How to brake right?

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Braking right? Well, many wrong habits are hard to overcome. 



Brake with both brakes

Many people are afraid to use the front brake. In fact, you can't really ride without the front brake. The steeper it gets, the less important your rear brake is. 


Brake less, but with more determination

When you brake, bad things happen. Tyres skip. The suspension stiffens and dives in. Wheels bash. Muscles tighten.
When you brake, brake hard and be in the right braking position. Then go back to coasting and your usual riding position. Bring your body forward to your neutral attack position.
Don't drag the brakes all the time. Be aware that you must completely release the brakes to have them cool down and most importantly don't brake when it is extra rough (rock gardens, slippery roots, holes...). Brake before the nasty stuff, ride over with full suspension travel and then reduce your speed on better ground.


Body position while braking

The most important thing is to push your weight into the pedals when braking hard. This loads your tyres and improves traction. So push your heels down. It is natural to shift your hips back while braking. This is o.k. But don't overdo it. Never stretch your arms completely while braking.

If it is extra steep, then try to keep your body as low as possible. Don't go back, go low.

Many riders tend to "grab" the bars while braking. The key is to stay light on the bars and to push your weight down to the ground. 


Modulation and dragging

Think about what you are doing while riding. Be self-aware. Don't just drag the brakes to be "on the safe" side. Do try to completely release the brakes on sections when braking doesn’t serve a purpose. Fist the grip and take your finger off the brake lever. It is a revelation to find out you are dragging the brakes. So take your finger of the brake lever.


Bike setup for better braking

Tyre pressure; lower pressure = better braking because you increase the contact area.

Knobbier front tyre; get a softer compound tyre with bigger middle knobs.

Brake at the edge of the brake lever. It is wise to change the position of the brake lever with the gear shifter.

Try different brake pads. If they are no good, use them on the rear brake.

Get a 200 mm rotor up front, unless you are an XC racer. Modulation and power will improve.