only to make our job easyer and much faster
spending $3500 just to steal 5-10 min of joy from a guy making $20/hr, is about as Scrooge McDuck as you get.
One of the biggest mistakes people make in doing sprints or fast downs is they accidentally come to a complete stop and end up with a build up of tribofilm in a few spots on the rotor. Those high spots cause heat build up and work hardening of the rotor at the leading edge of the high spot, and then you get stuttering brakes, kinda anti-ABS.
Being able to keep the wheel spinning at a constant rate and preventing any full stops until the system has cooled should provide for a very consistent burnishing and thus a very consistent braking feel, which is really the best thing about discs (that and not making the rim do double duty, so better materials can be used for both braking surfaces).
A mechanic is usually paid 20$ per hour.
So the cost for 1 bike is 20/12 = 1.66$
3500 / 1,66 = 2100
So you need to do it on 2100 bikes to makes it worth it. If it takes absolutely no time and works straight away 100% of time...
Regarding shops not bedding in brakes, I would be surprised. That being said when I talk to perspective customers (free agents) not feeling they have gotten a good value out of their tune up is often why they are shopping around for a new LBS.
If we didn't bed in our brakes I don't think we could sell very many bikes. The test rides would be awful. It is most noticeable on lower end components and worst on cheap road bike mechanical discs. Those customers are not going to be familiar with the bedding in concept and certainly are not going to do it themselves. They just are going to have a terrible experience and want to go back to rim brakes.
All bikes get test ridden, but a function check should be just that. The bedding in part of the test ride, when needed, adds a lot more than 5 minutes. Having all the work done prior to the function check would be more efficient.
This thing, plus an algorithm for proper suspension set up, and I might just fly to a cool destination instead of alway being the one with the car.. I’ve never seen a rental bike that was even close to a proper set up.
Ski rental shops have been sued right out of sending bad equipment out the door, bike rental shops need to catch up!
Since disc brakes are present in bike industry, I never seen, any manufacturer to bed in brakes. Retailers simply told their customers to be careful for the first few miles, while the stopping power may not be ideal.
But nowadays, when we need(?) "steering stabilizers", ABS on our brakes, handguards on the bars, etc, why I believe MTB newbies won't injure themself without some "properly pre-bed" brakes on their new bikes?...
We're on a good way to replace skills, reflexes and experiences with pure technology.
Will remain anything from those good old bike-rides? The last step will be a self-driving bike, that through a GoPro 42, will transfer the video in real time, to your VR headset, and you'll watch the Megavalanche trail from your secure couch in your livingroom. Then you'll post on social media what a great ride you had. Can't wait for it...
Plastic would look more janky with that construction.
You could probably present some college kid this idea and they could build you a functionally identical prototype AND pay them by the hour and still spend less.
Yes, it kind of is, that's kind of the point. Except:
* it takes up less space than a set of rollers
* doesn't require the mechanic to be able to ride rollers
* it has a motor for consistency (compared to a chipper mechanic right after morning coffee vs tired mechanic at the end of the day after the 17th explanation of why internal routing is making a headset bearing change cost $150 bucks and 13 roller rides to bed in a bunch of brakes)
* doesn't require the mechanic to ride rollers even if they can
So... way better than rollers, or even a wheel-on trainer, because of the motor and intentional design (right tool for the job).
Join Pinkbike Login