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  1. #1
    Motorcycle RoadRacer cehowardGS's Avatar
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    Rear Brakes (warning long)

    I am a newbie so if this topic is stupid or dumb, bear with me!!

    This morning on my way to work from the gym it starts raining. In addition, I am on a steep hill going DOWN. So, without even peddling, the bike is picking up speed big time..I am doing over 30 mph or more, and I see a car getting ready to blow the stop sign and come out..I went for the brakes, both of them, and gave a gentle squeeze on both of them. Oh chit, the rear is coming out on me!!! I quickly eased off the brakes and all at the same time making sure the cage saw me.Okay, I got away with that, but that was my FIRST experience with hard braking on the bicycle.

    I am coming over from motorcycles, in fact, motorcycle racing. I don't use the rear brakes at all on my racing motorcycle or my street motorcycle for the simple reason it creates a reflex that will IMO, put you down on the street and racetrack. Experts motorcycle racers used the rear brakes to back it going into curves. I am not there.

    Back to the bicycle, I got a rude awakeing this morning..A little more agreesive squeezing of the rear brakes this morning and this old man would have went down hard, and that really would have messed my day up. As it was, the bicycle gods were with me, and pulled my coat on using the rear brakes on the bicycle. From now on, hard stops will get front stoppers only.. Rear brake will be used only sparely and most likely not at all. At least until I learn what is going on in how to brake hard.. I am a newbie!

  2. #2
    Isaias NoRacer's Avatar
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    Emergency braking = front brake + butt unseated and hanging over rear wheel

    With some rims (i.e., carbon w/ceramic or proprietary braking surface), you may have to throw in the rear brakes, but modulate them--never yank it hard.
    Last edited by NoRacer; 07-21-10 at 11:28 AM.
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    I'm a newb too, although I've been riding since I was a kid. Would it be a good idea for someone like you to adjust the rear brakes so they dont clamp down as much? I've recently discovered some of the no-no's for rear brakes....as in going around curves. Course fronts brakes on a front suspension didn't help much either. So I usually either get the rear slide or the front end sags unless I'm thinking straight and use both brakes at same time.

  4. #4
    Motorcycle RoadRacer cehowardGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoRacer View Post
    Emergency braking = front brake + butt unseated and hanging over rear wheel

    With some rims (i.e., carbon w/ceramic or proprietary braking surface), you may have to throw in the rear brakes, but modulate them--never yank it hard.
    Got it!! Move myself rearward and off the seat.. Got it!!! Glad I am learning this the EASY WAY. That was real close this morning, real close. I am used to the speed, that is why I let the bike accelerate. I wasn't used to stopping a bicycle at speed on a wet surface.
    Thanks much,

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    Son of Fred Bander's Avatar
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    Sheldon says to just use the front brake in most cases:
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

    When I was younger, I would use both brakes and skid the bike sideways until I skidded to a stop. Probably not very practical or safe.
    Quote Originally Posted by patentcad
    So what's the problem? The whole friggin sport of cycling is rude and stupid.
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    I would hang their severed heads from my back panniers as a warning.

  6. #6
    Motorcycle RoadRacer cehowardGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arej00dazed View Post
    I'm a newb too, although I've been riding since I was a kid. Would it be a good idea for someone like you to adjust the rear brakes so they dont clamp down as much? I've recently discovered some of the no-no's for rear brakes....as in going around curves. Course fronts brakes on a front suspension didn't help much either. So I usually either get the rear slide or the front end sags unless I'm thinking straight and use both brakes at same time.
    Newbie to newbie..

