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Monday, December 9, 2013

RV Accessory Reviews: RVibrake 2 Braking System

Dan Decker from Danko Manufacturing definitely thinks outside of the box when it comes to innovative RV Accessories.  When he introduced the Brake Buddy portable braking system to the RV'ing community it became an instant hit. Eventually he sold the system to Hopkins Manufacturing and moved on to other innovations such as the RV EZlevel and Awning Clamp. When Dan eventually released his next innovation, the all new RVibrake, it once again was in a class of it's own. And a year later with a few upgrades we now have the RVibrake 2 with it's integrated tire pressure monitoring system.

The RVibrake 2 proportional braking system is designed to work with vacuum or active brake types and features a unique One Touch Auto Positioning technology.
RVI Brake 2 ABS-12011 Auxiliary Braking System
RVI Brake 2 Auxiliary Braking System
Gone are the days of an improperly installed portable braking system. To install the brake, attach the spring-loaded clevis onto the brake pedal, plug the power cord into the towed vehicle's 12 volt receptacle and press the Auto Start button on the control panel. The systems adjustable actuator will push on the brake pedal 5 times, allowing the system to seat itself against the floor pan and the actuator to be at the proper distance to the brake pedal. (Note: this has been recently updated and now you manually push the start button 3 times) This one-of-a-kind technology ensures that the RVibrake 2 is properly installed each time you use it.

 A few years back I used one of the other portable system for the first time, but quickly realized that a permanent system was the only way to go unless you towed just a few times a year. The portables back then where big, heavy, slow to setup and put a lot of force against the front of the drivers seat as leverage to actuate the brake pedal. But with the release of the RVibrake 2 all that changed!  This unit only weights 8 lbs and measures a compact 5" high x 13" wide x 17" long.  When we recently changed towed vehicles just before an RV trip I didn't have time to get a permanent system installed and opted to try out the RVibrake instead.  That was a 2 years ago and I still haven't gone back to a permanent system yet.  With it's easy setup, lightweight and compact size, along with the fact that we do make frequent towed vehicle changes, it just hasn't made sense to go back to a permanently installed system.  

So our first setup with this system was a 31' Itasca Cambria Class C motorhome weighing approximately 13,000 lbs towing a 2300 lb KIA Soul.  That was a great combination and the RVibrake worked perfectly giving great proportional braking assistance when ever stopping.  We put about 10,000 towing miles on that setup and I never had any issues.  We sold the Class C and replaced it with a 40' Truck Conversion motorhome that weighed 35,000 lbs and still towed the Kia.  I was worried that with such a big motorhome I would not even feel the KIA braking so adjusted the settings on the brake to the lowest sensitivity and psi possible.  That worked well until we got into a hard braking situation one day while traveling in upstate New York.  As we where coming to a hard stop it felt like someone had slammed into the back of us.  Checking our mirrors there was no one behind us and then I thought maybe the towbar hadn't been totally locked into position and it let loose causing the KIA to slam forward.  After checking things over we chalked it up to some freak situation until it happened again in about the same way breaking hard and feeling like we were rear ended.  This time I caught a slight bit of smoke behind us and quickly realized the brakes on the KIA locked up for a brief second.  Even though this was a lightweight car I decided to bump up the sensitive and that cured the issue.  A few months later we switched our toad to a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited and the brake has worked flawlessly with this vehicle.  We did find that on longer trips of a day or more the RVibrake can drain the battery as the air pump cycles on and off for the actuator.  We added a Toad-Charge unit which keeps the Jeeps battery charged fully while we travel which eliminated that issue.  All told we put about 13,000 miles of towing on first the RVibrake and approximately 15,000 miles on the RVibrake 2.

The RVibrake has taken the portable braking system to the next level of convenience and ease of use making it our top pick for portable braking systems.

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