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Hey Guys/Gals -

I've just started mountain biking. I actually picked up a new Mesa GDS yesterday, and rode a few miles on the pavement, just trying to get acquainted with my rig.

That being said, I've noticed that several "real" mountain bikers have their pointer fingers on the brake triggers when they're riding. Is that the "preferred" hand position? Is there a preferred position?

If it IS the preferred position, it would suggest that you use your front brake at least somewhat often...

...in what situations do you use the front brake? For obvious reasons, over the course of my childhood, I taught myself to simply avoid that left brake lever; but it's occurring to me that there must be a good reason for having one.
 

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Its up to you

Some people seem to brake with one finger, some, (myself) prefer to brake with two, do what feels the most comfortable and natural to you. As for the when to use the front brake, I too was always taught as a kid to never use it, you'll go OTB, which i did, well do, but after some reading around on here, and talk at the LBS, i found it quite the opposite, and i use my front brake quite often, probably too often ...lol, using the rear locks it up and skids the back tire, not only does that cause you to not have much control, but it also tears up the trails. Just watch on the down hills, keep your weight back and don't grab a handful of front brake, you'll go over for sure. Good luck and welcome to riding, i hope you enjoy as much as i do.
 

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The two finger technique is my favorite. It lets you have control over the brakes and your bike. About 70% of your braking power is on the front brake.
Have fun riding, and good luck!
 

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Front brake is how you stop!

If you throw your ass over the rear tire and lower you center of gravity you can put an incredible amount of braking power through your front brake. You MUST shift your weight back over the rear tire or you'll find yourself in front of your bike quickly - practice it on flat pavement/trail - get some good speed, get off your seat, shift your weight back over the rear tire, and power into the front (and rear) brake. It is the only way to slow rapidly.

Two things to remember! First, as you are braking and you come upon an obstacle (rock, root, big dip, small child, etc) you have to let the front wheel roll freely. If you try to brake hard with the front brake while clearing an obstacle you will find yourself over the handle bars. Second, the front brake is for braking in a straight line, not while turning. Brake before the turn with significant force to allow you to lean/steer through the turn and if you find yourself going to fast you can feather the REAR BRAKE.

If you are into reading checkout this book: Mastering Mountain Bike Skills by Brian Lopez and Lee McCormack. Great book that covers all the essentials and will give you the knowledge to be proficient and safe. :thumbsup:
 

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Regarding hand position for braking, I use and almost everybody I ride with uses 1 finger braking. This leaves you 3 fingers to hold on to the grips and keep control of the bike. The best trick with one finger braking is that you must move your brake levers in 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Make it so that when you reach out with your index finger it grabs the brake lever near the end. This will give you alot of leverage and you will be able to get full braking power with only 1 finger. You will also want to adjust your brake levers so that their angle is the same angle as your hands while riding. This way you won't have to reach down or up to grab the lever.
 

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The fingers are on the brake levers because we want to be ready to use the brakes at any time.

How many fingers are on the brakes depends on personal preference and how hard you need to squeeze to stop.

I always use both brakes, except if I am turning on ice or loose sand, or something else that feels slippery. The front brake is the one that can really get you stopped or slowed down. Cars and motorbikes have the bigger brakes in front for a reason too.
 

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some brake levers are specifically designed for 1- or 2-finger use... as for using the front brake, like people mentioned, you need to be going straight and with enough weight towards the rear so that you do not endo... but that being said, most of your stopping power will come from the front brake
 
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