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Old 09-19-12, 06:15 PM   #1
mcoffey
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Question about braking

Hey everyone. First post but won't be my last.

I hadn't been cycling for nearly 25 years (I am 45) but I am trying to be fit and get more active and I live a mile from a 15 mile bike trail so
I bought a bike. It was a hybrid mountain bike ideal for concrete biking trails. It was used but in good condition.

So, I road a few times, even did a 35 mile bike. The front brakes always seemed "tight" but I thought I would get used to them or maybe it
was just me since I had not been riding in so long. About 2 weeks after having the bike. I was riding and I was approaching a road/crosswalk and I looked
up to check traffic and a car turned onto the road pretty fast (faster then usual. This was early morning and the streets we nearly empty)
and it freaked me out and I grabbed the brakes (both of them) harder than I realized and I went over the handlebars and crushed my right wrist
in the fall/flight.

So, now I am cleared by my doctor (its been 2 months) that I can resume normal activities. I think I might still wait a few weeks before I bike again.
But. now I am freaked out about going over the handlebars again.

I think it might be a good idea to take the bike into a shop and get the brakes adjusted??? But also, I found something online
called a Budbrake Modulator..that says it's designed to keep what happened to me over the handlebars from happening at all.

Does anyone here know of this or use it or maybe recommend I look into it?

Sorry for my post being long winded..but any feedback would be appreciated.

Happy riding!
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Old 09-19-12, 06:24 PM   #2
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Howdy!

Your brakes are normal. In a panic stop, shift your weight to the
rear of the bike by standing on the pedals and hanging your butt
backwards as far as you can go. It's probably best to practice this
method a few times so it will be automatic for you in a real emergency.

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Old 09-19-12, 06:26 PM   #3
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Save your money and develop your technique. It may seem counter intuitive but you want a good front brake. The front brake will provide most of your braking for you. You should be able to stop with your front brake alone. Practice at slower speeds in your driveway or a parking lot. Very quickly it will be second nature and you won't go over your handle pars anymore.

Now remembering to unclip after you stop, that might be a different story.
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Old 09-19-12, 07:57 PM   #4
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Sounds like you just might need to slightly loosen the adjusting barrel on your front brake.

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...e-v-brake-type
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Old 09-19-12, 08:08 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostGreenGuy View Post
Sounds like you just might need to slightly loosen the adjusting barrel on your front brake.

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...e-v-brake-type
No the OP doesn't. If the pads are as close to the rim as possible without rubbing the rime then they are adjusted correctly as far as clearance is concerned.

You shouldn't even need a rear brake to stop correctly.
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Old 09-20-12, 06:05 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcoffey View Post
I think it might be a good idea to take the bike into a shop and get the brakes adjusted??? But also, I found something online
called a Budbrake Modulator..that says it's designed to keep what happened to me over the handlebars from happening at all.
Do not buy the modulator.

First, work on your technique. Never just sit on the seat and squeeze the brakes. Always get your whole body involved. Take your weight on your feet. Shift your weight back a few inches. (Nothing drastic needed. Just stand on the pedals and shift your butt rearward a comfortable amount). Brace with your arms. Try to drive your weight through your legs into the cranks and bottom-bracket.

That last part's key: driving your weight into the bottom-bracket. You want your weight as much as possible driven low into the bike where it can't cause rotation.

Also, no harm in getting the brakes adjusted so that they don't engage instantly. I like a bit of play in the levers myself. Get a shop to help. Or try out AlmostGreenGuy's suggestion.

Most of all, work on technique. The front brake is the one that's going to save your neck when it really and truly matters that you stop. By contrast, I've seen crashes and near misses from people depending on the rear brake because they don't know any better. All competent cyclists -- no exceptions -- master the front brake.
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Old 09-20-12, 06:07 AM   #7
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Here's a good article on the importance of front-braking: http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html
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Old 09-20-12, 11:15 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlmostGreenGuy View Post
Sounds like you just might need to slightly loosen the adjusting barrel on your front brake.

http://www.parktool.com/blog/repair-...e-v-brake-type
Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnaker View Post
No the OP doesn't. If the pads are as close to the rim as possible without rubbing the rime then they are adjusted correctly as far as clearance is concerned.

