8 Tips for Better Braking
Keep Your Fingers Ready1 of 9
When riding in heavy traffic or with a group of cyclists, make it a practice to keep your hands close to the brake levers. Nothing's worse than searching for your brakes when in need of an emergency stop.
The Front Brake Mistake2 of 9
This is a rule you may have learned the hard way as a kid. Using only your front brake to stop is a good way to send yourself flying over the handlebars. And falling as an adult hurts more than you might remember. If you do use the front brake, don't squeeze down on the lever with everything you've got. Light braking is best.
Use Both Brakes Equally3 of 9
To get the maximum stopping power out of your brakes, use them both. Only using your back brake will increase the time it takes to come to a full stop. The front brake has significantly more stopping power than your back brake does, so use them together when you need to stop quickly.
Position Your Body4 of 9
Shift your body weight towards the back of the bike when you need to brake hard. This will help to prevent a rear wheel skid. Put your hands in the drops to lower your center of gravity, straighten out your arms and move your backside behind your saddle if needed.
Don't Brake in Corners5 of 9
This is the easiest way to lose your speed and make you sit up, which can also make you go off the road. A safer practice, and one that will help you maintain speed through the corner, is to brake well before the turn. Slow down to a speed you'll be able to manage, swing wide, go into the turn without touching the brakes, and pedal out of it.
Be Careful in Groups6 of 9
The momentum of a group is more efficient when braking is kept to a minimum. In a race, braking should only be used when absolutely necessary. On a weekend group ride, it can't be avoided, but extreme caution should be used. Those cyclists directly behind you will not be aware of your intentions if you hit the brakes suddenly. If you need to brake because of a pothole or some other obstacle, do so gently and try your best to alert those around you—either with hand signals or by yelling.
Be Mindful of Road Conditions7 of 9
The conditions of the road can increase the time it takes to stop. In wet conditions, give yourself much more time to stop than you would on a dry road. Also be aware of sections of road with cracks, loose gravel, mud and potholes. The traction of your tire is decreased over these road surfaces, and braking over them may cause a skid.
Learn the Emergency Stop8 of 9
Just like anything else, stopping quickly takes practice. Before you find yourself in a situation where a death grip on your brake levers is required, go to a grass field or a road without much traffic and practice. Use the tips above to position your body, apply the brakes evenly and avoid a skid. With a little work, you'll build the confidence you need to stop as quickly as possible when the situation arises.