    From what I found out this morning, I don't think that would do much good, might do some..For you see the rear brake is adjusted well. However, I think the rear brakes on bicycles work similiar to rear brakes on motorcycles.. The rear brakes only account for about 10 or 15% of the stopping power on motorycles. But, and a big but too, on motorcycles you come down hard on the rear, and it will make the rear slide out and you down. Most newbies on motorycles crash that way. Something happens up front and they have to stop quickly, and they go for the rear brake and that is end of story on the motorycle. You go down. I motorcyle race, and becoming down the front straight going into turn 1 sometimes at about 155mph I wait until the last minute to brake, and all I use are the front brakes. I be braking so hard that the rear wheel be off the ground. Under complete control. However, enter the rear brake, different story.

    For now, I am laying off the rear brake on the bicycle.. I am in learning mode...

    Safe peddlin to you,

  7. #7
    LET'S ROLL 1nterceptor's Avatar
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    Harder squeeze on the front than the rear, same with motorcycles/scooters.
    Some riders will switch the cables on their brakes to match scooters/motorcycles.
    Right lever/front brakes, left lever/rear brakes.

  8. #8
    Motorcycle RoadRacer cehowardGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
    Harder squeeze on the front than the rear, same with motorcycles/scooters.
    Some riders will switch the cables on their brakes to match scooters/motorcycles.
    Right lever/front brakes, left lever/rear brakes.
    Never thought of that, and that was the main reason I think I was on the rear hard. Thinking it was the front..Dam, I get wiser every post..

    Thanks much,..

  9. #9
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1nterceptor View Post
    Harder squeeze on the front than the rear, same with motorcycles/scooters.
    Some riders will switch the cables on their brakes to match scooters/motorcycles.
    Right lever/front brakes, left lever/rear brakes.
    That is the way most of my bikes are set up, have been for years. I never understood why motor cycles were done one way and bicycles the other. But then again I rode a Vespa and the rear brake was on a foot pedal...

    Aaron
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  10. #10
    Allez means go. bengreen79's Avatar
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    I prefer to use my back brake for most routine stopping. I usually only use the front brake for hard or sudden stops.

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    I only use my front brake. The initial fear of using the front brake quickly disappeared when I learned its power.
    I think I've become spoiled. Using my rear brake is a chore.

    It's a good thing. I can stop faster, and I can make emergency stops much safer.

    Occasionally I'll transition between front and rear brake when entering a corner.

    Wouldn't using your rear brake for daily stopping take its toll on your pads and tire?
    your wattage sucks
    get a better powermeter

  12. #12
    Allez means go. bengreen79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinton View Post
    Wouldn't using your rear brake for daily stopping take its toll on your pads and tire?
    Pads are cheap and I don't typically lock up the rear tire.

  13. #13
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NoRacer View Post
    Emergency braking = front brake + butt unseated and hanging over rear wheel

    With some rims (i.e., carbon w/ceramic or proprietary braking surface), you may have to throw in the rear brakes, but modulate them--never yank it hard.
    No. When emergency braking use both brakes and push off the back of the bicycle. If the rear starts to slide, release pressure on the front brake which puts the rear back in contact with the ground. A rolling wheel stops faster than a sliding one. This is Mountain Biking 101. If it works in mountain biking, you can bet it will work anywhere.

    Now the geek part: On a bicycle (very different beasty than a motorcycle), you can easily pivot around the front hub under even mild braking pressure. The center of gravity of the vehicle is much, much higher than on a motorcycle and the vehicle is much, much lighter. If you brake while seated, you can generate 0.5g of deceleration with the brakes before you pivot around the front axle because of the high center of gravity. But if you move the center of gravity back and down (even as little as 2 cm back and 4 cm down), you increase the deceleration you can generate nearly 1g.
    Stuart Black
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    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by arej00dazed View Post
    I'm a newb too, although I've been riding since I was a kid. Would it be a good idea for someone like you to adjust the rear brakes so they dont clamp down as much? I've recently discovered some of the no-no's for rear brakes....as in going around curves. Course fronts brakes on a front suspension didn't help much either. So I usually either get the rear slide or the front end sags unless I'm thinking straight and use both brakes at same time.
    A couple of problems here. First, using the rear brake in corners isn't a 'no-no'. It's just something you want to be careful when doing it. Same as straight line riding, get off the back of the saddle to load the rear wheel (the front can take care of itself) and use the rear brake a bit more sparingly. It also helps to load the outside pedal as you go around the corner (outside leg down and pushing hard on the pedal). If the bike slides ease off the rear brake and steer into the slide. Once the bike has straightened out, get back on both brakes to regain control.

