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Bike Braking Question
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In my race this past weekend, there was a hard turn that I went into a little too fast so I had to brake hard. When I did, my rear tire swerved back and forth. I maintained control and didn't wreck.

This also happened earlier this year in a race but that time I chalked it up to the rain since it was raining. I was going much slower at that race and still the rear wheel slipped when I braked. I was also surprised in that race of the others who were riding much faster and seemingly not slipping.

My rear tire probably has less than 150 miles on it and does not look worn.

Do I suck at riding? Do this happen to everyone and I'm being over sensitive?
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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Were you also using the front brake?
Last edited by: jimatbeyond: Sep 12, 17 18:39
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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DJRed wrote:
In my race this past weekend, there was a hard turn that I went into a little too fast so I had to brake hard. When I did, my rear tire swerved back and forth. I maintained control and didn't wreck.

This also happened earlier this year in a race but that time I chalked it up to the rain since it was raining. I was going much slower at that race and still the rear wheel slipped when I braked. I was also surprised in that race of the others who were riding much faster and seemingly not slipping.

My rear tire probably has less than 150 miles on it and does not look worn.

Do I suck at riding? Do this happen to everyone and I'm being over sensitive?

Yes, you suck at riding.

Under panic / maximal braking, shift your weight rearward. That keeps the back wheel down, and maibtains traction. But most of your braking power comes from the front brake, as that wheel is more heavily loaded. It's also the one that if you lock up, bad things happen, so practice.

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Re: Bike Braking Question [jimatbeyond] [ In reply to ]
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jimatbeyond wrote:
Were you also using the front brake?

I was not. The front brake scares me.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [JasoninHalifax] [ In reply to ]
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JasoninHalifax wrote:
DJRed wrote:
In my race this past weekend, there was a hard turn that I went into a little too fast so I had to brake hard. When I did, my rear tire swerved back and forth. I maintained control and didn't wreck.

This also happened earlier this year in a race but that time I chalked it up to the rain since it was raining. I was going much slower at that race and still the rear wheel slipped when I braked. I was also surprised in that race of the others who were riding much faster and seemingly not slipping.

My rear tire probably has less than 150 miles on it and does not look worn.

Do I suck at riding? Do this happen to everyone and I'm being over sensitive?


Yes, you suck at riding.

Under panic / maximal braking, shift your weight rearward. That keeps the back wheel down, and maibtains traction. But most of your braking power comes from the front brake, as that wheel is more heavily loaded. It's also the one that if you lock up, bad things happen, so practice.

Good to know. Thanks for the tips.

Suck at swimming. Check.

Suck at biking. Check.

Sounds like I just need to suck more at running so I can really embrace this triathlon thing.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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This would be your problem. Your front brake is where most of the braking force comes from. Don't be afraid of the front brake, it's not going to do anything bad. If you're afraid of being thrown over the handlebars, that's really not something that happens.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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DJRed wrote:
jimatbeyond wrote:
Were you also using the front brake?


I was not. The front brake scares me.
There's your problem.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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DJRed wrote:
The front brake scares me.

You might suck a little. At the least, you're probably AOB (adult onset biker), correct?

The front brake is scary only if you use it exclusively. Which you never really should do. I'd say 60/40 when braking. Use both levers simultaneously but apply 60% squeeze on the front. If you have to stop quicker, --> 60% to the back. Really quick, maybe 70% rear.

If you use the front only, you could go over the bars. But if you use rear only, you'll lock up the back. The back is prone to locking up even at slowish speeds.

As mentioned, scoot back on the saddle when braking hard, to weight the rear wheel. Body weight back will prevent rear wheel from locking up so early. My $.02.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [imswimmer328] [ In reply to ]
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its a balance. Ive thrown myself over the bars, go to a big park/grass field. Get aggressive and play with your brakes and gain some confidence with them.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [spookini] [ In reply to ]
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spookini wrote:
DJRed wrote:
The front brake scares me.

You might suck a little. At the least, you're probably AOB (adult onset biker), correct?

The front brake is scary only if you use it exclusively. Which you never really should do. I'd say 60/40 when braking. Use both levers simultaneously but apply 60% squeeze on the front. If you have to stop quicker, --> 60% to the back. Really quick, maybe 70% rear.

If you use the front only, you could go over the bars. But if you use rear only, you'll lock up the back. The back is prone to locking up even at slowish speeds.

As mentioned, scoot back on the saddle when braking hard, to weight the rear wheel. Body weight back will prevent rear wheel from locking up so early. My $.02.

