View Poll Results: Which Brake Do You Use Most?

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  • Front Brake

    26 50.00%
  • Rear Brake

    9 17.31%
  • Both Evenly

    17 32.69%
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  1. #26
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    On a bike, if you're not distributing your weight differently for different power and braking conditions... climbs, descents, accelerating or slowing on either, you're doing it wrong.

    Before I started being a roadie during the mid 1990s, when I first started mtb'ing in the mid 1980s...

    I was doing technical single track trails that included descents that I describe as controlled falling down a hill.

    There I learned, with the assistance of my Hite-Rite seatpost spring, that on gnarly technical descents, laying on my seat with my butt over my rear axle or even farther back, my front brake was king.

    Even now, on the road, I could live without a back brake, but not without a front brake.

  2. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex91 View Post
    As someone who does most of his riding on mtb and dirt in general, I probably approach this differently, but I often use only rear brake if I need to scrub some speed in a turn. I can't think of any scenario short of a flat rear tire where I would use only front brake. For actually slowing down in a straight line, though, yes, it's both with emphasis on the front. Because of weight transfer, the front is where the power is. That's why most MTBs have a bigger disc up front than at the rear.

    The comparison to cars is only partially valid. Weight transfer to the front still occurs under braking whether it's a car or a bike, but there are still some pretty big differences.

    1. Most cars are considerably heavier at the front. That's why, along with the weight transfer that occurs under braking, the front brakes are bigger and vented. "More wight at the front" doesn't apply if you're driving a 911.

    2. Weight distribution and transfer in a car is fixed. You're not going to alter weight distribution by leaning forward in your seat, and you can't go back without laying it down. Even if you could move back and forth more, the effect on overall weight distribution percentage is not going to change appreciably. On a bike, this is very different - your body position can affect weight distribution immensely.

    3. Brake bias in a car is fixed. Even in a racecar with adjustable brake bias, a driver isn't changing it mid-braking event. On a bike, brake bias can be changed instantly and constantly.

    4. In a car (and this is a racing scenario, not something most people would use, or know how to use, on the street), the only way to change weight balance and thus traction on the front wheels vs. rear wheels is through application of the brake or throttle. On a bike, if you need more traction on the front or rear, you're going to influence that with body position or pumping - braking, not so much.

    As I said, the only time I can think of that I would use only front brake is a flat rear tire. But there seem to be plenty of people who often use only front brake. May I ask why? It seems to me that 1) you are greatly reducing your stopping power by using only the front; and b) putting a lot more heat into the front brake/rim.

    (Edit: I've read the Sheldon Brown article where he says the rear tire should have almost no traction because of the weight transfer. "Almost" isn't "none." I also question using the arms to brace against the handlebars under hard braking to keep the body from moving forward ... by doing so, you're putting more weight on the bars, making an OTB more likely. If you have little or no weight on the bars, you're not going OTB. The legs and core should be keeping your body from moving forward under braking, not your arms.)
    for a 2 wheel vehicle in dry and fairly clean pavement, maximum braking power is achieved when the rear wheel is barely lifting off the ground. And when this happens, you will feel like you're doing handstand on the handbar because your arms act as a weight transfer limbs (and besides you're not going to be able to just use your legs alone to push yourself back). If you were to use your rear brake while under maximum braking (i.e., with rear wheel slightly lifted) then you will run a great risk of locking the rear and causing a rear slid/highside when the rear touches back on the ground. Here, I'm talking about maximum braking on dry pavement.

    Now, you do have point about using both brakes. My opinion about using both brakes is that if you're NOT attempting (or don't want to attempt) to apply MAX braking power in dry condition, then it's perhaps better off if you do use BOTH brakes as this distribute rim wear (or disc wear), and this may be especially good for carbon rims braking. But you would this to distribute rim/disc wear, not because you want maximum braking power. For max braking, it's still all front wheel (in the dry).

    Now switching over to mtb. Like you, I personally like to initiate braking with the rear brake slightly to make the rear end squat down a bit, then immediately release the rear brake as I transition over to heavily bias front braking. I do this for a couple reasons. One, by making the rear squat before I initiate the front brake, it will make the weight transition to the front wheel less distance to travel (thus less chance of upsetting the suspension). Two, using the rear brake at this point may be more preferable than trying to use it mid-corner as using it mid-corner would necessarily stiffen up the rear suspension and thus rob out of rear traction. Three, from a rider perspective, there is more of a direct connect from his arms to the fork than from his legs thru the rear suspension. Thus, riders will amost always have a more direct feedback from front braking than rear braking; it's why so many riders slid out their rear so much compared to the front. Also, many riders think that they're "play it safe" by sliding the rear than try to learn proper front braking technique.. because the consequence of sliding the rear is a low side simple crash, but sliding the front usually means a harder crash. Because of this fear, people just continue to use bad technique. Front braking is GREAT, but it does require PRACTICE. Rear braking is generally safe and doesn't require much practice, but far from optimal.

    now if I have to put the bike down in an emergency, then hell yeah lock up the rear and twist the body sideway, because it's the most assured way of going down with the least possible damage.


