The Basics of Mountain, Road, and Gravel Riding Braking Techniques

 This guide takes a straightforward approach to the basics of how to brake properly on a mountain bike, a road bike and a gravel bike.

Pre-Ride Safety Checks: Basics for a Smooth Ride

Before riding your bike, take a few moments for some straightforward safety checks:

– Start by giving your brake pads a quick look. Make sure they’re not worn out and show even wear for smoother engagement. Check for any signs of air in the brake lines or components needing attention, ensuring your brakes respond reliably. Should the lever stroke be inconsistent or if you need to “pump” several times on the lever for a great bite feel, then your brakes deserve a bleed.

– Check your tire pressure (follow manufacturer’s recommendations). A quick visual inspection for cuts, wear, or irregularities ensures your tires are in good shape, providing the traction needed for basic stops.

– Ensure your axles/quick release levers are securely tightened. This step is crucial for maintaining the overall structure of your bike and ensures everything is in place for your ride.

Though it might seem basic, you never get great braking sensations out of a bike in a bad mechanical condition.

Basic Braking Techniques

With your bicycle ready, let’s explore some basic braking techniques tailored to different terrains & disciplines.

Mountain Biking (MTB)

– When riding downhill trails, gently brake with controlled pressure. This technique helps maintain traction and avoids wheel lock-ups, ensuring you have basic control on technical descents. A shorter lever reach might help. In longer and/or steep descents, wanting too much modulation will lead to brake overheating. In this case, you should brake hard, then release the brakes so they can cool down.

– Try to always brake in-line. Braking into corners should only happen in case of emergency braking needed.

– Shift a bit more weight towards the rear during descents. This straightforward adjustment helps stabilize your bike, particularly on steep slopes. But keep in mind that the more weight on one wheel, the more grip it gets. As you don’t want to lose the front end grip, lean your torso over your handlebar so that both wheels are weighed.

– Anticipate your trail conditions and apply brakes early in technical sections. This simple approach aids in basic speed control across various MTB terrains.

Road Biking

– When on the road, apply your brakes gradually. This simple technique minimizes abrupt weight shifts, contributing to overall stability, especially during high-speed descents.

– Try to always brake in-line. Braking into corners should only happen in case of emergency braking needed.

– Maintain control during turns by applying controlled braking before entering. Looking at the turn’s exit will help a lot.

Gravel Riding

– Distribute your weight for balance on variable gravel surfaces. This basic approach, combined with controlled braking, prevents skidding and ensures basic traction.

– Try to always brake in-line. Braking into corners should only happen in case of emergency braking needed, especially since gravel roads provide much less traction than asphalt roads.

– Descending on gravel is more comfortable with finesse in braking. Apply brakes with precision, avoiding sudden movements for basic control.

Wrap it up!

Braking is without a doubt one of the most crucial aspect one riding a bike and when it comes to performance, it will for sure tell the good rider and the best rider apart.

Make sure to train yourself in a controlled environment to get the best out of your brakes. Then put what you’ve learnt into practice!

Should you need some help setting up your brakes, you can check our dedicated article.

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