You shouldn't even need a rear brake to stop correctly.
For you maybe, and for me as well. But the OP seems to be prone to panicking and freaking out easily. Reducing the effectiveness of the front brake might be a good idea. After all, many of us grew up on single speed bikes with only rear coaster brakes.
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Old 09-20-12, 04:30 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
For you maybe, and for me as well. But the OP seems to be prone to panicking and freaking out easily. Reducing the effectiveness of the front brake might be a good idea. After all, many of us grew up on single speed bikes with only rear coaster brakes.
Not for anyone. The OP needs to work on technique. Purposely reducing the effectiveness could create other problems. Simple practice will solve the problem.
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Old 09-20-12, 11:39 PM   #10
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I will second what has been said on practice mastering the front brake's power. Likely you went over mainly because you weren't used to it yet.

One point that really helped me, is switching the front brake to the right hand lever. (I am right handed) So I can get the best possible dexterity when using it.



p.s. the 'brake modulator'; Avoid these products! It is true, they stop the problem of going over bars when using the front brake. But they accomplish this by disabling the brake! Basically they have a little spring hidden inside, so when you pull the brake lever you're really just squeezing the spring; not the brake pads.

Last edited by xenologer; 09-20-12 at 11:47 PM.
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Old 09-21-12, 12:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rogerstg View Post
For you maybe, and for me as well. But the OP seems to be prone to panicking and freaking out easily. Reducing the effectiveness of the front brake might be a good idea. After all, many of us grew up on single speed bikes with only rear coaster brakes.
Adjusting the travel of the brake by loosening the barrel adjuster does nothing to change effectiveness -- specifically, I mean how hard the pads act upon the rim. I set up my brakes like how AlmostGreenGuy mentioned, with the brake lever's travel ending just before it hits the handlebars (if I squeeze very hard, I might be able to touch the lever to the bar tape), and my road bike's brakes still respond as solidly as they possibly could.

However, reducing the stopping power can be done by adjusting the toe angle of the pads. I had to do this on my commuter because it was the only way to reduce serious judder with its cantilever brakes and the cable stop attached to a spacer above the headset. It definitely reduces braking power -- the same bike, with no other change to its brakes, braked harder when I used less toe-in -- but it stops well enough, and I'm no longer worried about damaging the front end because of the fork juddering so badly.

Cliff's: barrel adjuster = brake lever travel; toe angle = stopping power.

A combination of these can adjust responsiveness and modulation. Fiddle with these until it feels right to you.

Back to the OP's accident: as posted already, learn to shift back and practice braking hard. I can stop pretty damn fast on my road bike and its skinny tires, but I have to concentrate a little more on my full-suspension MTB with its fat tires. That sucker stops HARD if I really pull the levers (well, just the front "lever", because the back tire skids very easily during a hard stop).
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Old 09-21-12, 01:24 AM   #12
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how many fingers do you brake with? maybe your grip is a bit light too.
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Old 09-21-12, 12:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
I think it might be a good idea to take the bike into a shop and get the brakes adjusted
Follow through with that thought
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Old 09-21-12, 12:23 PM   #14
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A modulator noodle for V brakes adds a spring to compress,first,
before you get enough pad to rim friction,to slow the wheel rotation..

they use a significant portion of lever travel, before any stopping begins.
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Old 09-21-12, 02:24 PM   #15
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With a v-brake, the barrel adjuster only changes the distance the lever/pads travel before engaging the rim. Mechanical advantage will remain constant regardless (hence the term 'linear pull' brakes).
If you do want to try changing the mechanical advantage for weaker/stronger brakes, look into 'Avid Speed Dial' brake levers. These levers have adjustible cable pull.

Inability to easily alter mechanical advantage to personal taste is one of the reasons all my bikes use traditional cantilevers instead of v-brakes, disks, etc....
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Old 09-21-12, 11:00 PM   #16
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I wanted to thank everyone for their response.