  3. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by SPlKE View Post
    Even now, on the road, I could live without a back brake, but not without a front brake.
    You could probably get away with just either, but you better never need to stop on a dime if you only have a rear.
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  4. #29
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    Inexperienced riders are the only ones who think about this when needing to brake. IMO, braking is automatic - without thinking my butt slides back, both hands apply pressure to the brakes, modulating as necessary to keep control of the bike. Conscious thought is applied only to figuring out the direction I am steering the bike to avoid whatever is causing the need to brake.
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  5. #30
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    To be totally honest, I don't think I've ever paid attention to which brake I use more, but I suspect I use them evenly. I squeeze both levers evenly until I stop as quickly as I want. I can't think of any situation, ever, where I'd want just one brake doing all the work. It just makes sense to me to divide the energy between two brakes as evenly as possible, without causing my rear tire to skid and fishtail or without causing my rear tire to lift off the ground (or worse, send me over the handlebars). It's just physics that the front tire is able to provide more braking force than the rear, but from the rider's perspective, I think both brakes should be used to the fullest of their ability.

    And no, I don't think disk vs rim brakes makes a bit of difference. In wet weather, both front and rear rim brakes will suck equally.

  6. #31
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    The poll doesn't say "only".....When I ride by myself, I obviously use both brakes, but when riding in a tight group, I use the rear brake to make minor adjustments in speed. I do that so that the person behind of me can see the calipers move. I'll do that, much more often than coming to a stop, when I'll use both brakes. The exception is if I'm in a turn when I have to adjust speed. In a turn, using the rear brake will cause the bike to "stand up", instead of continuing the lean.
    If your opinion differs from mine, ..........Too bad.
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  7. #32
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    Quote Originally Posted by MR_GRUMPY View Post
    The poll doesn't say "only".....When I ride by myself, I obviously use both brakes, but when riding in a tight group, I use the rear brake to make minor adjustments in speed. I do that so that the person behind of me can see the calipers move. I'll do that, much more often than coming to a stop, when I'll use both brakes. The exception is if I'm in a turn when I have to adjust speed. In a turn, using the rear brake will cause the bike to "stand up", instead of continuing the lean.
    You got it backwards...the rear brake can help hold a bike down in a corner, using the front brake in a corner will stand the bike up and/or cause the front to then lose traction and slide out. Rear brake helps control, front brake helps to lose control in a corner.
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  8. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    There is only one correct answer if you take the question literally. In certain situations you'll use more rear brake or use them evenly but on the whole the front brake should be used more. All you have to do is look at car and moto brake systems. It will become instantly obvious which brake should be used more.



    ETA: 3...2...1 til @waspinator shows up asking why anyone would ever use the front brake.
    Nope. But I will show up and explain the following:

    I don't think you understand why cars have larger disks up front.

    It's not because the front brakes are "used more" per se. It's because when braking occurs, the weight of the car is shifted forward and the normal force on the front tire is greater, and thus the force of friction is greater on the front tire than the rear (eg, force of friction is normal force X coefficient of friction). So, the front brakes potentially have a bigger job to do. Keep in mind, though, that as long as neither the front nor rear tires are skidding against the pavement, they are applying equal braking force. The force that the rear brakes can apply is limited, because the normal force over the rear tires decreases as the weight of the car shifts forward and thus the force of friction decreases. If the force of friction between rear tire and road is exceeded by the braking force of the rear brake, then the rear tire will begin to skid. With the front brake, the normal force over the front tire increases as weight is shifted forward, and thus the force of friction between the road and front tire increases, thus increasing the amount of force the brake can apply before skidding occurs.

    Consider this: if someone designed a car that somehow shifted its weight to the rear tires when braking, you can be sure they'd make the rear rotors larger than the front.

  9. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by aclinjury View Post
    for a 2 wheel vehicle in dry and fairly clean pavement, maximum braking power is achieved when the rear wheel is barely lifting off the ground. And when this happens, you will feel like you're doing handstand on the handbar because your arms act as a weight transfer limbs (and besides you're not going to be able to just use your legs alone to push yourself back). If you were to use your rear brake while under maximum braking (i.e., with rear wheel slightly lifted) then you will run a great risk of locking the rear and causing a rear slid/highside when the rear touches back on the ground. Here, I'm talking about maximum braking on dry pavement.

