Soapbox Brakes

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You are not Fred Flintstone. You cannot stop a cartie travelling at 30mph by putting your feet on the road.

Fortunately, bike brakes are more than up to the job and can be fitted relatively easily. Many events have some form of brake test including in the pre-event inspection, so it is important to pay attention to your brakes.

The tricky part about brakes is fitting them. How you attach them is mainly controlled by how you mount your wheels. If you are using bike forks, the problem is pretty much solved for you as the forks will already have brake mounts fitted. If you are using stub axles, however, it can be rather more tricky.

Disk brakes would be the obvious choice for stub mounted wheels, but unfortunately it can be difficult to find 20" wheels that are disk compatible. The alternative is to make a bracket to hold rim brakes. This can be tricky as the bracket will need to be strong enough to not bend under braking. The other problem with using rim brakes on stub axles is that if the stub axles bend at all - not uncommon with the standard 10mm bike axle - the brake will start to rub on the rim.

Rim brakes work well in the dry but their effectiveness can be dramatically reduced in the wet.

King Pin AlignmentIn general, brakes on the front wheels are far more effective than brakes on the rear wheels. However, the down side is that they are harder to set up. To avoid "brake steer" effect which causes your cartie to veer off to one side or the other under heavy braking, you need to make sure that both sides are properly balanced and also that the king pin is aligned to pass through the tyre contact patch (see right).

Scrub brakes that work by either rubbing against the road or directly onto the tyre should not be use.

Brake tips and notes:

  • You are unlikely to get very good braking if you just have one pair of caliper brakes mounted on the rear wheels.Consider fitting brakes on all four wheels.
  • Do not use scrub brakes that act on the road surface or the tyre.
  • disk brakes can overheat very quickly and become ineffective. Cadence braking can help reduce this.
  • If you hav cable operated brakes, you can apply more force with foot pedals than you can with your hands.
  • Hand brake levers must be mounted on the steering control so you can steer and brake at the same time. If you need to let even one hand off the steering wheel to operate the brakes,you will crash.
Fleet Trikes
A good summary of the more common brake types from the fabulously useful "Fleet Trike" web site.


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