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  1. #1
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    Is there anything that can be done to make my bicycle better at stopping?

    Hi,

    This morning I had an incident where I needed to stop suddenly. I ended up sliding a bit, going a little bit sideways, and then the tires "bit" and I went for a bit of a tumble. No harm done. But I cycle every day for commuting and while I consider myself a safe cyclist there are times when I need to stop pretty fast. I almost always "skid" for a short bit.

    Question for the experts here because I'm not sure whether skidding is an accepted thing: Is there anything that can be done to make my bicycle better at stopping safely?

    My bicycle is a Bergamont rephlex, but it's a mountain bike but with thinner tyres. So slightly thinner, but still with knobbly bits.
    By breaks are the old cantilever kind.

    Maybe my bike is too big and heavy for slimmer tyres, maybe fancy disk breaks would be better, slicker tyres. Don't know..

    Thanks in advance.

    PS Here is a link to my bike, it's exactly the same. http://www.bergamont.co.nz/products-page/tour/rephlex/
    Last edited by barryb001; 10-05-12 at 05:07 AM. Reason: Link to my biken as question is specific to the bike

  2. #2
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    Running v brakes you could install cool stop salmon pads. They really work well in the wet - much better than standard pads. They also work almost as well a disc brake - when its not raining. Looks like you have the mounting points for discs so you can install those if you want to. There will probably be an endless debate on what brake is best, but IMHO the Shimano Deore hyrdolics are really great. Stop you in a heart beat, have good modulation with very little pressure, and are easily serviced/adjustable. I prefer them over any mechanical disc brakes.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by barryb001 View Post
    Hi,

    This morning I had an incident where I needed to stop suddenly. I ended up sliding a bit, going a little bit sideways, and then the tires "bit" and I went for a bit of a tumble. No harm done. But I cycle every day for commuting and while I consider myself a safe cyclist there are times when I need to stop pretty fast. I almost always "skid" for a short bit.

    Question for the experts here because I'm not sure whether skidding is an accepted thing: Is there anything that can be done to make my bicycle better at stopping safely?

    My bicycle is a Bergamont rephlex, but it's a mountain bike but with thinner tyres. So slightly thinner, but still with knobbly bits.
    By breaks are the old cantilever kind.

    Maybe my bike is too big and heavy for slimmer tyres, maybe fancy disk breaks would be better, slicker tyres. Don't know..

    Thanks in advance.

    PS Here is a link to my bike, it's exactly the same. http://www.bergamont.co.nz/products-page/tour/rephlex/
    What krobinson said + "smooth" tyres. IF you skid, they'll stop faster than the knobbly ones.

  4. #4
    Formerly Known as Newbie Juha's Avatar
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    Do you use both brakes? Front brake is essential if you want to stop quickly. Also, check your brake pads and adjustment - the suggested Kool Stop salmon pads are very good.
    To err is human. To moo is bovine.

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  5. #5
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    Sounds like you need to do a http://www.dft.gov.uk/bikeability/th...ls-for-adults/ course.

    Unless there was a contributing factor like diesel on the road, sounds like you were cycling out of your ability (too fast the the conditions / not looking ahead / looking at what other road user were doing).

    For your bike, it's a hybrid, not and MTB, if correctly setup, that looks to be more than capable of stopping well with the v-brakes as fitted, if you were to look at disc brakes, you would need a few front wheel in addition to the brakes, can't see any mounting for a rear brake in the photo.

  6. #6
    Seņior Member ItsJustMe's Avatar
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    What Jim said. If you find yourself having to emergency stop that often, you're doing something wrong. Either you're not paying sufficient attention to the road and your surroundings, or there are things in your environment such as blind alleys and such that mean that you shouldn't be going that fast.
    Work: the 8 hours that separates bike rides.

  7. #7
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    I'm glad you didn't hurt yourself in your fall.

    You can dick about with brakes and tyres - but the gain (if any) will be insignificant compared with that from the above suggestions.

    Try this too - time your commute for a few times at your usual pace. Then for a few times consciously slowing down just a bit. You may be surprised how little difference maximum speed has on your overall average.

    Take care when you're commuting - it's in a far more dangerous environment than racing.

  8. #8
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    You shouldn't be skidding that much. Remember that the front brakes are much better at stopping you.

