Youth Oriented DXS Disc BrakeBy Liz Miller
Inventor Alex Bellehumeur is a very patient man. After I tested his 4-wheel DXS disc brake prototype in 2007, I called it The Brake of My Dreams. In the intervening years, that same precious pair of skates has been dissected with great interest in R&D departments across the globe. The result? A more elegant and simplified disk brake design.
Introducing the DXS 2-Wheeler
Because the 2-wheeler design has less moving parts than its predecessor, it is quite viable for inline manufacturers to produce.
Like the 4-wheeler version, the 2-wheeler is activated by extending the lower leg forward with all wheels in contact with the pavement (no raised toe). That action tilts the upper cuff back, which lowers a rotating diabolo-shaped disk onto the two rear wheels. This metal disk forces braking pressure outward to a second disk positioned loosely inside the wheel frame. The second disk is made from a special compound similar to what's used for automotive disk brakes. It functions as a sort of clutch to assure smooth braking and to prevent the wheels from completely locking.
Testing the youth prototype
Much as I wanted to try it out for myself, I am too big for the 2-wheeler's design. So, on December 27, 9-year-old Sean Burke became a proxy for all beginning skaters 110 pounds and below. Sean rides a bicycle and tried ice skating a few times in the past, but had no experience on inlines. Because my teaching style is normally geared to adults, I must compliment Sean on his patience and attention span!
The pavement was clean and dry along the length of our Danville, CA neighborhood street, but there was a slight hill at the south end. We started on a piece of carpet next to the curb on an almost flat stretch of pavement.
How did it go?
Who will be the lucky licensee?
It's a significant plus that within 90 minutes, a typical youngster was able to master safe stopping and apply speed control on a sloped street. The lucky manufacturer who licenses the DXS inline braking technology will surely seize the market.
Because I have so much respect for the Rollerblade brand skates I've used, I feel strongly that Rollerblade would be the ideal licensee. As the original manufacturers of the award-winning active brake technology (ABT), they could promote new skates with the "next-generation" braking system.
I'm so impressed with the marketability of the DXS that I'm already worried about how to spin a virtually invisible brake mechanism. Will some purchasers not realize there is a brake hidden within the frame? Lacking proper instruction, will beginners be able to master the (counter-intuitive) upright, bent-knee braking stance that delivers the most effective stops?
Of course, I'd be glad to help write the essential safety documentation and marketing pieces that should be packaged alongside every pair of skates. Better yet, I could star in the instructional video!
DXS Press Release - Formerly known as the 4Wheeler Disk Brake
YouTube video of Liz testing the DXS
Brake Test Results - Perspectives on 10 braking technologies tested since 1992
The Brake of My Dreams First impressions of the DXS disc brake and stopping distance comparisons
Benefits of the DXS Disc Brake System for skaters, instructors and inline industry and manufacturers.
Get Rolling Orbit - Archive of braking articles in the Orbit newsletter
Instructional - Links to other stopping advice
Comments by an inline hockey expert tester who had never used a brake: