Braking technique for discs

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Agent Orange, Sep 30, 2022.


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  1. Agent Orange

    Agent Orange Member

    Location:
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Name:
    Dude Bro
    Current Bike:
    '98 Specialized FSR Comp
    I don't go to Reddit for advice, but many poor souls do. I found myself reading a bicycle-related sub discussing how to "properly" use disc brakes. It was curious to me that a non-trivial amount of respondents said to intermittent hard brake application. Specifically, do that while alternating between front and rear in order to avoid overheating. Consistent, moderate "drag" braking was "bad" and to be avoided. No other wheeled sport I know of advocates such technique. I found it concerning, actually.

    Is this actually a thing in cycling? If so, can someone explain the physics of why?
     
    ~JB~, Danmtchl, herzalot and 4 others like this.
  2. DangerDirtyD

    DangerDirtyD iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    CA
    Name:
    Chicken Nugget
    Current Bike:
    2018 Guerrilla Gravity SMASH
    Sounds like they are trying to bed in the brake pads. I wish them luck. It shouldn’t take long for riders to recognize what feels stable when trying to slow down.
     
  3. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    I gots some bikes.
    Their advice was to grab a fistful of rear brake, release, and then grab a fistful of the front brake? o_O

    I'll try that on Middle Merrill tomorrow and report back. :Roflmao
     
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  4. Agent Orange

    Agent Orange Member

    Location:
    Antelope Valley, CA
    Name:
    Dude Bro
    Current Bike:
    '98 Specialized FSR Comp
    I was baffled because I didn't see how it would be possible. I'm frequently on downhills where a handful of both brakes is necessary to keep from....well, getting killed. On those slopes, releasing the brakes will have you going too fast again in seconds. There's no way to keep the brakes from getting really hot unless you crash and stop applying them. I've blued some of them. Bike brake rotors are generally made from 400 series stainless that has awful thermal transfer characteristics. A few seconds of radiating heat into the air isn't going to make a difference.

    In fact, I made it a point to get larger rotors that have fewer holes (and thus more mass) in order to better handle prolonged hard braking. I'd get solid rotors if I could find them.
     
  5. Sidewalk

    Sidewalk iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    The road is where I call home
    Name:
    Josh
    Current Bike:
    N+1
    I have heard of a similar braking technique from a truck driver. Basically brake relatively hard to get your speed down, then release to allow the brakes time to cool. Gentle dragging will over heat them. On the one side, those are drum brakes and suffer from overheating issues. And the other side, road bikes do have relatively small discs.

    I recently went from 203/180 discs to 220/203 discs on my MTB because I literally gave myself a second degree burn from a brake disc on the MTB. I can get my roadie up to some pretty high speeds.
     
  6. Derkderkall

    Derkderkall iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Monrovia
    Name:
    Derek Allison
    Current Bike:
    2020 Specialized Fuse 29
    :confused:
    Try that technique up there and you probably won't report back
     
  7. DangerDirtyD

    DangerDirtyD iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    CA
    Name:
    Chicken Nugget
    Current Bike:
    2018 Guerrilla Gravity SMASH
    What brand(s) is/are your brake/rotor setup?
     
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  8. UPSed

    UPSed iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Simi Valley
    Name:
    Ed
    Current Bike:
    Niner Jet 9 RDO
    And how thick are the rotors? :whistling:
     
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  9. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Front Range, San Gabes
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Trek FEX
    And do the rotor diameters measure true to spec?
     
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  10. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    2020 Revel Rail
    Understanding how brakes work (and more importantly, how they fail) is helpful in using them properly - but the technique of doing front and then back is one of the stupidest things I've heard. I can't believe I am about to say this, but @DangerDirtyD hit the nail on the head - "It won't take long to figure out what feels stable..."
    I will add that new mt bikers are notoriously fearful of using the front brake. With today's suspension and head angles, the likelihood of being pitched over the bars has been further diminished, requiring even less rearward movement of one's hips and CG while using the only brake that actually works to stop you.
     
