One of the first things I learned when I got my longboard was... skateboards don't have brakes. Well, allow me to be more descriptively accurate.
After I jumped on my longboard for the first time and started rolling, my first thought actually was Fuck!!! Skateboards don't have brakes! How the hell do you stop this thing!!??
Answer is: not easily.
Foot braking is one way. But that requires standing on the board with one foot and dragging the other foot on the ground. Even if you're young (I'm not, being 64), this isn't easy. Especially going fast. Down a steep hill. Maybe while turning to avoid an obstacle.
Sliding the board sideways so the wheels skid is another way. Also not easy. Some boarders slide with their hands on the ground, which requires balance and flexibility. Stand-up sliding is as tough or tougher. And sliding won't work very well, or at all, if you're confined to a narrow trail or bike path.
I'm into land paddling on my longboard.
I push my way along with a Kahuna Creations Big Stick rather than pushing with my foot like most skateboarders do. While keeping both feet on the board, I can slow down by dragging the rubber tip of the stick along the ground. It's also possible to slide a board sideways while leaning back on the stick, sort of a blend of Coleman/sit down and stand up sliding (can't do this yet...but I dream).
Wanting to find a way to stop my longboard on steeper hills than I feel comfortable on now with my minimalist stopping skills, I've researched skateboard brakes via Google.
There's various homemade varieties, some as simple as PVC pipe bent in a fashion that allows it to drag on the ground when pressed from the top of the board. Skatebrake makes a product that has gotten so-so reviews and doesn't appeal much to me, as the brake controller has to be handheld -- which would interfere with my two-handed land paddling.
By far the best skateboard brake design I came across was by Brakeboard, which integrated the braking system into the trucks that hold the wheels. But the "under construction" web site said the product wasn't available yet.
Yesterday I emailed Ben, the Brakeboard founder, designer, engineer, tester, CEO, CFO, janitor, secretary, sales manager, and more, I bet -- at least in the early stages of his Brakeboard career.
I was thrilled to get a quick reply, pointing me to the nifty new mostly-completed Brakeboard web site. Ben said the skateboard brakes are close to being orderable; early January, if not sooner. Looking over his product line, I'm confident that a Brakeboard will enter my life.
I'm not out to become a senior citizen downhill bomber on my longboard. I'd just like to know that if I want to stop -- because of a stop sign, debris area, person in my path, whatever -- I can do so safely and reliably.
Watching Ben demonstrate his Brakeboard-equipped longboard makes me confident that his creation will do just that. Have a look. (More Brakeboard videos here.)