Know how to brake your bike is one of the first skills you should master as a cyclist. Being able to brake your bike correctly makes you safer on your rides and avoids a large number of accidents. In addition, learning to brake as efficiently as possible allows you to descend much faster and with much more confidence.
When we encounter an unexpected obstacle on the road, the distance it takes us to slow our bike to 0 depends on many factors. However, there are two concepts that are key, regardless of the vehicle you ride.
The first is reaction distance, i.e., how long it takes from the time you see the obstacle until you pull the brake lever. The second is braking distance, which is the time from the moment you apply the brake until you come to a complete stop. Therefore, one of the most basic tips we can give you for braking your bike is to always keep your index finger on the brake lever, especially if you are on a downhill.
Technique to brake your bike
Whenever we operate the brake lever we must do it progressively, because braking abruptly can make us lose control of the bike and even get shot over the handlebars. First, however, it is important to remember what function each lever has when you have to brake your bike.
Its function is NOT to brake your bike completely, but to control its speed. Use it to control the speed before entering a curve for example.
It is the more delicate of the two, since locking the rear wheel means losing control of the bike, but locking the front wheel involuntarily means going to the ground in 99.99% of cases. In this case, did you know that there is a mechanical ABS that can be installed on any bicycle with hydraulic brakes on the market? If you don’t have it, be sure to press the front brake gently and progressively.
The 3 braking tips for your bike from our Outbraker experts
- Body position: “When braking, the inertia itself makes your body tend to move forward and the vast majority of your weight falls on the front wheel. That makes braking less effective, so you always have to try to push your body backwards while braking.”
- Braking in advance, especially in a curve: It is totally inadvisable to try to brake your bike in a curve, since the risk of not applying the correct force and having an accident is very high. For this reason, you must be able to regulate your speed before entering the curve and once in the curve, keep your arms and shoulders firm but relaxed.
- Perform a good maintenance of the elements involved in braking: A good braking technique may be useless if the main elements involved in braking your bike are not in good condition. Here the key components to take into account are the wear of the brake pads and the condition/pressure of the tires. In addition, if we have hydraulic brakes installed on our bike, it will also be very important to check that the amount of brake fluid that runs inside our circuit is optimal, so that it exerts a correct pressure on the pistons and we have a good lever feel.