Wednesday, February 09, 2011

These. are. the. brakes.

I hardly rode my BMX at all last year.

I even did some upgrades to it sometime last spring. New wide bars, new fork, and a new colour scheme. Still it didn't get ridden.

The bike just wasn't practical. I think I only commuted on it once or twice, and recall not giving myself enough time to really have fun with it.

I'm pretty sure that it was partly because Morgan and Nick convinced me to take the brake off. That really affected how I viewed the bike. Suddenly it just didn't seem as maneuverable. Sure, I learned to foot Jam skid it in 3 of the 4 positions.. but the rest of the brakeless experience just didn't seem as boosty or flowy as it is supposed to be.

I guess I never put enough hours into it to feel totally comfortable riding it like that. ..and it was tough, because I have to ride to spots. I suppose if I was living half a block from a skate park, it would be a different story.

Long story short, I decided to put the brake back on my BMX.

Its a nice little black anodized forged and CNC machined piece from Suelo (Fly's flatland brand). Its actually a front brake, and using it on the back of my bike was always a bit of a bodge. The knarp cutouts in the ends of each arm are designed such that the cable is actually meant to be stretched across it.

A rear brake would have slightly more 'hooked' notches for a straddle cable to pull up from the centre. In using this brake before, I always had to have a piece of bike tube over the straddle cable, acting as a safety to stop it from popping off the arms.

Thankfully, I found a piece of the original hardware that came with the brake. A cool little cable end barrel that fits in the arm, as it would be used on the front of a BMX. I was thinking I'd have to make my own version of it.

An Avid Rollamajig would be amazing.. but after looking at RideOn, OCB, and mighty.. I thought I would have to settle on a custom radiused V brake noodle.. Until Pat showed me the Flexie. (Pat Pending). Its just a section of Bowden cable, with a plastic sleeve, and some special end hardware.

Here's a shot of the brake hardware laid out on the bench:

You can see that the flexie is a bit lower profile than an already radius tightened V brake noodle. I actually shortened it down to half its original length, as I didn't think it was necessary. It all went together pretty quickly once I remembered which way the springs go in the Fly brake.

Here's the finished result:

I've got a good 7mm of clearance to the backside of the crank arm. The cable is anchored to the top tube by two zip ties. The spring tension has to be slightly higher on the non restricted arm, but they end up hitting the rim at the same time. The cable is fully lubed with Pedro's Synlube, and it feels amazing at the lever with the Speed dial tuned for maximum mechanical advantage. Even a certain lever 'feel' snob should be happy with it.

So I'm ready to get back into the kind of riding I like to do on this bike. Dry weather is nearly upon us.


morgman said...

I'm not against you putting a brake on your BMX by any means. I think you have always liked to run too much tire pressure to really enjoy riding brakeless. I do, however, think you are going to smash that thing with your foot. Until then, ride on!

JWEEKS said...

I have a bag with a brake in it tied to the handlebar of the bmx that hangs in my kitchen.

morgman said...

I have all the parts to put mine back on too, which will be necessary for a Bobsled run, *wink wink*!

Nick said...

FS: Odyssey Evolver BMX 990-style U-brake. Red anodized. Forged and machined goodness! $15.

That said, I fully support anything that gets Lyle riding moar BMX... And I may just have to yank the Evolver from the market for a Bobsled run...

MGB said...

Dudes, I put my brake back on too! BOBSLED!