Why does B&M hate magnetic brakes?

OK, the title is obviously an exaggeration because B&M puts magnetic brakes on all their new coasters, but I'm curious why they use them so sparingly.

Just about every other coaster manufacturer uses magnetic brakes as the entirety of their braking, relying only on friction brakes or drive tires when they need to bring the train to a complete stop. Not only would I imagine this cuts down on wear and tear, but in my opinion this provides a superior rider experience as well.

Contrast this with most B&Ms, which use magnets to take off only the smallest amount of speed before the train slams into friction brakes. One example of this is Valravn, which has an extremely steep brake run, which to my mind would be a great candidate to be fully magnetic. Instead, there are only a few magnets, and you get slammed into the friction brakes (and keep getting slammed as it gradually lets you down the hill). Not only is this uncomfortable, but the start-and-hard-stop cycle makes me sick and ruins the ride for me.

Another example that immediately comes to mind is Orion -- the midcourse has a few magnets on it, but then you get brake-checked by the friction brakes. Again, it's a really jarring stop.

These are just a couple examples; Griffon and Banshee come to mind as well.

However, there are exceptions. The newer 6-across dive coasters, such as Emperor and Krake, have fully-retractable fins (magnets are on the trains) that allow the trains to be nearly stopped using only magnetic braking.

Last edited by PhantomTails,
Tommytheduck's avatar

I'm glad to hear that someone else has this problem on Valravn. (okay, not glad but at least I know I'm not alone) Yes, this completely ruins the ride for me.

As for answering your question, I certainly don't know. But the world would be a lot different if I were in charge and Making Coasters Great Again would be on my to-do list.

That's really a "problem"? You seriously step off of a ride and say, "You know what would make that more fun? Magnetic brakes!"? I seriously don't understand approaching a hobby with constantly trying to find something wrong with it. Just proves that some people aren't happy unless they're unhappy.

Any answer you get in this thread that isn't "that's just the way it is" is likely pure speculation.

No offense, but isn't a big part of being a coaster enthusiast appreciating big machines and trying to understand how they work?

Also, it is a problem, because the jarring stop makes me (and apparently Tommy) sick which makes me not want to ride.

There's a huge difference between trying to understand the why and using hyperbole to describe a personal comfort preference to which millions of other riders are completely oblivious. If friction brakes created a widespread safety and comfort issue, they wouldn't still be in such wide use.

Wow dude. I never sad they create a safety issue, though they actually do in that friction brakes have performance issues when it rains.

If you don't care about a topic, isn't it easier to just ignore it than to **** all over it? I'm legitimately just curious about a design decision that a manufacturer makes.

If speculation wasn't valid discourse here then half the topics would be invalid. We don't know why the train flipped over at SDC. We don't know what CP is going to do with TTD. We don't know why people think that Skyrush is a top-100 coaster.

Jeff's avatar

Magnetic brakes will not entirely stop a train, only slow it. That's your reason.

"But Jeff," you may ask, "What about Millennium Force?" Those brakes also only slow the train, and the kicker wheels stop it.

In many cases that I can think of (maybe all, I'm not taking inventory), a friction brake on a B&M may also be used to stop the train, and because of the design of track and train, it wouldn't be easy to have both magnetic and friction in the same place.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

I have also wondered why the more modern B&Ms don't have more magnetic brakes, and can only deduce that B&M wants a higher speed for the ride vehicle when it enters either the final or MCBR. As we all know, a lighter train will not travel as fast, so when cycling an empty train amidst a group of full trains (let's say due to a "protein spill", the ride computer wouldn't have to manage the blocking as critically if the trains are keeping a closer average speed throughout the ride (by having fewer permanently affixed magnetic brakes along the layout). This is the simplest reason I could come up with for designing the newer rides as they do.

Now personally, I grew up riding SDL at HP when HP only had 3 coasters, and the friction brakes at the end were set to "full stop". I definitely didn't let that ruin the ride experience, as it was a nuance of the ride (and of the times). I definitely wouldn't let the braking action of Valravn prevent me from riding it again, and again, and again...

Fever I really enjoy the Simpsons. It's just a shame that I am starting to LOOK like Homer.


