do I need a brake?

Right now I’m riding my Kris Holm 20 inch when I go with my mountain bike friends and I’m in the process of buildling a 24 mountain unicycle. Should I get a brake on it? I want one because sometimes we go down steep slopes and there are some man made obstacles that are on a downward slope that I would like to get better at (I can make accuarte turns while going down them) and I can see where a brake would help. The cost is a bit high and I don’t have much money right now. Even having brake bosses put on a Bedford frame is high because I initially didn’t realize it had to be powder coated afterwards to cover the welds. Is a brake worth the extra expense? Or will the longer cranks (getting 170s) help me out with these issues?


I like having a brake for long steady descents. Makes life much easier on the legs.

The cost depends how precious you are. I just cut some bosses of an old MTB frame, welded them on the uni and gave them a coat of hammerite. :sunglasses:

You could go with a sidepull BMX brake. These just require a hole in the frame. No mess. They aren’t as powerful as cantis but you don’t need much power. Some can stick out a bit so choose wisely. Might be a good temporary measure to see if you like it.

If you are already going to use the longer cranks, then why not wait for the brake until you are completely used to the new uni? Then you’ll really know what you are looking for. You can certainly put on bosses or buy a frame with bosses without purchasing the brake.

Brakes are for cheaters.

I’ve had lots of fun going down steep hills without a brake while using 170s.

I chose not to put brakes on my muni. I can see how they would help on the long descents but Mt Cootha where I ride mainly has shorter, steeper descents and ascents with only a few longer ones. The longer ones weren’t too be either.

I’ve got a 24" x 3" wheel with 145mm Profile cranks and I haven’t had any problems with stopping on steep stuff yet. I’m really used to the shorter cranks now and although I was considering purchasing longer ones, I’ve decided to stick to 145’s. I think you’d be fine without brakes with 170mm cranks but if you’re willing to spend the money, it’d probably be a good idea to add the brake bosses just in case. I like to do some freestyle stuff on my muni while I’m out riding on Mt. Cootha so it’s good not having brakes for that.

Good luck,

I am pretty sure that you can’t get a side pull brake that goes around the 3.0 Gazz. The tire is just to tall and wide.

I agree with the others that you should ride without the brakes initially to see if you like riding without the brakes.

It’s some of us older guys with trashed knees that opt out for the brakes.

Maybe a brake will keep me from being an older guy with trashed knees.

I was originally going to get the bosses now and upgrade to the brake later, but my financial situation is moving downhill so I guess I’ll go no bosses before things get so bad that there is no unicycle.


Re: do I need a brake?

How’s it feel after say 5000 vertical feet? When I was training last year I
got to where 4500’ of ascent and descent in a day (with a brake) left me
feeling not a hint of soreness the next day. That’s 9000’ of elevation
change. I wouldn’t want to do that without the brake. I don’t think I could
(and still be able to ride the next day).

But yes it’s quite possible to go down relatively short but VERY steep
descents without a brake.

—Nathan, leaving work today early to cheat on another 4500’ ride.

“unibabyguy” <> wrote in message
> Brakes are for cheaters.
> :smiley:
> I’ve had lots of fun going down steep hills without a brake while using
> 170s.

I’m in the “Cheating? Maybe, but I’m old and so are my knees and I don’t give a rat’s ass about “purity” camp”. Being able to walk the next day is more important to me. The Moab ride exposed me to longer and steeper hills than I’ve been used to, and I was surprised to find my strong leg muscles were next to worthless when the pain in my knees would send the signal to my quads to stop firing.

My brake…and the new Muni to go with it…arrived today via UPS present truck. I’m going to take Nathan’s advice and leave early for a ride.


I must admit that I tend to be a bit 'purist’and I wouldn’t be keen to use a brake on a uni for normal riding. I could see how one could be useful for very prolonged descents to act as a ‘drogue’, though.

For short descents, experience, practice, confidence and possibly a handle will do the job.

A (real) 24 with 150s is controllable on quite steep descents. On 170s, it should be the nearest thing to abseilling on one wheel. Of course, your pedals will keep hitting obstacles on the ground…

I was thinking about that, too, but Darren said he could add the bosses later if I send in the frame. This way I’ll ride for a couple seasons and if I want the brake I’ll send the frame back and get the mounts put on.

There are a couple of advantages to this sinister plan - the brake mounts and powdercoat won’t be getting beaten up while I’m learning; I’ll be able to get whatever new style of brake mounts are available in a couple of seasons (disks, maybe); and if I fall into some money I can just get another Muni when the time comes.

No real down-side to waiting.


I’m of the sort that says no breaks and 150’s.

Having said that I rode a uni with well set-up brakes and 170’s last weekend and it was very lazy indeed.

So my decision is:

150’s on 24x3 for cross country

165/170 on 24x3 with brakes for free-riding stuff.

I’m sticking to 145’s on a 24x3 with no brakes for cross country and freeriding.

Besides the practicality issue, I personally think a unicycle looks more hardcore when there are brakes on it. It impresses non-unicyclists and keeps them from asking, “how do you brake on one of those things?”
-Paco (who has no brakes on his uni and who generally hangs around with non-unicyclists who are impressed that I can mount and think that spending $150 for a unicycle is way too much).