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Old 02-15-09, 06:31 AM   #1
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Swerving on a Dahon: what's wrong?


I recently got a Dahon Speed D7 and I have been having a real enjoyable time with it. The problem, however, that I realised with it is that when I brake with my rear brake while turning, the rear has a tendency to violently swerve. While I attribute it to my braking, I was wondering is this a problem exacerbated by having thin and slicky tyres? Too, could it be because I am locking up the wheel?

On all my other bicycles, there were no such instances of such swerving no matter how the braking, but the difference between them and the Dahon is that both have larger tyres.

I'm interested to know the reason as to why this is happening, so I can avoid this problem when commuting using the roads. I realised that using the front brakes rather than the rear brakes can help solve this problem. Also, in order to stop fast, is intermittent jamming of the brakes more effective than moderate but constant braking?

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Old 02-15-09, 07:28 AM   #2
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Sounds as if you are locking up the rear wheel.

What kind of road conditions does this happen on? Wet, loose surface, snow and frost, old leaves all make skids much more likely. Clean tarred surfaces have the best grip, but you can still lock a rear wheel on them.

Brake lightly on the back and it probably won't happen. You should anticipate ahead of time if possible so that you brake more gently. It is especially easy to lock the rear wheel if you have decent brakes. You can usually recover from a rear wheel skid by letting off the brake and compensating with the front, but a front wheel skid though much harder to initiate is more difficult to recover from.
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Old 02-15-09, 08:12 AM   #3
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Learning not to clamp down as hard on the brake lever should help. Don't think of it as an on/off switch--picture what the brake pad is actually doing.
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Old 02-15-09, 08:54 PM   #4
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As others have said, you're probably locking the rear wheel. This may be happening more than you're used to because of skinny tires, but more likely is that the brakes are more powerful on this bike and perhaps that your weight is distributed more forward, giving the rear wheel less traction. (btw, slick tires actually get better traction on pavement than knobby ones)

The best advice in general for braking is to get comfortable with using the front brake, and lay off the rear. It's far more effective at stopping the bike (Sheldon used to claim that it gives half the stopping distance of the rear wheel).
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