I hope I don't start yet another general debate so please address just the topic below.
If you have a brake installed on your bike but during the course of your riding you never use it do you feel confident that in an emergency you would instinctively use it?
I rode brakeless for a year then put a brake back on the end of my horns for the last 4 months. I have yet to use it. I have a feeling that in an emergency braking situation (beyond my chain snapping) I wouldn't even think to grab it. I would most likely avoid/back pedal/skid something else before I would have the reflex to use the brake. I am wondering if anyone else is in a similar situation and your thoughts on it? Any experiences where people had a brake, needed to us it, but just forgot/didn't think to use it?
I don't use a brake very often but the other day when a vehicle decided to make a left hand turn on me at the last instance I grabbed the brake and it saved me from slamming into the side of a vehicle.
70s Leader Precision w/Shimano 600 (road), IRO Rob Roy (Fixed)
For me it all depends on hand position on the bars (lever is at the stem on my bullhorns) and proximity to an incident. If I'm far enough away I can move my hand I will use it, else, I'll just use whatever strength/technique I can to get the job done without it. The reasoning/judgement I use when I make these calls I can't explain, it just happens. Often my priority isn't necessarily stopping, it's just avoiding a collision - so it can heavily depend.
In non-emergencies, I alternate based on feeling/preference whether I'll resist or just rest and use the brake.
I have an odd problem. I normally apply back pressure... not skidding all the time, but on the verge of it. Brake is used for when my legs are dead. In emergency, I pull the brake as well as back pedal. The two tend to un-weight the rear. It either slides REALLY easy, or comes off the ground completely. Fortunately, all incidences have been minor emergencies, and I didn't fall... I had enough room to stop. If there were a major problem.. I think I'd throw myself over the bars
It has shown me a good way to locate my cranks where I need them to track stand when pulling up to a light,.. grab the break, and spin the cranks to horizontal.
A friend of mine instinctively skidded and grabbed the front brake (he's normally very good with both) to avoid another bicyclist who cut him off on the inside of a right hand turn. He avoided the other guy, but the skid made it easy for the rear wheel to lift off the ground, sending him over the bars. He was OK, but his RB-021's were not. If you need to stop fast, let your front brake do that for you, you shouldn't really need to resist. Let the pedal motion move your legs and feel for the rear wheel lifting off the ground. You'll feel it before it does. That point right before the rear wheel lifts off of the ground is the maximum stopping power you can apply.
I use my brake a lot on my bike with risers and rarely on my bike with drops, mostly because the lever is in a super convenient place on the riser bars, but on the drop bars, it's really only accessible in the drops, which is fine with me. The times when I really like the brake the most are times when I'm in the drops, pretending to be an English time trialist from the 60's.
when im riding through a place that has a lot of traffic / ****ty drivers and stuff and ill ride with my hand on the lever just in case. this gives me a feel of the brake and theres been a few times where a car appears out of nowhere and since im used to holding the brake at other times i was instinctively drawn to it. it helps to practice holding it
i ride in nyc streets, cars tend to come out of nowhere and fast. i think its really smart to have brakes in nyc. i find that alot of fixed/no brake riders here in nyc ride alot slower than those with brakes (not because of no skills but they just have to be more aware) you can be really good at skidding/backpeddling but one day you'll just be unable to brake as hard or as quick as brakes.
me personally i use my brakes when im too tired or in emergency situations, i never forget to use my brakes if i need to