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Catapulting Disc Brakes

Old 09-03-20, 07:36 AM
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Catapulting Disc Brakes

I've been riding for over 30 years and have yet to try out the relatively new Disc Brakes. In the early years I catapulted over the handlebars on at least two occasions and nearly catapulted at least two other times, before it became instinct for me to squeeze the rear brake first.

I'm curious how easy is it to catapult using front disc brakes (compared to traditional brakes)? I'm wondering if my current methodical use of traditional brakes, where I brake first with rear brakes, then employ the front brakes would smoothly cross over to use of disc brakes.

(I guess this question is best for riders that rode many years with traditional brakes, that recently have transitioned over to discs).




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Old 09-03-20, 07:55 AM
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Depending on the rim brakes you're using, disc brakes may be a little more powerful (mechanical discs) or much more powerful (hydraulic discs). As with anything, it's simply a matter of becoming accustomed to them. But yeah, starting with the rear brake, and then applying the front, will be a good starting point.
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Old 09-03-20, 07:56 AM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
I've been riding for over 30 years and have yet to try out the relatively new Disc Brakes. In the early years I catapulted over the handlebars on at least two occasions and nearly catapulted at least two other times, before it became instinct for me to squeeze the rear brake first.

I'm curious how easy is it to catapult using front disc brakes (compared to traditional brakes)? I'm wondering if my current methodical use of traditional brakes, where I brake first with rear brakes, then employ the front brakes would smoothly cross over to use of disc brakes.

(I guess this question is best for riders that rode many years with traditional brakes, that recently have transitioned over to discs).
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Hydraulic disks are the easiest to throw you over the bar, if you let it. The trick is to not let the wheel lock up, and to use your body to prevent being easily flung. Many people use just the front for braking, the rear being more for control and wet riding, regardless of brake type.

The harder I brake, the more I put my butt behind the saddle and stiffen my arms. Standing on pedals lowers your center of gravity and makes it much harder to do a Superman

Last edited by DorkDisk; 09-03-20 at 08:02 AM.
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Old 09-03-20, 08:08 AM
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I forgot to mention that as one of my methods of braking is to put my butt as far back as possible. However, I usually only do that on very quick stops, but I still hit the rear brake first. So I'm not sure how that (shifting my center of gravity) would works with a fast stop using front brakes at speed (over 20mph).
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Old 09-03-20, 08:23 AM
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Any brake worth a poop will throw you over the bars if you squeeze hard and don’t lean back some.

None of these brakes in and of themselves are more likely to do so than others. For ALL brakes it is a matter of getting used to the way they react to lever action.

Many people will argue that brakes with better “modulation” are less likely to throw you OTB or skid, but then argue for pages over what better modulation actually means.

I like powerful brake that stop me with less lever pressure and movement. The trick is to do a lot of practice hard stops to learn how the brakes react to lever input.
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Old 09-03-20, 08:43 AM
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I'm not faulting disc brakes for being a kickass catapulting mechanism. I'm just wondering if other riders (with many years of riding) that have switched over from traditional brakes have had to change how they prevent the catapulting.
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Old 09-03-20, 08:44 AM
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If you suddenly grab a handfull of brakes and squeeze as hard as possible, yeah, hydraulic disks will throw you a** over teakettle. But it's the same thing as any other brakes - good brakes need to be used correctly. I don't know that you need to do the rear first - I don't - but if it works for you, go ahead.
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Old 09-03-20, 08:49 AM
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You need to learn about proportion. I've never come close to catapulting with any braking system and can't even imagine how you could do that other than in a severe panic situation. Don't squeeze any harder than you need to to slow at whatever rate is required.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:17 AM
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Any Harley rider care to explain how using the front brake causes you to superman.

It's all about center of gravity and the speed of the weight transfer. If your center of gravity is high, and your weight transfer is fast (because you didn't prepare your body in anticipation of the braking), then you WILL fly over the bar.
But if you prepare yourself, then you can brake as hard as your brake can allow all the way up until the point of lockout (assuming a straightline and dry condition) and you will never go over.
NOTE: going in a straightline on dry clean pavement, it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to lock the front wheel.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:23 AM
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A good front brake should be strong enough to lift the rear wheel. Most decent disk brakes I've ridden can do that with 1 or 2 fingers on the lever. Adjusting to good brakes is easy, they are almost telepathic. Going back to cantis or calipers for a ride or 2 can be frightening until you remember to squeeze like you mean it.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:36 AM
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I have yet to be catapulted by a bike or anything for that matter. If I have an issue of braking it is usually just a matter of knowing how to brake and making sure I am not just grabbing a fistful of front brake.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:37 AM
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On casual level JRA Bikes with V brakes they have supplied a "modulator" .. your cable housing pushes down a spring in the 'noodle'..
that softens the initial bite ..

with disc brakes the modulation is a skill .... + basically some calipers better than others ..
I swapped the front Avid BB7 for a TRP Hy Rd, it's internal hydraulics, don't come on as abruptly as the ones that came on the bike..
still cable operated..