    Now, you do have point about using both brakes. My opinion about using both brakes is that if you're NOT attempting (or don't want to attempt) to apply MAX braking power in dry condition, then it's perhaps better off if you do use BOTH brakes as this distribute rim wear (or disc wear), and this may be especially good for carbon rims braking. But you would this to distribute rim/disc wear, not because you want maximum braking power. For max braking, it's still all front wheel (in the dry).

    Now switching over to mtb. Like you, I personally like to initiate braking with the rear brake slightly to make the rear end squat down a bit, then immediately release the rear brake as I transition over to heavily bias front braking. I do this for a couple reasons. One, by making the rear squat before I initiate the front brake, it will make the weight transition to the front wheel less distance to travel (thus less chance of upsetting the suspension). .

    Braking with the rear brake doesn't cause the bike (or car, or motorcycle) to squat. The center of gravity of the vehicle is always above the contact patch of the tire, and thus the weight of the vehicle will shift forward, regardless of which brake is applying the braking force.

  10. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    Braking with the rear brake doesn't cause the bike (or car, or motorcycle) to squat. The center of gravity of the vehicle is always above the contact patch of the tire, and thus the weight of the vehicle will shift forward, regardless of which brake is applying the braking force.
    This will likely be the only time I completely agree w/ you. Any time you initiate braking on any wheeled vehicle the weight will shift forward. Not possible for rear brake to make a bicycle 'squat'.
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  11. #36
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    I think they are referring to full suspension mtb's where depending on the the suspension design, braking can cause the rear to squat, which is why people talk about different designs having "X" amount of anti-squat and also anti-rise (brake jack). You want good (high) anti-squat under acceleration and good (low/high? dunno one of them) anti-rise when braking.

    Or something like that, not really sure how it works, I just ride. EIther way mtb suspension bikes do not work like moto's and cars
    Last edited by mik_git; 4 Weeks Ago at 08:57 PM.
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  12. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by mik_git View Post
    I think they are referring to full suspension mtb's where depending on the the suspension design, braking can cause the rear to squat, which is why people talk about different designs having "X" amount of anti-squat and also anti-rise (brake jack). You want good (high) anti-squat under acceleration and good (low/high? dunno one of them) anti-rise when braking.

    Or something like that, not really sure how it works, I just ride. EIther way mtb suspension bikes do not work like moto's and cars
    There is NO way a rear suspension can 'squat' once braking has been started. The weight shift to the front is instantaneous. It's not possible. If you think it is it's on you to provide the proof and post it.
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  13. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    Nope. But I will show up and explain the following:

    I don't think you understand why cars have larger disks up front.

    It's not because the front brakes are "used more" per se. It's because when braking occurs, the weight of the car is shifted forward and the normal force on the front tire is greater, and thus the force of friction is greater on the front tire than the rear (eg, force of friction is normal force X coefficient of friction). So, the front brakes potentially have a bigger job to do. Keep in mind, though, that as long as neither the front nor rear tires are skidding against the pavement, they are applying equal braking force. The force that the rear brakes can apply is limited, because the normal force over the rear tires decreases as the weight of the car shifts forward and thus the force of friction decreases. If the force of friction between rear tire and road is exceeded by the braking force of the rear brake, then the rear tire will begin to skid. With the front brake, the normal force over the front tire increases as weight is shifted forward, and thus the force of friction between the road and front tire increases, thus increasing the amount of force the brake can apply before skidding occurs.

    Consider this: if someone designed a car that somehow shifted its weight to the rear tires when braking, you can be sure they'd make the rear rotors larger than the front.
    I know exactly why they have larger front brakes. They are not providing equal braking force unless the brakes themselves are the same, the wheels/tires are the same, and the weight on each corner is the same. The only way this could happen would be if the weight distribution was biased so much to the rear that you ended up w/ a perfect 50/50 distribution of weight under braking...and it could only happen at one rate of deceleration. Your 911 example is close, but they still use larger front brakes even though they have smaller tires.
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  14. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    There is NO way a rear suspension can 'squat' once braking has been started. The weight shift to the front is instantaneous. It's not possible. If you think it is it's on you to provide the proof and post it.
    It's possible. If the moment of inertia of the bike/rider is lower than the handlebars, I'd imagine, it is very possible. I'm not entirely sure about the handlebars. But lower than some point from which the front suspension would be compressed.

