From: uwe@pobox.com
Newsgroups: rec.sport.skating.inline
Subject: Re: braking systems?
Date: Fri Feb 23 20:33:54 EST 2001

Eric Edwards:
>Another option is to put a conventional brake on your racing skates. 
>Miller sells one that fits most racing frames:

This brake is made by Johan Bennink/Duecento/Force/M-Skates/Maple
(http://www.m-skates.com/) even though this fact is not mentioned on the
M-Skates or Miller websites. It uses the same axle system and brake pads
as an earlier brake by Mogema that has been discontinued.

>How well it works, probably depends on how low cut your boots are and
>how big your feet are. I feet are approximately 12.5. I found that that
>the Miller brake attached to my 13.2" Eaglehawk frames with Miller
>Fitness Pro boots was slightly less effective than the brake on the
>Salomon TR9's.

One of the factors that influences the effectiveness of a heel brake is
the placement of the rearmost wheel relative to the foot. The further
back the wheel, and thus the brake, is placed the smaller the stopping
power. This is one reason why stopping power tends to be smaller on
5-wheel skates than on 4-wheel skates.

>If you don't think you can get enough leverage and you're mechanically
>inclined, you may want to try to duplicate Uwe Brockmann's brake 
>leverage devices. 

There are no good pictures of these devices on the web yet. That makes
it unnecessarily hard to build them. I have taken a few pictures with an
APS camera. Unfortunately I probably will not have a working APS film
scanner to scan the negatives at high resolution for another six months
or so. Sorry.

(The scanner that I purchased at eBay was damaged in transit. USPS is
taking six months to process the international insurance claim and is
holding on to the scanner in the meantime. I would rather wait for the
claim resolution than spend more money now.)

Uwe Brockmann, uwe@pobox.com

From: uwe@pobox.com
Newsgroups: rec.sport.skating.inline
Subject: Re: braking systems?
Date: 24 Feb 2001 21:56:38 -0500

Thomas Charbonneau:
> Sounds like quite an interesting braking system that you are using.
> Do you think your braking leverage system is a better choice than the
> Claw for my skate touring use (ie: long gradual hills, and hills w/
> intersections at the bottom!)?

I know that the system that I use works well for your intended
application because I have used it for several years on a regular basis
under similar conditions. I am sceptical about the effectiveness and
practicality of the Claw system but I have not tried it. Therefore I
cannot give you any definite information on that system.

My system depends on regular heel brakes. Obtaining them is the first
roadblock that you have to overcome. For most racing frames the M-Skates
brake that has already been mentioned is probably the best option. From
what I have seen the special axles that ship with this brake vary widely
in quality. Most are poorly made. Some are too short. Nonetheless, you
can probably get the brake installed well enough. The older Mogema
brakes came in two version. The latter of those two versions used the
same axle system as the M-Skates brake but did not suffer from the axle
quality problems.

The old discontinued Mogema brakes are a better option if you have
frames that they are compatible with. However they only work on some of
the old Mogema frames, are expensive, and may be difficult to obtain.
IIRC SWAT skates may still be able to get them in limited quantities.

Salomon's TR-8/TR-9 brake can be fitted to Salomon TR-Racing frames
with the help of two special parts that Salomon sells as a kit. This is
probably your best option if you happen to have TR-Racing frames. One
skater here has attached this brake to a Boen frame using the special
Salomon hardware. It appears to fit perfectly but, since I have not
tested this setup myself, I am reluctant to recommend it. The brake
will probably not fit most other frames.

Audrey Winthrop has been selling a brake that she has developed. She
mentions it in a story that you can find here:


I have never used this brake but I saw someone break one under light use
at walking speed in a parking lot. Improper installation of the brake
may have contributed to its failure in this case. Nonetheless I would
not trust this brake, even when properly installed, with the higher
forces that are developed with brake leverage devices.

The brake leverage devices that I use were invented and first used by
Don Ruiz. He used only one heel brake and one brake leverage device.
I use two brakes and two brake leverage devices simultaneously. In my
experience this is much more effective and, contrary to what one might
think, easier to do than using just one brake and leverage device.

