Install and Review of the BrakeBoard System

 

 

 

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A brake for a longboard seems like a simple solution for all of those nay sayers (law enforcement and city officials) who claim what we do is unsafe. It would also give us a very easy response to those who ask “How do you stop?” But it has to work for us to give it a thumbs up.

What we have here is a install walkthrough and general ride review of the BrakeBoard skateboard braking system. 

Admittedly, we, here at the consortium, are having a hard time staying unbiased coming into this product review. We have seen too many homemade brake systems to trust another one. So we decided to put the Brakeboard kit on a board that would really test it’s limitations. We had the perfect one lying around collecting dust because of it’s inability to engage a successful slide and its unwieldy size. It is an 11-ply 42” maple behemoth of a ‘prototype downhill’ board, lets call it Bessy. Bessy was the most logical board we could think of to put this kit on to test the limits of the braking system. Something so large and heavy it couldn’t be handled confidently at excessive speeds without a trustworthy braking system. If the Brakeboard can stop Bessy it will earn our respect, and support. We will take you through the look, install, and ride of the Brakeboard kit and all its glossy grandeur.

Out of the Shining Aluminum Box

The Brakeboard is not a board at all but a kit that you can apply to your own board. The kit comes in an extremely nice aluminum carrying case, for taking the kit with you when its not on your board. Unlatching the two clasps on the front adds reverence for what lies within. The two trucks, one with drum brakes, and the rest of the kit are fit snuggly into the case with cut foam. The trucks are bright red and come pre-fitted with red Brakeboard branded wheels. The kit includes instructions for assembly. This review will give you a run-down on the assembly process and an overall ride review and profile.

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Quality

The overall quality of the Brakeboard kit is very good, presentation is impressive and the paint finish on the trucks is nearly hotrod quality. The trucks only come in one color, red, which is fitting if you consider they are meant to stop you and your board. The build quality of the individual components, both forged and machined aluminum, is top notch. The trucks and drum brake system have a tight fit with little resistance in the moving parts. The wheels are specially built with an aluminum hub to accommodate the drum attachments. The kit also comes with instructions on how to use any wheel with the braking system. The front truck is a standard forged aluminum hanger and baseplate. We are impressed with the build quality and it is giving us more confidence as we get closer to install and ultimately the ride.

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Installation

There are very detailed instructions with pictures in the kit, those will be an ideal resource for install. However, we will take you through the install process, using out top mount Bessy.

*Note before beginning: Top mount boards will require making a medium sized hole in your deck. This hole is permanent and will alter the appearance of your deck, not the structural integrity. It is safe. Drop through decks do not require alterations to the deck (they already have holes).

First and foremost, open the totally sweet aluminum carrying case to reveal the fire engine red brake kit. The kit includes front and rear trucks, wheels, brake pedal, skate tool, file, and hardware.

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Next step, take out the parts and prep the board for the kit. You will need to disassemble the rear truck to get to the baseplate.

Once the baseplate is bare, use the hole in the baseplate to mark the place  for the hole you need to make for the plunger to engage the brake mechanism on the hanger. We recommend placing two of the mounting bolts in their respective holes on the baseplate while marking to keep it from moving.

Remove the base plate from the deck and ready your drill and bit. Brakeboard recommends using a 1/2" bit but we found that the 5/8" worked better for our set up. Remember you can always take more wood away, so start with 1/2" and work your way up if the fit is too snug.

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When making the hole, keep the drill as straight as possible and don't push too hard, the bit will do the work for you. If you push down hard you may get a blowout at the end of the cut, this means an ugly splintered exit hole.

After you have a beautifully clean hole, mount the baseplate and brake pedal using the provided hardware and tool. The instructions included with the kit suggest dismantling the brake pedal assembly but the bolt on the hinge is a size which doesn't fit the provided skate tool. We managed to bolt it all together without disassembling the brake pedal, by pushing the foot pedal to one side slightly which allowed the mounting bolt to slide in.

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After the baseplate and brake pedal are securely fastened to the deck refer to the provided instructions for exact plunger length given the thickness of your board. We used the longest length for our 11-ply deck. There is a fixed length plunger, which is much shorter, included in the kit. This plunger is used for drop through decks.

Drop the plunger into the hole in the base plate the round ball joint end should be on the hanger side of the baseplate.

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Place the hanger on the baseplate, make sure the ball joint of the plunger fits into the small cup joint on the hanger assembly. There is not the need to adjust the small fasteners on the hanger the set is ready to ride out of the box. Secure the kingpin and bushings with the baseplate and hanger.

