Video: 5 Minutes of Brakeless Riding with Olivier Cuvet

Nov 27, 2023
by Olivier Cuvet  

Words: Olivier Cuvet

You know this feeling of riding a trail for the first time, telling yourself that you can ride it brakeless ? Well, I had this feeling, and I went for it !

After a couple of runs on McNearlyGnarly, I was convinced that its rideable brakeless. There are a few fast sections, a couple of steeper, scarier berms, and some gravel road crossing that got me nervous. But overall, it felt like the speed was manageable.

I went for a death grip run with brakes on, straight away followed by removing my Hayes brakes and going for the full run.

Breakless run
Manualing with no room for error was something I didn’t thought about before dropping in. I immediately knew I’d have to be focused for that.

It was by far the scariest lap of my lap. I knew I wasn’t done til the last right berm, so i couldn’t lost focus, nor slow down, for more than 5 minutes. Not sure I would do it again, but all my respect goes to the dig team who sculpted this piece of art. Im not sure there are a lot of proper MTB tracks that could actually be ridden top to bottom brakeless. This showcase how accessible, yet fun and good for everybody this track is.

Breakless run
Actually riding the line, clearing all the jumps and having fun on it was a must for me. The goal was not to cruise down the line.

Man I dont want to see this cockpit without brakes again

Author Info:
oliv69 avatar

Member since Nov 4, 2009
46 articles

  • 49 2
 The day people learn the difference between break/brake, their/there, your/you're will be a sad one because it'll mean I will have less opportunity to practise not getting upset about things that do not matter.
  • 25 0
 Once I rode almost 10 minutes before taking the first break.
  • 19 0
 Aww gimme a brake man.
  • 9 0
 your crazy
  • 10 1
 Dude, no need to loose your sh!t.
  • 5 0
 Don’t worry, their will always be people who mix them up
  • 3 0
 what about things like "It was by far the scariest lap of my lap"?
  • 3 0
 I didn't thought about that.
  • 1 0
 @MOBrules: The front fork and the rear shock work in unison.
  • 3 0
  • 4 0
  • 2 0
 @cck9: It's good practice to practise spelling regularly.
  • 2 0
 @dc-woods: Don't be ridiculous, it's spelt petal.
  • 2 0
 @ktnkgb: What about "so i couldn’t lost focus?"
  • 29 0
 It was meant to be a two minutes but he couldn't stop.
  • 17 0
 Who needs brakes anyway - they're heavy and only slow you down!
  • 18 0
 Who needs brakes... in Denmark, indeed.
  • 4 0
 Maybe if he had brakes he wouldn't have rolled into that one
  • 2 0
 @danstonQ: A bike, a bike, a kingdom for a bike!
  • 25 9
 rather run brakeless then sram brakes.
  • 4 3
 Sram brakes made me realize I don't really need to use my brakes.
  • 9 2
 @heyj and then/than
  • 13 0
 BMX background?
  • 21 13
 It's only Tuesday and I'm a grumpy old man but I do not see the point of this. Fair enough, the guy has skills, but it is a pity that trails this manicured are getting more and more popular.
Now we use 170mm travel full suspension bikes on trails with better surfaces than most roads in Scotland. Where are all the rocks and roots???
Anyway...this was just a wee rant. Nice video, sick skills, yadda yadda....
  • 9 1
 Also a grumpy old man here but in my view - we need it all, and all the trails are there now. Trails like this can get people stoked for rowdier stuff later. There's no lack of sick, insane, steep & rocky / rooty gnar (in my area anyway) and in areas that cannot be turned into flow trails even if people wanted that (like national forest, etc)... but I'll still ride a sweet flow roller any day when I come up on one. Riders who want the gnarly shredding stuff will put those in anyway (which I've been doing for 33 yrs now) and we dont really wanna advertise all of those to the masses anyway. Sure more travel may not be necessary but it comes in super ass handy when you do neeed it and in a way - so what... just ride the trails on any whatever kind of bike you want... Its just bikes. Have fun my man. Have fun.
  • 14 1
 Flow trails that can run brakeless are the best flow trails because they won't get clapped out like most of the garbage excuses called flow trails these days. You can trust the jumps with the trail speed. The better a builder is, the more complicated the trail becomes while still being brakeless and pedal-less as possible.

f*cking anybody can build a "raw, rooty rocky tech trail. A skilled builder can make a sick natural trail but the consequences of shitty building are not the same.

Hate on flow trails all you want but the 4% of flow trails like this one that are actually good are the apex of trailbuilding skill. All the old grumpy f*cks out there could never build a trail that runs brakeless for this long, let alone one single jump.
  • 3 0
 some other thoughts:
this flow trail existing isn't preventing raw natural trails from existing

flow trail doesn't have to mean easy blue like this one, plenty of double black flow trails exist. When you see a fest jump lines, it's really just a very large flow trail.

The knowledge of momentum, gravity and trajectory, elevation management required to build a half decent flow trail is only going to help you build better natural raw trails.

No trail is "sustainable" if it's clapped TF out after a season of existing, that's why I highly value flow trails that are brakeless and aren't full of bumps.

