With more and more mountainboarders getting into downhilling and riding with brakes, I thought I’d a have a think about a few different ways of setting up brakeboards, the terrain they’re might be suited to, and some advantages and disadvantages I can see. Firstly, types of brakes.
Types of brakes
The four types of brakes are hydraulic discs, hydraulic pads, cable pads, and cable discs. All have their advantages and disadvantages. Cable pads are the cheapest and simplest but don’t tend to work very well (but can be beefed up a bit). Hydraulic pads like the ABS and Trampa brakes are lightweight and not too expensive but can lack stopping power. Cable disc pads are a bit rare but work really well. And then there’s the noSno disc brakes, which are the most expensive but definitely the most effective.
There are also different ways to set-up brakeboards. I call them heavy, light, and mixed.
Heavy set-ups will have nine, ten, or twelve inch wheels all round, generally have a longer deck for stability at speed, and are better suited to long open firetracks and mountain descents. This set-up can have pad or disc brakes as they are mostly used for slowing down rather than stopping.
Light set-ups will have eight inch wheels and most usually pad brakes. They are the most general brake boards and can be ridden by all kinds of riders, not just downhillers, but anyone who wants a bit more confidence on a board or doesn’t want to learn other speed control techniques. More riders using this kind of set up is important for getting over the idea that brakes are only for really gnarly terrain.
Mixed set-ups have bigger wheels on the front and smaller on the back, such as nines and eights or ten and nines. This set-up is great for tight singletrack riding. Brakes on the front with heavy tyres for traction, and smaller wheels on the back to make it lighter and more agile.
Front or back
Should brakes be on the front or back trucks? Traditional wisdom says brakes should be on the front as that’s where you’re body goes as you brake which should give you more traction and better braking power. Front brakes work well for Mixed set-ups, but Light and even Heavy set-ups could have the brakes on the front or the back. I’ve found that riding a Light set-up with brakes on the back works well as in my head I can separate direction from control. That means that everything I do with the front of the board is about where I’m going and everything I do with the back is about controlling my speed, scrubbing and braking.
So, that’s some of my thoughts on brake boards and different ways of setting them up. I don’t think there is one right way to do it. It’s dependent on the rider, the board, the brakes and the terrain, but it’s important to experiment and find the right way for you rather than going with the ‘usual’ way of doing it.