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Adjustments

The kit has now been installed and you can test the ride quality and the plunger spacing. If the plunger is too short the brake will not engage, if it is too long the brake will not disengage.

On the wheels you may notice the bearings do not fully sit in their seats. This is due to the hub assembly used to secure the brake pad to the wheel, we could not find a way to fully seat the bearings. They still work, just made us slightly nervous.

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With the wheel off you can adjust the brake tension by tightening or loosening the retainer nut on the hanger axle. This nut is preset from the factory to work just right, if you do wish to adjust it do so in quarter turns because the tolerance between the brake pad and shoe is critical for ample stopping power.

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All Installed and Raring to Go

The kit looks impressive on the board. The red stands out nicely on the natural maple finish. The stance of the rear truck is impressive and looks menacing from behind, the most important view, we must always look good for the second place rider. The wheels sit wider than normal in the rear than the front due to the braking system.

 

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The brake pedal is bright red, just like the trucks, which looks good on the back grip. It functions like we hoped it would, really well. It will impede any kicktail you place it in front of, but we suggest this kit goes on boards without kicktails. The finish is glossy and may require slight mods to improve grip, some well placed grip tape.

Function

The Brakeboard has impressed us.

We are blown away by the quality of this kit, all parts are well made and the install was very easy. It looks great on the the board and functions really well.

The ride profile of the board in total is very similar to how it was with standard Randal trucks. It turns well, just as it should. We installed the deck without risers or pads and have had little to no wheel bite under normal riding circumstances. It is secure and stable at speed with no random rattling.

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The brake works much better than we had expected. When engaged it makes a smooth shushing sound, like that jerk in row 15 when you laughed during Battle Royale. The Brakeboard system really works, we tested at all ranges of speed and had good results. It can be touchy at slower speeds, sometimes suddenly catching and abruptly stopping. But if you keep your weight back its nothing you can’t handle. The faster you go the less touchy the braking becomes. However, the faster you go the distance to a complete stop grows. So, do keep in mind racing that yellow light, at 30 mph 50 feet away, will be a chance you may not want to take. This system is not a replacement for any protective gear, always wear a helmet and you should know how to slide and footbreak.


Criticisms

The idea and execution of the Brakeboard is mostly good, aside for a few key factors. Given the kit we were sent is a prototype and was still in the kick starter crowd funding stage when they shipped it, what we have may be different than what is now in official production at time of press.

The most troubling problem with the kit is the bearing seat, for more than one reason. First, the bearings do not sit completely flush in the aluminum hub of the wheel, this is caused by the brake shoe clamp using button head fasteners and not flush mount.  The aluminum hubs present a problem all of their own, the fact that they are much harder than polyurethane hubs. If the bearings where to get hot, say while traveling an average 30mph for a distance of more than a mile the bearings would expand and the hub wouldn't, causing a problematic bearing seizure. This is however speculative and we haven't approached those speeds for that length of time on these wheels.

The brake pads and shoes presented a problem for our clairvoyant riders who couldn't help but see a future of constantly changing brake pads (the part connected to the hub of the wheel) and running down the usable braking surface mid-run forcing them to foot brake on their brand new $95 Nike SBs.

The main point here, is unless the production models have stepped up quality and the fine details have been addressed we wouldn't take these anywhere fast for too long.

Some other discrepancies we found had more to do with information dissemination. Such as poorly explained instructions, rather than taking time to put the kit on a board and photograph the experience, Brakeboard decided to print out the prototype renderings from a program we are assuming is Solid Works. This is good in theory, giving us the original exploded views of all the parts, however its not useful to a practical curb side wrencher, that most of us are.  In addition, they don't provide the tool they expect us to use to disassemble the brake pedal, and leave us to figure out the tool provided is not the right size. When given this hurdle we decided not to figure out the correct size and attempt to install the thing with the tools given, tricky but possible. Again, this may be something that has been since resolved in production versions.

Conclusion

This is a good prototype skateboard brake, it successfully melds ease of use and universal accessibility. We suggest using it on a board for cruising the side walk, commuting or general riding. It makes skating in sandals marginally more safe, ( don't skate in sandals) and will for the most part save your shoes. Brakeboard has created a fun and practical add-on for that "one board" in your quiver. Whether you take a chance and buy this kit or find these guys at an event, the BrakeBoard system is definitely worth a try. 



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