    There are lots of situations where you need to slow in a corner. Knowing how to do it properly will keep you from experiencing a rash of the road kind.

    Second, with a shock you really want to shift your weight rearward. The shock diving during braking enhances the weight transfer to the front wheel. If your center of gravity is too far forward, you'll transition to spinning around the hub quicker. That means your face will get intimate with dirt sooner. Ow!

    Same on corners with a shock, get off the back!

    Quote Originally Posted by cehowardGS View Post
    For now, I am laying off the rear brake on the bicycle.. I am in learning mode...
    Yes, you are in learning mode. Learn how to brake properly. Body position has much more influence on braking on a bicycle than which brake you use or don't use.

    Quote Originally Posted by bengreen79 View Post
    I prefer to use my back brake for most routine stopping. I usually only use the front brake for hard or sudden stops.
    This is just as wrong as using only the front brake. Learn to use both...properly! It will increase your enjoyment and control.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tinton View Post
    I only use my front brake. The initial fear of using the front brake quickly disappeared when I learned its power.
    I think I've become spoiled. Using my rear brake is a chore.

    It's a good thing. I can stop faster, and I can make emergency stops much safer.

    Occasionally I'll transition between front and rear brake when entering a corner.

    Wouldn't using your rear brake for daily stopping take its toll on your pads and tire?
    Use both! Watch a mountain biker sometime. You'd never find them using only the front or only the rear, for that matter. Mountain bike riders are, of necessity, some of the best brake users around. We understand how to brake properly, how to shift weight to get the most out of the brakes and we do it at angles and on surfaces that road bike people never encounter. If it works on crappy high angle surfaces, it works anywhere.
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    No. When emergency braking use both brakes and push off the back of the bicycle. If the rear starts to slide, release pressure on the front brake which puts the rear back in contact with the ground. A rolling wheel stops faster than a sliding one. This is Mountain Biking 101. If it works in mountain biking, you can bet it will work anywhere.
    That is pretty much the way I break.

    The only difference is I have been known to lock up the rear (especially on loose soil/gravel....). The bike with gravity will continue to go down the hill and under control, but slower than I could have gone down hill if only using the front break.

    I think if you only use your front break you will not stop as quickly and do a reverse wheely and maybe go over the bars.

  16. #16
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RWBlue01 View Post
    That is pretty much the way I break.

    The only difference is I have been known to lock up the rear (especially on loose soil/gravel....). The bike with gravity will continue to go down the hill and under control, but slower than I could have gone down hill if only using the front break.

    I think if you only use your front break you will not stop as quickly and do a reverse wheely and maybe go over the bars.
    You are most of the way there. However don't slide the wheel. A spinning wheel does a better job of slowing and controlling the bicycle. It also keeps the trails from eroding so quickly.

    I encourage people to intentionally skid to get a feel for the bike and how it handles. Slide forward and see how far you can lay down rubber. (Caution: It can be hard on thin road tires.) Scoot back and see how much more effort it takes to get the bike to skid. But if you want to play around at skidding, by all means have fun...just do it in the parking lot, not on the trail
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    Allez means go. bengreen79's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    This is just as wrong as using only the front brake. Learn to use both...properly! It will increase your enjoyment and control.
    Thanks, that explains why every time I ride I am out of control and not having any fun.

    Today at a stop sign I locked up my back wheel over a manhole cover. That was a bit of a surprise. I think I mostly habitually use my back brake because on my old bike, using the front brake compressed to the front suspension which was annoying.

