Putting a cheap brake on my uni

Hey all!

This is just a couple of thoughts I’ve been throwing around with my dad. I’ve been considering putting a brake on my 29er, and while my frame has mounts for Maguras, I’m not too struck on the idea of hydraulics, and they’re not exactly cheap either.

So then I looked at using a V-brake. I’ve used them plenty on my bikes, so know all the tricks for making them work, as well as having lots of spare sets lying about my house. But these don’t look easy to mount on my uni - I’ve seen the adaptors you can get online, but they’re nearly as expensive as just paying up for a cheap second-hand Magura! :frowning:

While brainstorming with my dad, he suggested BMX brakes. I call them ‘kiddie bike’ brakes because I only ever seem to see them on kid’s bikes, but now I’m thinking about it, these sound like a viable option. The brakes are easy to get (Again I’ve got lots of spares lying about the house), and all I’d need is a quick hole drilled in my crown.

Is this as viable as it sounds? I’ve never ridden a uni with brakes, so I’m looking for an ‘entry level’ setup. Would drilling a hole in my frame be bad? I’m riding a Qu-Ax 29er MUni, though I’m not sure if the frame is steel or ali.

Are there any better solutions? :smiley: Are there any ways to bodge V’s on, without those expensive adaptors (and preferably without having to fabricate my own, as the last time I crafted anything was a set of very wonky-looking dice in a high school woodwork class)?

Cheers all! :smiley:

I drilled a hole in the crown of my 26" Torker and installed a u brake. It worked great. Also, it was a used brake from a jogging stroller. I think you will be okay.

Here’s a thread from a few years ago that shows how to put a VBrake onto a Magura mount without a commercial adapter.

When I made that thread the gallery on this forum worked, but it was taken down along with all of the photo’s. If you go to the last page you’ll find the photo’s that were originally included in the first post.

It was really easy to mount. And it worked really well. Thanks for bringing this up. I may try it on my MUni, I’m not a big fan of the Maggies, and since I’m not running a 3" tire I don’t need the clearance. After all, the clearance of large tires was the reason Maggies were adopted on unicycles in the first place.

Yeah a BMX sidepull works really well like this. As long as you can get a caliper that will go around your tire this is a great option for a brake.

A U Brake is another kind of brake that uses studs that are welded/brazed to the frame. You can’t drill a hole to install them.

I put v-brakes on my 29’er using the info from that thread; they’ve been working great for almost three years now.

I posted a photo of the setup in this post - I used a brake booster to anchor the other ends of the mounting bolts, because the magura bolt holes didn’t seem to offer enough support on their own.

I put these on my 26, 29, and 36, and they work just fine; you just have to drill a hole in frame.


I have done both, drill a hole and use BMX style (side-pull) brakes on a frame that had no brake mounts, and put V-brakes on a unicycle with Magura mounts.

Both worked very well and cost me next to nothing including the brakes themselves.

The BMX style brake won’t cost you anything beyond the brake if you have a drill that you can use. Just drill the hole, adjust the brake and go on your merry way. Not much that can go wrong as long as the rim is the right distance from the crown. Check before you drill.

The V-brake option doesn’t modify the frame and has a more “modern” look. When I put a V-brake on my G26 in Australia I did not have my standard amount of random parts and pieces laying around, but I still managed to mount them for less than $2. The important thing to realize is it does not matter what the sleeve is made of that goes between the brake arm and the bolt, it’s just there as a spacer. I used the plastic barrel of a pen whittled down to fit. To hold the spring in position I just used a bent piece of a soup can. It worked great but I did worry a bit about the strength of the bolt holes with so much twisting pressure compared to maguras. I was going to fab up a brake booster but never did. A brake booster would solve any brake mount torsion issues if there were any.

All and all both systems work, the BMX brake is dead simple and perfectly adequate assuming it fits over your tire and the crown is at the right height to accept it. The V brake is a bit more complicated to set up but gives you a bit more power while still keeping a skinnier profile than maguras reducing the likelihood of hitting your knee on the brake (which can be quite painful if done repetitively.

If you are really budget conscious and your area allows such things you can almost always find bikes with brakes for donor parts in the metal pile at your local garbage dump. Why pay for something you can get for free?

