Should I Get Brakes

I’m a unicycler of 2.5 months, but am level 4 and looking to go off road
I’m getting a MUni, either a KH '05 or a bedford w/ KH wheelset
I’m really stuck w/ a dillema about whether or not to get brakes
I have mountain biked for 5 years, and as soon as i get a MUni i wanna go offroad
I don’t know if i should spend $150 up front to get brakes pre-installed, or whether i should just wait and see if i need them
i’ve heard they help on even long, gradual descents, not just super-steep
is this true?
can i please get some advice?

Uhh, what part of the bay area do you live in, for one thing. I am in SF, and if you’re looking for muni buddies, I can put you on the mailing list for the local muni rides we do. We usually hit Santa Cruz or Sacramento, although we’ve also been known to do rides in Marin, Tildon Park, and the Berkeley hills.

This is related to teh brakes because there has been some thought on buying a set of magura brakes on ebay for around $50 and then the people split the bill and each take 1 brake. Ebay almost always has a set of magura hs-33s for sale for very low prices. I would reccomend getting the brake bosses but not the brakes, and then see if you need them. In my 2 years of riding in the Bay Area and California trails (mostly Santa Cruz and north), I’ve never felt any real need for a brake, except during major rides at muni weekends.

get brakes they boost you cpnfidence throught the roof

Generally speaking I use my brakes in two scenarios:

Long gradual descents - They are very nice for these and really give your legs a break.

Short steep even bits - I only really use them for occasional steep but smooth descents, and also when I want to control my speed down a hill before I get to a rough bit. Down anything rough I don’t use the brake. The really nice thing about using a brake down steep smooth sections is that you can focus your concentration more on the direction of your wheel, and more importantly the braking action is much smoother and distributed evenly rather than in short bursts. Without a brake, what you might tend to do on slippery bits is have the wheel slip out from under you because you’re only applying braking pressure in those little bursts when your pedals are lined up right. With a brake, it’s all smooth so the wheel won’t slip out nearly as much.

I’ve also occasionally been very glad to have a brake on descending log rides. There was one line I did a while back where I rode down a reasonably steep log, then had to stop and hop 90 degrees onto a perpendicular log…I would not have been able to do this without a brake.

Having said all that, I’ve just recently changed from 145mm to 160mm cranks and have considered taking my brake off the muni because on the technical steep stuff I don’t use it anyway…but I decided to keep it on there.

Hope that helps,

Have a look at this thread: Brakes on a 24"?

You can always add the brake later if you decide that you need or want it. No need to get the brake right off the bat. Just make sure that you get a frame that has the two bolt style Magura brake mounts welded on the frame.


Hi Andrew,

I agree with you but would like to add that I think brakes are also wonderful (if not essential) on very steep AND very technical downhill sections.

I’ve just spent 3 weeks riding downhill in NZ and it was awesome. I found that I had to seriously concentrate on keeping the wheel facing directly downhill at ALL times on the really steep sections as just a slight turn of the wheel away from perpendicular to the slope/drop would result in a slide out. The brake provides time to adjust the wheel orientation when millimeters count!

And then there are just some sections that are so steep that you slip and slide down them even with the even pressure of the brake applied… but it’s lots of fun!

In NZ I also did a bungy jump while I was there on my KH muni and that was … well… very interesting (but the brake didn’t work too well… oh… I suppose they are not “air brakes” though. lol… sorry… corny I know).

I would much prefer to do another Canyon Swing on the uni rather than another bungy jump and I recommend anyone who visits Queenstown on the south Island of NZ with their uni should do the canyon swing (on the uni of course).

Andrew, will we see you in Darwin from july 1- july 4th this year for the Australian unicycle championships? Hope so!

Take care,



Hey guys,
Thanks for your help!
It seems that it sounds reasonable to get the MUni w/o the brake so I can learn steep downhills properly, but if they get too steep or if I do super-long fireroad downhills and get super tired, then I’ll get a brake.

Hi Deb,

I was recently in New Zealand too, but on the North Island. I spent a day with Tony Melton riding at Woodhill Forest among other places. That was really fun. The terrain in NZ is very different to Australia isn’t it.

I’ve found that I can’t handle applying the right braking pressure on steep stuff with roots, ruts, rocks, and drops on it…but I did find that while in NZ it was easier for me because there are smooth patches in between the rough stuff (or at least that was the case in Woodhill. There was one spot Tony and I were riding that had lots of very loose dirt (like riding down sand dunes) and if you went down it without a brake you could purposefully slide on every half0rev. Very fun!

Any pics of muni bungy jumping? Sounds great, I bet you were the first one they’d seen to do that.

I’m really not sure whether or not I’ll make it to UniNats…still deciding. Hopefully airfares won’t be too expensive.