What Are Spoon Brakes

Author: Alex Bristol

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Brakes throughout history:

A question that arises quite often among cyclist all around the globe is, what are spoon brakes? The name intrigues many, but brakes are one of the most essential requirements when it comes to controlling a bike on any terrain.

Spoon brake is one of the types of brakes that have been invented till date. There were many before it and many will be invented after. If we look at the three main branches of brakes, they include a rim brake, drum brake, or a disc brake.

The mechanism is quite simple when it comes to applying a brake. As many braking systems consist of just 3 parts. These include: the individual to apply brakes, an efficient system that transmits the signal and lastly, the type of brake you use.

How does braking work?

Previously mentioned mechanism is required for the caliper to join together on the surface, which could be more than 2. Once it presses against the surface, the kinetic energy is converted to friction from the joining and energy is released in the form of heat.

The classic penny-farthings

Boneshaker was one of the first bicycles with pedals that had a spoon brake operated with a lever. This way the cord connection with the handlebars made the rider slow down. Resistive pedaling of fixed wheel was used to slow down.

Then, came the development of a newer improved model of bicycles, penny-farthings. It too had a spoon brake, which was used to slow down the vehicle. Slowly, the market started to saturate with back peddling and different styles of brakes.

Spoon brakes anyone?

Coming to the real question that what is exactly a spoon brake? Well, after digging through history of bicycle brakes, it has come to our attention that a spoon brake might have been the first type of brake. This was discovered after pneumatic tyre.

The first time they were used were in penny farthings, which consisted of a solid rubber tire. This was done in the 1800’s and continued to be used in the manufacturing of bicycles, even with the pneumatic tyre introduction in bicycle safety.

Composition of spoon brakes and how it operated?

To start off, a spoon brake consisted of either a leather pad, or rubber enclosed metal shoe, which would firmly grip the front tyre from the top. It is interesting to note how they were rod operated and located on the right-hand side lever.

But sometimes, depending on the location of manufacture of the bicycle, the brake placement would differ. It would be foot operated instead of rod operated. These foot operated spoon brakes were retrofitted to the classic rod brakes.

Wondering what the foot operated spoon brake was made of? Well, it consisted of a simple spring-loaded flap. This flap was then attached to the hind side of the fork crown. This too was pressed up against the front tyre with the foot of the individual.

This has been a brief insight on what spoon brakes are.

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