I recently picked up a slide brake for my longboard; my inspirations for doing so included:
- Trying something new
- Reducing the wear (and expense) of skate shoes
To elaborate on the second inspiration, I must admit that I have developed a little infatuation with the low-end Harsh Arabica skate shoe. This shoe is available at Big 5 Sporting Goods for a pittance ($18 USD at the time of writing) and resembles the late 90s/early 2000s era skate shoes that I grew up wearing (fat tongue and oversized, like Vans Komodo, Camacho, Skink). It is difficult to find that style these days (Vans Baxter is close, but I figured if I was going to invest $65 USD+ in shoes, I might as well give the longboard brake a shot instead).
The major drawback of Harsh Arabica shoes is their durability. If you wear them as a lifestyle shoe (no skating), they might last a while. If you skate or long board and drag your foot to stop (like me), you might get 6-8 rides out of the Arabicas before the sole is completely worn through. I destroyed a pair (technically, just the right shoe) that way which prompted my search for other options.
But I digress - let’s talk about the slide brake.
Slide brake impressions
The slide brake was an excellent purchase. It is simple, elegant and it works exactly as advertised. Additionally, there is hardly any learning curve if you are already used to dragging your foot or toe to brake. I installed the brake in a location such that I can simply pivot my right foot and press down to engage it.
Most importantly, I’ve longboarded many times and my second pair of Arabicas are still in perfect condition. Mission accomplished!
The brake pad appears to wear more slowly than the sole of the shoes did, so in the long run, this brake should be a cheaper option as well. Replacement brake pads are ~$15 USD at the time of writing, which is slightly cheaper than replacing Harsh Arabicas and much cheaper than replacing Vans.
Stopping the noise, rattle, and vibration
Depending on your board and where/how you install the brake, you may not experience this issue. With my installation, the slide brake rattled and vibrated a bit while I was pushing (probably because the deck bends) and when riding on rough surfaces. I tightened the mounting screw as much as I could without stripping it but was still not able to completely eliminate the noise and vibration.
I ended up purchasing and installing the following from Lowes (hardware store) to fix this:
- Item number 55097 - Hillman Zinc Screw Eyes Hook
- Item number 422430 - Hillman 2-Pack 1-1⁄2-in Extension Spring
- Item number 53400 - 1-in Oatmeal Round Felt Pad
I cut a cross shape into a felt pad and slid it onto the bolt so it would absorb vibration against the deck. Cutting a hole the diameter of the bolt would have worked also. Then, I drilled a small hole in the brake arm, screwed an eye hook into the deck, and attached a tension spring across the two so that the brake is held against the deck with more force than the arm itself provides.
Now, there is no vibration or rattle from the slide brake whatsoever. The final product looks like this:
Note the felt pad squished against the deck above the nut. Spring is affixed to the inner edge of the brake.
Better view of spring/eye hook on inner edge of brake