1. It doesn't matter, if he's breaking spokes he should get sturdier wheels. He's not "doing something wrong" like you're implying or saying, and if he used the front brake more he just moves the weight to the front wheel and risks breaking spokes on the front rim anyways. And of the two wheels, if the whole front wheel collapsed it has more catastropic effects than if the whole back wheel did.
Originally Posted by itsthewoo
2. If you're going to tell people to just brake using their front brake, and say nothing else, you're a dangerous person for anyone who follows your advice. People who aren't skilled at biking risk going headfirst over the bars by not using their rear brake. Is it worth it, in your opinion, to risk breaking a collarbone or possible splitting your head open so they can tell people they were "braking the right way" right before going to the hospital?
People who are used to biking and braking can use the front brake safely because they've learned to brace their body back while braking with just the front brake. If you've learned to do that, THEN you can safely brake using only the front brake. "Only use the front brake" is terrible advice. "Only use the front brake, but be sure to brace yourself when you brake" is at least how it's supposedly supposed to be done.
And I don't even agree with that. I've tried both, and I think putting more braking force on the front brake and a lot less on the back brake, but still some (like 3 on the front brake and 1 on the back brake) is the way to go.
But if you're going to use just the front brake, even a big proponent of front-brake-only, and a well respected source like Sheldon Brown will tell you that's it not as simple as "always use the front brake".
When to Use The Rear Brake
Skilled cyclists use the front brake
alone probably 95% of the time, but there are instances when the rear brake is preferred:
- Slippery surfaces. On good, dry pavement, it is generally impossible to skid the front wheel by braking. On slippery surfaces, however it is possible to do so. It is nearly impossible to recover from a front wheel skid, so if there is a high risk of skidding, you're better off controlling your speed with the rear brake.
- Bumpy surfaces. On rough surfaces, your wheels may actually bounce up into the air. If there is a chance of this, don't use the front brake. If you apply the front brake while the wheel is airborne, it will stop, and coming down on a stopped front wheel is a Very Bad Thing.
- Front flat. If you have tire blowout or a sudden flat on the front wheel, you should use the rear brake alone to bring yourself to a safe stop. Braking a wheel that has a deflated tire can cause the tire to come off the rim, and is likely to cause a crash.
- Broken cable...or other failure of the front brake.
- Long mountain descents, when your front brake hand may get tired, or you may be at risk of overheating a rim and blowing a tire. For this situation, it is best to alternate between the front and rear brake, but not to use them both at once.
Not that this matters. If you're breaking spokes on a wheel on a regular basis, you need to get a better wheel. There's no reason to risk the entire wheel going out while you're riding (ouch).