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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After a recent crash that left me with five stitches in my chin, I've discovered that my braking technique could use some help. I read one tip for downhilling that recommended relying mostly on the rear brake and feather pulsing the front brake. What specifically does this mean? I attempted what I thought was "feather pulsing" on a fairly steep and rocky downhill. While I managed to stay on my bike this time, I did not feel like I was in complete control. After the endo, my confidence could use a boost. Any help is appreciated.
 

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"El Whatever"
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It might mean that you squeeze and release the levers lightly several times. Not sure though. Basically this is how ABS brakes work (but they do it like hundreds of time a second) so you block and release the wheel gaining braking and not loosing the wheel under you. I've used it and works but it's not a replacement of a fine modulated braking technique.

Generally, when going thru a nasty or steep section you should rather be out of the brakes. But I would rather work on my finger pressure technique on the lever. Natural reaction to danger is to squeeze levers to death and you gotta avoid it somehow. Practice and a full face helmet would help. In general (believe it or not) safety gear boost your confidence. So practice with full protection and you'll find yourself going thru nasty sections when you ride without gear.
 

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Fix the problem, not the dog

Let's resolve this issue another way: some drills to learn how to use your front brake. If you get your weight far enough back, you can use only your front brake to stop or slow on all but the steepest of hills, and here's how you're gonna learn to do it:

1. Go to a grass sports field it's cool to ride on. Practice stopping from some decent speed with Only the Front Brake. Start with mellow stops, if need be, and move your weight back a little. Brake harder and harder...try to skid the front tire, but compensate by getting your weight back so you don't come up off the ground.

2. After you've gone nuts with hardcore, super hard front braking that didn't cause you to cartwheel like our Mom's would say would happen, you'll have felt the forces wanting to lift you into a nose wheelie. Now, do more braking, but do it so you DO nose wheelie, and then use a slight (this is feathering) release on lever pressure to drop yourself out of the wheelie. Also, since you're on grass: do it so you do flip a few times.

3. Go ride a trail, not including the descent you pitched on, and use only your front brake for the ride.

4. You're done. The next time you ride, you'll have front-braking down pat, and can use the brakes together on any slope. When you start to over-brake, you'll just ease off, just like on the grass.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Am I the Dog?

So applying constant, albeit light, pressure on the front brake on a steep descent is not necessarily a bad thing? I ask because when I wrecked it happened so fast that I don't consciously remember gripping the front brake (not to say it's an impossibility), but the sidewall of my front tire ripped and I had several people speculate that it was because I was using too much front brake.

EBasil said:
Let's resolve this issue another way: some drills to learn how to use your front brake. If you get your weight far enough back, you can use only your front brake to stop or slow on all but the steepest of hills, and here's how you're gonna learn to do it:

1. Go to a grass sports field it's cool to ride on. Practice stopping from some decent speed with Only the Front Brake. Start with mellow stops, if need be, and move your weight back a little. Brake harder and harder...try to skid the front tire, but compensate by getting your weight back so you don't come up off the ground.

2. After you've gone nuts with hardcore, super hard front braking that didn't cause you to cartwheel like our Mom's would say would happen, you'll have felt the forces wanting to lift you into a nose wheelie. Now, do more braking, but do it so you DO nose wheelie, and then use a slight (this is feathering) release on lever pressure to drop yourself out of the wheelie. Also, since you're on grass: do it so you do flip a few times.

3. Go ride a trail, not including the descent you pitched on, and use only your front brake for the ride.

4. You're done. The next time you ride, you'll have front-braking down pat, and can use the brakes together on any slope. When you start to over-brake, you'll just ease off, just like on the grass.
 

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You often don't remember reflex reactions but all it takes is a quick reflex snatch of the front brake to get enough endo momentum, and BAM.

Another advantage of the braking exercises above is to practice sliding off the back of your bike if all else fails. Get the saddle in front of you and when the world's about to flip over just let go of everything and wave bye-bye to the bike, not your face.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I guess what I'm trying to determine is if the blowout was a direct result of my braking technique or if the blowout was what caused the crash.

pipspeak said:
You often don't remember reflex reactions but all it takes is a quick reflex snatch of the front brake to get enough endo momentum, and BAM.

Another advantage of the braking exercises above is to practice sliding off the back of your bike if all else fails. Get the saddle in front of you and when the world's about to flip over just let go of everything and wave bye-bye to the bike, not your face.
 