One option : Anticipate the need for heavy braking a couple second before hand,
push your butt back , low off & behind the saddle I brace your straight arms against the forces.. of that deceleration..






...

Last edited by fietsbob; 09-03-20 at 10:47 AM.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by Ogsarg
You need to learn about proportion. I've never come close to catapulting with any braking system and can't even imagine how you could do that other than in a severe panic situation. Don't squeeze any harder than you need to to slow at whatever rate is required.
Did you even read my OP? I guess some of us just start out cycling as an expert. And yes, the times I've been catapulted or nearly catapulted were in panic situations.

Boy, I just love all the freakin' exerpts on this website
Originally Posted by aclinjury
Any Harley rider care to explain how using the front brake causes you to superman.

It's all about center of gravity and the speed of the weight transfer. If your center of gravity is high, and your weight transfer is fast (because you didn't prepare your body in anticipation of the braking), then you WILL fly over the bar.
But if you prepare yourself, then you can brake as hard as your brake can allow all the way up until the point of lockout (assuming a straightline and dry condition) and you will never go over.
NOTE: going in a straightline on dry clean pavement, it is virtually IMPOSSIBLE to lock the front wheel.
Interesting, maybe if we get a Harley rider in here he/she can speak to the issue of slamming on the front brakes at speed...



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Old 09-03-20, 10:44 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
On casual level JRA Bikes with V brakes they have supplied a "modulator" .. your cable housing pushes down a spring in the 'noodle'..
that softens the initial bite ..

with disc brakes the modulation is a skill .... + basically some calipers better than others ..
I swapped the front Avid BB7 for a TRP Hy Rd, it's internal hydraulics, don't come on as abruptly as the ones that came on the bike..
still cable operated..
Thanks. I'm going to have to look up some youtube videos on the different types of disc brakes.


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Old 09-03-20, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by aclinjury
Any Harley rider care to explain how using the front brake causes you to superman.
Huh? As someone who mainly rides motorcycles instead of driving a car, what exactly are you implying? Are you saying to not use a front brake on a motorcycle because it will catapult you over the bars? If so you are so far off base it isn't even funny, especially on a Harley.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:57 AM
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BTW ALL, the reason I'm asking the question is because I'm in the market for a new bike and I'm seriously considering disc brakes, simply because of the stopping power (I've heard of) during wet conditions. Can't tell you how long it took me to develop the skill of riding with virtually no brakes in the rain.
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Old 09-03-20, 10:59 AM
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I didn't go 'over the bars' , but i did have the bike stop short, , I kept moving,.. I was going slow , then..

I put out my hand , to catch myself.. as I hit the sidewalk, that did not help my wrist ..
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Old 09-03-20, 11:10 AM
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Originally Posted by fietsbob
I didn't go 'over the bars' , but i did have the bike stop short, , I kept moving,.. I was going slow , then..

I put out my hand , to catch myself.. as I hit the sidewalk, that did not help my wrist ..
I did a true superman impersonation. I'm sure it was entertaining to the "spectators".

There are a few accidents I had when I first started cycling that still pop in my head while riding today. Front brake is one of them, but the other is when I accidentally veered off road and immediately swerved by onto the road and as my front tire hit the raised lip of the road, I went flying into the middle of a two lane roadway where cars are going at least 50mph.

I don't know how, but I instinctively jumped up, grabbed my bike and ran out of the road before the car behind could hit me -- one of those incredible times in your life.

That was back in the mid-80's and to this day, every time I start to veer off the road, an image of that accident jumps in my head.
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Old 09-03-20, 04:10 PM
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I find that most disc brakes are much easier to modulate than linear pull "v-brakes." Many powerful rim brakes have an on/off feel rather than a good amount of middle ground feeling. You have to pull a disc brake hard to lock up a wheel and there's a fair degree of modulation before that.
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Old 09-03-20, 04:50 PM
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Have to wonder just how experienced of a rider you are if you are honestly worried about braking sending you over the bars. You sound like the people on the recumbent sites.

