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Braking correctly is the key to cycling safety

Braking correctly is the key to cycling safety

Cycling Training in Mallorca - Sean Kelly teaching the groupCycling Training in Mallorca - Sean Kelly teaching the group

Alongside learning how to use your gears correctly, learning how to brake correctly is a key part of cycling safety. Whether you need to stop suddenly or simply control your speed on a descent, knowing how to brake properly can make road cycling far more comfortable.

Whilst your instinct may be to slam on the rear wheel brake whenever you need to stop quickly, locking the back wheel can cause skidding and loss of control. On the other hand, slamming on the front wheel brake could well send you flying over the handlebars! Instead of using one brake, therefore, if you are looking to improve your cycling safety and minimise your chances of suffering a serious injury it is generally best to try to use both evenly, as this will produce a more balanced and controllable stop.

Unfortunately, there are many amateurs out there who are fairly slapdash when it comes to cycling safety and travel tremendously fast when descending. However, unless you have a contract with a professional team, it's simply not worth risking your safety to gain a few seconds on a friend. Even if the road is straight and you can see there are no vehicles ahead, you can still easily lose your balance at high speeds thanks to a loose stone under the tyre or a mechanical failure with your bike. Instead, progressive use of your brakes will help you maintain complete control of your bike and ensure you are able to take subsequent corners at a safe speed.

When approaching a corner, good cycling safety dictates that you should use both brakes before beginning to turn, and slow down to a speed you are comfortable with. Be sure not to use the front brake whilst turning the corner, as this will make it incredibly difficult to steer your bike. Instead, apply the back brake slowly; this will make steering much easier.

 

by Martin Birney
8.11.2013

 

 

 

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