Please help: Brakes for Muni

Is the Magura HS33 brake worth the extra money over the
I have just bought a KH 29 which hopfuly will come tomorrow. I ordered it with brake mounts and a brake lever mount as I plan to fit a brake. I am going to buy a brake for it website but am stuck between two. Chain reaction gives free next day dilevery and is giving discount on many products and was recomeced my a friend as being reliable so it seems a good place to buy from.

Do you think the HS11 will be adequate or do you think it is worth forking out the extra for the HS33?

It’s not worth that much extra money.

But if you’re not in a massive hurry to get the brake, then maybe wait till one comes up on ebay as buy-it-now. I got an HS33 for £20, which appears to work okay.


Seconded, my two Maggie 33s 9coker and muni) cost £12.50 and £10.50 on ebay, and each required about £4 of parts to make them complete. If you want new than i can highly reccomend chain reaction, must have ordered a dozen times form them never any problems.

Well apparently the HS33s are 25% more powerful than the HS11s but I wouldn’t think that would really matter as on a uni you normally only use it as a drag anyway though on a really long hill the less you have to squeeze the better.

Perhaps the more important thing is that the HS11 is a three finger design against the 2 finger design of the HS33. I personally can only just get my HS33 far enough down the mount so that it is protected by the seat/handle when you UPD. Not sure this would be possible on a HS11.

The new HS33s have a pad adjustment dial within the lever, older ones have it on the outside of the lever where it can be bashed more easily. The HS11 uses an allen screw for pad adjustment which although less easy to adjust on the trail is more protected.

Good luck on eBay from mine and Norry’s experience whenever you are watching them they sell for quite a lot. The bargains only ever seem to come when you can’t get to a computer :roll_eyes: .

Do you need a brake for MUni? If you don’t have any hills you can’t ride down without it, probably not. In Sacramento I can get by without one. If I lived in Santa Cruz I would have one.

If you don’t need one but want one anyway (nothing wrong with that), get the one that looks the coolest.

I second John’s advice. I haven’t put a brake on my KH29 yet. I’m usually on my KH24 (without a brake) when I’m on the Santa Cruz trails that John is probably thinking of. We’re thinking about trails so steep that you’re either skidding or spinning insanely fast to ride down. If you have good pedaling technique, you really can learn to get by without a brake in a lot of situations. So, I think you should go without a brake at first.

I use my brake pretty often here in Illinois, there’s tons of steep hills that just beat the crap out of you after a while. I personally have an HS-33 that I got complete for $50 never used :p. Also, why did you need to buy a brake post? The KH29 comes with one, as does the KH24.


Look at the following threads for more information:

I have a V-Brake on my KH29 because I pick up speed with it going down hills.

I used to have a V-Brake on my KH24 but took it off because I rarely used it when doing technical MUni. Now I am going downhilling old Garbage mounds. ( Usually about 30 to 60 meters high with a 60% incline!) I am thinking of putting a Magura on. Chain reaction bikes does have good prices.


i suggest the HS33 for the steel braided cables…lot stronger and can avoid some sticky situations where the cheaper brake lines can snap or bend

IMO a brake is worth it. It’s true that you can get by without one in rolling/gentle terrain, but using a brake as part of your riding technique helps with more than just the long descents and is really good for efficiency. If you use a brake every time you slow down or ease over a roll, you’ll save a lot of energy on a long ride. Riding downhill using a brake is also faster as your pedalling becomes less jerky. I also think that your knees will thank you after a few decades of use/abuse if you choose to use a brake.

While you don’t need the huge braking power for quick stops, your finger(s) do get pretty tired on long descents, so IMO the more powerfull HS33 is worth it for this reason. And sometimes you do need the power. Last weekend I did an up/down ride on my KH29 that had about 700 m of descending in pretty wet slimy conditions, and with the slick mud and water on the rim it required a lot of pressure to obtain good braking.


Thankyou for all your advice. I have decided to buy the HS11 from chain reaction. I think it should work fine. Hopfuly it will come tomorrow so I will say what I think of it. I tried a friends HS11 lever for size and I think it will be pretected by the seat but only just. My KH29 came today and I have been out on it most of the day. I think getting a brake is the right choice, I will be eigerly waiting for it to arive tomorrow :smiley:

I think the HS-11 will probably work fine for you at least to start and the calipers are the same either brake so if you break your lever or just want to upgrade you dont need to replace the whole works. I also don’t like the new HS-33 lever. I replaced mine with the previous style because you have to take your seat off the seatpost to get at the hexbolt to tighten or remove it. I haven’t seen anybody break one but the newer design doesn’t look as strong around the clamp. I also don’t like the down angle of the brake line as well as the older style that is angled back, your brake is on the back of your frame and I think it works better for the routing of the hose.

