How Is Your Braking?
8:33 p.m and 61° in Sedona.
Even when I was downhill racing it always surprised me how far from a given corner the braking bumps would develop. Good braking technique is one of the most overlooked skills that there are.
If your rear wheel is skidding when you’re slowing down while descending, you’re doing it wrong!
No matter how loose or slippery the trail is, as soon as your rear wheel starts skidding without you intentionally making it skid, your braking technique can be improved upon.
Unfortunately so many mountain bikers feel that this is the only way to do it. What is missing is the super subtle light touch on the brake levers, with no pulsating of the lever at all with proper body positioning. A good way to think of proper brake lever technique is turning on a light with a dimmer switch and not an On/Off switch. As the brakes start engaging is where you want to be. The wheels are turning, but slowing down.
This is not only hampering one’s ability to ride steep downhill but it’s overflowing into other areas too without you realizing.
I was watching a group of riders descending a slick rock section a few days ago and to be quite honest I was scared. The one rider had zero soft touch control on the brakes. Their body was lurching back and forth every time they rapidly pulsated the brakes.This technique is not only counterproductive but dangerous too. Braking should be fluid, gentle and subtle and create no UNCONTROLLED body movement.
Another big issue with weak braking technique is the adverse effects it has on the trails. Sedona sees an incredible amount of traffic on the trails at times and the effects of this are very evident in certain areas.
I’m going to give you a challenge to see where your braking skills are at. Find a safe open dirt area where you can sprint up to a high speed, then see how quickly you can stop without skidding at all. No matter what the surface is, you should be able to do this.
The first tutorial I did almost a year ago was on this, I called it Dynamic Braking. Check it out here:
Dynamic Braking Tutorial with Simon Bosman
The Fat Tire Bike Shop
Photo Credit: Jordan Reece
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