Improving the relationship with your front brake
Depending on the level of experience on your mountain bike, your front brake might be your friend, or it could also be your foe. Without getting deep into a lesson on braking, I'd like to take a moment to share some insights into why your front brake could be your friend or your foe, but ultimately, why it should be your bestie.
When I ask newer students what their impression is about using their front brake, they immediately describe a scene of stopping dead on the spot and flying over the handlebars (also known as 'OTB').
You've probably experienced this OTB moment early in your riding days and vow to never touch the front brake again.
Now you rely on the rear brake instead and exhale sighs of relief when you don't yardsale through a section of the trail.
Proper body positioning, bracing, braking ratio, and selective braking will bring confidence into your relationship and your front brake's execution.
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, making it lighter away from the rear wheel. 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.
All of this proves why your front brake should be your friend. Relying on just your rear brake out of fear or understanding is not safe or effective and accelerates trail erosion in some areas. If you're struggling with creating a relationship with your front brake and/or would like to learn more, book a Private Lesson this spring to get stacking those bricks added to your house of confidence! The end result will increase your confidence and safety on the bike, allowing you to progress into more technical and advanced trails.