The Flex Brake is a new approach to inline braking and speed control currently seeking funding through “Kick Starter.” When they reach a certain number of pre-orders they’ll be able to go into production. Meanwhile, an adventurous few are already testing early prototypes.
I took a look at the Flex Brake video and Kickstarter page and then noncommittally shared links with my skate network. I avoided voicing my concerns about the design because I am not a tester and I did not want to negatively impact the company’s prospects for success.
What bothers me? Today I shared these three points in an email with Paul Kimelman, a former student of mine who suggested I take a look at Flex Brake.
- The bent forward stance is problematic. I personally suffer from low back pain, so bending forward to reach the brake leashes would literally be a pain. Secondly, that’s a dangerous position to be in: the skates may stop, but forces will keep the rest of the body moving dangerously forward, a head plant just waiting to happen!
- The need to remember to grab a leash with your hands for an emergency stop also seems like a big deal to me.
- The upright solution requires reaching for stuff attached at the waist. Not only is this pretty inelegant but it makes me feel sad to have to fetter a skater’s freedom that way.
Here is what Paul told me in his reply: