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Should I be braking all the way down a steep slope?

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Should I be braking all the way down a steep slope?

Old 01-26-14, 03:44 AM
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redryder74
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Should I be braking all the way down a steep slope?

Hi all. I'm planning to commute to work everyday on a foldable bike. There's a portion of my route which is a steep downhill about 50m on a pavement. I've been braking practically all the way down in order to keep the speed to a comfortable level. Will this be killing my brakes since I'm doing this everyday?
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Old 01-26-14, 06:10 AM
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They are going to wear faster than they would on a similar distance of flat ground. But I would not consider it excessive. My biggest concern with riding brakes down a hill is overheating a rim and blowing a tire, but we are talking kilometers of downhills not meters. I think you will be fine, just keep and eye on the brake and rim wear.

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Old 01-26-14, 09:25 AM
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It's a lot more fun if you coast.
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Old 01-26-14, 09:44 AM
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If you are squeamish about the speed and concerned about going through parts.. walk the bike down the hill. I've had to do it, though I was on my back up bike (son's BMX), I'm a Clyde, and the bike has just the u-brake in the back...
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Old 01-26-14, 10:03 AM
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Brake pads are disposable items. If you're not comfortable coasting down the hill, then a couple fewer weeks of life before you have to replace the pads beats the heck out of losing control and crashing.
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Old 01-26-14, 10:08 AM
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Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
It's a lot more fun if you coast.
its even more fun when you pedal
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Old 01-26-14, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by sandy79 View Post
its even more fun when you pedal
Baby steps my dear boy, baby steps.
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Old 01-26-14, 10:42 AM
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steep downhill about 50m on a pavement
in British English , you are on the sidewalk , not the street.
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Old 01-26-14, 11:56 AM
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50 meters/metres? Doesn't seem long enough for for heat buildup or other issues. By all means, use the brakes to stay under control.
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Old 01-26-14, 12:04 PM
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Originally Posted by sandy79 View Post
its even more fun when you pedal
It's not a real down hill if pedaling makes you go faster.


To some extent I think that braking on a hill is more dangerous. Yes your speed is lower, but the physics are more complex. And of course, the answer is not always the same. One road nearby drops 266 feet in half a mile. Most times I just sail down. But at night, or when there is ice on the road, I'm more cautious.
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Old 01-26-14, 12:15 PM
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Braking for 50 meters, even if you do it every day, is not going even wear your pads that much. We're talking 50 meters, right? And if you're on the sidewalk, you definitely should be going slow. It pisses people off when bikes ride fast on the sidewalk, plus going fast down a sidewalk and then careening out into the street at the bottom of the hill or crossing over cross streets in a crosswalk at high speed is a GREAT way to get hit.
Using your brakes is what wears them down, but you're talking about a fairly short stretch and it probably won't wear them any faster than using them the rest of the time.
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Old 01-26-14, 05:20 PM
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Originally Posted by Coluber42 View Post
Braking for 50 meters, even if you do it every day, is not going even wear your pads that much. We're talking 50 meters, right?
Boy, I'm embarrased. Guess the speed affected my memory of the distance. I checked Google Maps and its actually 200m. On a sidewalk.

Thanks guys for your help. Quick question - is it better in terms of control and stability to tap and let go on the brakes, or just keep them on the whole time while going downhill? Keeping them on to slow down feels more natural but some people mentioned the "press and let go" method as well.
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Old 01-26-14, 06:18 PM
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Originally Posted by redryder74 View Post
Boy, I'm embarrased. Guess the speed affected my memory of the distance. I checked Google Maps and its actually 200m. On a sidewalk.

Thanks guys for your help. Quick question - is it better in terms of control and stability to tap and let go on the brakes, or just keep them on the whole time while going downhill? Keeping them on to slow down feels more natural but some people mentioned the "press and let go" method as well.

Whatever it takes to stay in control. You're not going to be able to overheat the rims in 200m, so it doesn't really matter which you do. If you're descending a long mountain pass and need to shed speed, then you need to brake intermittently or you'll overheat the wheels, causing the air in the tube to expand, and risk a blowout. Plus, it becomes more difficult to module your brakes when everything gets really hot.

But again - 200m is not even remotely close to having to worry about that.
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Old 01-26-14, 06:22 PM
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Originally Posted by redryder74 View Post
Boy, I'm embarrased. Guess the speed affected my memory of the distance. I checked Google Maps and its actually 200m. On a sidewalk.
If you are on a sidewalk, and you feel, even the slightest bit, like you are near the limits of your control, you need to dismount and walk your bike. Really. Even if there is never anybody on that stretch.
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Old 01-27-14, 01:51 PM
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Originally Posted by rebel1916 View Post
If you are on a sidewalk, and you feel, even the slightest bit, like you are near the limits of your control, you need to dismount and walk your bike. Really. Even if there is never anybody on that stretch.
Agreed. On a road, it would depend on what was at the bottom. Foldable bikes probably don't handle and corner very well. But on a sidewalk? And commuting? Sidewalks are there for a reason. Rural, sparsely populated areas rarely have them (at least here in the States) and if there are houses along the descent, there's too muck risk of someone stepping out of a yard onto the sidewalk for me to coast down on a bike. Or even brake all the way down.
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Old 01-28-14, 09:19 AM
  #16  
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Right. Always prepared to yield the right of way to foot traffic. It's part of good citizenship, and makes good sense, too.
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Old 01-28-14, 09:34 AM
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If you're on a sidewalk, you need to stay at a sidewalk speed. You know how you probably get pissed off if you're walking down the sidewalk and some punk goes whizzing around you on a skateboard? If you are riding faster than 5mph on a sidewalk, you are that guy. To stay at a controlled, steady 3-5mph, you will need to brake steadily the whole way down. You're not going to overheat the rims at that speed and you're not going to put excessive wear on the pads over only 200m, and you're not even going to lose that much time versus just riding down at normal speed. But if you're riding down the sidewalk, ride at a sidewalk speed.
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Old 01-28-14, 12:49 PM
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I was using my rear (disc) brake as a drag brake earlier this winter to keep from building up too much speed on an icy downhill run, when all of a sudden I had nothing happening back there.

Turns out one of the pads fell out of the caliper.

Just sayin'
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Old 01-28-14, 03:04 PM
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I just reread your post and one question,, is the rest of your commute also on the sidewalk and ofcourse the next question is ,,why??
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Old 01-28-14, 03:07 PM
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It all depends on how hard you apply the brakes. If you're just very lightly applying them, I really don't see a problem. If, on the other hand, you're applying them fairly hard, that would create potential issues for premature brake wear. 50m isn't a long distance, so I think you should be OK either way.
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Old 01-29-14, 06:26 PM
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What is at the bottom of the hill?

I can think of one where anyone who brakes is a wuss. But that is wide open and a half mile runout.

I can think of far more that end in a stop sign or stop light. for those staying under control means being able to stop at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes that means going much slower than I would like.
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Old 01-30-14, 04:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Keith99 View Post
What is at the bottom of the hill?

I can think of one where anyone who brakes is a wuss. But that is wide open and a half mile runout.

I can think of far more that end in a stop sign or stop light. for those staying under control means being able to stop at the bottom of the hill. Sometimes that means going much slower than I would like.
I've never ridden a folding bike, which is what the OP has, but if they handle like I suspect that they do, I'd like a nice long straight at the bottom.
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Old 01-30-14, 04:36 PM
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And which Bike ... you get a better aligned bike at the higher price points,

Put my bike friday at the top of a hill , and Ill be fine .. at the bottom ..
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Old 01-30-14, 06:55 PM
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It is called "feathering the brakes" and here is a link to the technique: http://revolutionbicyclesnc.com/2013...ing-technique/

200 meters works out to 650 feet in the English system so it is a short hill you are describing compared to what you find in the mountains in the western US. I had a kid who decided he wasn't going to use the brakes on a descent from Dante's View (~5300') to Furnace Creek Campground (-200') in Death Valley. It descends about half the total in the first couple of miles. He ran off the road into the desert at the second turn about three minutes into the ride. So much for not using brakes being so much fun!
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Old 02-02-14, 10:36 AM
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I do what my survival instincts tell me. On my 20" folder, I would modulate the brakes to keep a reasonable speed.
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