  18. #18
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    When emergency braking use both brakes and push off the back of the bicycle. If the rear starts to slide, release pressure on the front brake which puts the rear back in contact with the ground.
    The problem with this procedure is that in getting off the front brake you are reducing your deceleration to the point where the braked rear stops sliding. If the rear weren't braking it wouldn't slide, so you can decelerate faster.

    From a pure physics standpoint the road pushing backwards at ground level and the center of mass rushing forwards creates a couple which wants to rotate the bike forward. This transfers weight to the front. The maximum deceleration will occur when the maximum weight is transferred. At that limit there is no load on the rear. With no load it cannot generate friction with the ground and so will start sliding with minimal braking. By reducing the front brake you are reducing your deceleration to accommodate that rear braking action.

    Now, if the limit of braking were defined by the limit of friction of the front tire with the road this situation would be different. But in reality the limit is the rear tire lifting first. By the way, this is the essence of Sheldon Brown's article on the technique for maximum braking.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
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  19. #19
    Senior Member shouldberiding's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bengreen79 View Post
    I prefer to use my back brake for most routine stopping. I usually only use the front brake for hard or sudden stops.
    You're wearing down your rear rim and possibly tire unnecessarily by only braking with the rear. The front doesn't wear nearly as quickly with the same amount of use.

    Learn to use both brakes, and use the rear a bit less than the front.

  20. #20
    What??? Only 2 wheels? jimmuller's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shouldberiding View Post
    The front doesn't wear nearly as quickly with the same amount of use.
    Why would that be? I'm not questioning that it is true, but I don't see the mechanism which would make it so. I would have thought that the total wear on the rim was determined by the amount of distance the wheel has traveled between the gripping pads, and by the force those pads exerted. Unless a wheel is skidding or some other dynamic event is happening, the amount of *********** force required on the wheel to slow the bike some given amount would be the same for front or rear. So if breaking with the rear causes more wear it would seem to be caused merely by the fact that that's the wheel getting used the most for braking. If you braked the same amont front or rear they should wear the same.

    Of course there is a difference between normal braking and a panic stop. The OP described a panic situation. For most braking one certainly could use both brakes to even out the wear on the wheel.
    Real cyclists use toe clips.
    jimmuller

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by wahoonc View Post
    That is the way most of my bikes are set up, have been for years. I never understood why motor cycles were done one way and bicycles the other. But then again I rode a Vespa and the rear brake was on a foot pedal...

    Aaron
    IIRC that is also true of almost all motorcycles except old hand shift Harleys & Indians. The left hand lever is the clutch and the rear brake is foot pedal operated.
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  22. #22
    Senior Member wahoonc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shouldberiding View Post
    You're wearing down your rear rim and possibly tire unnecessarily by only braking with the rear. The front doesn't wear nearly as quickly with the same amount of use.

    Learn to use both brakes, and use the rear a bit less than the front.
    HUH? Must be new physics or something...the only way I could see that happening is if the brakes were different, like on a motorcycle where you quite often have dual rotors in front and a single rotor or drum in the rear.

    I usually use the rear brake for modulating speed, and in slower speed riding for coming to a stop, front brake for coming down from speed quickly or a full on emergency stop. I also ride bikes with steel rims in the rain...

    Aaron
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  23. #23
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jimmuller View Post
    The problem with this procedure is that in getting off the front brake you are reducing your deceleration to the point where the braked rear stops sliding. If the rear weren't braking it wouldn't slide, so you can decelerate faster.

    From a pure physics standpoint the road pushing backwards at ground level and the center of mass rushing forwards creates a couple which wants to rotate the bike forward. This transfers weight to the front. The maximum deceleration will occur when the maximum weight is transferred. At that limit there is no load on the rear. With no load it cannot generate friction with the ground and so will start sliding with minimal braking. By reducing the front brake you are reducing your deceleration to accommodate that rear braking action.

