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  1. #1
    Bring May Flowers aprilm's Avatar
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    I did a face plant. :(

    I was going around a sharp corner downhill, applied my front brakes, and my front tire slid out from underneath me. Landed face/elbow first, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened. My left eye is feeling a bit "swollen", and I have a yucky scrape on my elbow... and my left shoulder hurts. Sigh. The bike's handlebars came out of alignment along with my seat, and the chain came off. It can never be simple with me.

    Anyway, so I'm still learning techniques, and I read on Sheldon Brown's web site that you should use the front brakes more often than the rear brakes. Can someone please explain to me when you should use the rear brakes? Was this a time that I should have? The ground was very dry, so if I had applied the rear brakes, wouldn't my rear wheel have slid out too? I'm very confused about the whole brakes thing...

  2. #2
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aprilm
    I was going around a sharp corner downhill, applied my front brakes, and my front tire slid out from underneath me. Landed face/elbow first, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened. My left eye is feeling a bit "swollen", and I have a yucky scrape on my elbow... and my left shoulder hurts. Sigh. The bike's handlebars came out of alignment along with my seat, and the chain came off. It can never be simple with me.

    Anyway, so I'm still learning techniques, and I read on Sheldon Brown's web site that you should use the front brakes more often than the rear brakes. Can someone please explain to me when you should use the rear brakes? Was this a time that I should have? The ground was very dry, so if I had applied the rear brakes, wouldn't my rear wheel have slid out too? I'm very confused about the whole brakes thing...
    I consider the front brake to be used primarly for scrubbing speed and the rear one for helping with turn-in. Your little accident sort of reinforces that.

    I'm not going to claim to be the master of all that is mountain biking dynamics as I am still on the steep part of the learning curve. However, I did at one point think that I shoudld avoid using the rear brake a lot and did end up doing plenty of endos. After I adjusted my technique to use the rear brake, and adjusted the rear brake to be less "grabby", I find I have a good balance.
    First Class Jerk

  3. #3
    Senior Member AlucardZero's Avatar
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    Rear wheel skids are very easy to recover from, while front wheel skids are not.
    Trek 4500

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    ...is my hero! DylanTremblay's Avatar
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    The most helpful info that I can give you right now is...do all your braking before you get to the turn. If you do have to brake during the turn don't lock your rear wheel. This just causes unnecessary damage to the trail.

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    Balance between front and rear brake bias is the key. There are lots of variables given the traction available, speed and angle of decent. Practice and getting to know your bike will help alot. Positioning your body weight over the bike is also just as important as to how much front and rear braking force you can apply. If your speed is too high going into a turn, then be prepared to crash no matter what.

    In a downhill manuver when turning a corner, I'm always more aggressive with the rear brake than the front. I would much rather deal with the rear tire skidding than the front. Position your butt behind the seat when in a downhill manuever along with a one leg fully extended so you can brace yourself for hard braking. When going down a steep downhill manuver at slower speeds, I use as much front brake as I can without causing the back tire to lift up off the ground.

    I wrecked a month ago, but I hit some loose soil going into a turn and the front washed out from underneath me. Sometimes it also helps to know the trail your riding to watch out for the problem areas.

  6. #6
    Digs technical steeps
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    Quote Originally Posted by aprilm
    I was going around a sharp corner downhill, applied my front brakes, and my front tire slid out from underneath me. Landed face/elbow first, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened. My left eye is feeling a bit "swollen", and I have a yucky scrape on my elbow... and my left shoulder hurts. Sigh. The bike's handlebars came out of alignment along with my seat, and the chain came off. It can never be simple with me.

    Anyway, so I'm still learning techniques, and I read on Sheldon Brown's web site that you should use the front brakes more often than the rear brakes. Can someone please explain to me when you should use the rear brakes? Was this a time that I should have? The ground was very dry, so if I had applied the rear brakes, wouldn't my rear wheel have slid out too? I'm very confused about the whole brakes thing...
    Ouch! Using the front and rear brakes is as much an art as a science.

