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Brake Technique

By Buck - Posted on 01 December 2006

NB: Originally posted elsewhere on the Global Riders Network and appears via syndication.

Hi there

Just a quick question about braking technique. I find that I use the rear brake on my bike a lot probably because I'm scared I'll do an endo if I use the front too much.

I read that you stop better if you use your front brake which makes sense as there's more traction as weight is transferred forward.

So question is what technique do you all use? Front, Back or a combination of both?



I think the general consensus is that you should use both equally... which as luck would have it is what I do and feels right.

On a steep descent if you find the rear locks up (you can either hear or feel it) then just relax your grip on it a little of course. If you're hanging off the back of the seat on the steeps then it will be very, very hard to get over the bars so don't worry.

Accepted wisdom seems to be that one finger braking (usually first... unless there's someone you don't like in front!) is the way to go for both front and rear, roughly equally, though with maybe a bit more emphasis on the front.

If you think about the physics/mechanics of it the front brake is much more important as when you brake your weight tends forwards, unweighting the rear wheel and putting more weight on the front wheel. With more weight on the front wheel it's more likely to not skid and stay in solid (rolling) contact with the ground under braking, whereas the back wheel will skid easily and you lose braking traction (just realised you've said that already, doh!).

That's why there's a tendancy these days for bigger disc rotors on the front wheel, since that gives more leverage on the axle and more brake grunt.

All that works fine when you're travelling in a straight line, which is why you should brake most while going straight, if cornering/manoeuvring try and avoid the front brake (and rear brake minimally if at all) so your front wheel doesn't wash out, depending on the terrain.


Thanks Rob and Matt. Yeah I also usually use both but with a definite bias towards the rear. I'll have to give the front bias a go and see what happens. I've been riding Terrey Hills lately so theres no real need for heavy braking there so I probably won't notice too much difference but worth a try!

S!! Nice discussion. We need more of this stuff.

Generally, I try to use the brakes in equal quatities where possible, and adjust my weight forward or back accordingly to provide better distribution as needed. One added bonus of this is that by using equal distribution, you don't wear out one brake pad too quickly. I hate that good brake/bad brake feeling.

On heavy braking for sharp turns in gravel, dirt or sand, I definitely use far more rear brake to avoid an unexpected trip over the bars. Having stacked badly about a year ago, my tolerance for pain is not what is once was. You are always braver when it is a theoretical exercise.

Don't forget, your tyre compound and pressure play a large part in your level of grip and "feel". These affect your ability to brake too, and govern your approach speed into the corners. Sometimes you get it wrong and stack anyway!! Lower inflated tyres grip corners fantastically, and make you turn like a champion. Hard inflated tyres ride large bumps well, and climb hills like a demon. I prefer medium inflated tyres.


Just rode Manly Dam today and gave the front brakes a bit more of a workout. Sure does bring you to a halt much quicker.
Guess an endo is more likely when doing a sudden panic stop or something along those lines?

Either way still lot more practice in all areas required for me! Still quite the amateur!


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