    Now, if the limit of braking were defined by the limit of friction of the front tire with the road this situation would be different. But in reality the limit is the rear tire lifting first. By the way, this is the essence of Sheldon Brown's article on the technique for maximum braking.
    The problem with depending on maximum deceleration and maximum weight transfer is that it occurs only at the point of rotation around the front hub. Not many people have the skill...or courage...to stop in a nose wheelie teetering on the edge front pitchover. Stopping using only the front brake short of that point is failing to utilize the available stopping power of the bike. While there is still load on the rear wheel (and skidding means that there is still a little bit of load on the rear wheel), the rear contributes to stopping the bike from marginally (during a skid) to up to 20% of the braking force, i.e. full weight transfer hasn't been achieved.

    Note I also said to push back, i.e. change your center of gravity, on the bike. This action alone will nearly double your deceleration ability and make complete weight transfer (nose wheelie) much more difficult to achieve.

    Additionally, a sliding back wheel is crap for control. cehowardGS post details the rear wheel sliding out to the side on him. Once the bike starts a sideways slide, you've nearly lost control and will have to work harder to regain it. If you are already trying to stop the bike, adding another element...the sideways slide...probably won't help matters any. The natural reaction to a sideways slide is to release the brakes anyway so you are already reducing your deceleration to regain the control.

    The point of braking hard is to stop the bike in the most controlled manner possible. If you wanted to just obtain maximum deceleration, why not just throw yourself on the ground? From personal experience, I can tell you that slows you much faster than brakes can...hurts like hell but it gets the job done.
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  24. #24
    Humvee of bikes =Worksman Nightshade's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cehowardGS View Post
    I am a newbie so if this topic is stupid or dumb, bear with me!!

    This morning on my way to work from the gym it starts raining. In addition, I am on a steep hill going DOWN. So, without even peddling, the bike is picking up speed big time..I am doing over 30 mph or more, and I see a car getting ready to blow the stop sign and come out..I went for the brakes, both of them, and gave a gentle squeeze on both of them. Oh chit, the rear is coming out on me!!! I quickly eased off the brakes and all at the same time making sure the cage saw me.Okay, I got away with that, but that was my FIRST experience with hard braking on the bicycle.

    I am coming over from motorcycles, in fact, motorcycle racing. I don't use the rear brakes at all on my racing motorcycle or my street motorcycle for the simple reason it creates a reflex that will IMO, put you down on the street and racetrack. Experts motorcycle racers used the rear brakes to back it going into curves. I am not there.

    Back to the bicycle, I got a rude awakeing this morning..A little more agreesive squeezing of the rear brakes this morning and this old man would have went down hard, and that really would have messed my day up. As it was, the bicycle gods were with me, and pulled my coat on using the rear brakes on the bicycle. From now on, hard stops will get front stoppers only.. Rear brake will be used only sparely and most likely not at all. At least until I learn what is going on in how to brake hard.. I am a newbie!
    Lesson learned: NEVER build up a head of steam going down hill!
    My preferred bicycle brand is.......WORKSMAN CYCLES
    I dislike clipless pedals on any city bike since I feel they are unsafe.

    Originally Posted by krazygluon
    Steel: nearly a thousand years of metallurgical development
    Aluminum: barely a hundred, which one would you rather have under your butt at 30mph?

  25. #25
    Motorcycle RoadRacer cehowardGS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinton View Post
    I only use my front brake. The initial fear of using the front brake quickly disappeared when I learned its power.
    I think I've become spoiled. Using my rear brake is a chore.

    It's a good thing. I can stop faster, and I can make emergency stops much safer.

    Occasionally I'll transition between front and rear brake when entering a corner.

    Wouldn't using your rear brake for daily stopping take its toll on your pads and tire?
    That is the way I will be doing it from now on.. On the motorcycle, all my bikes, the rear brakes never get touch.. Front stoppers all the way...

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