Sometimes there are products out there that seem so simple that it is hard to believe that it took this long to see them offered on the market. The new braking system from Slidepad Technologies, located in Palo Alto, CA, is one of those products.
The Slidepad is a braking system that controls both the front and rear brakes on a bicycle through the use of one brake lever. The rider of a bike that has the Slidepad system installed simply pulls one brake lever which applies braking pressure to the rear wheel. As the pads make contact with the rear wheel, the Slidepad (which looks like an over sized brake pad) ‘slides’ forward pulling a cable that is connected to the front brakes. This in turn applies enough braking pressure to the front wheel to slow the rider, but not too much to cause them to flip over the handlebars.
Slidepad offers a slightly more technical explanation on its website:
Similar to regenerative braking, Slidepad captures the momentum of the rotating rear wheel and transfers that force to actuate the front brake. It slows the rider down requiring significantly less hand strength because it recycles your forward momentum, using it to apply front braking force. Essentially, Slidepad does half the work of slowing the bike down for you.
Slidepad is a true anti-lock front brake system for bikes. The front wheel is impossible to lockup because it is regulated by the force of the rear wheel. As the front wheel begins to lock, the rear tire begins to loose friction with the ground, and the front brake is weakened proportionally in real time. You get safe, easy, controlled stops every-time, with automatic brake modulation based on your weight position and road surface.
In order to install the Slidepad system on a bike, the rear brakes need to be a linear pull or v-brake type of system as the Slidepad actually replaces one of the arms of the brakes. The front brake can any type of brake just as long as it is cable actuated (ie. linear pull, disc, v-brake, etc); but the front brake can not be hydraulic.
Though numerous companies are looking into the Slidepad system for their bikes as an OE spec‘d item, those will probably not hit the market until the 2012 season. As of June 15th, the Slidepad system is available as an aftermarket option for around $60. If your bike has rear rim brake mounts and you are interested in one-handed braking, visit you local bike shop to inquire if they can help you get setup with the Slidepad system.