How to improve braking on a road bike
Braking well on a road bike is one of the most important actions for several reasons. First of all, for your own safety. The most important thing to keep in mind is that knowing how to control your braking correctly can make the difference between “staying on your feet” and “tasting the asphalt”.
Secondly, there are the reasons that have to do with good performance: a good braking technique allows you to slow down when necessary, while ensuring that you are ready to launch the bike again quickly.
Finally, knowing how to brake correctly helps you to be more orderly on the road, respecting others. Let’s explain: when we drive, there is a big difference between having a car in front of us that constantly accelerates and brakes when cornering, and a car that moves forward at a constant speed and movement, right?
Here are some tips on how to learn to brake like a pro. It will be useful to you and your fellow riders.
1. Which brake to use
No matter what type of brake you have, whether you’re still on the classic shoe brake or you’ve moved up to a disc brake, the physics don’t change. If you brake with the front brake the bike will tend to lean forward, while if you brake with the rear brake the bike will tend to keep going, blocking the rear wheel and possibly skidding.
These are two opposing movements, so it is important to know how to use the two brake levers correctly dosing the force used in each of them getting the perfect braking.
2. The front brake
It is the more powerful brake of the two. If we are on a dry road, with a perfect asphalt and the bike perpendicular to the ground (without cornering inclination), we can use it braking with a lot of force without losing safety. This is the best way to lose speed in the shortest possible time and space. In this case, it is important to keep your weight slightly back to avoid the sensation of tipping forward.
If, on the other hand, we find ourselves on a road with an uneven surface, full of potholes, holes and/or wet, things change completely. If you only “squeeze” the front brake, you run the risk of locking the wheel and falling. Therefore, when you find yourself in these conditions, you will have to use the rear brake a little too.
Another thing when we are on a curve. In this situation we have to avoid using the front brake as it will prevent you from being able to line the corner correctly and could cause you to go off track.
3. The rear brake
The rear brake, on the other hand, is the less incisive of the two. It is the recommended brake for all those moments when it is not appropriate to use the front brake.
Therefore, we recommend the use of this brake whenever you need to brake lightly and progressively. It is also the right brake to use when we realize that we have entered a curve too fast. In this case we will compensate the braking with this brake, which will not cause the bike to lift, as would happen if we brake only with the front brake.
4. The test
Do you want to do a test to really feel the difference in the effectiveness of the two brakes? Very simple:
Go to a car-free parking lot and set a point on the ground to serve as your “starting point”. Pull away from this point and start riding at about 30 km/h, go to the point you have marked and just when you are on top of it press one of the two brakes. Memorize where you have finished braking and repeat the action with the other brake. You can see the difference in efficiency between the two brakes.