just wondering how much brakes really help since they don’t seem at all necessary.
I have never used them but I can at least say they would be great going downhill on a 36er.
Lots of things help (for whatever) although they are not necessary. Brakes on a unicycle are no exception.
BTW, next time, try thinking of a more descriptive title/subject.
They are a great help when doing steep DH MUni. If you think they are not necessary then you are not riding hard enough for brakes to be a help.
Although most riding can be done without them, they definitely help for DH MUni and controlling speed on long descents to avoid wearing your legs out for the next climb.
Please use descriptive thread titles, especially if you want to get responses to your thread from people familiar with the topic. People who use brakes tend not to look at threads titled, “does it.” A more appropriate thread title would be something like “Do brakes really help?”
Brakes are not necessary (do a search for AspenMike and check out the rides he does without them) but they really do help.
As you get more comfortable on shorter cranks brakes become more useful. Adding a brake to my 36er allowed me to go with much shorter cranks and feel like I still had control of the uni.
A brake is nice on a MUni especially with wheels bigger than a 24. I took the brake off of my 24 and haven’t missed it, but with a larger wheel and the same size cranks I will want it again. The descents can kill your legs in pretty quick time without a brake.
…not to mention your knees. Even a couple miles of moderate downhill (5-8% grade) is enough to make my knees sing out in pain. With a brake, I just grab the lever and glide as if I’m riding a block of ice down a grassy hillside.