I find a brake totally useful – virtually all the other SB/LA Muni riders go without, so I’m basically alone here with my peer group.

Learning how to feather the brake on technical terrain is a skill not quickly or easily learned - I suffered a lot of face plants etc. early on trying to learn eficient braking on tech trails. Sure, braking down a steep fire road, rock slab or dirt single track is pretty easy; but chuck in some drops and rocks and suave braking becomes an art.

The problem is going from airborn to full traction and not having the brake grab so much you pitch pole off forward. Modulating the braking tension just so, going from some to a lot to no tension at all, within ten feet sometimes, took me quite a while to learn - am still learning. With enough practice you can achieve a degree of control impossible without a brake.

That much said, you have to learn how to Muni sans brake, to learn back pressuring and all the rest, then go to the brake for the advanced course. That’s my experience, anyway.


I use a drag brake on my 29er, I ride road and like hills. The parts cost me about $20.00 at the used bike lot. I use a gear shift rather than a break leaver so that I can set the brake and not have to hold it on long hills. Here’s how I did it.


29er 005.jpg

29er 003.jpg

I think a drag brake is a great solution for roads, but not so much for muni where you are constantly feathering brake pressure (or should be anyway).

The orientation of the clamp bolt on the new HS33 is a bit awkward and the adjuster dial is harder to use. But you can attach it without removing the rails bracket or handlemount bracket if you put it on and then shift it sideways to expose the allen bolt, and then tighten it just enough so that you can still move it back. Personally I don’t fully tighten the clamp holding the brake lever because then it just moves out of the way if the saddle hits the ground and bashes the lever. Since I started doing that I have not had a problem with broken levers.


Brake Information

That is great information Kris and Vivalargo. I took the my V-Brake of of my KH24 after the lever bent pretty badly. I did nto use it much anyway. I find that on technical trails i never developed huge speeds. I will get the Magura brake now and not attach it tightly to the post under the seat. I am planning to ride man made old garbage mounds. These are old dirt covered garbage mounds that are from 20 to 60 meters high with a 60 degrees decent! Every major City in Israel has one. They have not been used for about 6 years now because of enviromental issues. Therefor all the garbage is totally decayed and the mound have settled. Many municipalities are even making parks out of these mound. The cool thing is that the slopes are prety smooth. Some are soft dirt and some are grass covered. The Magura will come in handy here witht he speed buildup. Kind of reminds me of Kris’s dencent on El Pico Del Orizaba!


I got my brake, I fitted it and I love it.
I am so glad I bought the brake, it makes riding so much easier and more enjoyable. I rode up a large steep clay hill yesterday and on the way back down I followed a long thin steep track that had been cut away by water. With the brake I was able to control my speed and keep control over direction I tried without for a short distance and I started twisting and jurking, wasnt able to take the track I wanted and had to use the brake again. Today I managed riding down a realy steep slope (probably 75 or 80%) that I wouldnt have stood a chance riding down without a brake I also found again that without the brake I stood almost no chance of taking the track I wanted down steep hills but with the brake it was almost effortless. I would recoment a brake to anyone who is going to ride down hills and slopes. I think fitting a 29er with a brake just makes it even more versitile.

Today Tom Holub, Mike Scalisi, Nathan and Beau Hoover, and myself went riding on one of the best muni trails in the Bay Area (Side-O). After two runs on that, it was obvious how much easier the trail was for those with brakes. Beau and I were trying things that I consider nearly unrideable without a brake, and doing it in control. The limit on how steep the terrain we could ride was traction, not backpedalling. Vivalargo is correct when he talks about modulation. On a smooth rock or concrete slope with a well tuned magura, I think a unicyclist can do a 60% grade with reasonable control. Add even a couple of moguls or 2" bumps, and that grade will become almost unrideable.

Sparky, a 75% trail is a cliffside. 75% means 7.5 meters of drop for every 10 meters of horizontal. Thus, a 50% grade is a 45* angle. In three years of riding muni with brakes, I’ve never ridden anything steeper than ~55% for more than 20’, and that is ungodly difficult. I can’t imagine an 80% grade.

My riding buddy, Gary, introduced me to this idea, and it’s been a great way to eliminate lever bashing. He tells me it’s an old motocross riding trick.

What Kind of Brake and Grade

Sp4rky, You did not tell us what kind of brake you put on. I am interested. I would also appreciate feedback on it. How did it work. How long did it take you to get good at, and it so on.

I have recently been doing about 60 degree decline slope. I have been practicing on the slope on the side of a freeway by a ramp. The verticle distance is greater somewhat than the horizontal distance. It is pretty smooth without any big obstacles. As I mentioned above I am working my way towards man made garbage mounds that have 60 degree declines but are much higher than the Freeway embankment and they also have tons of cement things sticking out of the ground! So far I have been doing all this downhill without a brake. I am probably going to get a Magura put on soon.