I do get why flow gets so much hate, the vast majority of them are just some kook making a giant mess with a machine, they end up f*cking clapped after a week of being open because the builder has zero skill or knowledge.
  • 1 0
 @luckynugget: Agreed on the art & skill of a built trail like this but not everyone (and in fact very few people) are actually building sick - well designed - raw, rooty/rocky trails that last (at least) in my area - and that's a sick skill too. I know b/c Ive been diddling w/ them for 33 yrs and have made tons of mistake. I'm not buying or using machines but I know some tricks about getting the steepest rowdiest stuff into sweet places without having them spend out in a season or a few years and that's taken lots of mistakes (and I still make some) to get to.

Dunno why it has to be one vs. other - all kinds of trails are built skillfully & poorly all the time, even by well-meaning experienced builders. This ''grumpy old f*ck'' has a quiver of trails & skills going to blacks / rowdy / raw stuff going on 4 decades - and getting better. The duality you're presenting doesn't make flow look better by punching up on the skinnier rowdy stuff or people who build them - it just seem to put you in a corner about it. Lighten up - its just bikes and we all have prefences. I welcome all the trail types, I just prefer they're made well and not put in fragile places they have no business being installed...
  • 3 0
 @Mtn-Goat-13: my reply was to the dude above you.
I agree though, I love building raw, steep, gnarly stuff as well. I just found your able to get away with a lot more mistakes because they blend in with the natural feel a lot more than flow trails.

at the end of the day the majority of mountain bikers don't recognize dogshit, they are just happy to get out on a bike and when the trail is full of bombholes, overshoot jumps, berms that don't work ect, they just blame it on lack of maintenance and keep clapping and cheering for the kooks who keep getting paid to build their abominations.
  • 3 1
 @luckynugget: Wow, you are having a worst Tuesday than me. hahahaha
  • 1 0
 @luckynugget: "f*cking anybody can build a "raw, rooty rocky tech trail. A skilled builder can make a sick natural trail but the consequences of shitty building are not the same."
Even if this was the case (which I don't think it is; connecting slabs, ladders and other features is a craft), the consequences of poor trail building are usually more dire on a gnar trail than a flow trail that gets rutted.
  • 1 0
 Flow trails are great and are a nice introduction to the sport, the only gripe I have is when gnar trails are neutered down to a blue from a black (yes I'm looking at you Ned's Atomic Dustbin.)
  • 2 1
 @Bitelio: brother my tuesday is great how else would I have time to spread my opinions on the internet. I'm about to light a spliff, have a coffee, plus my eye I whacked yesterday is working again.
  • 1 0
 flow trails are fantastic for when your hands are cooked from riding tech all day but you don't wanna stop riding. Lappin the flow trail is sometimes a nice change of pace to just enjoy spending time outside in the forest on your bike. Some people don't want to send it 100% of the time they just wanna sit back and unwind. Something for everyone.
  • 1 0
 @luckynugget: I hear you on all that, and I've seen some pretty sad kook-built material over the years but it seems like most of the stuff around me, public and private is done pretty well in the past many years and is being maintained (western NC / Blue Ridge anyway) so I guess it's different situation's all around. Poorly built trails of any skill level are truly a bummer...
  • 11 0
 Never mind the spelling/grammar, the lens on that camera is an error!
  • 3 0
 Came here to say the same. It's horrible, and would make a sidewalk seem like a scary ridge. No way to tell how hard this trail really is.
  • 3 0
 @WhateverBikes: I couldn't watch it due to that lens.
Honestly it's ridiculous. It seems as if every trail was on a knife's edge down the steepest mountain today. I know the old gopros would make things look much easier, but this is a massive overshoot much further from reality.
  • 9 1
 It's the interesting mix between very impressive and kinda stupid that really does it for me.
  • 12 0
 Chicken / egg question. Does riding a banshee make you sick or do sick people ride banshees?
  • 1 0
 Indeed, the line between the two is a fine one.
  • 1 0
 @HughBonero: yesterday I rode a Banshee and today I feel sick. What's to blame? The cold, the snow or my job which wouldn't let me take a warm shower before the next useless meeting?
  • 10 1
 trailbuilders take notes
  • 4 0
 wait I don't just automatically have a sweet flow trail if I f*cking maul down the forest with an excavator and stack the exact same 180 switchback berm over and over?
  • 2 0
 @luckynugget: sir that's not a flow trail, that's a maze of switchbacks
  • 1 0
 @vtracer: wish more people knew the difference
  • 9 1
 Take that, AXS!
  • 3 0
 Aaron Chase already did this brakeless, chainless and brainless 10 years ago on Hellion at Highland MBP.
  • 1 0
 I used to run brakeless all the time or 1 at a time! Not for laughs and giggles purely because I didn't have working ones at the time but must get the laps in! Make yous a better rider.
  • 1 0
 Anyone over 25 and miserable shouldn't be allowed to comment on news or pinkbike articles, wouldn't the world be a better place?
  • 2 0
 Of course, who would brake then you hear a banshee screaming
  • 1 0
 I'm questioning the brake leaver placement for the brakeless run... additional fear factor as a potential ball ripper?
  • 3 0
 @heyj leaver/lever
  • 2 0
 Next step: no brakes, no chain
  • 1 0
 Axs+this puts the headset cable routing debate to rest. Free your headset, free your mind!
  • 1 0
 There's a video of someone hitting Dirt Merchant brakeless on youtube. This run is much longer though. Both very scary
  • 2 0
 Next do no saddle, or SpurSaddle
  • 17 20
 Maybe I'm being an old grumpy man, but can't you at least run your article through a spell/grammar check before publishing it on possibly the world's biggest MTB website? I'm counting 10 errors and I'm not even looking that hard. Did nobody at PB give this a once over before giving it the go ahead? I love the concept and the riding but, to me at least, the basics matter and this detracts from the concept as a whole
  • 15 3
 As a bit of a grammar nazi myself, I would have given you a pass for this comment if it had been devoid of errors, but alas. And by the way, even your username contains a grammatical faux pas. So, better luck next time.
  • 17 0
 @everythingscomingupmilhouse : Ok, your turn now. Write a piece in French. Not only on the level that the French understand exactly what you mean, but also on such a level that they can't find any spelling error in your essay. Hand in your work in this comment section before tomorrow noon (CEST, obviously). Good luck!
  • 8 4
 @mi-bike: well I couldn't put an apostrophe in my username as it didn't let me, not sure if that's changed since I signed up but that's how it was then. As for the missing full stop in my comment I'll put that down to auto-correct. Granted I could have proof read my comment so that's my fault, I'll accept that, but I'm posting in the comments, I'm not posting an actual article on the front page of the largest MTB website in the world, the same standards do not apply. The text in the article is amateurish, that's a fact, and PB should have caught it before it was published. I'm not attacking the rider, he's a rider not a professional journalist, he's done a great job on his end, but an editor should have proof read it and caught it. What's wrong with saying that? What's wrong with trying to maintain a basic level of professionalism in digital media? What's your angle here? Maintaining basic standards is important. And fyi, there may well be more errors in this comment, I'm not wasting my time proof reading it because, as I've said, the same standards don't apply to informal comment threads and articles on professional websites.