I'm worse than an AOB. I'm an AOB who does 100% of my training on a KK. I have probably only ridden about 800 miles outside and 500 of that is in races over 6 years or so, with most of the outside training in 2014. I've gotten away with it because almost all my races are flat out-and-backs or flat loops. This race was a new one for me and it wasn't flat or straight.

I guess what I described is what you are calling locking up. It's an awful feeling.

Thanks for the tips. I'll work on it for next year.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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get a mountain bike and do some singletrack riding.

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Re: Bike Braking Question [imswimmer328] [ In reply to ]
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I have ridden thousands of miles on my bike. Very comfortable on it but know when to respect the situation. At least I thought I did. Routine stop at a stop light a month or so ago and I hit my front brake and my rear must not have engaged. Felt DA4 and the rear brake is a major PIA. Went right over the front and was slammed on the ground pretty hard. Still recovering from two compression fractures in my spine. Don't be afraid of the brakes and this was likely a fluke deal but respect the brakes. Routinely check them and make sure they are adjusted and functioning appropriately.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [Tri0014] [ In reply to ]
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Holy hell. I'm sorry to hear that and I hope your recovery goes well. I guess I should stand corrected, it does happen to go OTB like that. It's just relatively difficult to do. I guess it helps that I have an old P2 and under most circumstances both the front and the rear brakes are a little lackluster. For the OP, as mentioned above if you learn a little mountain biking that will make a huge difference. I used to be an absolutely atrocious bike handler, but after a little single track I improved massively.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [spookini] [ In reply to ]
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spookini wrote:
DJRed wrote:
The front brake scares me.

You might suck a little. At the least, you're probably AOB (adult onset biker), correct?

The front brake is scary only if you use it exclusively. Which you never really should do. I'd say 60/40 when braking. Use both levers simultaneously but apply 60% squeeze on the front. If you have to stop quicker, --> 60% to the back. Really quick, maybe 70% rear.

If you use the front only, you could go over the bars. But if you use rear only, you'll lock up the back. The back is prone to locking up even at slowish speeds.

As mentioned, scoot back on the saddle when braking hard, to weight the rear wheel. Body weight back will prevent rear wheel from locking up so early. My $.02.
You've got that backwards. In a hard stop you use 100% front brake. Ideally, there will be no weight on the back tire. That's why it skids if you're using both brakes. All your weight transfers onto the front wheel even if you push your ass behind the saddle.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [gregf83] [ In reply to ]
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gregf83 wrote:
spookini wrote:
DJRed wrote:
The front brake scares me.


You might suck a little. At the least, you're probably AOB (adult onset biker), correct?

The front brake is scary only if you use it exclusively. Which you never really should do. I'd say 60/40 when braking. Use both levers simultaneously but apply 60% squeeze on the front. If you have to stop quicker, --> 60% to the back. Really quick, maybe 70% rear.

If you use the front only, you could go over the bars. But if you use rear only, you'll lock up the back. The back is prone to locking up even at slowish speeds.

As mentioned, scoot back on the saddle when braking hard, to weight the rear wheel. Body weight back will prevent rear wheel from locking up so early. My $.02.
You've got that backwards. In a hard stop you use 100% front brake. Ideally, there will be no weight on the back tire. That's why it skids if you're using both brakes. All your weight transfers onto the front wheel even if you push your ass behind the saddle.

Was just about to chime in and say the same thing, totally backwards! As always, Sheldon Brown explains it all nicely - https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

Regarding going over the handlebars as other posters have mentioned, in 20+ years of cycling I've only ever seen it happen on steepish descents and/or in collisions. Never seen it happen on a flat road purely as a result of braking force, doesn't mean it's not possible but I think it's pretty hard to do. I've certainly done my fair share of emergency stops and had the rear wheel start to lift enough times but never felt in danger of going over the top.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [gregf83] [ In reply to ]
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gregf83 wrote:
spookini wrote:
DJRed wrote:
The front brake scares me.


You might suck a little. At the least, you're probably AOB (adult onset biker), correct?

The front brake is scary only if you use it exclusively. Which you never really should do. I'd say 60/40 when braking. Use both levers simultaneously but apply 60% squeeze on the front. If you have to stop quicker, --> 60% to the back. Really quick, maybe 70% rear.

If you use the front only, you could go over the bars. But if you use rear only, you'll lock up the back. The back is prone to locking up even at slowish speeds.