  11. BonsaiNut

    BonsaiNut iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Troutman, NC
    Name:
    Greg P
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower CC XX1
    I can think of no instance when only using the front brake is a good idea... unless you are at riding at a walking pace. At speed, even a small bump can (and will) launch you.

    Of course, I'm not telling people on this site what they don't already know. I use rear brake only, or when things get gnarly, rear AND front in combination. I try not to drag my rear brake, but I don't hesitate to do so when conditions warrant. I've got a drawer full of brake pads, and they take less than ten minutes to change.
     
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  12. Sidewalk

    Sidewalk iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    The road is where I call home
    Name:
    Josh
    Current Bike:
    N+1
    Code R with HS2 discs, TruckerCo sintered pads.
     
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  13. siata94

    siata94 Member

    Location:
    lake forest
    Name:
    siata
    Current Bike:
    lazy goat
    in motorsports, threshold braking or get passed. If you heat up your brakes, trains will go by.
     
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  14. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    2020 Revel Rail
    At the bottom of a fast run, when I need to stop, I use 90% front brake. Rear brake only is for slight corrections in line or attitude. Or a super cool monster skid!
     
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  15. da big hills

    da big hills Well-Known Member

    Location:
    pearl harbor
    Name:
    cagey
    Current Bike:
    enduro 29
    brake with the front modulate with the rear. it has been that way for as long as long I can remember. I did not see a difference between rim and disc brakes. Maybe I have done it wrong the entire time.
     
  16. evdog

    evdog iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    Can't tell if you're being serious or messing with us... but if you can actually get away with rear brake only this says a lot about the trails you're riding in NC :p
     
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  17. BonsaiNut

    BonsaiNut iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Troutman, NC
    Name:
    Greg P
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower CC XX1
    Not sure why you want to throw shade on some of the best mountain biking in the country... particularly if you have never ridden any of the trails. Have you ever even VISITED North Carolina?

    But no, I'm talking about ALL of my biking, including SoCal. I never use the front brake by itself. Let me know about all your instances of using only the front brake on the Motorway or Joplin... how'd that work out for you?
     
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  18. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    2020 Revel Rail
    I don't think @evdog is throwing shade on NC trails per se, just saying that if you can use rear brake only, it must not be very steep.

    I think you may be overly scared of the front brake. I’m not a great rider but I could easily use 80% front brake on Joplin and Motorway with no problem. I wouldn’t want to use only front brake - not for fear of going over the bars - but because modulating front and rear helps distribute traction and keep the bike aligned. And that brings it back to the title of the tread - alternating your braking (front -rear -front - rear) to save wear on your pads or discs is pretty silly.

    But I think if I had to have one brake fail, I would be more comfortable with rear only vs front only - even though the rear doesn't slow the bike very well on steep terrain. Front-only would require some very careful modulation every time you pull the lever.

    And Motorway isn’t steep, so there’s that.
     
  19. BonsaiNut

    BonsaiNut iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Troutman, NC
    Name:
    Greg P
    Current Bike:
    Santa Cruz Hightower CC XX1
    This seems like such a pointless argument to be having. I can absolutely ride with 100% front brake in cases of mechanical failure. I've lost my rear brake before (for one reason or other) when up in the mountains, and have limped home with the front brake only. There is just no instance when I would prefer to use 100% front while descending. Can I? Yes. Do I think it is best? No. Will I go as fast using only the front brake versus front/rear combo? Not even close.

    So I guess I am going to have to agree to disagree with the "100% front brake FTW!" crowd.
     
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  20. herzalot

    herzalot iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Laguna Beach
    Name:
    Chris
    Current Bike:
    2020 Revel Rail
    If you read my last post, I think we agreed to agree. If I had to have one brake only, I would be more comfortable with rear-only than front only.
     