Been riding 50 years and have had absolutely zero issues transitioning to disc brakes. In fact, a good set of hydro discs have better modulation than some of the older brakes giving the rider considerably more control over braking force.
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Old 09-03-20, 04:54 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
I did a true superman impersonation. I'm sure it was entertaining to the "spectators".

There are a few accidents I had when I first started cycling that still pop in my head while riding today. Front brake is one of them, but the other is when I accidentally veered off road and immediately swerved by onto the road and as my front tire hit the raised lip of the road, I went flying into the middle of a two lane roadway where cars are going at least 50mph.

I don't know how, but I instinctively jumped up, grabbed my bike and ran out of the road before the car behind could hit me -- one of those incredible times in your life.

That was back in the mid-80's and to this day, every time I start to veer off the road, an image of that accident jumps in my head.
To answer your original question, my old road bike that I had for about 7 years had rim brakes, and then about a month ago I got a new road bike with hydraulic rim brakes. I also have a touring bike that had v-brakes until about 5 years ago when I built a new front wheel that has a drum brake. Across all 3 systems, I have literally never come close to going over the bars due to braking. I've never even felt the back wheel come off the ground while braking, even while panic-braking. Every braking system, when properly adjusted, feels about the same at the brake levers: the levers stop with about 1 inch of clearance from the bars. There might be some subtle differences across the feeling of those brake systems I've used, but I think people exaggerate those differences when discussing them, especially on the internet.

The one and only time I've ever gone over the bars was when a stick went between my front wheel & fender, causing the fender to snap and lock up the wheel went it went under the fork crown. In that crash, I managed to instinctively tuck my chin and land on my shoulders and upper back, my head never touched the ground. Other than needing to replace the fender, there really wasn't much damage to the bike at all, and I only had some minor abrasions and a few bruises.
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Old 09-03-20, 05:38 PM
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I choose brake power considering how I ride. I grew up and learned on the ancient centerpulls, raced side-pulls, got introduced to driving on a Willis Jeep nearly as old as I am, and I was 34 years old before I drove a car with power anything. The instinct to squeeze hard is embedded in my reactions, At 67 , I am not re-training them (unless I am willing to do several flips over the bars). I very intentionaly stay away from powerrful brake combos. (My brakes are very good stoppers. They just require a real squeeze.)

I haven't made the jump to disc and probably won't Dual pivots work way to well for my hands so I "de-tune" them with V-brake levers. (LIkewise cantis.) They still stop me really well, but it now takes the real squeeze I've been doing all my life. Since I swapped out the levers, I can stop in a much shorter distance because I don't lock up or have to back off to keep the rear end in line.

I have had the same issue with my cars. Power brakes just keep getting more powerful, more sensitive. Hard stops, instead of getting better, have gotten worse, until my last car with (finally) ABS, After 7 years, I still need it. That old Willis and my first car, a '71 VW bus, taught me really well.

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Old 09-03-20, 07:16 PM
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Originally Posted by work4bike
I did a true superman impersonation. I'm sure it was entertaining to the "spectators".

There are a few accidents I had when I first started cycling that still pop in my head while riding today. Front brake is one of them, but the other is when I accidentally veered off road and immediately swerved by onto the road and as my front tire hit the raised lip of the road, I went flying into the middle of a two lane roadway where cars are going at least 50mph.

I don't know how, but I instinctively jumped up, grabbed my bike and ran out of the road before the car behind could hit me -- one of those incredible times in your life.

That was back in the mid-80's and to this day, every time I start to veer off the road, an image of that accident jumps in my head.
This may have been mentioned before; if so, my apologies. I took a motorcycle safety course a few years back. One of the things they really made a point of is "looking where you want to go" and not down near the front wheel or straight ahead in a curve, for example. You will go where you are looking.

One person in the class had a bad habit of grabbing a handful of front brake. She high-sided twice during the weekend - no kidding.

Not suggesting that's what happened, but it's something to consider at least.

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Old 09-03-20, 07:52 PM
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Originally Posted by mack_turtle
I find that most disc brakes are much easier to modulate than linear pull "v-brakes." Many powerful rim brakes have an on/off feel rather than a good amount of middle ground feeling. You have to pull a disc brake hard to lock up a wheel and there's a fair degree of modulation before that.
Finally, someone that can describe the braking feel of discs vs. traditional brakes.

Very helpful input, thank you!



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Old 09-03-20, 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted by HD3andMe
This is not an equipment issue but rather an experience/technique issue.
I know.

re-read the post, this happened back in the 80's when I was in my 20's and first starting out in cycling as transportation. The only bikes I rode before this was when I was a kid and used the old pedal-braking bikes.
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