Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > Road Cycling
Reload this Page >

Proper braking technique

Notices
Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Proper braking technique

Old 09-13-14, 08:42 PM
  #1  
calyco
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NYC
Posts: 164

Bikes: Jamis Icon Pro

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 20 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Proper braking technique

How do you brake on downhill and flat ground? Occasionally I have been hitting like 35-45mph and thinking about it. Normally, if I need to stop fast I would squeeze the front brake for about 3 seconds, push back and put my weight on the saddle then squeeze the rear brake (while still on the front). I would hold both brakes for like 3-5 seconds and avoid obstacle or let go of just the front brake, then trail to a stop with the rear brake. If at like 15mph/cruising I do opposite, rear brake first for 3 seconds and then front brake if necessary. Its not a technique for me, just basically natural reflex.
calyco is offline  
Old 09-13-14, 08:52 PM
  #2  
basqueonacaad
Senior Member
 
basqueonacaad's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: The Continental Divide
Posts: 113

Bikes: CDALE CAAD10

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Last summer I was in a real funk with my cycling. So, to spice it up, I just took off my brakes. Cycling is more exciting now than ever before! No more funk.
basqueonacaad is offline  
Old 09-13-14, 09:04 PM
  #3  
Carbonfiberboy 
just another gosling
 
Carbonfiberboy's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Everett, WA
Posts: 17,668

Bikes: CoMo Speedster 2003, Trek 5200, CAAD 9, Fred 2004

Mentioned: 106 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3033 Post(s)
Liked 943 Times in 715 Posts
Panic breaking on a single road bike will result in the fastest stop if only the front brake is used.

On steep descents with switchbacks, it's usually best to use the front and rear brakes alternately, giving the other pad and rim a chance to cool, braking hard and then letting the bike run until the next turn. When I used to ride fast motorcycles, I'd set up a turn with light rear braking to get directional stability, then hit the front brake before diving into the turn.

The thing to avoid is locking up either wheel or hard braking during a turn.
Carbonfiberboy is online now  
Old 09-13-14, 10:46 PM
  #4  
JameB
Senior Member
 
JameB's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Toronto, ON
Posts: 94
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Always both brakes at the same time unless on an extremely steep hill. If going on an extreme down hill, apply rear first then front after 0.5 to 1 seconds; and vice versa...

I never apply front brakes first if I'm doing anything over 15 km/h. Don't want to flip over.

Last edited by JameB; 09-13-14 at 10:57 PM.
JameB is offline  
Old 09-14-14, 12:11 AM
  #5  
StephenH
Uber Goober
 
StephenH's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Dallas area, Texas
Posts: 11,759
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 189 Post(s)
Liked 35 Times in 26 Posts
I normally just squeeze both brakes.
You potentially have more braking power on the front due to the rear wheel lifting and sliding with heavy braking. But it that's not happening (99.999% of the time), there's not a lot of reason to favor one over the other or start with one and finish with the other, etc.
From standpoint of heat build-up, it's not going to matter a whole lot whether you use them continuously or alternate or pulse or what.
__________________
"be careful this rando stuff is addictive and dan's the 'pusher'."
StephenH is offline  
Old 09-14-14, 12:36 AM
  #6  
Bike Gremlin
Mostly harmless ™
 
Bike Gremlin's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Location: Novi Sad
Posts: 4,176

Bikes: Custom made on Scott Speedster frame, Custom made on a 1996. steel MTB frame (all but frame changed at least once in the past 20 years).

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 994 Post(s)
Liked 46 Times in 31 Posts
Cars are set up so that rear brake engages just split second before the front when you push the pedal. Also, front brakes are given a lot more power.

So perfect setup would be to start with the rear (weight transfer). But that wold make more sense on a bike with suspension. On a rigid road bike, not that much.
Then, split second later go with the front, gradually increasing the pressure, sqeezing the lever. Not too slow, but not in a jerking motion. More like sqeezing an orange. Quick, firm, but still gradual. As you press the brake weight is transfered to the fron wheel. That gives it more traction, so you can press further - all to the point of tyre begining to scrub off and slip. With experience, you can learn to loosen the brake just a little bit, or stop pressing harder, just before that happens. On motorcycle, I had some cool Continental tyres that would make a really loud sqeel before totaly letting go - so you could always tell the limit.
While doing the afore mentioned with the front - you can just feather the rear, to slow the rear wheel a bit, but not let it skidd. On a road bike, this is very hard, so I set my rear brakes so they have less stopping power and it is harder to press them too hard.

This all applies to hard paved surfaces, without (much) debris. On really steep downhills, rear wheel has even less braking power.

Oh, this is very important, vital: put your weight all the way back before hard braking (if possible, if not then during), and hold elbows bent, arms loose. Make sure to keep a nice loose hold on the bars. Firm so you don't fly over the bars, or let your body move forward, putting too much weight on the front, but still not a death grip, locking one. Your arms and legs should work as shock absorbers. Locking your elbows, or holding too tight will make front wheel skid much earlier, or make you fly over the bars.

Practice panic stops. Place markers, find a free part of pavement and practice. At different speeds. It is worht it. See how bicycle behaves at greater speeds.
Bike Gremlin is offline  
Old 09-14-14, 04:39 AM
  #7  
carpediemracing 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Tariffville, CT
Posts: 15,258

Bikes: Tsunami Bikes

Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 332 Post(s)
Liked 95 Times in 53 Posts
This post has some good info:
How to Brake on a Bicycle | Off The Beaten Path
__________________
"...during the Lance years, being fit became the No. 1 thing. Totally the only thing. It’s a big part of what we do, but fitness is not the only thing. There’s skills, there’s tactics … there’s all kinds of stuff..." Tim Johnson
carpediemracing is offline  
Old 09-14-14, 09:06 AM
  #8  
bubbagrannygear
just ride
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Philadelphia
Posts: 375

Bikes: specialized roubaix, dawes sst ( steel single speed)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 5 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
So there you have it: use just the front, use both at the same time, alternate between the front and back and apply the back first then the front. This is why some of my favorite threads are the ones where people come to the 41 for medical advice.

I will say that when I have panic stopped in the past instinct just took over and I squeezed both at the same time. In both cases the rear wheel did skid and I did somehow stay upright. Each of them was to avoid a left hook.

Last edited by bubbagrannygear; 09-14-14 at 09:34 AM.
bubbagrannygear is offline  
Old 09-17-14, 09:14 PM
  #9  
abriasffxi
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2014
Posts: 8
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by calyco View Post
How do you brake on downhill and flat ground? Occasionally I have been hitting like 35-45mph and thinking about it. Normally, if I need to stop fast I would squeeze the front brake for about 3 seconds, push back and put my weight on the saddle then squeeze the rear brake (while still on the front). I would hold both brakes for like 3-5 seconds and avoid obstacle or let go of just the front brake, then trail to a stop with the rear brake. If at like 15mph/cruising I do opposite, rear brake first for 3 seconds and then front brake if necessary. Its not a technique for me, just basically natural reflex.
Lots of strange things being said in this thread. Here's the real deal.

Primary braking force limitation is maintaining static friction in the tires (IE, not locking them up). Hence, anti-lock brakes. So, the number 1 goal of top tier braking is to apply the most force possible without locking up the tires.

Our focus will then be on weight distribution. Why? Because the amount of braking force you can apply is before locking up the wheel is going to be related to the NORMAL force on the tire. Normal force is important, because that means gravity works differently based on the incline you are on. In any case, the balance of front/rear braking force should match the weight distribution as closely as possible.

So, let's do a few different scenarios. Going on a flat road at 25mph. Without doing the math, I'd guess at least 90%+ of the braking force is going to come from the front brakes. As a trick, you can apply slight pressure to the rear- when you feel the rear brakes begin to lock or slide, you know you need to back off the front because your rear is beginning to lift. As the next trick, it's always best to sit UP and BACK as far as possible- this not only keeps the weight distribution as even as possible, but it also creates significant drag force which provides significant deceleration and moves the effective moment even further back. Final trick, as mentioned above, is to "set" yourself and your bike into a rear-weight position by applying the rear brake instantly before applying the front. This is less important in bikes, because there is no suspension. In cars, not only is it important for braking, but in every corner great drives will "set" their car.

Next situation, going at a 15% decline at significant speed. This is more difficult, because the room for error is very small. That's because as the normal angle deviates from straight down, the role gravity plays reduces exponentially. So, if your rear tire comes up an extra 10 degrees, it will require an extensively larger correction than if the rear wheel comes up 10 degrees on a flat road.

TL;DR: Primary braking is almost always the front brake, but you should apply both, pressure the front hard, and "feel" with the rear. Be careful on declines.

