For beginner rollerskaters, mastering braking techniques may be quite challenging because it requires skills and an extensive understanding of the mechanisms. Identifying brakes can also be tricky if you don’t know what you’re looking for. So are all rollerblade brakes the same?
Rollerblades may come with traditional brakes, the Advanced Braking System (ABT) or no brakes. Most beginners choose rollerblades with traditional brakes or with ABT. More experienced skaters usually use skates without brakes. Each brake requires a different style and set of skills to maneuver.
Besides, if you are a beginner, you’ll want to attach a braking system to your inline rollerblades. Experts don’t prefer to have any brakes on their rollerblades. You’ll need to know how the brakes function, install them, and some useful tips, which you will all find in this article.
Brakes Used in Rollerblades
As I’ve mentioned before, you’ll find one of the above three brakes I’ve mentioned in a set of rollerblades. I’ve explained in detail about the brakes to give you a clearer idea.
- Traditional Brakes
Traditional brakes are the most common type of braking system like the name suggests. You’ll find these mostly in fitness skates or recreational ones. Positioned in the back, these brakes require you to use your heels instead of your toes. You can find them behind the right wheel. Hard rubber pads make up these rollerblade brakes.
The pads are also attached to a plastic holder secured by the rear wheel axles to the back. Typically, the brakes are connected to the right skate, but you can place it on the other skate if you want. This feature lets lefties to switch the braking mechanism to the other skate for their convenience.
You will need to position the braking skate in an upward manner, which will let you force the heels, then the brake onto the ground to execute the traditional braking system. The motion will create friction between the ground and brake pad, allowing you to slow down and stop. More pressure will make you stop more abruptly.
Several brands support this braking mechanism, and you’ll find it easily in the markets or stores online. These brakes are ideal for skating downhill.
- ABT Brakes
Coming into existence in the mid-1990s, the infamous skating brand Rollerblade introduced the ABT brake. Brands like Rollerblades or Bladerunner exclusively sell this braking system. These brakes are mainly for beginners as it gives them a boost in developing their braking skills.
Though you’ll find this system mostly on entry-level rollerblades of new generation labels, some pro-grade rollerblades also support this system. You’ll need to position your braking skate in the front, which will exert a rearward and downward pressure on the skates’ braking arm using the skate cuffs.
Appropriate amounts of pressure will enable the braking arm and push the brake pads onto the ground. You’ll find these brakes in two styles: marking or non-marking. But most indoor skating rinks don’t allow marking ABT brakes as they can make the skating surface appear to be visibly marked.
So make sure you’re getting the unmarked one if you plan on skating indoors. These days there’s an updated version of this braking system called the ABT2, which is sleeker than its predecessor. These brakes, like the traditional ones, also remain in the back of the skate.
Durable and lightweight steel with magnesium makes the third generation innovation ABT Lite is an award winner, providing a streamlined pattern on the frame and boots to upgrade the overall mechanism.
- No Brakes
Though it’s a standard feature for professional and advanced rollerblade brands, having no brakes could be very dangerous for beginners or novice skaters. It isn’t the best way to start inline rollerblading without a braking mechanism. Aggressive skates, speed skates, roller hockey skates, among others, use this braking mechanism.
It seems evident that skaters want speed if they don’t choose to have brakes on their rollerblades. With certain types of skating, braking mechanisms may hinder the skater’s performance. Skaters rely on skills and technique to stop on a set of rollerblades without brakes.
The technique depends on the skates’ positioning, in which one leg should be behind the other perpendicularly. T-Stop is the most popular technique of braking without an apparent braking system. After such positioning, you’ll need to drag your foot behind slowly, which will cause friction against the ground, and stop.
Difference Between ABT and Traditional Brakes
Among the serve as the difference between ABT and traditional brakes, the primary one is using a braking arm behind the skating boot in the ABT system. It also keeps all the wheels on the ground when a skater uses the brakes.