Magnetic brakes will not entirely stop a train, only slow it. That's your reason.

I'm aware of that -- many manufacturers, including Vekoma and Mack, use friction brakes to stop trains in blocks. The difference that I'm trying to get at is that for many rides, B&M still relies on friction brakes to do a substantial amount of the work in stopping a train, whereas other rides use magnets to bring trains to a near stop before they rely on other mechanisms to stop them completely.


because the jarring stop makes me (and apparently Tommy) sick

I never sad they create a safety issue

Is causing people to be "sick" not a safety issue?

Unless I missed the memo that motion sickness is dangerous, no. It's just annoying.

Jeff's avatar


B&M still relies on friction brakes to do a substantial amount of the work in stopping a train

They do all the work to stop the train, because magnetic brakes do not stop the train.

Give me a concrete example of a ride built in the last few years, maybe we can parse out their decisions.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

Fun's avatar

It seems B&M had previously taken the approach they only wanted to use magnetic brakes in fixed positions as a way to reduce wear and tear.

However, Emperor & Dr. Diabolical were among the first to use magnetic brakes for the entire brake run. These rides have retractable magnetic brakes running for several hundred feet before the station.


Last edited by Fun,
Raven-Phile's avatar

Oh, I see - they can go full magnetic with the brakes, but can't bother to cover the station, huh?

kpjb's avatar

They spent the station money on magnets.

Not specifically related to your question, but I'm glad I'm not the only one who wondered about the Valravn brake run. It just makes no sense to me. Why is it so steep? Why do you stop multiple times when there's nothing in the block ahead of you instead of just trimming speed? I don't get sick on it, but it's definitely awkward.

Last edited by kpjb,


Dollywood’s Eagle is like that, too. Fury, Intimidator, Leviathan, Behemoth, Diamondback, and Orion are other good examples of long, steep, high brake runs. And oh look. All modern B&M coasters. Banshee has a high station, no mid course and a long final brake that will accommodate all trains. It’s not steep, but is fairly flat. Que the tires. Same with Gatekeeper, but there is a mid course on that one.
Ah, B&M. Keeping enthusiasts guessing one coaster at a time.

I also have the same issue on Valravn... It's really quite annoying and also makes me a bit queasy as well. It just seemed like a sloppy design on B&M’s part for how that ride finishes. But I digress.

The same question has crossed my mind as well, Brett, on the use of magnetics with B&M in the past. I get exactly what you’re saying on how they are used vs. other manufacturers, but knowing B&M perhaps it was their lengthy ‘trial’ period for the technology to gain confidence in the implementation/reliability of the systems on their rides? Do they do their own brake systems in-house or contract them out like others have? Seems very unlikely to be the reason, but just a theory.

My guess is that it is primarily a mix of space consideration and blocking, as eddy current brakes are less effective at slow speeds and may require more lengthy sections of track as a friction setup would be. Then throw in the capacity targets B&M go for and the fact they are eliminating MCBR's on some longer rides (see Orion), friction brakes may save cost/track length and expedite the block zone a bit better.

On the flipside, it seems like now they have gone the way of most other companies. A lot of the newer B&M installs rely primarily on magnetics with little friction brake usage. For example:


Dr. Diabolical (MCBR, as well as final brake run are primarily all magnetics with two friction brakes at the very end) – Same deal with Emperor.

But when you look at Orion, the final brake is a few magnetics followed by primarily all friction brakes. So as mentioned above, this makes sense as it more-so acts like a quick block zone to clear so a following train can get on the course off the lift. Although, one could ask why they could not have done the retractable/adjustable brakes here as well with just a few friction brakes at the end maybe, but maybe that whole space limitation factor comes to play where they can more effectively get the train down to a set speed in a shorter period of time. Same deal with Candymonium, where the final brake kind of acts like an expedited block to clear, so it’s primarily friction brakes.

B&M isn’t one to really do things that don’t make sense, so I’m sure they have a reason for their madness. But it does seem as of late they have more-so gone the way of what you'd expect.

Last edited by SteveWoA,
Jeff's avatar

A high down-ramp with brakes means the ride is finishing with a fair amount of potential energy. That seems to me like a good thing.

Jeff - Editor - CoasterBuzz.com - My Blog

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