One brake and leverage device may be sufficient for your application but
to really do it right you would need to buy two brakes and build two
brake leverage devices.

Uwe Brockmann, uwe@pobox.com

From: uwe@pobox.com
Newsgroups: rec.sport.skating.inline
Subject: Re: braking systems?
Date: 25 Feb 2001 00:53:25 -0500

Thomas Charbonneau:
> I checked out the brake that Miller offers. It looks like it is
> constructed well. The only problem I see with it is that each
> replacement brake pad costs $16!!!!

It used to be $10. ;-)

> I wonder if there is some way to modify the braking system so that you
> could attach standard $5 heel brakes to it.

The Rollerblade Lighting brake pad, part no. 760L, is common, costs
close to $5 and can be made to fit the M-Skates brake with minimal

The brake pad has a lip in the rear that is supposed to be cradled by
the plastic Rollerblade brake housing. It is a little too long for the
M-Skates brake. Therefore you need to cut off a little bit of material.
You can probably do this with a knife. However, I found that it is far
easier to do this with one-hand pruning shears available from gardening
supply stores. Mine are called anvil pruners, are made by Fiskars, and
work great. They reduce the job to a single squeeze of the levers.

Rollerblade uses 10/24 x 3/4 truss head phillips machine screws to
attach these brake pads to the brake bodies. You may want to upgrade to
something stronger. I prefer 1/4-28 x 1 button head cap screws. These
also have the advantage that you can turn them with 4 mm and 5/32" hex
wrenches. If you want to use these screws you will have to increase the
size of the hole in the M-Skates brake body slightly (from 6 mm?) to
1/4". You will also need a matching nut and washer to hold the screw on
the other side of the brake pad.

The brake body is made from folded steel. At its rear a length of steel
is folded down to prevent the Mogema/M-Skates brake pad from turning.
This part goes down too far and interferes with the installation of the
Rollerblade brake pad. You could cut away part of the metal or part of
the brake pad. I do neither. Instead I just put two 1" diameter washers
in between the brake pad and the brake body.

The same Rollerblade brake pads also fit the older Mogema brakes.
However you do not have to cut the brake pad or install washers in
between the pad and the brake body.

The same Rollerblade brake pads also fit the Salomon TR-8/TR-9/TR-Racing
brake. You need to cut away a little more of the rear lip. I use
1/4-28 x 3/4 button head cap screws. The removable nut in the Salomon
brake body needs to be drilled and tapped to accept these screws since
they are bigger than those that Salomon uses.

The Audrey Winthrop brake comes with the Mogema/M-Skates brake pad. The
Rollerblade Lightning brake pad does not fit. IIRC the problem is that
it touches the ground even when you are not braking.

The Mogema/M-Skates brake pad is harder and lasts longer than the
Rollerblade Lighting brake pad. However, the Rollerblade brake pad is
more widely available, provides more stopping power, has more usable
rubber, and costs far less. Overall I like the Rollerblade pad better.

Uwe Brockmann, uwe@pobox.com

From: uwe@pobox.com
Newsgroups: rec.sport.skating.inline
Subject: Re: braking systems?
Date: 25 Feb 2001 04:46:43 -0500

Thomas Charbonneau:
> I used to have a heel brake on my 4 wheel rollerblades, but I can't
> imagine having two. How do you maintain balance while simultaneously
> applying both brakes? That must be quite a feat :)

Maintaining balance while braking with two heel brakes is easy. If
anything is hard, it is the transition from not braking into braking
with two brakes and the transition from braking with two brakes to being
at a standstill.

To simplify the first transition you engage one brake first and brake
as if you had only one heel brake. Once you are stable in this position
you engage the second brake. Once it is engaged you should be very
stable on most 4-wheel skates. Just before you come to a full stop, or
immediately afterwards, you should move one of the two feet back to
stabilize yourself. Standing still with both brakes engaged is difficult
but is not necessary for braking with two brakes.