Thanks for the responses guys! :slight_smile: Specially that long thread about V’s. I’ll probably go that route, as I don’t really want to drill a hole in my sexy frame :roll_eyes:

BMX brakes are still a possibility, as the solution is far more simplistic :smiley:

I’m curious how this worked out over time - it looks like it could be a fairly simple solution (road riding on a 26" I don’t “need” a brake, just want to try one to take a little load off my knees).

Curious though, did you have any trouble with the mounting bolt being too short or difficult to remove to use another? That seems to be a complaint in some of the reviews.

Also, is the lever handle straight or “handed”? People seem to complain it only works on one side on a bike unless they “mount it upside down” - wondering if that is purely a cosmetic thing, or if it is uncomfortable to use with the wrong hand. Do you think it would fit on a 22.4mm handle?

I used a BMX caliper brake on my first 36er, and it worked great. In fact it worked much better than my Maggie on my second 36er. If they are selling the brake as “front or rear” it should come with two center bolts (one short for rear, and one long for front). You would want to use the long bolt on a uni.

As long as you drill the holes carefully so that they line up right I don’t see why you would have any more difficulty swapping brakes on a uni than you would on a bike. This particular problem sounds like an installation issue more than anything.

I can’t say about the brake lever included in the kit, but if they are really selling it as f/r it should be universal. My guess is that the people complaining about short center bolts are the ones that had a problem with the handedness of the lever. Since a rear brake will usually have a right lever, and front wlll have a left one. BMX handlebars are 22.2, so no trouble there.

Yes, what jtrops said.
Brake lever is straight.

I suppose it will project off the side of the fork slightly. Probably not enough to be an issue while riding, but I’ve gotten the habit of carrying my unicycle to and from riding areas with a strap that puts the currently smooth side of the fork across my back, and any projection near the top would be painful. This may take more thought.

I used an Odyssey Pitbull which doesn’t have pokey bits sticking out to the side. It worked great on my 36. Look it up and see what you think.

If it is a cheap break you want, you can just bow down and hold the wheel with your hands. Try that without UPD-ing :D:D

I actually have just been using my feet to pedal backwards like a boring person. It seems my legs have since gained the strength to do so! :smiley:

I have been reading this and other threads on adding brakes but I still have a couple questions.
I feel a little silly asking but I’m not sure how a v brake is different from a BMX brake? I see pics of BMX brakes but have not seen one of a v brake that I could make sense of.

I was told at my local bike shop that my older corker 36 rim would not accommodate a brake due to its material and shape. Did I get accurate info?

I ride in neighborhood with hills and have decided a brake would be nice to learn.

BMX brake (also known as a sidepull, and same as what you’ll usually find on road bikes:

V-Brake (Found on older/cheaper mountain bikes and hybrids from before disks took over):

Don’t quote me on this, but I think sidepulls are limited in what rim widths/depths they can support, as there’s a big metal arch that needs to clear your tyre, whereas V’s can be made to work on pretty much anything, though Maguras are probably even better for that.

You can use a brake on the old Coker rim, but it’s not ideal. If I remember right my old steel Coker rim had sidewalls that are at an angle, and not parallel to each other. This means that the brake pads will have to wear to match the angle before you get a lot of contact with the rim. The other problem is that chrome plated rims are a terrible braking surface (especially when wet). As an upside, for most users brakes are far more powerful than necessary on uni’s due to how weight is distributed over the wheel. So, even a poor performing brake on a bike can be a decent brake on a uni unless you are doing more advanced braking techniques like brake assisted gliding.

So, I would try it. If you are using it as a drag brake to take some weight off of your legs on descents you may find that it fits the bill nicely.

Thanks for the thought full replies and pics. A big help. My older corker is in excellent shape and the fact it weighs a couple lbs more then a newer 36er is not an issue. At least for me at this point. My weight can vary that much from one day to the next simply by how much I’ve eaten and how I’m dressed. So when I lust over a new uni I’m uncertain what I would gain if I bought one. Except for a brake.
Between this thread and another one where I enquired about brakes I think I will give it a go
Thanks again.