As mentioned, scoot back on the saddle when braking hard, to weight the rear wheel. Body weight back will prevent rear wheel from locking up so early. My $.02.
You've got that backwards. In a hard stop you use 100% front brake. Ideally, there will be no weight on the back tire. That's why it skids if you're using both brakes. All your weight transfers onto the front wheel even if you push your ass behind the saddle.

This. I use my front brake exactly 100% of the time, and rear brake exactly 0% of the time. Never had an issue with going over the bars, but I don't find myself in emergency braking conditions except very rarely. Try to pay better attention to what's going on around you.

Another reason people who plan on racing shouldn't ride exclusively indoors...

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Re: Bike Braking Question [gregf83] [ In reply to ]
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gregf83 wrote:
spookini wrote:
DJRed wrote:
The front brake scares me.


You might suck a little. At the least, you're probably AOB (adult onset biker), correct?

The front brake is scary only if you use it exclusively. Which you never really should do. I'd say 60/40 when braking. Use both levers simultaneously but apply 60% squeeze on the front. If you have to stop quicker, --> 60% to the back. Really quick, maybe 70% rear.

If you use the front only, you could go over the bars. But if you use rear only, you'll lock up the back. The back is prone to locking up even at slowish speeds.

As mentioned, scoot back on the saddle when braking hard, to weight the rear wheel. Body weight back will prevent rear wheel from locking up so early. My $.02.
You've got that backwards. In a hard stop you use 100% front brake. Ideally, there will be no weight on the back tire. That's why it skids if you're using both brakes. All your weight transfers onto the front wheel even if you push your ass behind the saddle.
THIS.

Too many people don't understand how the bike handles, or practice bike handling. That practice can be formal - in the case of braking, taking the bike out and practicing hard braking, and even practicing skidding the rear wheel (on dirt is a good way to do this). And/or riding in a loose and fun way, such as road biking on dirt, doing mountain biking, etc.


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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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I recall going over the bars of a friend's bike the first time I ride a bike with front brakes when I was like 7, so I know it's possible. I still remember my parents explaining what happened. Funny how certain memories stick with you. So when I'm riding 20 MPH, it's certainly in the back of my mind.

But after 3.5 years of road riding, I'm confident to use 100% front brake. Never once felt the rear wheel lift up. And after feeling the difference in stopping capability, I'd feel unsafe riding without relying on a front brake.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [gregf83] [ In reply to ]
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gregf83 wrote:
You've got that backwards. In a hard stop you use 100% front brake. Ideally, there will be no weight on the back tire. That's why it skids if you're using both brakes. All your weight transfers onto the front wheel even if you push your ass behind the saddle. .

This is correct. The back tire looses contact and pressure with the road under hard braking. The harder you brake in the front the more weight is transferred to the front wheel and the stopping power increases on the front wheel.

I've done a lot of road racing - no one uses the back brake unless they are bleeding velocity over a long distance for some reason. If you are stopping you use the front brake.

In my 40 plus years of racing bicycles I don't remember ever replacing the back pads. Now that my racing road bike has disc brakes that goes double. I'm not even sure the back brake on that bike works.

"...the street finds its own uses for things"
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Re: Bike Braking Question [cartsman] [ In reply to ]
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cartsman wrote:

Was just about to chime in and say the same thing, totally backwards! As always, Sheldon Brown explains it all nicely - https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

Regarding going over the handlebars as other posters have mentioned, in 20+ years of cycling I've only ever seen it happen on steepish descents and/or in collisions. Never seen it happen on a flat road purely as a result of braking force, doesn't mean it's not possible but I think it's pretty hard to do. I've certainly done my fair share of emergency stops and had the rear wheel start to lift enough times but never felt in danger of going over the top.
Well.. I usually apply a 60/40 or 70/30 front-back when braking. On saturday a car came out of a private road while I was on a combined pedestrian and bike path. I braked like I always do, when I realized that wasn't enough I pushed both in and over the front I went - head and shoulder first into the side of the car.. So yeah, it's easy to go over the front when applying pressure to the front brake! You just have sucky brakes if you don't go over..
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Re: Bike Braking Question [hhetland] [ In reply to ]
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hhetland wrote:
cartsman wrote:

Was just about to chime in and say the same thing, totally backwards! As always, Sheldon Brown explains it all nicely - https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html

