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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
What's the proper brake/ slow down technics on steep slope? I am talking about:
(1) 40+ degree sloped sandy single track stretching about 60' long with moderate turns ,
(2) Another place has tiers of rock bourders droping 15' in about 50 degree angle following with a sharp turn. (they are at Santiego Oak- Chute trail, S. Cal)
I don't want to drop off the edge, just try to roll over them safely. I put my butt way behind saddle, remain rolling speed... however, the problems that I have are:

condition (1): I am not sure about using the front brake once I enter the trail, but the length of the trail makes the speed of gravity faster than I can handle (I felt I was on a rollercoaster following the cart whereever it goes..), so far I have not crashed yet but I really want to know how to reduce the speed and remain control. should I brake at interval or continously apply pressure to front brake?
condition (2): I can imagine the front brake will tend to cause endo due to the rock formation and the rear tire lockout is not helping either , is there anyway I can reduce some speed during the roll over 9so I can make the follow up turn easier)? or should I forget about it and brake hard only when I hit the flat ground?
 

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BigBull said:
What's the proper brake/ slow down technics on steep slope? I am talking about:
(1) 40+ degree sloped sandy single track stretching about 60' long with moderate turns ,
(2) Another place has tiers of rock bourders droping 15' in about 50 degree angle following with a sharp turn. (they are at Santiego Oak- Chute trail, S. Cal)
I don't want to drop off the edge, just try to roll over them safely. I put my butt way behind saddle, remain rolling speed... however, the problems that I have are:

condition (1): I am not sure about using the front brake once I enter the trail, but the length of the trail makes the speed of gravity faster than I can handle (I felt I was on a rollercoaster following the cart whereever it goes..), so far I have not crashed yet but I really want to know how to reduce the speed and remain control. should I brake at interval or continously apply pressure to front brake?
condition (2): I can imagine the front brake will tend to cause endo due to the rock formation and the rear tire lockout is not helping either , is there anyway I can reduce some speed during the roll over 9so I can make the follow up turn easier)? or should I forget about it and brake hard only when I hit the flat ground?
If your weight is back enough you should be able to use the front brake without fear- it provides 80% of your stopping power on a steep downhill. The front brake is your friend! :D

I'm not sure exactly what you mean in condition 2 but the front brake would probably be of some assistance there as well.
 

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Braking on the downslope

It's difficult to say much without seeing the trails, but here are some very general things you can think about to see if you can use them in some way:

- try to enter the downhill sections slowly at the top, and stay slow as long as you can. (At some point you'll need speed to stay smooth over the rocky terrain, but don't let it come on before you need it. That way, your total speed may not rise as high while you're rolling through the tricky parts.)

- on the steep sections, add more of the rear brake first. This will initiate a transfer of weight from the rear tire to the front tire. Then, add more front brake - progressively. Don't snatch at it. (Having the weight already forward will help keep the the front wheel from locking up.)

- As the weight transfers to the front, lighten up on the back brake. Now that the weight has transferred to the front, the back tire can lock up easily, which could make an endo more likely. If you feel the rear tire start to slide instead of roll, back off the rear brake quick.

- Have only one finger on the brake levers. If you're not using the back brake, don't have your right hand on the brake lever. That way, you won't snatch at it by reflex. On a downhill, with the front brake in use, it will take very little to lock the back tire up.

- Without going totally rigid or locking your elbows, straightarm the handlebars to keep your body weight from being jolted forward by a bump or the far side of a dip.

- If you get air - even a little - while your brakes are on there won't be any force on the tires any more, and the brake pads will slow them quickly or stop them cold. When the tires hit the ground again they won't be turning much... could lead to a nasty surprise... so, being on your brakes on the rough parts of that rocky downhill might not be do-able.

- If I was doing this I'd work out my breaking technique on a straight downhill that's steep enough to be realistic but doesn't have any hazards.

A few misc. points

- you're right to save any strong breaking effort for the flats just before the curve at the end of the rocky stretch. But, take advantage of any short, smooth sections to add some braking force and cut your speed using the braking sequence mentioned above. (Add rear brake first, then front brake while lightening up on the rear brake.) With a little practice you can do this sequence pretty quickly, but if the section is real short - say, only a bike-length or so - you'll need to add front brake first or simultaneously with the rear. If so, keep your weight way back and down. To take advantage of short sections suitable for braking you'll have to be looking up the trail so you can spot them before you get to them. Before heading down that rocky trail you mentioned you might want to lower your seat even a bit more than you probably usually do for a downhill.

- that rocky trail you're describing seems like a tough call... too slow, and the lack of momentum makes a fall more likely. Faster is smoother, but a fall is more serious.

- on the sandy singletrack you'll probably have to brake in intervals, because you won't want to be on the brakes in the downhill curves. When you come out of a curve and want to brake before the next one, try using the sequence mentioned above.

- on the sandy singletrack, try adding a shot of rear brake (with no front brake) just as you enter a curve, to help put your rear tire into an intentional sideways skid so you can get the bike pivoted around and on the exit line quicker. Countersteering can help you keep control as the rear tire skids and the bike rounds the curve.

...and if you already knew all that stuff, bro, no offense intended!
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Rollin' On said:
- on the steep sections, add more of the rear brake first. This will initiate a transfer of weight from the rear tire to the front tire. Then, add more front brake - progressively. Don't snatch at it. (Having the weight already forward will help keep the the front wheel from locking up.)

Thanks bro: That kind of detail description is exactly what I was looking for, I knew the basic idea from various books/mags, but when the trail gets tougher, I need the finesse experience like that, can't wait to try out this afternoon!
 

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Like they said, front brake! Some folks have mentioned a good practice is to roll a fairly steep (smooth) hill with all front brake (don't use the rear at all) which will help you get your weight back and get the feel of using lots of front.

Over rock/root drops, too much front brake *might* cause an endo, but you can actually brake fairly hard even then (really important to have your weight back and down though!), ease off a bit on the worst sections if an endo is imminent, then brake hard in the smoother bits when you can (like you mentioned), so you can get your speed under control between rough sections. When the rear tire skids (in a place you don't want too much speed) try and get your weight further back/down, and add more front brake right away. I've been working on this too, and on some steep rooty descents the tire is grabbing my butt as the rear gets kicked up (this is with a 24" wheel/tire too), a sign I can't get much lower methinks.
 

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I think you guys just helped a newbie figure out what caused his first good crash. I was running a fairly fast rocky downhill section the other day when it seemed that I just endo'd and went over the bars out of nowhere. The crash followed a small rock dropoff. i think I may have been lightly dragging the front brake and when I momentarily lofted the front wheel off the rock dropoff It stopped the wheel and caused me to fly over the bars when I touched down.........hmmmmmm food for thought. Matt
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
powerstroke said:
I think you guys just helped a newbie figure out what caused his first good crash.
On the other hand, I was able to breeze through these two technical sections yesterday thanks to the advice here. I almost endo at the sudden turn as I squeezed the front brake but managed to put my weight down and keep going, sweet!
My butt was behind the saddle all the time thus I can counter balance the powerful front brake, this forum reconfirm the techniques needed to conquer such steep trail although the instinct fear will most likely restraint you from using much front brake.

I can still feel the thrill even now, what a ride! thanks folks.
 
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