Thoughts on Muni braking

I just found a really technical trail last night which runs along some massive power lines - extremely hilly and rocky, and it goes on forever. I busted my Magura a while ago, all the oil leaked out, so I was without brake.

Having always had a brake, it was really interesting riding challenging terrain without it. On the plus side, I found downhills more interesting. Without a brake, the downhill challenge is very different, especially when it’s really steep with lots of large, loose rocks and sand.

On the minus side, a brake would have helped for two reasons.

  1. a steady braking action will yield a smooth slowing action. When you use your legs, the tendency is to “lock” the legs - when you do this on loose rocks or sand, you can easily slide and wipeout.
  2. After 6 miles of intense fun, my quads went into muscle spasm. This was pretty weird - never happened to me before. My legs are in good shape, and I’ve done long rides before, but never this intense. If I’d had my brake, this might not have happened.

When I started the ride I was thinking “Hmm, maybe I should get rid of the brake and dump the weight.” At the end of the ride I was convinced to keep it!


I just snapped my second Magura lever in as many months. (maybe there’s a slight change in forces applied during a wipeout than with bikes ???)

So I dumped the brake. It’s nice to have, but not worth $50cdn/month!


Can you describe how it is hitting?


Sure thing, when I UPD and the front of the seat smashes into the ground. The lever is not as far out as the seat, so the lever won’t hit before the seat does. However, if the ground is uneven, or lumpy, the lever will hit before the seat taking all the impact.

This impact pushes the lever into the master cylinder, instead of on a bike where it would go withthe regular lever action in a wipeout

Maybe one way of getting round this is hingeing part of the brake so that it allows for this movement but still permits braking. You could put the hinge either near the base where it is fastened to the uni or in the actual lever itself. I’ve attached a picture that hopefully will explain this a bit better (just to keep Greg happy;) ). There’s also a spring to ensure it returns to the normal position for operating. I’m not sure how you guys fix your brake levers to your uni, but if it is on the end of a bike bar end attaced to the seat post, then doing the alteration to the bar end rather than the brake itself would probably be more robust. This is all “back of an envelope” type thinking, but you get the idea…


This seems like a really good time to say that a Reeder handle helps protect brake levers in the event of an UPD. I for one have never broken a brake lever, or seen the lever take a hit.

This was posted by Nathan Hoover a while back:

<snip> With a Wilder bracket and brake handle attached, the Reeder handle works perfectly well. I even crashed sort of badly today, leaving the unicycle to fall into a sharp pile of rocks - no damage. The Reeder handle protects the brake handle and extension well. It is just bombproof and feels great when used with a Harbinger wrist guard. <snip>

I found a pretty good picture here:

Re: Thoughts on Muni braking

Dont you mean that you wanted to see what that valve was for and accidentally let all the oil out?
-David Kaplan