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Reviews (page 4)

A Police Officer's Take on Brake Director™

Rob Earick has been a Police Officer with the City of Puyallup for 14+ years and has been a Police Cyclist for 12 years. Rob has been a Police Cyclist Instructor with IPMBA for 11 years. Rob has also participated in numerous charity bike rides as a recreational cyclist.

I had the opportunity to test the Brake Director for approximately 4 months. I wanted to test the product in a controlled environment such as training as well as in real life police applications on the street. I had one Trek Police package bike and one Giant Iguana bike w/ disc brakes outfitted with the brake director. I also had our most experienced and skilled Police Cyclist on our department, Officer Dave Temple, use the product while working the streets to get his opinion.

The Brake Director was originally developed to assist persons with upper body disabilities. The system was brought to the attention of law enforcement as a tool to assist the police cyclist. The system would allow the police cyclist to free up a hand to grab suspects or draw a firearm without worrying about braking.

When we were first given the oppurtunity to ride a bike equipped with the Brake Director, we were impressed with the simplicity and ease of use. We tested the product in an “Emergency Braking” technique and the bike quickly slowed to a stop while maintaining controllablity.

I tested the Brake Director in training applications on the skills taught during the Police Cyclist course. I will begin by saying the Brake Director is very effective in stopping the bike. So much so, that it almost dumped me a couple times when I tried to use it during slow speed maneuvers such as cone courses. If you are accustomed to “dragging” the rear brake during slow speed maneuvers, you must remember that the front brake will also be applied. I found this to reduce the controllability of the front wheel. At first it felt similar to riding in loose sand. But, after practice, I found it to be manageable.

I tested the product on all applications of training from stairs to dismounts. After 10+ years as a Police Cyclist Instructor, it has become second nature for me to perform these tasks or maneuvers. However, when utilizing the Brake Director, I found myself now “learning” to perform these functions. The product worked in all applications, but took some “training” and familiarization to become accustomed and comfortable using it.

Ofc. Temple used the product for a couple of days and found it to be too cumbersome for him. He explained that he had a difficult time doing the slow speed maneuvers with the front brake always activating when he tried to drag the rear brake. Ofc. Temple is assigned to patrol parks and community events where he has to ride through crowds of people. He was not able to get comfortable using the product and traded bikes to go back to the conventional braking system.

To get another opinion on the Brake Director, I allowed Corrections Officer Jeff Dreyer to test the product. Ofc Dreyer is a recreational cyclist and also commutes to work on a bike. Ofc Dreyer sent me an email regarding his experience.

“I found the braking system very good. I went on dry grass, wet grass, down hills and up hills and the only issue I had was that you did stop very fast. Officers should get used to the braking system because I stopped a lot quicker with the new system verses the old. I almost dumped it a couple times because I didn’t have my foot out of the toe clips fast enough, but everything was fine once I got used to it”.

Officer Dreyer’s experience was more of a recreational cyclist's view rather than in police applications. But it shows that it is possible to get used to the product and become comfortable with it.

I will end by saying that the product is very effective at what it is designed to do. The system appears to be high quality and well designed. It is a remarkable product for its original use, to assist those with disabilities be able to ride safely again. As far as police tactics, the Brake Director does free up a hand of the rider for other tasks. IPMBA does not train to shoot from a moving bike. Even though you can maintain control of the bike with one handed braking using the Brake Director, riding a bicycle is not a safe and stable shooting platform and shooting from a moving bike is still strongly discouraged. The idea that the free hand may be used to grab hold of a fleeing suspect is just that, an idea. The suspect must be on the side with the free hand and then you still have the concern of controlling the bike and the suspect. It is recommended that you stay with the approved tactics of IPMBA. The free hand may be handy to talk on the radio while pursuing a suspect or responding to a call.

I believe that the Brake Director can be a tool in the Police Cyclist bag. But it will take training and practice to become accustomed to it. It is more of personal preference. It will probably be easier to train a new Police Cyclist to use the Brake Director than a veteran Police Cyclist to switch over.
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Brake Director™ is a one hand brake solution