Braking tips

The foundations for successful riding

Braking tips

Postby ICU812 » Mon Mar 09, 2009 8:55 pm

I live in Bathurst, reasonably hilly terrain. I also have a new road bike and am getting used to it. I get very nervous about going down hills, especially around town and areas of increased traffic. I am now braking constantly going down the hill, slowing me down considerably till I get to the end. I find this uncomfortable as I'm not used to the road bike brakes and my small hands make it awkward too. Other alternative is to go faster and brake harder down the hill - risk going head over turkey or running into cars. Is gently braking down the hill going to chew through my brake pads?Probably. Anyone got any good ideas for braking downhill and hints for very small hands ( I have a women's specific bike)
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by BNA » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:09 pm

BNA
 

Postby Nobody » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:09 pm

The below link should help:
http://sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

If you haven't tried emergency braking yet, try it from the hoods (where you'll be most of the time). You may find it difficult to get the rear wheel light (maximum braking) without some practice.
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Postby Alex Simmons/RST » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:09 pm

Well apart from working on improving your descending skills so that you don't need to brake as often, then the one thing you might consider is looking at where on the bars the levers are placed. If they are on the wrong part of the bend, it can make the brake lever reach much further than it needs to be.
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Postby sogood » Mon Mar 09, 2009 9:16 pm

I understand that Shimano has shims that can bring the brake levers closer to the bar. It would make life a little easier for those with smaller hands.

My philosophy is that, it's better to descend slower than taking a tumble. And never follow others down a descent at their speed. Always make your own judgement that matches your ability.
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Postby CoffsGal » Tue Mar 10, 2009 5:59 pm

I try not to use the brakes...I find they slow you down...

Sorry, couldn't resist... :)
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Postby Bnej » Tue Mar 10, 2009 7:52 pm

Hi ICU, I'm going to give you some suggestions but you will have to practice too. Believe it or not, braking constantly down hill is dangerous too, I have seen an accident resulting from this technique.

Two bad things can happen:

- You can overheat your rims and burst your tube, especially if you run too high pressure (up near the limit of the tyre). This really happens on long descents.

- You can cramp your hands and lose steerage & braking control. This I have seen happen, and resulted in a crash - not bad, but could have been if she'd picked up more speed.

Find a nice clear hill with a bit of space and low/no traffic, start practising. You need to get the confidence that if you let your speed run up, you can bring it back down & still corner safely using the brakes.

Get onto the drops to get better leverage on your brakes. If you aren't used to this you'll need to practice on the flat. If it's a stretch to reach you may need to adjust the reach as sogood suggested. This will also shift your weight forward and give you more traction on the front wheel in corners - but you will need to get used to how the bike reacts when you brake hard in this position.

Start by pulling the brake on a bit, then smoothly increase the force until you are slowing down enough. If you feel skidding or the rear wheel lifting release the brakes, then reapply once you are back in control.

You are *not* going to flick yourself over the front wheel unless you grab a handful of brake far too quickly without being prepared for the response of the bike.

Rather than dragging a bit constantly, you want to let your speed run up, then bring it down, and repeat that process. Once you are used to doing this, you will see that you are in control of your speed, and the bike won't run away unless you let it.

This will all take time practice and care to get used to. Start by short braking intervals instead of dragging the brakes, then you can start letting it go more as you get more confidant in bringing your speed back.

I hope that helps, it's a harder thing to get used to than you expect!
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Postby ICU812 » Tue Mar 10, 2009 8:40 pm

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Bnej
Some of the things you describe I was actually starting to do naturally. Getting my hands on the drops I discovered by accident, felt better and far less exhausting than on top. My hands are only 15cm long - it was a real stretch with hands on top and hurt my thumb as a result. I haven't gone on the drops because I thought that wasn't what you are supposed to do, nor did I see anyone do it. I do need to practice this because I feel a bit more unstable on the drops. I'm still learning how to ride my bike properly especially gears - very different from my flatbar.
It is hard to know what to do if nobody tells you how. I now ask and ask again.
Thank you for your advise, it was clear and concise.
Regards, Sam



Bnej wrote:Find a nice clear hill with a bit of space and low/no traffic, start practising. You need to get the confidence that if you let your speed run up, you can bring it back down & still corner safely using the brakes.

Get onto the drops to get better leverage on your brakes. If you aren't used to this you'll need to practice on the flat. If it's a stretch to reach you may need to adjust the reach as sogood suggested. This will also shift your weight forward and give you more traction on the front wheel in corners - but you will need to get used to how the bike reacts when you brake hard in this position.

Start by pulling the brake on a bit, then smoothly increase the force until you are slowing down enough. If you feel skidding or the rear wheel lifting release the brakes, then reapply once you are back in control.

You are *not* going to flick yourself over the front wheel unless you grab a handful of brake far too quickly without being prepared for the response of the bike.

Rather than dragging a bit constantly, you want to let your speed run up, then bring it down, and repeat that process. Once you are used to doing this, you will see that you are in control of your speed, and the bike won't run away unless you let it.

This will all take time practice and care to get used to. Start by short braking intervals instead of dragging the brakes, then you can start letting it go more as you get more confidant in bringing your speed back.

I hope that helps, it's a harder thing to get used to than you expect!
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2005 Giant CRX3
Mac x 3, Subaru, Volvo 240R
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