    Shift your weight to the rear, pull the front brake hard, pull the rear brake hard. You should stop with minimal skidding and no tumbles.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by jolly_ross View Post
    I'm glad you didn't hurt yourself in your fall.

    You can dick about with brakes and tyres - but the gain (if any) will be insignificant compared with that from the above suggestions.

    Try this too - time your commute for a few times at your usual pace. Then for a few times consciously slowing down just a bit. You may be surprised how little difference maximum speed has on your overall average.

    Take care when you're commuting - it's in a far more dangerous environment than racing.
    Thank you all for your responses. I consider myself a careful biker, slowing down at key points in my route where I know people and cars don't look. This morning's incident was caused a by a cyclist coming the wrong way around the bend on my side of the path. He wasn't looking, I needed to stop rather then second guess what he was going to do. Yes the cycle path was a bit tamp, but I think that my bike skids very easily. I know in a car you can get breaks that don't lock the wheel but slow it down. Interesting to hear about smooth tires maybe helping with grip. Thanks

  10. #10
    Senior Member Spld cyclist's Avatar
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    It's a general rule that there is a greater coefficient of friction between the road and your tires when the tires are rolling than when they are not (i.e. skidding). You will stop the fastest just before you lock your brakes, so modulation is the key. If your brakes are strong enough to lock your wheels, you won't gain anything by switching to more powerful brakes. Instead, the key is to practice braking, so that you can apply them as hard as you can without locking your wheels. Also, if you have more rubber in contact with the road, there will be more friction between the tires and the road. There are also some tire rubber compounds that are stickier than others.

  11. #11
    Senior Member Looigi's Avatar
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    Yep. Improve the skill of the operator.

  12. #12
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    http://budbrake.com/

    Anti-lock brakes for bikes. Who knew?

  13. #13
    Lover of Old Chrome Moly Myosmith's Avatar
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    Start by cleaning your rims and pads, if the pads are worn, glazed, or embedded with a lot of debris, replace them with better pads. The Cool Stop Salmon have a good reputation. I've got Shimano Ultegra pads (not v-brake) on my road bike and am pleased with those as well. My touring and trail bikes do have v-brakes with the Deore pads, also good. Once everything is clean make sure they are properly adjusted including just a touch of toe in on the pads.

    Tires can also make a big difference. Schwalbe marathons are a popular commuter tire. If you want more tread for mixed surfaces but still good performance on pavement, consider the Schwalbe Smart Sams. For a very durable and good riding road tire, I recommend Specialized All Condition.

    Then get out and practice hard stops. Get your weight back and level your pedals. I usually try to get on the back brake just a fraction of a second before the front, use the back as hard as I can without skidding and modulate the front to keep the back tire on the ground. What you want to avoid is grabbing the front brake in a panic which can send you over the bars. Don't lock your elbows, you can sometimes save a near endo by using your elbows to keep your weight low. If you ever do go over, again don't lock your elbows. Your arms should be used as shock absorbers to lessen the impact and provide some directional control as you tuck and roll. Watch gymnasts or martial artists do a front roll and you'll see what I mean. If you lock your elbows, the likely result will be fractured wrists or forearms and possibly dislocated elbows and/or shoulders, maybe even a clavicle fracture and a face plant to top it off.


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  14. #14
    Senior Member Notso_fastLane's Avatar
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    I assume your rear tire is what's skidding? If you can grab the brake level hard enough to make your front tire skid, or almost skid, on dry pavement, the brakes aren't your problem. (And I wouldn't recommend actually locking up the front, that's a good way to fall.) Rider skill is the number one factor in stopping safely. This is just as true on a motorcycle as it is on a bicycle. Practice pushing the limits in a safe place.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Looigi View Post
    Yep. Improve the skill of the operator.
    That wasn't particularly useful

  16. #16
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    OK thanks everybody for your replies. I've never had a bike skid like this before - and I've had this bike for 3 years now. But general consensus is that I must be breaking wrong if the wheels are just skidding more than stopping, so I accept that the fault is more between my ears than something I can change on my bike. I understood that my ultimate breaking point is just before the wheels lock - I'm clearly going beyond that too quickly. I must be grabbing the breaks a little bit too hard in an emergency. Will practice not doing so, though it might take a while to untrain 35 years of biking

    Appreciate everybody taking the time to type out tips and experience, posting links, etc.

