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Old 2019-10-07, 02:22 AM   #1
BruceC
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Braking techniques

I've mostly ignored the brake on my KH29 and KH36, but recent and future road trips will involve long sections of steep downhill. Coupled with shorter cranks, it's either destroy the knees, nasty UPD's or use the brakes.

I'm carefully working out techniques by myself and am getting more confident, but would like to hear how others use the brake to control speed on long downhills. So far this is what I'm doing:

- get the speed under control first, slower than I want to go
- pre-load the brake to allow smooth application before the hill starts to bite
- find the brake pressure that just allows me to continue riding but does not allow the hill to take over
- very smooth transition back to no brakes.
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Old 2019-10-07, 03:24 AM   #2
Canoeheadted
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Sounds good.

I might try combining the first two by leaning back while lightly pre-loading the brake before the brake is actually needed.
Keep pedalling with pressure during this instead of slowing down more than needed.

Now you haven't lost any speed and don't need to accelerate up to a braking point.

After a while you won't think of the brake pressure needed and it will just happen.
(even feathering between multi-pitches)
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Old 2019-10-07, 04:08 AM   #3
JimT
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BruceC View Post
... Coupled with shorter cranks, it's either destroy the knees, nasty UPD's or use the brakes.
Note that nasty UPD's and brake use are not mutually exclusive. I've heard of some nasty UPD's and a couple of my UPD's have been caused by brake use. On my 36" I now have my brake adjusted so that the lever bottoms out with a braking force about equal to the braking force needed to equal a 18% downgrade. I can pull the brake as hard as I want and still be able to pedal against the brake.
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Old 2019-10-07, 04:37 AM   #4
elpuebloUNIdo
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If you are willing to experiment with longer cranks, using them while learning to brake might be helpful. Practice braking on flat surfaces before doing it on a downhill. See if you can steadily increase braking pressure while increasing the pedaling force and increasing the force you're pulling backward on the saddle...until you slow to a complete stop. Try to make the braking force and the hand-pulling-back force separate from one another.

I am able to use the brake in controlled downhill situations, but for technical downhill, forget it!
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Old 2019-10-07, 09:41 AM   #5
Setonix
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I think keeping a stable brake force is difficult when the road is uneven. I have a few sections with protruding roots. And going from using brakes to letting go of them also takes some practice. At first I let go to quickly and UPD'ed because the wheel just took off. I reckon I was still going downhill somewhat and let go too early.
Nevertheless braking very much helps against sore knees.
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Old 2019-10-07, 10:31 AM   #6
finnspin
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With some practice, you'll just be able to use the brake any time, and at (almost) any distribution of braking through the pedals vs. with the brake.

One thing you will need to learn, as elpuebloUNIdo said, is to seperate the braking finger from the holding of the handle. It really depends on your setup, but with mine, I have my index finger on the brake, and the rest on the handle.

I started by just using the brake on longer descents, and smoothly increasing the brake pressure until I was at the point where my legs were only used for balance adjustments, and held it there. Essentially the same as you described. When you are comfortable with that, play around with it. Open the brake a bit, and go faster, tighten it and go slower, both without doing much with your legs as far as breaking goes. At the same time, you'll likely pick up on how to balance using the brake. It's not really rocket science, you are doing the same thing as you would do with your legs: If your weight is to far backwards, you need to brake more, if you are to far forwards, you need to brake less. I personally think a decently steep downhill, that you can still control with just your feet is the ideal place to start using the brake. On flat ground, you need to be a lot more sensitive with the brake, on downhills, you can make a few more mistakes I think.

Also, on almost every dismount, I used it to stop. Yes, you'll fly of forward a few times in the beginning, that's why you should start at a slow speed. But after a while, you will learn to lean back, and then engage the brake. Once that is second nature, the whole "feeding in the brake very carefully before you have reached the steep part" will become uneccessary.

A few years later, and I don't think about it anymore.
Someone has an UPD on the trail in front of me? Grab the brake.
Ride over a drop, and I leaned to far back? Grab the brake.
I'm worried the brake is overheating on a long descent? Let go of the brake for 15 seconds or so, and get back onto it.

Brakes have a learning curve to it, but it's so worth it to take it.
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Old 2019-10-07, 11:26 AM   #7
BruceC
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Thanks for tips everyone.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimT View Post
Note that nasty UPD's and brake use are not mutually exclusive. .
For sure, that's why the careful practice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by JimT View Post
On my 36" I now have my brake adjusted so that the lever bottoms out with a braking force about equal to the braking force needed to equal a 18% downgrade.
Good idea, I'e made a custom brake lever for my setup, I'll see if I can do what you have.


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Quote:
Originally Posted by elpuebloUNIdo View Post
Try to make the braking force and the hand-pulling-back force separate from one another.
Quote:
Originally Posted by finnspin View Post
Using the setup above I have my index finger on the brake, and the rest on the handle.
Understand, I have a T-bar but am only comfortable using the brake under the saddle. Here I can use different fingers for both and control independently.
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