  15. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    There is NO way a rear suspension can 'squat' once braking has been started. The weight shift to the front is instantaneous. It's not possible. If you think it is it's on you to provide the proof and post it.
    Hey I'm not saying anything about it, I have no idea how it works, I neither care nor worry about, just know that its a thing, if you want to know more or want to disprove it, feel free to look it up yourself; Anti-rise.
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  16. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    There is NO way a rear suspension can 'squat' once braking has been started. The weight shift to the front is instantaneous. It's not possible. If you think it is it's on you to provide the proof and post it.
    Maybe Sir Isaac Newton can enlighten some people in this thread:

    https://www.physicsclassroom.com/Phy.../Newton-s-Laws
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  17. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Waspinator View Post
    ...
    And no, I don't think disk vs rim brakes makes a bit of difference. In wet weather, both front and rear rim brakes will suck equally.
    I used to think the same, but now having spent some time in wet riding with disks, I can confirm that in the wet, disks are MUCH better.

    Also, back to the front/rear debate raging; when I come into a turn REALLY hot, I'm generally using at least 3/4 front to 1/4 rear APPROACHING the turn, then only using a slight drag to the rear while IN the turn.

    I have considerable experience in automotive rallying, and I'm quite versatile in 'controlled sliding', which is something that the MTB community does a lot, but rarely is it done on a road bike.
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  18. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by No Time Toulouse View Post
    I used to think the same, but now having spent some time in wet riding with disks, I can confirm that in the wet, disks are MUCH better.

    Also, back to the front/rear debate raging; when I come into a turn REALLY hot, I'm generally using at least 3/4 front to 1/4 rear APPROACHING the turn, then only using a slight drag to the rear while IN the turn.

    I have considerable experience in automotive rallying, and I'm quite versatile in 'controlled sliding', which is something that the MTB community does a lot, but rarely is it done on a road bike.
    I'm speaking of rim brakes having trouble in went conditions. Disc brakes work reliably all the time. It's why any new road bike I use will have disc brakes.

    As for turning, that's a different ballgame. To avoid fishtailing, yes, you might consider going easy on the rear brake.

  19. #44
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    There is one aspect of wet weather braking that most people seem to overlook. On road bikes we have a very narrow patch of rubber meeting the pavement, so both rim brakes and disc brakes will put the wheel into a skid rather quickly. Since disc brakes do grab more quickly in wet conditions than do rim brakes, they will cause the skid that much more quickly - but a skid is not the fastest method of stopping a bike.

    Luckily we now have hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes so that it is easier to modulate the power being applied - even more so than with rim brakes (but those modulate better than mechanical disc brakes, IMO) - thus exacerbating the issue. However, I am of the belief that the beginning cyclist is far more likely to go down in an uncontrolled skid with a disc brake bike than with a rim brake bike. This makes me even more reticent to join large group rides on rainy days than I was in the 80s. I am not fond of being taken down because someone else can't control their bike (this is why I quit racing in the mid-80s - with the sudden influx of triathletes who were strong enough to keep up with experienced riders we had a vast increase in crashes because they didn't know how to handle their bikes).
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  20. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradkay View Post
    Luckily we now have hydraulic disc brakes for road bikes so that it is easier to modulate the power being applied - even more so than with rim brakes - thus exacerbating the issue.
    Did you mean the opposite of exacerbate?

  21. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by tomato coupe View Post
    Did you mean the opposite of exacerbate?
    Oops, yes, I meant to write "alleviating" but the brain short-circuited... thanks.
    Last edited by bradkay; 4 Weeks Ago at 01:06 PM.
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  22. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by bradkay View Post
    Oops, yes, I meant to write "alleviate" but the brain short-circuited... thanks.
    It happens ...

  23. #48
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    Quote Originally Posted by cxwrench View Post
    There is NO way a rear suspension can 'squat' once braking has been started. The weight shift to the front is instantaneous. It's not possible. If you think it is it's on you to provide the proof and post it.
    yes rear suspension can squat under braking

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  24. #49
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    I pull rear brake first (never locking up) & then pull front brake within a cunch hair of a second, modulating front brake as needed.

  25. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lombard View Post
    Sure you are reducing your stopping power by only using the front rather than both. But you will still have much more stopping power than if you use only the rear. This is regardless of weight distribution. Don't believe me? Stand along side your bike. From a stand still, grab your front brake as hard as you can and try to move your bike forward. It won't move, right? Now grab your rear brake as hard as you can and try to move your bike forward. It will still slip forward!

    So, given the same amount of grip, your front brake has the greatest amount of stopping power. Would you agree?
    Yes. I agree. In fact, that's exactly what I said - "The front brakes are where the power is."

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