AnYwey I-ve hAd my murning cofee now, the trials aRe I/m out, Haf a gr8 day.
  • 2 5
 @everythingscomingupmilhouse: Ah, I see. You'd like to see the original article written by excited rider himself edited to linguistic perfection, to a point where those who know the rider wouldn't even recognize it as his words. We shall not be drawn into a situation where we'd subject our vulnerable eyes to an article written by a non-native writer with some minor errors here and there. You could request Pinkbike to shield you from such articles, just like there is an e-bike filter. Out of interests (and to make fun of you, obviously), is there a rock bottom level defined which your own keyboard-warriorism needs to meet?
  • 5 0
 As I show twice in this sentence, @everythingiscomingupmilhouse, you do not need apostrophes to write correctly.
  • 2 1
 @vinay: The point is, it should be pretty much standard practice that a journalism led website does a bit of proofreading before posting an article. Standards seem to be slipping the world over, and this is just another example of that. A "that'll do attitude" helps no one in the long run.
  • 5 1
 Wow there are some sensitive people on here today, even for the standards of pinkbike!

@mi-bike: I never said you need apostrophes to write correctly. You said there was an error in my username, and the only error is the missing apostrophe from the contraction of "everything is" to "everything's" so I assumed that's what you meant. Sorry if I misunderstood but I'm not sure what else you could be referring to? It's a direct quote from dialogue in The Simpsons so any errors in grammar can be directed to Matt Groening, I'm sure he'd love to hear it.

@vinay: jeez you've taken this personally haven't you! I suggest going for a ride and getting off the internet for a bit, it'll do wonders for you.

Just as a general response and then I'm going to leave PB alone for a few days to get away from this weird toxicity - I think it's pretty clear I'm not attacking the rider, I clearly said that they've done their job with the sick riding and the video. Excellent work. That doesn't change the fact that the text in the article is embarrassing, it's just not their responsibility to catch and fix it. Someone should have proof read it and caught the errors, and unless I'm mistaken that is literally the job of an editor isn't it? Pinkbike/Outside has editors doesn't it? So for what it's worth, yes I do think it's ok to expect "linguistic perfection" on a professional digital media platform, that's one of the things that makes them a professional digital media platform! We should call out lapses in standards from professionals and we should ask for better. Are you seriously advocating for a world where we have no professional standards? As a professional digital media company it should be standard practice for an editor to check any article before it is published for errors, either that hasn't happened here or the editor missed a lot, and that is what I'm calling out. I'm not sure why you're finding this so controversial, and it's nothing to do with the rider.

Also, for what's it worth, I'm from Brest, I just live in the UK. Language has nothing to do with it.

Now go ride your bikes and chill out.
  • 1 0
 Watching that had my palms sweaty plus my knees weak...
  • 1 0
 I prefer the clean aesthetic of no brakes on my bikes
  • 1 0
 Thought this was another video hating on Shimano's wandering brake point.
  • 1 0
 That trail looks fun
  • 1 3
 Why not helmet less also
  • 3 0
 Well, he’s not riding with you, is he..

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