Additionally, cuffs activate these brakes and let the skater glide the braking foot forward, providing stability and balance during the whole process. You can also adjust the brakes by height in some models enabling the braking foot to slide forth as the brake pads wear down.
But the ABT brake system needs proper adjustments and may wear down over time.
In the traditional braking system, the skater has to leave their toes on the braking skate and slide on a few wheels, creating some balance issues. But in comparison, traditional friction brake pads are not a suitable choice for beginners. If you’re learning how to brake, these braking systems will help you a lot.
How to Brake on Rollerblades
It isn’t rocket science to learn how to stop using inline skates. Braking depends on the surface you are skating on and some angles. You’ll have to start by learning how to use the skating brakes before you become more advanced. No matter what technique you use, pull has to guarantee your safety by wearing a helmet and pads.
First, you’ll have to prepare yourself by bending your knees slightly and keep your legs parallel with your knees being a few inches apart. Your back must be straight so that you can lower your center of gravity a bit and reduce the chances of falling.
Additionally, you’ll need to keep your arm extended in front of you to keep yourself from falling backward or forward.
Now you’ll have to shift your weight on the leg without brakes with your knees bent and go into a position like you’re starting to sit. Then you’ll have to keep your other leg in front of you and keep it straight at the same time.
Next, you’ll want to extend your foot even more and press the heel brake onto the ground with pressure. You’ll have to practice this motion till braking feels comfortable while skating slowly. It’s best to alter between fast and slow movements with your rollerblades and keep practicing until you master the technique.
Now that you know how to slow your pace, you can learn how to come to a complete stop. You’ll accomplish this step by applying pressure to the braking skate with the leg extended forward. You’ll have to lift the toe of your braking skate. Tilting the skate depends on your brake’s position.
The more pressure you exert, the faster you’ll come to a halt. If the wheels make a squealing sound, people nearby will be alert of your presence, which might prevent a crash.
In the case of ABT brakes, you’ll have to activate the ABT brake arm by applying pressure to the cuff. This activation might happen when you move your brake skate in front of you.
Useful Tips on Braking Rollerblades
- One of the most common mistakes that beginners make is not bending the knees enough. You will need to do whatever you can to avoid a knee-lock. The brakes will not properly work if you don’t bend your knees enough.
- You don’t want to lean too forward. You’ll have to keep your back straight, or your brakes will be almost useless. Additionally, you have to position your behind close to the ground, and the heel brake should carry most of your weight.
- While scissoring your legs, you should be careful about doing it right. You’ll increase the chances of falling if you don’t do it right. Next, you’ll have to slide your leg forward, keep your back straight, and keep the braking skate six inches in front of your other skate.
- It will not be ideal for you if you lean too much on the leg without the brakes. Doing so might lead you to feel frustrated because you won’t be getting it right even after multiple attempts.
The braking skate will hold your weight while you skate forward. Your feet areas should be as close as possible to each other and not to the side.
- The final step is that you’ll want to plant your feet close to each other. You have to give the maximum weight on the brake skate to avoid becoming unstable and losing balance. When you slide your braking foot forward, you’ll have to keep your feet in a narrow line.
You can accomplish this technique by imagining you’re skating on a narrow surface like a wood plank. You can maintain proper leg positioning while you learn how to brake and become more advanced.
Skating is all about the right balance and positioning. You have every chance of getting it wrong and right. There’s undoubtedly a learning curve with skating, but with the correct method and these useful tips, you’ll master it in no time.
What Do Advanced Skaters Prefer?
The best part about skating is on speedy wheels that will take you to a road’s end. Advanced skaters do not prefer having braking mechanisms on their rollerblades. There are several intermediate and advanced techniques when it comes to braking on rollerblades. A T-stop and hockey stop is a prevalent example of such a method.
In the T-stop technique, the skaters drag their foot behind with the toes facing sideways. The downward pressure will slow the skater’s momentum and make them stop. The hockey stop technique is a fast way to stop with a turn. It’s also called the power slide technique. Skaters make a sharp turn to either side until they stop.