Regarding going over the handlebars as other posters have mentioned, in 20+ years of cycling I've only ever seen it happen on steepish descents and/or in collisions. Never seen it happen on a flat road purely as a result of braking force, doesn't mean it's not possible but I think it's pretty hard to do. I've certainly done my fair share of emergency stops and had the rear wheel start to lift enough times but never felt in danger of going over the top.
Well.. I usually apply a 60/40 or 70/30 front-back when braking. On saturday a car came out of a private road while I was on a combined pedestrian and bike path. I braked like I always do, when I realized that wasn't enough I pushed both in and over the front I went - head and shoulder first into the side of the car.. So yeah, it's easy to go over the front when applying pressure to the front brake! You just have sucky brakes if you don't go over..
Or poor technique. Every day I commute over a bridge and have to slow from 55kph to 20kph at either end. I don't need to brake hard as I have lots of time but I often straighten my arms, push my ass back behind the saddle and apply full front brake to slow as quickly as possible. If you don't practice once in a while it won't be an instinctual response when you need it.

On the other hand, I don't recall having to make a true panic stop in the last 10 years.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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DJRed wrote:
JasoninHalifax wrote:
DJRed wrote:
In my race this past weekend, there was a hard turn that I went into a little too fast so I had to brake hard. When I did, my rear tire swerved back and forth. I maintained control and didn't wreck.

This also happened earlier this year in a race but that time I chalked it up to the rain since it was raining. I was going much slower at that race and still the rear wheel slipped when I braked. I was also surprised in that race of the others who were riding much faster and seemingly not slipping.

My rear tire probably has less than 150 miles on it and does not look worn.

Do I suck at riding? Do this happen to everyone and I'm being over sensitive?


Yes, you suck at riding.

Under panic / maximal braking, shift your weight rearward. That keeps the back wheel down, and maibtains traction. But most of your braking power comes from the front brake, as that wheel is more heavily loaded. It's also the one that if you lock up, bad things happen, so practice.

Good to know. Thanks for the tips.

Suck at swimming. Check.

Suck at biking. Check.

Sounds like I just need to suck more at running so I can really embrace this triathlon thing.

If you're a triathlete, it's almost a given that you already suck at running too.

Otherwise, you'd be posting on LetsRun.


float , hammer , and jog

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Re: Bike Braking Question [hhetland] [ In reply to ]
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Nothing wrong with my brakes, run Swisstop pads on all my bikes, adjust brakes and clean my rims regularly. I have enough stopping power to get the rear wheel off the ground, but bracing my arms and getting my weight back stops it going any further than that. I commute about 4000 miles a year into central London, so believe me I have to make plenty of emergency stops!
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Re: Bike Braking Question [KG6] [ In reply to ]
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KG6 wrote:
I recall going over the bars of a friend's bike the first time I ride a bike with front brakes when I was like 7, so I know it's possible. I still remember my parents explaining what happened. Funny how certain memories stick with you. So when I'm riding 20 MPH, it's certainly in the back of my mind.

But after 3.5 years of road riding, I'm confident to use 100% front brake. Never once felt the rear wheel lift up. And after feeling the difference in stopping capability, I'd feel unsafe riding without relying on a front brake.

I've gone over the front a few times as an adult, exclusively while mountain biking. As a kid, I went over the front countless times while trying to do endos/stoppies.
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Re: Bike Braking Question [DJRed] [ In reply to ]
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DJRed wrote:
In my race this past weekend, there was a hard turn that I went into a little too fast so I had to brake hard. When I did, my rear tire swerved back and forth. I maintained control and didn't wreck.

This also happened earlier this year in a race but that time I chalked it up to the rain since it was raining. I was going much slower at that race and still the rear wheel slipped when I braked. I was also surprised in that race of the others who were riding much faster and seemingly not slipping.

My rear tire probably has less than 150 miles on it and does not look worn.

Do I suck at riding? Do this happen to everyone and I'm being over sensitive?

As other people have said, use your front brake more. Personally if I want to modulate my speed in the field (road / crit racing) I use the rear brake (usually but not always while peddling). If I *really* need to stop, I use the front brake (and in your example while going around a bend, straightening up first, it's a bit unnerving as at that point you're headed straight at whatever it is you don't want to hit) and throw my ass backward as hard as I can (same motion as a bike throw for the line, which, granted, is never going to happen in a triathlon). If I'm making a routine stop on normal roads I'll use a combination of both, without the ass backwards bit, unless its a steep downhill.

Like most things, if you don't practice it you won't be very good at it. Either make some time to get off the trainer or plan ahead more when racing (and potentially give some speed away).


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All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. ~Gandalf
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