    Going down hill my rear end and body weight are way to the back of my bike and low to prevent going over the bars.

    I try to use the brakes as little as possible (usually not at all) in a turn. I scrub off the speed before the turn.

    I do tend to use the front brake more than the rear because the rear has more tendancy to lock up and skid. But I have to modulate (apply - let off - apply - let off) both brakes and I avoid locking them down at any cost except in an emergency.

    Hope that helps; it's what works for me, anyway. Practice, practice, practice; especially scrubbing the speed before the turn.
    'My other bike is a bike.'

  7. #7
    Fourth Degree Legend junkyard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aprilm
    I was going around a sharp corner downhill, applied my front brakes, and my front tire slid out from underneath me. Landed face/elbow first, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened. My left eye is feeling a bit "swollen", and I have a yucky scrape on my elbow... and my left shoulder hurts. Sigh. The bike's handlebars came out of alignment along with my seat, and the chain came off. It can never be simple with me.

    Anyway, so I'm still learning techniques, and I read on Sheldon Brown's web site that you should use the front brakes more often than the rear brakes. Can someone please explain to me when you should use the rear brakes? Was this a time that I should have? The ground was very dry, so if I had applied the rear brakes, wouldn't my rear wheel have slid out too? I'm very confused about the whole brakes thing...
    Sounds like a good wreck. I've found that situations like these teach me a lot. Next time you hit the section of trail that this happened on, try some different braking techniques to see what works.
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    The caveat with a strap-on, of course, is you will have to get creative with a couple of lock cables and an anchor point

  8. #8
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    I remember reading that same info from Sheldon's site. I have learned over time that I think that is bad advice. The front brakes are much more prone to subject a rider to a crash then the rear, regardless of the situation.

  9. #9
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Decided to read Sheldon's article again as I didn't remember the details. Looks like the front-only technique is intended mainly for dry, high-grip surfaces.

    All text bolded below is my own emphasis

    He writes, "The rear brake is O.K. for situations where traction is poor, or for when your front tire blows, but for stopping on dry pavement, the front brake all by itself provides the maximum stopping power, both in theory and in practice."

    He later writes
    Quote Originally Posted by sheldon brown
    ...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.
    So, from what I read, on a downhill on loose surface, you should have been using the rear brake.
    First Class Jerk

  10. #10
    Mad Furyan Quick_Torch C5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aprilm
    I was going around a sharp corner downhill, applied my front brakes, and my front tire slid out from underneath me. Landed face/elbow first, and I'm not entirely sure how that happened. My left eye is feeling a bit "swollen", and I have a yucky scrape on my elbow... and my left shoulder hurts. Sigh. The bike's handlebars came out of alignment along with my seat, and the chain came off. It can never be simple with me.

    Anyway, so I'm still learning techniques, and I read on Sheldon Brown's web site that you should use the front brakes more often than the rear brakes. Can someone please explain to me when you should use the rear brakes? Was this a time that I should have? The ground was very dry, so if I had applied the rear brakes, wouldn't my rear wheel have slid out too? I'm very confused about the whole brakes thing...
    Sorry to hear about your misfortunes Aprilm, I hope this won't persuade you to exit this sport. In this situation, if you leaned back with your weight more on the rear tire, while braking more in the rear (maybe 40% front/60% rear), you probably would've made that corner. Perserverance, practice, and good weight distribution is key, but not necessarily in that order

    p.s.-almost forgot, you don't want to brake and turn at the same time in most situations on dirt at speed, especially sharp downhill turns. It'll put too many forces on your tire's small contact patch. A famous racing quote goes something like this for cornering- "slow in(to the corner), fast out."
    Why is going slower harder?

  11. #11
    mmm... chicken! Funkychicken's Avatar
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    It depends on the terrain, but generally what others said - brake before the turn.

    When in the turn, weight the *front* wheel more than the back - front wheel traction is more important because it dictates which direction you are going. Lost front wheel traction (esp at speed) can lead to wipeouts no matter which brake you're using. If there's a good enough berm, lean into the turn, look ahead, lay off the brakes and the bike will follow.
    That's a lie.

