Recently, we put out a post on oursocial channels asking, 'What's the WORST piece of mountain bike advice you've been given? We then posted the top five worst suggested pieces of advice as a poll on our Instagram Storiesasking if the advice was true or false to use. Some of you were on the right track, and some of you weren't. They weren't trick questions, though - the answers were all false because they're techniques that aren't correct due to the decrease in rider safety and understanding about what we're doing on our bike. These posts received a lot of engagement, so we'd love to dive a little deeper to help you understand why these pieces of advice aren't great to be sharing or using.
"Don't use your front brake."
Most people answered this one correctly - well done!
For new riders, generally, the mindset around the front brake is that you're going to go flying over the handlebars ("OTB") when you use it. But, when you better understand the physics and science behind braking, you'll learn how important the front brake actually is and that it is the brake that will actually get you stopped.
Understanding Braking Power
Rear brake [less power] = great for not speeding up
The rear brake has less power because as we decelerate, our centre of mass moves forward, away from the rear wheel, making it lighter. This lack of weight on the rear wheel decreases traction, and less traction equals less stopping power.
Front brake [more power] = great for slowing down
The front brake has more power because as we decelerate, our centre of mass moves forward relative to the front wheel. This additional weight on the front wheel provides more traction, and traction equals more stopping power.
Relying on the rear brake only to slow you down will cause you to take longer to slow down, have less control over the bike, and skidding the rear wheel accelerates trail erosion. Proper body positioning, bracing, braking ratio, and selective braking will bring confidence into your relationship and the execution of your front brake.
If you're struggling with using your front brake and keeping your speed under control, book a Private Lesson to understand the power of the front brake and improve your relationship with it. The end result will increase your confidence and safety on the bike, allowing you to progress to greater speeds and more advanced trails.
Find out more on our Private Lessons and how to book here.