Hydraulic Disc Brakes: Runkels No More

With a hydraulic disc-brake bike in the stable this year, I realized a setup I’ve ran forever would change. No more auxiliary brakes because you can’t interrupt the hydraulic lines. The brake levers on CX bars, in addition to the ones on the hoods, have many names. They include cheater, interrupter, top mount, auxiliary, and Runkel.

Redline with Runkels

Redline with Runkels at CX Worlds earlier this year

They were invented by Dieter Runkel who rode them on courses with big drops, descents like we don’t ride anymore in the US. Soon after Dieter rode them at Worlds, manufactures like Redline made them by hand for their athletes.


Runkel photo: Werner Getzmann

The first commercially available version came from SRP. Empella made the biggest splash when they sponsored the Spar Select Cross team that is now Fidea with Wellens & Vervecken, and had most of their bikes equipped with the levers.

Redline with Runkels

Redline with Runkels back in the day

I’ve always just had them, including on the bike I raced in the Looville mud at CX Worlds. Checking with a couple go-to-guys on the history of Cross, Tim Rutledge from Redline said

After Runkel rode those, we went to Tektro and other brake makers & begged for levers, but couldn’t get them, so we handmade them for our racers.

And Matt Hill from Crosssports added

Bike positions have changed over time and people ride cross bikes with much less reach than they used to. The drops they do over in Europe at the Elite level are still every bit as hairy as they were “back in the day.”

Including the drop we used to ride at the South Park course that landed in a sand pit. I asked Matt why Runkels aren’t used much anymore

Biggest reason they went away, though? As soon as they became something you could buy, rather than something you had to make yourself, they lost cred with the folks who are more concerned with what is cool than with what works.

They still work for me. Guess if I miss them that badly when riding a hydro-equipped CX bike, I can set them up with the TRP HY/RD. That’s a brake I was very skeptical of and it works great. It’s a hydraulic brake actuated by cables, so you could run the Runkels inline with it.

Redline with TRPs

14 Redline with TRP HY/RD

See more photos of the 2014 Redline Conquest Pro with TRP HY/RD on our G+ page.

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