What Was the ABT Braking System?

Close-Up of an Inline Skate
Lawrence Manning/Getty Images

The ABT (Active Brake Technology) braking system was one of many innovations that can be attributed to the inline skate leader, Rollerblade©, Inc. These brakes were originally patented by the company in 1994, and the design was intended as a tool to assist those new inline skaters who had not developed sufficient stopping skills. Unlike other braking systems on recreational and fitness inline skates that require a skater to raise the toe end of the skate to engage the rear brake pad, the ABT system allowed all four wheels of the braking skate to remain on the ground during the stopping process to provide more stability, greater speed control and better balance.

This concept won the product of the year award for the company.

How Do ABT Brakes Work?

The ABT brakes were designed with the cuff of the boot connected to a pressure sensitive braking arm. The long fiberglass arm of the brake running up the back of the skates was attached to a screw that could adjust the brake height by turning the screw. If pressure was applied to the cuff by sliding the braking skate forward in a simple scissors motion—or any movement that involved tilting or leaning back so the skater's calf pressed on the skate boot—the arm was pushed and made contact between the brake and the ground, starting the ABT braking process. ABT brake systems were easy to use for beginner skaters.

ABT2 was introduced as a sleeker, updated version of the original brake design. This was followed by a third generation of the award-winning ABT brake, the ABT Lite, which offered a lighter, more streamlined design that was built right into the inline skate boot and frame, as well as improved stopping power.

This brake was made from lightweight magnesium and steel.

Disadvantages of ABT Braking Systems

It was fairly easy for inexperienced skaters to learn to stop using the ABT brake than original friction brake pads, because all wheels on both skates stayed on the ground. But, there were some disadvantages in the system:

  • If the brake was not adjusted properly, a skater could still need to lift the toe wheels to use the brakes.
  • As the brake pads became worn, a skater could also need to lift the toe wheels to reach the brakes.
  • ABT brakes could drag, even when they were not in use, because the design placed the pads closer to the ground than traditional brake pads.
  • Some skaters felt that friction brakes were more effective than ABT brakes when skating downhill.

Phasing Out of ABT Brakes

Although this technology seemed to have considerable value for new inline skaters, ABT and other cuff-activated brake systems are currently no longer in production by any skate manufacturers due to lack of consumer interest. It is believed that as new skaters became more proficient at stopping, there was no longer a need for cuff-activated systems. 

Although both the ABT and ABT Lite braking systems were discontinued by Rollerblade© on current new skate products, some of their previously manufactured inline models with ABT technology as well as replacement pads and parts are still available at some online retail skate shops and on auction sites.

Format
mla apa chicago
Your Citation
Williams, Carlesa. "What Was the ABT Braking System?" ThoughtCo, Apr. 5, 2017, thoughtco.com/the-abt-braking-system-1963771. Williams, Carlesa. (2017, April 5). What Was the ABT Braking System? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/the-abt-braking-system-1963771 Williams, Carlesa. "What Was the ABT Braking System?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/the-abt-braking-system-1963771 (accessed September 20, 2017).