Ok for your brake question. Yes there are brake shoes inside. Brake shoes are shaped differently than brake pads.
The rag thing is probably safe but probably looks ugly. When you remove the tube you the bike will run lean (more air in the fuel mix than normal). To counter that you need to upjet or use a good air filter/ air box. I have an extra intake tube that i never used. If you want to buy it let me know. I upgraded to a delorto carburetor and i didnt need the tube after the upgrade.