Riding Brakes

Discussion in 'Road Cycling' started by Mr_Tee, Mar 12, 2010.

  1. Mr_Tee

    Mr_Tee New Member

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    While going down mountains, I've been told to always pat my breaks in an automobile so they don't overheat. But I've also read cyclists who said they rode their breaks all the way down some mountains I'm planning to ride. I also seem to remember hearing commentators on the Tour de France say how at very high speeds (straight-aways) the break heat would pop the tubes. I'm obviously new at this and my routes have been fairly conservative thus far. Crashing down a mountain would take a lot of the fun out of it for me.
     
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  2. alfeng

    alfeng Well-Known Member

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    How long is the descent?

    Regardless, you do NOT want to ride-the-brakes all the way down because you will definitely overheat the rims ... and, if the descent is long, you will indeed more-than-likely blow the tire off the rim (and/or tear the sidewall).

    If you're building up too much speed, then STOP THE BIKE ... gather your thoughts, and start up from a coast.

    If you want to go screaming down the mountain, then you probably need to have a wheel laced which has either a disc or drum brake which you would use as a "drag brake" (this is common on Tandems) to slow the bike down without affecting the rim ...

    ... Use a FRICTION shift lever for the drag brake, BTW.
     
  3. DuffyMcPatzer

    DuffyMcPatzer New Member

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    tap brakes = good
    ride brakes = bad
     
  4. wdm0006

    wdm0006 New Member

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    That is a bit excessive. At the end of the day, if you cannot safely descend a road without riding the brakes the whole way down, you may be better off doing a different route. In most cases, I would say that riding the brakes is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, the rim overheating is a real possibility, and also you should not be on the brakes while you are turning if at all possible.

    Where are you planning on riding? I would hazzard the guess that it is not necessary to drag the brakes unless you are riding in some kind of legendary terrain that I have not encountered.
     
  5. Mr_Tee

    Mr_Tee New Member

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    I live in Chattanooga, TN and I'm looking at the 3 State 3 Mountain. This includes Lookout, Sand, and Suck Creek Mountains. Signal Mtn is also nearby (the W road). Surely these aren't infamous...I'm new and nervous. I've been riding flats and hills but before I begin climbing mountains I would like to have some education in how to descend safely. My max speed so far is 48mph and I can't imagine doing that towards a switchback.
     
  6. wdm0006

    wdm0006 New Member

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    I've ridden most of those, and they are pretty fast, but you wont hit 48 going down any of them i wouldn't imagine. Just use the brakes when you want to slow down, don't use them to maintain a speed, just to change it, you know?
     
  7. decca234uk

    decca234uk New Member

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    It can be nerve racking descending steep hills for the first time, especially when the bike starts to pick up speed fast and you see your computer telling you you're hitting over forty.

    It's a bad idea to ride the brakes. What you need is to be mentally prepared before undertaking the descents. If you're nervous about going down steep mountains for the first time, join the club. we've all being nervous about descending some hills, at least those of us who are sane.

    build your experience by tackling small descents, get used to the bike on a descent. You'll soon pick up confidence. and if your bike is in good shape confidence is all it is.
     
  8. graf zeppelin

    graf zeppelin New Member

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    All you need to do is brake while you are still on the straight as you approach the switchback to bleed off a little speed so you can navigate it. Part of this of course is choosing a good line through. Outside of that, as you are descending, you can occasionally tap the brakes to take off a little speed, but, as others have said, do not ride the brakes or hold them for significant periods of time. The rims will get way too hot. Either tap them and continue, or stop the bike if you absolutely must. Be aware as you do either of these on a straight as someone may be behind you and not expecting a speed decrease until you near the switchback. You'll need to signal them past you before you bleed off speed if they are close.

    Anyhow, as said, work on smaller descents first and gain confidence. You wont go too much faster than 48mph - possibly 50-55mph - but the place you'll really notice the speed is as you approach the switchbacks. Choose your line way ahead of time and brake just before entry.
     
  9. Mr_Tee

    Mr_Tee New Member

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    Thanks for all the advice! I'm very glad I found this forum. The quantity of responses have surprised and impressed me.
     
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