    Faust29 likes this.
  21. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    I gots some bikes.
    No... But it is as "steep" as the Luge, and significantly harder to brake on. There are no firm surfaces as you surf the scree. Touch the brakes and go faster... :laugh:
     
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  22. Sidewalk

    Sidewalk iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    The road is where I call home
    Name:
    Josh
    Current Bike:
    N+1
    I would hate to have rear brake only.

    I am DEFINITELY burning up my front brake harder. WAY harder. There is a reason I put a 220mm disc on the front of my bike.
     
  23. Obsidian

    Obsidian iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Costa Mesa
    Name:
    Obsidian
    Current Bike:
    Kirkland Tracer
    I just get on the bike and ride, and I don't even really know what I am doing most of the time. :cautious:
    That said, I rarely touch the front brake before the rear. I usually start rear and then add front. The only time I use front only is slow speed U-Turns on tight trails.

    ^ Probably why I am slow, but it works for me. Also, don't take riding advice from me. :Roflmao
     
  24. evdog

    evdog iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    San diego
    Name:
    Evan S
    I thought Bend - oh wait, no - Bentonville... has the best mountain biking in the country? Sorry but that singletracks.com list is even more questionable than the one @mtbMike posted a while back :Roflmao


    I don't see anyone advocating for 100% front brake only. Can you point them out to us? Or maybe have them stand up and wave?

    You were the one who said you use rear brake only (and both when the trail gets gnarly). It's quite mind blowing, actually, that someone who seems to be an experienced rider would think rear brake only is a good idea at almost any time....unless like @herzalot said, your trails are flat and slow.
     
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  25. SnakeCharmer

    SnakeCharmer iMTB Hooligan

    Location:
    Front Range, San Gabes
    Name:
    Mike, aka "Ssnake"
    Current Bike:
    Trek FEX
    I use both brakes 95% of the time amd I can say that most of the time I am squeezing the front brake harder than the rear. I only squeeze them equallly hard when I need to stop fast in order to not be decapitated by a downed tree. The odd thing is, my rear pads ALWAYS wear out faster than the front. Rotors are the same size.
     
  26. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    I gots some bikes.
    Front pads- 1100 miles. Rear pads- 600 miles. :poop: But at least they're quieter than those godforsaken Trucker Co. Pads. @Lost Kiwi .





    :Roflmao
     
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  27. Obsidian

    Obsidian iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Costa Mesa
    Name:
    Obsidian
    Current Bike:
    Kirkland Tracer
    Damnit, and I just got a new set in the mail today. :laugh: To be fair, only the front ones occasionally make noise.

    20221006_131917.jpg
     
  28. Danimal

    Danimal iMTB Addict

    Location:
    Mission Viejo
    Name:
    Dan
    Current Bike:
    Epic Evo


    Yep, that's about what I get, 2 rear sets to every front set of pads.

    And haven't really thought about it, but I'd say I'm 80% front for stopping. Serious suck to only have front or rear, but it happens.

    So far the nukeproof pads are doing ok, but only been on for a month or so.... Time will tell.
     
  29. Derkderkall

    Derkderkall iMTB Rockstah

    Location:
    Monrovia
    Name:
    Derek Allison
    Current Bike:
    2020 Specialized Fuse 29
    I thought I used both front and back fairly evenly... definitely if I want to stop I use both.
    When I put new brakes on last spring, the mechanic said my rear rotor had more wear than my front. I think steep fast descents.. yes, I do use a lot of front, but also rear. However.. when it starts to get techy ala El P, winter creek... i tend to feather the front and use more consistant force on the rear. Rolls over the chunk/tech with decent momentum but with the front free (ish) but controls speed using the rear.
     
  30. Faust29

    Faust29 Moderator

    Location:
    irgendwo
    Name:
    B. Bunny
    Current Bike:
    I gots some bikes.
    They’re great for your short little downhills. :laugh:
     
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As a former Amazon Associate I continue to get screwed trying to stay qualified as an Amazon Affiliate. So I quit!


Want to donate to imtbtrails?