This technique takes a while to master and works best on smooth surfaces. Wile. E coyote is another advanced technique where skaters lean back and stop quickly. This technique resembles the way cartoon characters stop on their heels. Skaters lean back and apply pressure on their heels till they stop.
The advanced techniques need a lot of patience and effort to master. So if you’re going to attempt leaving the brakes out of your rollerblades, you’ll need to prepare to take a hike on a steep learning curve.
But advanced skaters are advanced because they can do many other tricks besides the ones I’ve mentioned here. If you do master these, you’ll have excellent progress.
How to install Rollerblade Brakes
After learning about rollerblade brakes extensively, you know that they don’t last very long. At the end of every session, there will be some wear and tear in the different parts of your skates, even if it’s not visible.
You can get professionals to replace the brakes on your rollerblades and other components or replace them yourself. Here’s a quick guide on how you can do that.
You’ll need to have basic knowledge on taking things apart with an Allen key to replace the brakes on your skate. Also, after you’re done, it’s best to check again and see if all the screws are bolted shut. There are two methods that are most commonly used to replace brakes: the vertical brake attachment and the horizontal brake attachment.
- Vertical Brake Attachment: First, you take your skates and locate a hole at the base of the skate with a screw by turning the skates over. A Phillips-head screwdriver should be okay to pull the screw out to release the brakes from the skates. After removing the old brake, you can replace the new one, and you’re done.
- Horizontal Brake Attachment: You will have to start again by turning the skates over and locate the screw attachment at the base of the skates. If you don’t find it, look towards the upper horizontal end.
Check out our our in depth post How To Install Rollerblade Brakes: A Step-By-Step Guide? [Video]
With a Phillips-head screwdriver, you’ll have to take the brakes apart by unscrewing the attachment. Replace the old brakes with the new brakes, and you’re good to go.
Here’s how you will have to install the rollerblade brakes. The procedure for replacing the brakes on rollerblades is mostly the same for every kind of brake.
- With a 4mm Allen key, you’ll have to remove the fourth wheel axle. Next, you’ll have to the wheels and the two brakes with the washers. A Phillips-head screwdriver is a suitable option to remove the bolts within the brakes.
- Now you’ll need to remove the brake pad and make sure to do it gently so that you harm none of the parts. The brake pads should fall on your work station after you’ve accomplished this step.
- You’ll have to install the new brake pads by sliding the but gently. Then you can place the brake pad back into where it needs to go.
- Next, you’ll have to restore the washer an the mounting bolt in this step, tightening it to the brake pad. With a bolt, the nut should line up correctly in the brake housing.
- The wheel at the rear end will have to go back into the frame, and the washers will go on every side of the brake housing. Finally, with the wheel axle, you’ll have to correctly assemble it all in place.
Additionally, you might have to swap the heel brakes onto your left leg, as most brakes are on the right skate. The process for swapping is also straightforward. You’ll have to take everything apart with an Allen key and locate the little metal pin that secures the brake mount on the wheels.
After removing the pin, you’ll have to separate the wheel at the back from the left skate with washers but it’ll do fine with them too. Now you’ll have to place the wheels horizontally to align the floating bearing spacer with the central part.
Finally, you’ll have to set the wheels up on your left skate, then the right skate, and you’re done swapping the brakes.
Some brands like K2, Rollerblade, Salomon can contain the brake mount easily in the left skate. But ABT Lite models may not have this feature available for you with other brands.
You should install new brakes if you see visible signs of wear and tear for smooth rollerblading sessions. Besides, you should also know which foot you’re dominant with to make the right decision about brakes.
While skating, you have to take the necessary precautions to protect yourself and others. If you’re a beginner, you should undoubtedly attach a braking mechanism to your inline skates. So are all rollerblade brakes the same? No, they’re not, and hopefully, you know much more about them after reading this article.
I hope you have a great time rollerblading, and I wish you all the best.