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I know it might sound funny, but I was out on the trail Sunday and I kept switching between my middle finger and my pointer finger. I think my middle finger felt more comfortable, but I do need to move some things on my handle bars.

So, which finger to do you use when one finger braking?

Thanks!
 

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I took a course with Shaums March, a 2 time world Masters Downhill Champion....

He said to move the brake levers inward until the bend in the lever aligns with your index finger and then brake only using your index finger. If you Google "downhill riders" for images you will see this is the way they do it also.

Having three fingers on the grip makes a huge difference in control vs. just two. Some people use their middle finger but the way the hand is designed you can't apply full grip on your index finger when your middle finger is relaxed.

Hope that helps. Move those brake levers inward.
 

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I also have levers pushed as far in as possible so I only use index finger. I have found it is easier on the arms as well.
 

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tshulthise said:
Excellent article with tips about how to get your brake lever to the proper position for index finger actuation...
http://www.examiner.com/x-5530-Bois...ake-Setup--Give-your-brakes-the-single-finger
Thanks for the link! I've been braking with two fingers but I'm changing to one after reading this! Here's an excerpt from the link:

How can braking with one finger give you more control? Grab a marker or a highlighter out of your desk drawer. No marker? Grab a pencil or even make a fist. Hold on to the marker in the same position as if it were one side of your handlebars. Clench all of your fingers together about as tight as you generally grab your bars. No problem, right? Now extend your index finger so that it's almost straight. Still OK, right? Now extend your middle finger, too, as if you're reaching for your brakes with two fingers. You'll probably feel some tension in your hand, and perhaps in your forearms, as well. Try to squeeze hard with your ring and little fingers. Imagine holding that for 30 minutes. That's what you're doing when you're using two fingers on the brakes. Having one more finger wrapped around the bar will give you a more secure yet relaxed grip, resulting in greater control and comfort.
 

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Hydraulic disk brakes are very efficient compared to the older V-brakes of the past. You'll feel that you have a lot more control with your steering with 3 fingers on the bars.
 

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I got four main points from the skills clinic with Shaums March.

1. Index finger braking
2. Always stay balanced on your pedals
3. Let the bike float without throwing your weight around in turns and through transitions
4. Keep your chest close to the bars so you can extend your arms for drops and let only the bike rotate forward instead of your body rotating forward with it.

Index finger braking is the easiest to get used to and gave me the most confidence boost due to having more control of the bike. I think I was doing #2 and #3 somewhat already anyway just wasn't being conscious about it. #4 was a game changer too since there are a bunch low speed 12-18" drops where I ride.

Try index finger braking ... you will like it.

By the way... I borrowed a cantilever brake bike while mine was in the shop last week and I didn't have any trouble using one finger braking on that bike either.

I have noticed that some brake levers (cheaper ones) don't have the crook in them where you can nest your finger. They also require a much further reach. In that case it might be tougher to implement. It would be better to install a better brake lever if you find yourself in that situation. Its easier to start off with good habits than to break bad ones.
 

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Middle finger.....

Works great allows for shifting while braking, probably not as useful on the a DH run pretty good for catching flow on some hills.
 

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One advantage to using the middle for braking is then being able to leave the index in place to upshift with instead of using your thumb, but it does take a smidge more coordination ( and sometimes I get digitally cornfused :p )
 

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After reading this (and the linked article), I moved my brake levers and shifters inwards. My problem is, I still have difficulty grabbing the levers with my index fingers and feel like I have to reach for them. I tried tightening the hex screw on the inside of the lever, but it didn't seem to make much difference. Once I have grabbed the levers with my index fingers and pulled them back a bit (I keep a little slack in my brakes for this reason) they feel comfortable, however that grab is still difficult in the first place. Any suggestions?

Also, what angle do you guys keep your levers at in reference to the horizontal? My bike came with them probably around 25 degrees below the horizontal, but I'm not sure if I like that. I'm just curious as to what everyone else does.

For reference, I have Avid BB5 mechanical discs.
 

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I'm not sure how to move the levers closer to your finger without a different lever. I have Avid Elixir R's with adjustable reach so its not an issue. You can put more slack in the cable so when you are riding with your levers pulled back some you are still off the brakes.

About the angle. It looks like the rider in the pic I posted earlier keeps theirs around 30 degrees. I think most use between 30-45 degrees based on all of the pics I've looked at. I'd have to look to be sure but I think mine are closer to 45 degrees down, or more.

This is just a guess but, downhillers probably want less angle because they spend more time back and down which rotates their wrists back. XC'rs probably want more angle because they spend a lot of time on the seat sitting more upright which rotates the wrists more forward. Just a guess though. I think you should just use an angle that feels comfortable to you for your riding style.
 

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I have not changed anything on my bike yet and typically use middle finger braking as well, but if you do the highlighter or pen holding thing that was quoted from the article, the index finger gives you a far superior grip as well as it being more comfortable than when the middle finger is the only one off. I will definitely be trying this.
 

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airdonut41 said:
Also, what angle do you guys keep your levers at in reference to the horizontal? My bike came with them probably around 25 degrees below the horizontal, but I'm not sure if I like that. I'm just curious as to what everyone else does.
I position mine such that I can just extend my fingers and grab. I don't want to have to rotate my wrist to grab the brake. Mine end up at a fairly steep angle, probably closer to 45 degrees.

Do what works for you. That's what really matters.
 
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