Brake in any position! Brake standing up or crouched, what ever feels good to you!
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I am really excited about the Flex Brake because it has allowed me to dust off my skates and get back out on the road with them. It has been amazing to skate on roads and trails I never would have even attempted before. I can do anything on skates now that I can do on my road bike. I can't wait to see how the Flex Brake will change skating for other people.
Until now, there was no perfect method or device for controlling your speed on your inline skates. There are many inventions out there for controlling speed or simply stopping on inline skates, but they almost all require a skate frame that is specifically designed around them. The skate brakes which are currently available add too much weight, get in the way of basic maneuvers, rattle, or can't be safely used at all speeds or in all circumstances.
Have you ever tried to use a heel brake on rough asphalt, or slalom on a 5 foot wide path?
How fast do your wheels wear out doing a T-drag or power slide before every turn on a steep hill?
How it works
Pull the cable as hard or as gentle as you desire and the brake pads flex to rub against the outside of all 4 wheels (on 5 wheeled skates only 4 wheels will be engaged by brake pads). It feels just like using brakes on a bicycle.
Depending on your preference, you can use the Flex Brake on just one skate or both. Installing it on both skates obviously provides greater stopping force. You have the option to apply the brake in a nice stable crouched position, or standing upright when you use the optional Flex Leash. Unlike all other braking methods for inline skating, the Flex Brake doesn’t require a particular stance.
How to install
To install the Flex Brake on your skates, you just remove your axles and install the Flex Brake pads on either side of the wheels between the bearings and the frame. Then reinsert the axles. Your uppermost ankle strap or lace slides through the Flex Brake pull-strap to secure it in place. It's that simple!
Determining what size - measuring my skate
The first 2 sizes I planned for manufacturing will install onto any 4 and 5 wheeled skates with wheel diameters between 76mm and 110mm. Wheel diameters 90mm - 110mm use the large size Flex Brake. Wheel diameters 76mm - 88mm use the medium size Flex Brake with one exception. If the distance between two adjacent axles is greater than 98mm, you should use the large size Flex Brake.
Wheel Diameter Flex Brake Size
90mm - 100mm = Large
76mm - 88mm = Medium
(wheel spacing larger than 98mm = Large)
In the late 90’s, like a lot of people, I used to "rollerblade". I loved it. It was a smooth fun way to get around. For me, it felt like two dimensional flying. Like many people, however, I gaveup skating when I became frustrated with the practicality of trying to get around steep hills, tight path ways, and busy streets. There just wasn’t a good solution for controlling my speed, and I often felt unsafe and out of control.
I took up road biking to try and get the same sensations as inline skating. After all, on a road bike I don’t have to drag a big rubber block on the road to slow down. While I love road biking, it doesn’t have the same “free as a bird” feel as inline skating. I often find myself on a spectacular road bike ride wishing I was able to do the same route on inline skates.
In May of 2010 I had access to a waterjet cutter. I made my own inline skate frames that would accept large 110mm wheels. It worked great, and I soon found myself gliding smoothly again at even faster speed than I ever had before. With faster speed, stopping became an even bigger issue. I ruined quite a few expensive wheels T-dragging my right foot behind me to slow down. Many of the trails I was skating on weren’t wide enough for slalom, and the heel brake I installed on my new frame got in the way of my crossovers.
Determined not to hang up my skates again, I started searching for a solution. I cut, bent, and drilled a few holes in some sheet metal I had lying around. I threw my creation on the back 2 wheels of my right skate, and then ran a cable to a hacked off bike handle bar and brake lever. It was time to test it on the steep hill in front of my house. As I started picking up speed, I cautiously squeezed the brake lever and smoothly came to a stop. I may have alarmed my neighbors when I yelled out in triumph.
I knew right at that moment that this was something big. Since then, I have been working hard at making it manufacturable and compatible with all skate models. I hit many road blocks along the way and even thought of giving up many times, but I finally accomplished what I set out to do. I designed the perfect brake for inline skates. I get to enjoy the Flex Brake everyday skating on trails and roads that previously were limited to outings on my road bike. Anywhere this project goes from here is a bonus.
I have been making all prototypes in my garage by hand. It is a very tedious process. In order to take this project to the next level I need to pay for tooling to have the brake pads injection molded. $10,000 will pay for the tooling and the minimum order quantity to have the brake pads made. So please make a pledge and spread the word to get as many people as possible to pledge. It’s time to share this with the world and let everyone else enjoy inline skating as it was meant to be.
Risks and challenges
So far all prototypes have been made by hand. The brake pads require tight tolerances in order to work well sandwiched between the skate frame and the bearing race. I have confirmed with the injection molder that the necessary tolerances can be met consistently.
Thanks for the feedback. The rear wheel is actually slightly lifting off the ground due to weight transfer. The pads do not have enough friction to ever lock up the wheels. The video only shows one side of the skate up close. The pad overlap is opposite on the other side of the wheel to make sure all wheels are engaged equally. The 4th wheel only lifts off the ground in the final stage of braking before coming to a complete stop. During speed control braking events where you are not coming to a complete stop the 4th wheel is very necessary. For most skaters, coming to a "complete" stop is not necessary. I use the Flex Brake to control my speed before tight turns on hills and to keep my speed manageable when approaching intersections and other obstacles. Once you get your speed down to a certain point, basic skating techniques can be used safely. All of that said, the Flex Brake will bring you to a complete stop if you need it to.
Some superficial side wall scuffing will occur with repeated use, but nothing that will cause any significant damage to the wheels or their function. For the main video on this page, Flex Brake pads were used that weren't sanded enough and still had sharp edges. That is why you will see some wheel shaving in the video. The injection molded brake pads will not have this problem.
For beginners and commuters, there is the Flex Leash. It is a retractable leash that can be attached at your waste line. It can be used with the slightest tug to control your speed in any stance so that you don't have to compromise your balance to control your speed.
Yes. The major cost of manufacturing for the Flex Braking is tooling. For each size I have to pay for all new tooling. The Large and Medium sizes will work on the majority of skates on the market, so I am doing those sizes first. Once a little more capital is built up, I plan on looking into other sizes. Please email me if your wanting a different size, so I can keep track of the demand for future sizes.