I'm not sure about the modulator but I am still thinking about it.

I have read a lot on the need to learn about how to properly use the front brakes since the accident. But ultimately, I just want to avoid the same problem.

I will try to take suggestions about learning to use the front brake when I finally get back to biking. But
if I still feel worried, I might just get the modulator after all. It has gotten good reviews from a few
bike magazines.

Thanx again.
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Old 09-22-12, 06:52 AM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mcoffey View Post
I wanted to thank everyone for their response.

I'm not sure about the modulator but I am still thinking about it.
You could probably gain the same disadvantage by placing an inexpensive spring into your brake noodle. Read this thread:

http://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...-front-V-Brake

Quote:
I have read a lot on the need to learn about how to properly use the front brakes since the accident. But ultimately, I just want to avoid the same problem.
The issue is unavoidable. That moderator device may help on smooth pavement, but all you need to do is brake into a big enough bump or tree root with your weight forward, especially when in g-out situation where the ground slopes down and then back up again, and you'll just fly over the bars anyway.

Practice your technique and you'll be confident in any situation.

For example, the other week I used the front-brake extensively on the trail you see below. (Those rocks, they *are* the trail). The photo shows a flat segment, but there were plenty of rooty and rocky downhill bits too, and the front brake is what allowed me to safely negotiate those.

Attached Images
File Type: jpg RockyTrail.jpg (98.8 KB, 7 views)

Last edited by JonathanGennick; 09-22-12 at 06:52 AM. Reason: corrected a typo
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Old 09-22-12, 08:03 AM   #18
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Do you have a suspension fork? When I rode a bike with one, every time I braked hard the front end would dive, moving my weight forward. With cheaper or worn out forks his could be a problem for somebody that's not ready for it. But then, I weigh 260 lb so it would be a bigger problem for me than for somebody who is not overwigh.
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Old 09-22-12, 08:10 AM   #19
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All a 'modulator' will do is prevent your brake working properly- don't waste your money. A good front brake should be able to lift the rear wheel. You just need to work on your braking technique. Over-the-bars crashes can happen if you're used to using your rear brake, and then just grab the front in an emergency. The most effective stop will be by using the front brake alone, just short of lifting the rear wheel.
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Old 09-22-12, 08:45 AM   #20
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The brake modulators (unless the one you linked is different from others) just remove the ability of your brake to provide maximum braking. It is quite likely it will absolutely prevent another similar crash, but at the expense of makeing other types of crashes more likely because you can't stop as fast. Most people have one incident or crash like you had, then either: learn to modulate the front brake, or misguidedly stop using their front brake altogether because they believe it is a design flaw. The brake modulator is a third less common solution that is sort of an unacceptable compromise between the two.

Go riding today and practice stopping with progressively more force on the brake lever, and remember you shift your weight back slightly. You will have it perfected before the next time you have to make an emergency stop.
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Old 09-23-12, 02:44 AM   #21
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I never use front break unless the rear brake is already engaged. Reason I hit a rock doing 35 mph and the front tire went flat in two revolutions. If i had conditioned myself to use the front brake it would have been disaster. I grabbed all the rear brake i could and stopped . . . I went over the handle bars ,in a strip mine, on my motorcycle because i grabbed the front brake. Not fun when your bike is chasing you down a high wall (overburden pile of dirt) . . . If it is wet or slippery and you use the front brake , without the rear chances are you will fall, The rear wheel can slip and slide all over the place. Just watch fixed gear riders. If the front wheel slides it is game over
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Old 09-23-12, 09:59 AM   #22
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Of course, braking technique should be varied depending on the conditions. Off road you might want to use the rear brake more to prevent a front wheel slide, or coming off due to hitting rocks etc. However, on a good road, you should be using the front brake as the primary brake. Mastering the use of the front brake in order to make the shortest possible controlled stop is key to riding a bicycle safely on the road. You never know when you might need to stop suddenly.
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Old 09-24-12, 09:31 AM   #23
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Take a bike skills class ?
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