  12. #12
    Non Tribuo Anus Rodentum and off to the next adventure (RIP) Stacey's Avatar
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    +1 in the 'Brake before the turn' camp. When cornering, your tires have all they can do to maintain traction to get you around the turn. When you take some of that grip to slow down, something has to give and it's almost always going to result in the front end falling away.

  13. #13
    Banned. BugsInMyTeeth's Avatar
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    Nice.

    Crashing is part of the sport... sort of a right of passage. This is especially true with the esteemed 'face plant'

    Good job!

    Be sure to watch were your weight is. On decents, keep your weight off the saddle, and as back as far as possible. Less likely to endo when your arse is over the rear wheel.

    Don't be discouraged. It's great to wipe out, and then be able to post about it relatively injury free.

    But, more importantly... is the BIKE OK!?!

  14. #14
    Too Much Crazy
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    Quote Originally Posted by Portis
    I remember reading that same info from Sheldon's site. I have learned over time that I think that is bad advice. The front brakes are much more prone to subject a rider to a crash then the rear, regardless of the situation.

    I would really have to disagree with that.

  15. #15
    Senior Member 2slo2run's Avatar
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    I also (though being pretty new here) would say less front brake. The front brake is typically the majority of your stoppipng power however on a steep downhill, or diving into a corner its just not the direction you want your bike to be pushing. I had that problem on a trail where around one corner I was too much on the front brake and it dug into a loose corner and I ate it hard. A little while later a similar corner came about and I learned, less on the fron and more on the rear, however this corner had it in for me; my back tire shot up off a root and my front dug in and once again I hit the dirt.
    Since that day I keep my hand off the front brake unless its an "oh sh*t" moment where stopping is top priority...

  16. #16
    Bring May Flowers aprilm's Avatar
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    Thanks for the replies! Santiago - going back and reading the article helped out, thank you. I'm still slightly confused, but I think it'll just take more experience for me to learn when to use what brake.

    Trust me, this hasn't discouraged me in the least. I'm accustomed to flying off horses, so falling off a bike is a walk in the park. I always think of "misfortunes" like this as learning experiences, and honestly I'm sort of glad it happened--I finally got my first crash (since I started riding seriously) out of the way.

    Quote Originally Posted by BugsInMyTeeth
    But, more importantly... is the BIKE OK!?!
    I think so... we got the handlebars and saddle aligned again to the point that I could ride another lap around the trail, but it still needs an adjustment. Nothing too major, I don't think.

    My shoulder and elbow are killing me, though.

  17. #17
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Okay, but was the crash an endo or did you simply fall? Because you have to get your endos out of the way before you are truly "in".
    First Class Jerk

  18. #18
    Bring May Flowers aprilm's Avatar
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    Hm. Well, I guess that depends on your definition of endo. I don't think you could describe it as "simply a fall"... to me, a "fall" describes someone, for example, who didn't clip out early enough, and just fell over. Anyway, it happened so fast that I don't remember exactly how it happened, but I think when my front wheel started to skid, I flew forward (which still perplexes me, because my bike skidded to the right, and I fell to the right) and hit the dirt. Hence the face plant.

  19. #19
    Official Website Waterboy born2bahick's Avatar
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    I think Junkyard's reply will be the end result. Over time, you will find what works well for this section by trial and error.

  20. #20
    ...is my hero! DylanTremblay's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BugsInMyTeeth
    Be sure to watch were your weight is. On decents, keep your weight off the saddle, and as back as far as possible. Less likely to endo when your arse is over the rear wheel.
    Personally I'd have to say that's bad advise. You should have your weight back but not as far back as possible. It all really depends on the grade of the slope. The steeper the further back. If you have your weight too far back on a turn (I'm assuming that's what your talking about cause that's what the thread is about) they you won't have enough weight on your front wheel causing your to wash out a lot easier.

