Hand held brake on a uni?

In a comment to a “Seth bikehack” video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0ufNmUyf2co) someone sugested that unicyclists could use a hand held brake:

“With the unicycle, would it make sense to move the brake to a hand held setup (with a longer brake line)? That way you keep your arms out for balance?”

I don’t think it is such a bad idea. It is not always easy to hold the seat and brake with the same hand, so if you could hold tight with one hand and brake with the other it might be easier. You would need a long brake line and a specially designed lever. You would also have to hold it in your hand the whole time, but for downhill competitions you might have an advantage.

I think it would be difficult to avoid damaging the brake line in a fall.

if I were to hold the seat with one hand and the brake in the other, my first thought is to grow an extra pair of arms.
I often ride with one or two hands on the seat, though not with muni on uneven terrain, then one hand is for balance and the other on the seat. Especially going downhill and keeping the hand on the brake, makes me feel all twisted.

I suppose in your scenario, you could have an extended brake cable that you can guide along your body and attach to your arm or something. Maybe you can invent a wireless brake, so you can just hold a box in your hand, if you want to brake.:smiley:

As I hardly ever release my hand from the t-bar / handle on my rides, it would not make any sense to me

I’m not a fan of this idea. The fact that you are holding onto a handle actually makes it easier to control what you are doing with the brake, it isolates the muscles in your braking finger from the rest of your arm, if that makes sense.

Aside from that, especially when doing downhill, I want to be able to just let the uni fall, i wouldn’t want to do that with a handheld brake.

I am not very satisfied with the current options of attaching brakes, but i don’t think handheld brakes are the solution.

Without focusing on design issues or problems like that, I’was thinking it would be good for downhill muni when you can lock one hand firm to the seat (or a handlebar), and use your free-arm for balancing and braking. I never quite get as firm grip on the seat as I’d like because I have to use one or two fingers on the brake.

I see your points, but with a special designed brake, I’m sure it could be done.

As I said, i don’t think it would be benefitial to give brake control for your free hand, even aside from design issues. Increasing the pressure applied to a brake while at the same time rapidly moving the same hand from left to right will be very difficult. The hand on the handle has a much easier job, pulling on the saddle, and it is not even that critical how much it is pulling most of the time, much easier to control how much braking you need at the same time.

I honestly think this:
(credit to Jogi) might be the best setup for downhill.

Uhm how firm do you want to hold the seat or handle bar. I suppose on only on steep decents you might hold the seat a bit firmer, but otherwise I just hold the seat, so my arms don’t flail about. I steer with my body, not with the handlebar or seat.

Very firm, if you do jumps. Like pulling as much as you are capable of, if it’s a big jump.

yes but when you do your big jump, you don’t use the brake or it will send you sprawling.

On my 36er I favour placing the brake lever on top like the picture below.
I spend a lot of time resting both hands on the handles and it seems less fatiguing to push down with my thumb than pull with the fingers.
I do use my fingers for dinging the bell! :slight_smile:
It works really well with the starfighter. Sorry I don’t have a close-up (and please excuse my boy’s training wheel!).

I wonder if you could use a different body part than a hand to actuate the brake. For example, bicycle coaster brakes don’t require a hand to activate them – not that this would necessarily work on unicycles – but you get the idea. Maybe your butt on the unicycle seat or a weight shift on the uni could move the brake.

Who would have thought a few years ago that we would see foot-actuated geared unicycles… I would have expected a hand-operated gear change lever, similar to a bike.

Rather then trying to adapt a bicycle brake handle to a unicycle as is currently done, I’d think that some effort could be made to design a brake control from scratch that is incorporated into the unicycle handle. An effective brake on the handle would likely be easier to build and use and be more reliable then a hands free brake.

Or, why not use mind control of the brake, “The results indicate that brain body actuated control, achieved using the CyberLink/sup TM/ interface, provides a viable means for performing simple, single axis, continuous control tasks without using one’s hands.” From:


How about a system that uses an implant to sense the movement of a small muscle. It is already being done to control prostheses.

Pout to brake.:wink:

Jakob Flansberry of Flansberrium said he uses the brake midjump to set his wheels horizontal for when he lands.

That just proves how much of a noob I still am :smiley:

I think I know better what I am doing you do… :roll_eyes: Some braking helps with taking pressure of your feet when landing, or regaining control immediately on steep landings. I am, in fact not good at that (yet), but I am convinced that it’s the only way I can land bigger jumps than i am doing on a 26".

The harder we pull on the brake, the greater the force pushing the frame and seat forward. That force has to be countered by pulling back on the seat. To operate most brakes we pull upward, which has the effect of pulling the seat backwards. A kind of balance is achieved when the force of pulling on the brake equals the force of the seat thrusting forward during braking. I have bar ends on my Muni setup. The brake is more forward than the conventional, stock brake setup. I like the extra leverage.

Start using handlebars with a starfighter brake.
You can still keep both hands on the bars and use one or more of your fingers to brake.

I mostly use my middle fingers on either hand. One finger helps to keep the pressure minimal on easy stuff and two fingers can bring you to a stop even in the steep stuff.
This way my hands are locked on the bars with grip tape and my middle fingers can’t miss the starfighter as they’re locked in place too.
It feels very secure when you’re torquing on the bars while braking hard.

When I really need to use the brake (Muni), my butt’s not so much on the seat. In other words, what part of you is stable while you’re careening around on the bumpy stuff? You need both feet to control the pedals, so can’t “push” one, arms and knees are all over the place, would a chin lever work? Not something I’d like to have under my chin on a hard landing or crash. I think the hand on the seat/handle might be the best tool for working the brake.

Or an implant. Sounds complicated, and it would have to have the speed and accuracy to match a hand…

That sounds like the best idea so far in this thread. Design a front bumper/handle with a built-in brake, that’s designed for a solid grip while squeezing! Could be incorporated close-in, on a handle, or farther out, as a handle/lever that attaches to a bar.