    Thanks a lot and have a nice weekend!

  17. #17
    MUP World Champ adamhenry's Avatar
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    As others have said above, the front brake is the key to stopping quickly. When you apply the brakes, your center of gravity shifts forward. This adds weight to the front tire which gives it additional grip and it removes weight from the rear wheel which reduces it's grip. If you brake hard enough, the rear tire will actually come off of the ground at which point it will have zero grip.

  18. #18
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spld cyclist View Post
    It's a general rule that there is a greater coefficient of friction between the road and your tires when the tires are rolling than when they are not (i.e. skidding). You will stop the fastest just before you lock your brakes
    That's true in a car, but in an upright bike you'll usually do an endo before you skid your front tire on dry pavement.

    But as you said, modulation is key -- your front brake does most of the work, and you need to modulate it so you're close to doing an endo, but not quite there. The more skilled you are, the closer you can get, and you can get a feel for how close you are by how much braking you're doing with the rear wheel without it skidding. Also, you can make the bike somewhat less likely to endo by shoving your butt back off your seat, which moves your center of gravity further back and possible down a bit too.

    Only if you can't make your front brake brake hard enough to do an endo do you need to consider better brakes somehow. Worn rims and pads can make it so your hands aren't strong enough to get the front brakes to that point, as can wet rims.

    Tandems and recumbents are often less likely to endo, and they can be braked hard enough to skid the front wheel (which tends to result in an immediate crash, so it's best avoided too.)

  19. #19
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    kool stop brake pads

  20. #20
    Senior Member Flying Merkel's Avatar
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    Brakes don't stop your bike. They stop the wheels from rotating. Tires stop the bike.
    Pronounced "Murkle"

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Flying Merkel View Post
    Brakes don't stop your bike. They stop the wheels from rotating. Tires stop the bike.
    friction stops the bike
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    This is not a brake issue. This is a tire and braking technique issue. Assuming that you're riding mostly or entirely on paved surfaces, you want a slick or a semi-slick style of tire. They have better traction on smooth surfaces, and will make the bike easier to peddle. Those knobby tires have a lot higher rolling resistance.

    Shift your weight back, when you're stopping. This puts more weight over the rear wheel, and helps keeps it from skidding. At the same time, try to do most of your braking with the front brake (but don't just grab a handful of lever) while keeping a light touch on the rear brake.
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  23. #23
    Senior Member rydabent's Avatar
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    Please dont get all defensive but the following is true. A LWB recumbent stops incredably fast. You are in no danger of being thrown over the handlebars. Second there of course is a weight shift to the front loading the front wheel, therefor allowing even harder braking. In one or two emergency stops I was amazed at how fast my Stratus would stop. Also I now have a tadpole trike with disc brakes on the front wheels. Wow can it do an emergency stop!!!!!

  24. #24
    Senior Member Notso_fastLane's Avatar
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    Yeah. I'm not sure the same is true of SWB bent, but it'll probably stop faster than my roadbike.

  25. #25
    Senior Member dougmc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Notso_fastLane View Post
    Yeah. I'm not sure the same is true of SWB bent, but it'll probably stop faster than my roadbike.
    It's all a matter of the endo.

    Will it endo before the front wheel skids or will it not?

    If it will, then the geometry is the limiting factor.

    If it won't, then the friction of the front wheel on the ground is the limiting factor. (To maximize this, you probably want dry, smooth pavement, tires with no tread and low pressure tires rather than high pressure tires will likely give you a small improvement as well.)

    If the bike will neither endo nor skid, then the brakes/rims/your hand strength is the limiting factor.

    In the first case, the back brake won't be doing much if you're braking as much as is possible before endoing. In the second and last case, the back brake is quite important (but still not as important as the front brake.)

    One single data point -- my SWB 'bent (Vision R-40, USS) won't endo -- it'll skid if I really crank down on it.

    If you throw your butt back on a road bike when you brake, you can probably pull about 0.8 Gs before you endo. A bent or recumbent ought to be able to do about what a car does -- about 1.0 Gs if done just right.

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