    The best way to judge how far back to have your weight is this:

    Try to always have your belly button vertically over your BB. So if your on a slope going down then you should be able to connect a straight line from your belly button to your BB and this line would be perpendicular to a flat/horizontal slope. Hopefully that makes sense if not I'll try to explain it again.

  21. #21
    Fourth Degree Legend junkyard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by santiago
    Okay, but was the crash an endo or did you simply fall? Because you have to get your endos out of the way before you are truly "in".
    I believe what santiago means is that you are not truly "in" until you endo and land without spilling a drop of your latte. Or in my case, without letting your donut hit the ground. Do I have that correct, santiago?
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    The caveat with a strap-on, of course, is you will have to get creative with a couple of lock cables and an anchor point

  22. #22
    sarcasm meter: jerk mode santiago's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by junkyard
    I believe what santiago means is that you are not truly "in" until you endo and land without spilling a drop of your latte. Or in my case, without letting your donut hit the ground. Do I have that correct, santiago?
    I thought this whole thread was about how to avoid spilling our frappuccinos? An "endo" is when the cup not only spills but also flips end over end as it heads to the ground. Sheldon really needs to write an article about how to hit the local Starbucks and ride around without spilling our cups. I've been eyeing that titanium Chris King bottle cage and think that may be a good start.

    PS -
    *blech* to donuts. I'll eat a croissant or an amandine or any other fatty baked good but donuts are just plain gross.
    First Class Jerk

  23. #23
    Fourth Degree Legend junkyard's Avatar
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    santiago - always bringing new levels of sophistication and class to mountain biking.

    aprilm - the real thing to learn is hurdling the handlebars when you begin to endo. Unclipping, leaping over the bars and landing on your feet is quite a handy skill.
    Quote Originally Posted by dminor View Post
    The caveat with a strap-on, of course, is you will have to get creative with a couple of lock cables and an anchor point

  24. #24
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    aprilm, I'm sorry to hear about your crash. You can read all you want but getting the feel for how much front/rear brake to use is something you'll learn in time. You'll most likely hit the dirt a few more times.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  25. #25
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by aprilm View Post
    Thanks for the replies! Santiago - going back and reading the article helped out, thank you. I'm still slightly confused, but I think it'll just take more experience for me to learn when to use what brake.

    Trust me, this hasn't discouraged me in the least. I'm accustomed to flying off horses, so falling off a bike is a walk in the park. I always think of "misfortunes" like this as learning experiences, and honestly I'm sort of glad it happened--I finally got my first crash (since I started riding seriously) out of the way.



    I think so... we got the handlebars and saddle aligned again to the point that I could ride another lap around the trail, but it still needs an adjustment. Nothing too major, I don't think.

    My shoulder and elbow are killing me, though.
    Practice. Practice. Practice...and ignore advice from anyone that says you should only use your front brake. Sheldon's article is almost okay for road riding or fixed gear riding but is just plain wrong for most mountain bike situations. For mountain biking, you really need to use both brakes and learn how to position yourself over the center of the bike.

    Here the practice part: Find a nice, long, low traffic dirt road with maybe a slight downhill. You want a dirt road because you're going to do some skiddin' and you don't want to mess up trails. Get the bike up to a speed that you feel comfortable with but fast enough to need to stop. Then go through these exercises

    1. Apply the brakes hard enough to skid. Get used to the feel of a skidding rear wheel first.

    2. Get up a good speed and mash on the brakes. Get the rear wheel to skid and then slide forward on the bike towards the bars. The idea is to skid as far as you can. Really lay down the rubber. Have fun.

    3. Now that you are comfortable with skidding, get up a good head of steam. Mash on the brakes, hard! But this time, straighten out your arms and move you weight back and down on the bike. The idea is to stop quickly but not skid. The further back you move the harder you can squeeze the brake. If the rear starts to skid, ease up on the rear brake. You want to keep the wheel turning because you'll stop better with a rotating wheel than a skidding one. You'll quickly learn how much pressure you have to squeeze both brakes to stop the bike.

    Go play around but please don't do the skiddin' thing on trails. Tears 'em up!
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