So you’re still interested in going faster?
Not really going faster, but slowing down later. Helps you get from A to B in less
time all the same, and it’s very useful for those unpredictable moments too. If you
get it right you can slow down so fast it baffles pedestrians and amazes motorists.
You might have noticed that a handful of front brake can have interesting consequences,
and a handful of rear brake ruins those expensive knobblies, but is generally safer.
Which brake is best?
When you’re braking your weight is over the front wheel,
so you get more grip, and hence slow down faster by using that brake more. If your
dad told you not to use your front brake ‘cos its dangerous, it’s because in his
day it was. Brakes on old bikes fitted loosely, and locked solid onto any slight
ding in a rim, sending you flying. (My grandad has some great stories!) Tight tolerances
on modern brakes mean they fit tightly, and work safely. Put another way, if you
go over the bars it’s your own fault!
So the front brake slows you down faster, but if the ground is lumpy it is not
often a good move to use that brake too heavily.
Let’s imagine… Say you’re flying over a rocky section and you need to slow down
fast. On rocky sections the aim is to bounce over the top of the rocks, if you go
slow you sink between the rocks and get pushed all over the place. Anyway, you were
flying over the tops of those rocks, when you realise that you have to stop, quick.
A handful of front brake would cause your front wheel to fall into every gap between
every rock, and you’d get mashed. So you’ve got to use your rear brake to slow you
down to a speed where you can use the front brake safely.
To say which brake is best is to miss the point. Your front brake slows you
down faster on the flat, but you can’t do more than use it gently in squirrely situations.
Stoppies are great practice. Tempting fate somewhat,
but great practice.The laws of physics dictate that when your rear wheel is just
about to leave the ground (or <1mm off it) you are slowing down fastest for any
given body position.
Get your weight further back, and you’ll slow down faster still.
Locking up a wheel doesn’t often help either. Your tyres slow you down better while
they’re still rotating, and you keep more control over your bike to boot.
As with most things, like going full tilt round corners, or even just trying to see
how much more beer you can get in that glass, you’ve got to go beyond the limit before
you know where that limit is.
If you don’t push it when it’s safe to do so, you won’t know how far you can push
it when you really have to.
Oh, and remember to wear your helmet!