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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As I've started riding significantly faster, slowing down has become an issue. I have typically used my rear brake for slowing my speed into a corner and to maintain speed on downhills, then using the front if the rear tire locks or I need to slow more quickly.

Riding motorcycles on the street I use the front brake almost exclusively, as it is much more powerful in design and due to weight shift, but this is with great traction and the front tire never leaving the ground under braking. I am a bit "gun shy" of using a lot of front brake in the dirt due to washing the front end out and crashing, as well as having gone OTB when the front tire has come off the ground and then landed again under braking.

I weigh 155 and have Formula K24 brakes with Specialized Butcher/Captain tires, so the braking power and front grip should be sufficient. Are you guys typically applying both brakes simultaneously and learning to let off the front whenever the tire comes off the ground? Any input on the amount of front and rear brakes you use in certain situations is appreciated.
 

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Front brake is for stopping. Rear brake is for control.

But I use both of them all the time, just different pressures on different sides at different times and constantly changing.
 

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My brain thinks it is using both evenly. However, it is more likely as Rock said above and constantly adjusting pull on both as speed/terrain dictates without even thinking about it.
 

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As stated use your front to slow you down, and the rear for fine tune control adjustments. When you apply significant front brake, drop your hips and heels to get that sucker to bite.

Coming into a corner, you need to judge your proper speed, locate a section of trail for braking, apply front brake and minimal rear brake to scrub speed before entering the corner. Once you are in the corner, you shouldn't need to brake at all, maybe a little rear to influence the rear.
 

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If you are trying to go fast, then use both brakes - quick on, quick off. Avoid dragging brakes through the corners.
Adjustments will need to be made based on traction. If you have traction up front, use it to brake as hard as you are able in the shortest amount of time so you can get back to turning.
I can think of a few times, on hard but fast turns (if I'm doing it right - at least it feels right) that I am braking hard with both brakes until the bike has to turn. I start letting go of the front as it enters the turn while still on the rear. As the bike leans over, braking is reduced to zero so that maximum cornering traction is available. It happens in an instant, but there is def. a conscious effort to be done braking before I have to turn. It's one of those things that I can do right about 40% of the time.

-F
 

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As I've started riding significantly faster, slowing down has become an issue. I have typically used my rear brake for slowing my speed into a corner and to maintain speed on downhills, then using the front if the rear tire locks or I need to slow more quickly.

Riding motorcycles on the street I use the front brake almost exclusively, as it is much more powerful in design and due to weight shift, but this is with great traction and the front tire never leaving the ground under braking. I am a bit "gun shy" of using a lot of front brake in the dirt due to washing the front end out and crashing, as well as having gone OTB when the front tire has come off the ground and then landed again under braking.

I weigh 155 and have Formula K24 brakes with Specialized Butcher/Captain tires, so the braking power and front grip should be sufficient. Are you guys typically applying both brakes simultaneously and learning to let off the front whenever the tire comes off the ground? Any input on the amount of front and rear brakes you use in certain situations is appreciated.
It is really little different than your moto.
You NEED the front to brake effectively. Use both brakes and use the front hard. When the rear loses grip let off the front for a moment.
Do your heavy braking in a straight line before the corner. Reduces the chance of washing out, and a wheel being braked wants to continue in a straight line rather than turn--just like a moto.
You can do a bit a trail braking with the rear for control, but it does not really slow you much.
 

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Fart smeller
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John Tomac said this many years ago and I've followed it ever since- one finger on the front brake lever, two on the rear. Helps you modulate your power.
 

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Before modern brakes this made sense. But two fingers on a typical mid/high end rear brake these days will lock it up a little too much I think.
 

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You want to go faster. Try to brake less, brake sooner than you think you need to and harder (brake bumps are from people braking too late).

Find the trail flow, look for the rocks, bumps, and channels that make mini-berms that are naturally just there.

When I ride with people that don't DH, they over brake into turns and while on undulating trail and end up scrubbing too much speed. Focus on pulling the stem toward your belt in turns, riding off the back means the front isn't planted and you're not in control.

Keep the front tire planted, if the back goes out, no biggie, it will track the front. Modern geometry favors a more front-centre riding style, right on the front of the saddle vs. off the back... check out the Pinkbike Picture of the days and those dude's body position in turns (berms or not).

Take your time practicing the above, you'll get way more speed out of the bike/trail than you thought possible, and pedal less.

Also, look down the trail off your tire, lots of people ride the line too close to the front tire and end up with limited line choices. Easy way to practice is find a parking lot with long lines, ride those lines and look as far ahead as you can. Then try similar on a non-techy part of the trail. Once you get comfortable with speed and looking 20-30' off the front, you'll be able to sequence the trail in tech and make sure you don't over brake or brake late.

Brake less. Find the flow.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks guys, I will work on using both brakes simultaneously instead of waiting until I need the other one. I do try to brake minimally on trails I'm familiar with, and am working on letting the berms "catch me" and trusting it to carry more speed through corners. I do keep my weight over the bars and look through the exit of the corner, as it helps with control and allows a faster pace.

I tend to drag the rear brake though the flat, very tight (6'-8' radius, 180 degree) corners to help turn the bike. I don't seem to be able to turn the bars far enough, quickly enough, to be able to go through them at higher speeds, and end up drifting wide, having to wrench the bars to keep from running off the trail. I am familiar with late apexing, but it often doesn't seem possible with how narrow the trails are, and they aren't quite fast enough to lock up the rear and let it slide out. Do I need to lean over more into the corner in addition to turning the bars? I have a feeling more body English is key, "snapping" the bike though the corner. I know stem length affects turning speed, my hardtail came with an 80mm stem and I'm running a 65 on it now with 720mm bars, and my SS came with a 120 and I'm down to an 80 on it with 685mm bars, the ergos on both feel perfect.
 

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Yep, fingers on both levers whenever going downhill. How hard I pull each level depends on what is going on.
 

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Aloha,

You ask a very good question. I say it depends and varies a lot based on conditions. This would be speed, steepness and what kind of trail and most importantly, where your body position is. Though she's not going very fast this video does illustrate why where your weight position (C/G) can have an affect on your braking.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52x5Z9meapQ&feature=share

Good luck with that. Experiment in the parking lot. Flat, accelerate and grab the brake see what happens with your weight in different positions. Go up hill, do same and go down hill and do same (all in parking lot or grassy area). You'll get a great feel for braking with body position.
 

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I also ride a motorcycle but haven't really had any trouble going from street bike to dirt. I use both brakes all the time but probably favor the front a little more simply because it is more effective. I don't even have any trouble with the fact that the left hand controls the front brake on a bicycle and the right hand controls the front brake on a motorcycle.
 

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As much front brake as your weight/tires can handle

as 140lb, 26x2.2 racing ralph, 20psi rider, 95% front brake for me. My rear brake is for sliding my backside around switch backs.
 
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I use heavy back brake when I want to break the rear end loose or lower the nose on a wheelie or set the front tire for a sharp turn. I use entirely front brake when I want to face plant. I use a 70/30 mix for rapid braking, never in corners and don't adjust much when my butt's over the rear tire. BTW, I was joking about the face plant Hawg.
 

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Front brake is for stopping. Rear brake is for control. .
Sounds about right. I was slowly decending a steepish rocky fire road with little ledges and i must have just touched too much front because over i went really quick and it hurt, so now my plan is seat down, but back and more rear brake for this type of thing.
 
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