One of the many things that rollerblading beginners find difficult to master is the braking technique. It not only involves understanding the braking mechanism in your rollerblades but also to develop the skills to master the different stopping techniques using the braking mechanism. It can be a hell of a challenge for the beginners who are taking their first steps in the world of rollerblading. And that is not all! There are so many mind-boggling questions about the braking mechanism itself.
Do rollerblades have brakes on both skates or just one? Well, you can find three types of brake systems in a set of rollerblades [source]. These are the traditional brakes, the Advanced Braking System or ABT, and the no brakes at all. Traditional brake systems are often positioned at the back of your skates. You can locate them right behind the last wheel if you examine the chassis. The position of the brakes is not similar to the one you may find in a pair of roller skates. Brake system of the rollerblades requires you to use your heels instead of your toe. You will find the brakes in this traditional positioning in several brands of rollerblades.
The ABT brake system is also positioned towards the back of the skate usually in the same place where you may find the traditional brakes. However, a primary difference between ABT and traditional braking type is the fact that the ABT system utilizes a braking arm running behind your skate boot. ABT is a primary braking system found on many new rollerblades.
Traditional Brakes in Rollerblades
The traditional brake system is certainly the most common type of braking mechanism that you may find in many recreational or fitness skates. These brakes are made up of hard rubber pads attached to a plastic holder fastened to the back of a rollerblade via the axles of the rear wheel. Usually, you find this type of braking system attached to the right skate, however, it is interchangeable between skates. The interchangeability feature allows left-foot dominant skaters to easily switch the braking mechanism onto their left skate.
To execute traditional brakes, you need to angle the braking skate placing it in an upward fashion so that you can force the heel, and so also the brake, to the ground. This motion generates friction between the brake pad and the ground thereby allowing you to slow down your pace. If you apply more pressure, you may quickly come to a halt.
ABT Brakes in Rollerblades
The ABT braking system came into existence not before the mid-1990s when it was first introduced by the famous skate manufacturing brand, the Rollerblade. You can exclusively find these brakes on the rollerblade brands the Rollerblade and the Bladerunner. This braking system was primarily designed for beginners to give them a boost as they develop their braking skills. You can find the ABT brake system on all the entry-level rollerblades of many new-gen manufacturing labels.
You can activate the ABT brake system by positioning your braking skate forward. Such a position exerts pressure rearward and downward on the skate cuffs that connect the braking arm to the skates. Applying an appropriate amount of pressure activates the braking arm that further pushes the brake pads against the ground. The primary difference between the traditional braking system and ABT is that the skates do not have to tilt their skate for activating the braking mechanism. Instead, the skaters can roll all four wheels touching the ground and still remain in balance.
You can find brake pads in marking or non-marking styles for the ABT brake system. Most indoor skating rinks ban the use of marking brakes as they leave visible marks on the skating surface. So, in case you are planning to skate indoors, make sure you have a non-marking ABT brake in your rollerblades.
You can also find an updated version of ABT by the name ABT2, which is a more sleeker version of the former. ABT Lite is the third-generation of this innovative, award-winning ABT brake system that uses lightweight steel and magnesium brakes to provide a lighter, streamlined design fabricated into the frame and rollerblade boots to improve overall stopping power.
No Brake Stopping in Rollerblades
No brakes at all in the rollerblades may sound suicidal to the beginners and novice skaters, but it is a common appearance with many of the advanced rollerblade brands. You may not find this mechanism or absence of a mechanism to be precise, in the beginner, recreational, and fitness skates. Some of the skate styles which support a no brake system include aggressive skates, speed skates, and roller hockey skates.
The obvious reason for the skates to have a no-brake mechanism is the primary need for speed. A brake system may hinder the performance of the skater on such types of skates. So, how do the skaters stop on these skates without an obvious brake system? Well, the skaters use different stopping techniques to stop on these skaters, the most popular one being the T-Stop. The technique works by a simple concept of positioning one skate behind the other so that it is placed perpendicularly. Next, the key is to drag the foot behind you until you slow down and stop.
Suggest some tips for the beginners to learn how to stop. Here are some tips for the beginners who are trying to master the stopping techniques [source]:
- Keep your knees gently bent so as to control your motion and stay in balance while stopping and skating.
- Always start practicing the stopping skills in an area with a controlled environment or the area which has a slight upward grade to keep your speed in check.
- Always wear protective gear including a helmet, wrist guards, elbow pads, and knee pads.
- Start your skating lessons in an empty parking lot or an evacuated park or uncrowded pavement before you plan to skate in a crowded area with more traffic.
- Never tense up your muscles or use your arms to break a fall. You may suffer more injuries making such an attempt than falling on your knees or using an elbow to cover up your face as you fall on debris.
- Refrain from falling on your back or hips. You can use girdles to protect your tailbone and buttocks during a fall. Wearing some extra pads can save you from a lot of trouble afterward.
What is the safest mode to stop on the rollerblades? Considering your skill levels, the safest stop is always the one that you have mastered and can pull off reliably without losing balance or suffering a fall. For beginners, it is always safe to use the brakes on the heels of your right or left skate. It is easy, safe, and slow. Advanced skaters may use different stopping techniques such as a T-stop or a Hockey stop, which may or may not involve a brake system.
Why do advanced skaters prefer to remove the brake system from their rollerblades? Well, advanced skating tricks rely on speed and balance. A brake system may hinder performing such tricks at a high speed. Therefore, advanced skaters prefer to use different braking techniques instead of relying on a brake system to come to a halt.
Which are better, ABT or friction brakes? ABT brakes always work better for inexperienced skaters in comparison to the traditional friction brake pads [source]. ABT brakes keep all the wheels on the ground which keeps the skater grounded when the brakes are applied. However, you need to properly adjust the ABT brakes to ensure you do not have to lift the toe wheel to apply the brakes. Again, the ABT brakes are easily worn over time and may drag even when not in use because of their design placement which keeps them closer to the ground surface. Friction pads are more effective when skating downhill.
Explain the ABT brake mechanism. The ABT brakes have a long pressure-sensitive braking arm made up of fiberglass which is connected to the cuffs of your boots. The braking arm runs towards the back of the skates and is attached to a screw to help adjust the brake height. When you apply enough pressure to the cuffs by sliding forward your braking skate in a scissors motion or by tilting and leaning back that causes the calf to press on the skate boot, the braking arm moves and makes contact with the ground to hit the ABT braking process.
Are All Rollerblade Brakes the Same?