Last edited by abriasffxi; 09-17-14 at 09:19 PM.
abriasffxi is offline  
Old 09-17-14, 09:27 PM
  #10  
Dave Cutter
Senior Member
 
Dave Cutter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: D'uh... I am a Cutter
Posts: 6,160

Bikes: '17 Access Old Turnpike Gravel bike, '14 Trek 1.1, '13 Cannondale CAAD 10, '98 CAD 2, R300

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1571 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 8 Posts

There is one decent/hill I ride from time-to-time that is just way too steep for me to feel comfortable using the front brake. On this hill... I slide back behind the saddle, unclip one foot, and brake with only the rear brake.
Dave Cutter is offline  
Old 09-19-14, 10:59 AM
  #11  
Orion12521
Senior Member
 
Orion12521's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2009
Posts: 130
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 3 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 4 Times in 2 Posts
I don't understand the abject fear of going over the bars if using the front brake. Braking isn't a binary trigger. There are infinite possibilities between "on" and "off". I use the front brake for all stops. By using the front brake for everything, I know what the limits of braking are relative to traction and/or ending. In an emergency, I can supplement using the rear brake, knowing that even if I grab way too much rear brake, it isn't going to compromise me. In these stops, 90% of my attention is on the front brake. If a wheel stats to skid, I ease or the brake until it starts rolling again. For maximum braking force you keep the wheel you are braking with on the verge of skidding.

Last edited by Orion12521; 09-19-14 at 11:06 AM.
Orion12521 is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 12:38 PM
  #12  
chasm54
Banned.
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Uncertain
Posts: 8,651
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by JameB View Post
Always both brakes at the same time unless on an extremely steep hill. If going on an extreme down hill, apply rear first then front after 0.5 to 1 seconds; and vice versa...

I never apply front brakes first if I'm doing anything over 15 km/h. Don't want to flip over.
You have no idea what you're doing.
chasm54 is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 02:00 PM
  #13  
JonnyV
Senior Member
 
JonnyV's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Bellwood, Pa
Posts: 1,677

Bikes: 2012 Fuji Altamira 1.0. 2017 Lynskey R250

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 18 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 14 Times in 5 Posts
Take up mountain biking, you'll learn real quick the proper way to brake.
JonnyV is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 02:05 PM
  #14  
Homebrew01
Super Moderator
 
Homebrew01's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Ffld Cnty Connecticut
Posts: 21,654

Bikes: Old Steelies I made, Old Cannondales

Mentioned: 10 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1068 Post(s)
Liked 496 Times in 359 Posts
Front brake for stopping or aggressive slowing.
Rear for general slowing. The rear would feel left out if I never used it.
__________________
Bikes: Old steel race bikes, old Cannondale race bikes, less old Cannondale race bike, crappy old mtn bike.

FYI: https://www.bikeforums.net/forum-sugg...ad-please.html
Homebrew01 is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 02:12 PM
  #15  
chasm54
Banned.
 
Join Date: May 2010
Location: Uncertain
Posts: 8,651
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
Originally Posted by Homebrew01 View Post
Front brake for stopping or aggressive slowing.
Rear for general slowing. The rear would feel left out if I never used it.
Yeah, well, I use it too, sometimes, even though I know that most of the time there's no point.
chasm54 is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 02:35 PM
  #16  
Iggz79
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 35
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
You can use more breaking power without flipping over on steep descents if you stretch your arms and back pushing your arse back onto your saddle to counterweight the major stopping force created by your front brake. Rear brake does almost fukk all on steep, fast descents in terms of killing initial momentum. Its mainly for balance purposes . Try braking with your rear only and you ll notice that you will lose speed faster from drifting with your rear tyre rather than from rear braking power without locking up your rear tyre !! If we had ABS systems for bikes we wouldnt have this issue.
Iggz79 is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 03:03 PM
  #17  
EvilWeasel
Senior Member
 
EvilWeasel's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2014
Location: Ft. Lauderdale
Posts: 269

Bikes: Trekalized 7.Sequoia Elite+

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
I still use the same technique i used when racing motorcycles. Both brakes at the same time, increase pressure on front brake while feeling things like weight transfer and available traction. Once all the weight is on the nose you can ease up on the back brake.

Never stab at the brakes suddenly.
EvilWeasel is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 06:40 PM
  #18  
UnfilteredDregs
Senior Member
 
UnfilteredDregs's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2013
Location: NYC, duh Bronx.
Posts: 3,578

Bikes: Salsa Ti Warbird- 2014/ November RAIL52s

Mentioned: 9 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 67 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 1 Time in 1 Post
I'd say the most important thing is knowing you have enough room to stop.
UnfilteredDregs is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 07:27 PM
  #19  
fureshi
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 76
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Dave Cutter View Post

There is one decent/hill I ride from time-to-time that is just way too steep for me to feel comfortable using the front brake. On this hill... I slide back behind the saddle, unclip one foot, and brake with only the rear brake.
Why unclip one foot? It seems like that would make you more unstable as you're not able to put as much force on that foot in a turn, which would help to balance the bike, when that foot is on the outside.

