Braking on a bike may seem simple, but it’s not something you want to put to chance while barreling downhill at high speeds. Fabian Barel knows some mountain biking tips to set you straight.
When you’re riding a bike along the street, speed is the ultimate rush. If you’ve ever biked down a mountain trail, and seen the steep drop offs around the bend, you know that braking can be the difference between continuing your plunge down the trail, or serious injury. Maybe that’s why Fabien Barel, the three time downhill bike champion, begins his instructions on biking with the cogent disclaimer: “sometimes people forget that speed is nothing without control.”
Fabien retired from competitive racing in 2011, but after three world titles during his prestigious career, his tips on braking are important for both the novice and the expert. So whether you’re a competitive rider, you just like to ride on weekends, or one of your extreme New Year’s resolutions was to bike to work, you should listen to Fabien’s advice.
The beginning of the video concerns itself primarily with the bike brakes: maintenance of those brakes, and the proper alignment of your fingers on the handlebar in relation to the brake, so you don’t strain your forearms or dislocate a finger. This bit of information is for the more advanced riders.
As the video progresses, however, you’ll learn the proper amount of braking on the front and back wheel. There’s a tendency for bikers to load all their emphasis on their back wheel brake (to avoid falling over the handlebars), but you should really do about 70 percent on the front wheel, to control the direction of the bike and limit the drag and swerve of the back wheel. Your weight should simultaneously be loaded on your back heel to limit the back wheel’s skidding and provide balance. These mountain biking balance tips are crucial to keeping you upright.
Barel goes on to explain why it’s bad for your bike to permanently hold the brake as you’re heading down hill. This isn’t uncommon at all, especially for people that have never gone mountain biking; they’re scared of losing control. Similar to holding the brake on a car when you’re traveling on a slope, never letting the brake go for the entirety of your descent can cause the brake to fail; the same thing is true with a bike.
Fabien offers up some invaluable advice for everyone who rides. He’s a legend on the downhill race circuit, PinkBike reports, and knows what he’s talking about. Going as fast as possible down the hill isn’t what world champions do. They go fast, and stay on the bike, and the only way to do that is to master the feel and the technique of great braking. Follow these mountain biking tips on your next riding adventure.