The challenge of any video is to bring the viewers as close to the real experience as possible, but capturing the feelings a rider feels just before committing to a line with high consequences is nearly impossible.
This video captures some of the steepest, and scariest stunts I’ve ridden to date. The days goal was learning how to use a disc brake effectively, so I spent the day riding very intimidating, very steep stunts, trying to see just how steep I could go.
The conclusion; disc brakes are an amazing innovation for MUni! I successfully rode many stunts I had never attempted before. The brake just gives so much control on the steeps, it makes hard lines easy. A whole new world of possibilities has been opened by the disc brake!
The North Shore mountains of North Vancouver are Fromme, Seymour and Cypress and is often referred to as the birth place of mountain biking. Naturally, the NorthShore style spread to the surrounding regions, and this trail is located in Sechelt, BC. (40 min ferry ride and 60 min drive from North Vancouver)
I may have made a slight error there, I guess the birthplace of “freeride” is credited to the north shore, where mountain biking in general started elsewhere (I don’t know, so I’ll take your word for it! )
The “birth date” of mtb is the 1970’s w/ most at first on the fire roads of Mt Tamalpias (freewheel w/ no brakes ) But I saw a pic of ~ 20 bikers w/ fat tires, 700c rims circa 1908, somewhere in the mid west, Wisconsin I think.
Braking Technique… First of all I wouldn’t say I’m and expert with a brake, I just have some basics down.
Without a break, the only way to slow down is by applying pressure on the back pedal, which means we can only brake twice every full revolution (once in switch position, and once in normal position)… This also mean the unicycle gathers speed the rest of the time.
The brake allows the rider to apply a constant braking force for the entire revolution, which results in better speed control, and better control in general in every orientation through the rotation. this means I can apply less pressure to the rear pedal, staying more balanced overall.
my technique is pretty simply,… I just apply a constant pressure the entire time. One of my big fears is over engaging the brake at the top fo the downramp, and falling 12 feet to the ground below, or onto another stunt below. To avoid this, I lightly engage the brake as I approach the crest of the ramp, just to get a feel for it before I get to the serious stuff. From here the subconscious takes over, and as I roll over the crest onto the downramp I increase the pressure on the brake accordingly, and adjust that pressure as needed on the way down. In the video I had the brake on for every downramp, and even some of the log rides. Since my weight was more evenly distributed on the pedals, i had better balance skinnies.
Obviously the best way to get the hang of a brake is to practice in low consequence areas,… The next thing I’m working on is engaging the brake in the air before landing a big drop to a steep landing. The brake will be a big help here too… but I am not very good at it yet. Hopefully I’ll get it down over the next few weeks
If you have further questions or want clarification please don’t hesitate to ask! I hope this helps!
The brake allows me to creep over the top a steep section with a lot more control, which is key to making the line easier, the more control you have at the top the better off you’ll be at the bottom.
and obviously you dont want to brake too much, cause then you’ll loose friction and slide down, which won’t be that fun. - it woud make for a good UPD though
I would appreciate some tips when you are getting better. I can’t even ride downhill properly without a brake but I have not mastered this skill. Therefore I am not able to do drops to steep terrain because I can’t slow down.
Guys not meaning to thread jack or take from Ryans video.
The biggest key for doing drops and using the brake is to learn how to ride with your finger on the brake at all times. Also have it in a spot that is 100% natural to get to. I recently came back from an ankle injury that took a while to fix and still isnt 100%. Brakes are the only ways I can do drops. You tap the brake as you land, the point of impact. Depending on the terrain is how hard you lock up the brake. If you are comfortable with sliding then having 100% lock up is perfect. This takes all the pressure off your ankles and now you put that violent energy else where to your body. It also allows you to lean down the landing creating a smooth roll out which is EXTREMELY vital for a softer/gentle landing. This trick only works on landings that are steep, do not try it for normal drops or you will find the unicycle staying behind you.
I use the brake allmost all the time even if it’s not steep just to smooth out the pedaling except when doing drops > 50cm. When doing rolling drops I usually turn the cranks to horizontal position in mid-air but I can’t do that if I have the brake engaged during the drop. Do you release the brake in mid-air or do jo just land in all the awkward crank positions?
When doing static drops I have a hard time engaging the brake when pulling up on the handle. Any tips on that?
I guess it’s the same as with everything else concerning unicycling…practice. But drops to steep terrain are just so scary
Yes the brake is released in mid air so I am not landing in any awkward positions.
I have never used the brake doing static drops and would not really encourage it. When doing drops static there is a lot more force on the body than doing them rolling.
The best way to practice steep landings is to simple lean back and slowly work your way forward. Your butt is a lot closer to the landing than you think so if you are too far back you just land on the back side and slide down the hill. The worst that can happen is if you over commit to the drop while leaning back and land flat on your back.
Well I guess this has solved what I’m doing on my day off tomorrow… I’m going to ride my trail and practice big drops with the brake!
I can engage the brake from both static and rolling, the trick is to have the brake lever at a comfortable distane and orientation, then just get used to holding the handle with the other three fingers…
I usually set my pedal orientation in the air, and engage the brake just before landing, but I’ll see how tomorrow goes and what adjustments I make and then report back
I rode brakeless for my first 7 - 8 years of riding… then I was given a rim brake so I attempted to use that, but I constantly hit it, and my warped rim made it very hard to find a good position for the pads on the rim, so I never learned. I had the disc brake installed in November while recovering from my broken foot…
One final note on the disc brake… it allows you to land drops completely off balance and ride away… I’m in love
Ryan, awesome to hear! I’m using a rim brake since September and it improved my riding significantly especially on steep descents. But recently I’ve been in a few situations where I really would have benefited from the extra power and control of a disc brake. I guess I need to upgrade soon