I always brake with both front and rear at the same time and modulate as necessary. As someone else has mentioned, it's not binary and you can always modulate as necessary to increase or lessen the front's grip. I also will drag the rear brakes at times to help control speed.
fureshi is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 07:51 PM
  #20  
prorobo
Senior Member
 
prorobo's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2012
Location: CT
Posts: 60
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
prorobo is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 08:09 PM
  #21  
ckFoxTrot
Senior Member
 
ckFoxTrot's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Location: Arizona
Posts: 89

Bikes: Scwinn 754; CAAD 8 5 (61cm)

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Thinking about braking while reading this thread is messing with my head . I guess it's something I just let happen more intuitively and instinctively (not that I'm an expert rider by any means).
ckFoxTrot is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 08:51 PM
  #22  
UmneyDurak
RacingBear
 
UmneyDurak's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2004
Location: NorCal
Posts: 9,018
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 257 Post(s)
Liked 55 Times in 28 Posts
So to Summarize several replies:
1) Don't go stabby, stabby on the brakes. The key is smooth application. This gives a front tire a chance to get loaded, gets squished, and increases contact patch.
2) Shift your weight back. This helps to put more weight over rear tire and allows you to brake more with rear before it skids. Because when you brake with front there is some weight transfer on to it. See 1). Also prevents you from doing a flip over the handle bar.
3) Road bikes don't have suspension, unlike motorcycles. So it is not as critical Front first or rear first, or vice versa. The key is to brake both at maximum without skidding either. Assuming this is emergency braking situation.
4) Road conditions. They vary. Adjust braking accordingly. If there is gravel, oil, the weird wet stuff on the ground (I live in CA and apparently it doesn't rain here anymore), you want to brake sooner and gentler because of reduced traction.
5) Remember you have the most braking power when the tire is rolling, not when it is skidding. So for safety and maximum braking efficiency you don't want to lock the wheels. Primarily applies to rear wheel. Usually if front skids you are going down. The key is practice. Put on some armor, find empty parking lot and do some low speed drills. Increase speed as necessary, but keep it at or below 15mph.
6) Trail braking vs braking before the turn. Personally I wouldn't do trail braking on a street because really there is no need. The safest way is to do all your braking before the tip in. Because once you are leaned over it competes with cornering forces for traction, and you have less of the latter when you are cornering and lean angle inreases. Now it doesn't mean you can't brake during corner, just be aware that it's much easier to overload your tires and go on your ass. A technique taught to new riders is straighten the bike apply brakes (see 1-4), then tip over. This of course presents couple of problems. One depending on your line choice you might blow double yellow. Also rider might get spooked and stop looking through the corner and continue straight and crash. A more advanced technique is to brake while turning. Again keep in mind that you have reduced amount of traction X, and cornering forces use Y and your braking will use Z if Y + Z > X bad things happen. So this brings me to what is trail braking? The idea is to still be on brakes until apex, but as lean angle increases the braking amount decreases. Because of Y + Z > X and bad stuff happening.
UmneyDurak is offline  
Old 09-20-14, 09:25 PM
  #23  
Dave Cutter
Senior Member
 
Dave Cutter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2013
Location: D'uh... I am a Cutter
Posts: 6,160

Bikes: '17 Access Old Turnpike Gravel bike, '14 Trek 1.1, '13 Cannondale CAAD 10, '98 CAD 2, R300

Mentioned: 62 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1571 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 8 Posts
Originally Posted by fureshi View Post
Why unclip one foot? It seems like that would make you more unstable as you're not able to put as much force on that foot in a turn, which would help to balance the bike, when that foot is on the outside.
There isn't any turns... just a very steep little hill. It would be difficult to handle curves in the off saddle position. Although paved... the road is in sad shape. I slide back to keep the weight over the bicycle and I unclip in case the I have to stop. I don't have any trouble with balance. I could track stand the hill if it was a bit less steep (or riding UP it). But the bumps and steepness makes the decent sketchy... and I always unclip one foot when conditions are sketchy in preparation for a stop.
Dave Cutter is offline  
Related Topics
Thread
Thread Starter
Forum
Replies
Last Post
JA TREK
Mountain Biking
10
05-28-18 06:15 PM
tsappenfield
Triathlon
16
10-16-17 08:36 AM
Colorado Kid
Singlespeed & Fixed Gear
2
04-25-14 09:51 PM
earthworm94
Commuting
59
04-04-12 12:57 PM
kjc9640
Fifty Plus (50+)
41
12-14-09 08:31 PM

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright © 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.