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err, 27.5+
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Front brakes are not the evil endo causing devices they were once made out to be. For the most part you have to try to apply enough pressure to lift the rear wheel. However riding conditions can vary considerably making the force required far less.

The field practice may be your best bet. I can't say that I have tried it, but it seems like a good way to get some front brake time in with little repercussion. FWIW regular riding will also allow for testing your brake skills. Simply do a familliar trail and try to use just the front.

As a rider you should be able to ride with just one brake, be it front or rear, and make it home in one piece. I recently had my rear hydro blow out 10 miles from civilization. My options were to ride down the steep and technical or climb back out the half of the trail I had already rode. As a clyde I always choose a gravity friendly route. To my surprise, even the steep sections were rideable. When it got real steep I did have to ease off on the brakes to keep traction at the front. Granted I wasn't able to hammer down like I would normally, but I was able to ride.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks!

Thanks for all the replies. I was just confused, because I had been using both brakes pretty consistently without any problems prior to the crash. I have heard from people who rely more on the back and people who rely more on the front. I guess I'll just stick with what makes me feel most confident and try to control the reflexes a little better. :)

dsb1829 said:
Front brakes are not the evil endo causing devices they were once made out to be. For the most part you have to try to apply enough pressure to lift the rear wheel. However riding conditions can vary considerably making the force required far less.

The field practice may be your best bet. I can't say that I have tried it, but it seems like a good way to get some front brake time in with little repercussion. FWIW regular riding will also allow for testing your brake skills. Simply do a familliar trail and try to use just the front.

As a rider you should be able to ride with just one brake, be it front or rear, and make it home in one piece. I recently had my rear hydro blow out 10 miles from civilization. My options were to ride down the steep and technical or climb back out the half of the trail I had already rode. As a clyde I always choose a gravity friendly route. To my surprise, even the steep sections were rideable. When it got real steep I did have to ease off on the brakes to keep traction at the front. Granted I wasn't able to hammer down like I would normally, but I was able to ride.
 

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bmarkle21 said:
Thanks for all the replies. I was just confused, because I had been using both brakes pretty consistently without any problems prior to the crash. I have heard from people who rely more on the back and people who rely more on the front. I guess I'll just stick with what makes me feel most confident and try to control the reflexes a little better. :)
No more avoidance.

Go do the drills I typed in for you. Tell your "the front brake is bad" friends that you pity their rookie naivete and show them a nose wheelie (after you do the drills). Go do the drills.

For final closure: using the front brakes on descents is the norm. That's where your braking power is. On crazy steep, super gonzo, loose stuff, you might stay off the front brakes entirely, but even then you will often use light, varied pressure. Rear brake only is for cruiser bikes and little kids with coaster brakes.
 

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"El Whatever"
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I second that...

front is the one that actually stops you.

As said on crazy stuff you'd get off the brakes. Brake on the easy and roll the crazy. Always brake BEFORE things get ugly (turns, rough, chutes, etc). Braking IN the turn is a recipe for falls also unless you do finesse with your brakes.

There might be exceptions like loose sand or mud... but that's "braking chapter two".

Ever wondered why motorcycles have two discs front and one rear??? Cause rear is a support only. More for control than actually stopping.

Work on your reflexes too...
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I don't think they ever said the FB was bad, just that I was using it too much (I'm by far the rookie of the group). Now that I know the meaning of feathering, I think I've got something to work with. Thanks for the tips.

EBasil said:
No more avoidance.

Go do the drills I typed in for you. Tell your "the front brake is bad" friends that you pity their rookie naivete and show them a nose wheelie (after you do the drills). Go do the drills.

For final closure: using the front brakes on descents is the norm. That's where your braking power is. On crazy steep, super gonzo, loose stuff, you might stay off the front brakes entirely, but even then you will often use light, varied pressure. Rear brake only is for cruiser bikes and little kids with coaster brakes.
 

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Gravity Rides Everything
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bmarkle21 said:
I have heard from people who rely more on the back and people who rely more on the front.
the front brake has 70% of your stopping power... if you rely mostly on the back you're missing out on a lot...
sounds like you are doin ok... get back on that horse and ride ;) technique will come to you... also, off the brakes on super sketchy sections.. you want to brake before you get to stuff like that, the harder you're on the brakes the less steering you have.
 
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