I believe that it is much easier to do than it sounds.

Stopping power with two heel brakes is much larger than stopping power
with just one heel brake on most 4-wheel skates.

> Also, how do you get the bulk of your braking force when using the
> system? Is the braking force mainly dependent on how hard you pull up
> on the leverage device with your hand? Or is it equally dependent on
> the power of the contraction of the tibialis anterior (muscle that
> points your foot upward) and the upward pull on the cord?

It feels like you are leaning backward while holding on to the handles
of the brake leverage devices. It does not feel like you are pulling
something up with the handles.

The way heel brakes are supposed to work, when you use two of them
simultaneously, is that you lean back and, the further you lean back,
the more pressure is applied to the brake pads. The problem is that the
muscles that pull up the feet are frequently too weak to transfer the
power to the brake pads. Thus, as you lean back, the pressure on the
brake pads is not increased (sufficiently) and you fall backward.

The brake leverage devices fix that problem. What the muscles that pull
up the feet cannot do even when you strain them as much as you can, can
easily be accomplished by your hands and arms by simply holding on to
the handles.

Brake leverage devices are not the only way to fix the problem. Other
options include shortening the wheelbase of your skates (e.g. by using
4-wheel skates instead of 5-wheel skates), pressing against the rear of
the cuff of the skates with your leg (requires strong high cuffs which
are common on plastic shell skate boots), or even grabbing the front of
your boots with your hands (which is probably too difficult to do to be
of much practical use).

> When you pull up on the cords, do you have to lean your body more
> forward than you would in a normal tuck?

The handles of my brake leverage devices are located below my knees.
A normal tuck is sufficient to reach them. Once I have grabbed them I
actually lean backward (while holding on to them.)

> Does application of the braking system compromise balance at all?

While you are braking you are stable. The only thing that may be
difficult is the initial transition into the state where both brakes are
applied. You may want to practice this carefully until you get a feel
for it.

On 5-wheel skates it can be very difficult to simultaneously use two
heel brakes without brake leverage devices. When you add brake leverage
devices it becomes easy.

Once you get used to brake leverage devices, it can be frustrating to
use a single heel brake without a brake leverage device, even on some
4-wheel skates: You apply the brake and you should be decelerating
rapidly but you are not because your stupid foot muscle(s) cannot pull
up the front of the skate sufficiently.

> I saw the picture on the website of the leverage system. However, it
> is difficult to see the exact structure/components. You mentioned
> that you took a new pic(s) of the system. Would you be able to mail
> me a copy of the picture? I would reimburse you for cost of the print
> and postage, and could even send it ahead of time if you prefer. This
> would be really helpful with the construction of the devices.

I agree that better pictures would be very helpful but right now I just
do not want to spend the extra effort to have prints made and scan them
in or mail them when I know that I will be redoing the job at higher
quality in about six months anyway.

The basic principle behind the brake leverage devices is very simple.
You just attach some kind of rope or string to the front of your skates
that you can hang onto with your hands so that, when you lean back, the
fronts of your skates are pulled up, even when your foot muscles are too
weak to get the job done.

The rest is just details: Exactly how to attach the string to the
frames, exactly how to attach the string to your leg so that you can
grab it with your hands when needed, how to prevent the cord(s) from
flopping around when not in use etc.

Uwe Brockmann, uwe@pobox.com

From: uwe@pobox.com (Uwe Brockmann)
Newsgroups: rec.sport.skating.inline
Subject: Re: braking systems?
Date: 26 Feb 2001 14:50:44 -0500

Uwe Brockmann:
> I agree that better pictures would be very helpful but right now I
> just do not want to spend the extra effort to have prints made and
> scan them in or mail them when I know that I will be redoing the job
> at higher quality in about six months anyway.

I changed my mind, had prints made, scanned them in, and put them up at


Uwe Brockmann, uwe@pobox.com


Uwe Brockmann, uwe@pobox.com, http://www.panix.com/~uwe/brakelev/