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Rear tire skidding

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Rear tire skidding

Old 07-16-21, 02:03 AM
  #1  
Symox
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Rear tire skidding

Been doing a lot of hills lately. I read or watched a video where someone recommended slowing down using the rear brake.


while doing that I’ve had a few occasions where (especially in a turn) my rear wheel locks up and I start a short skid. Luckily I’ve corrected by releasing the brakes in time to prevent losing control.

im using rim brakes and keep my but on the saddle


any tips to avoid the skids?
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Old 07-16-21, 05:27 AM
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Less rear brake? Confident you'll figure it out.
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Old 07-16-21, 05:40 AM
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Brake before the turn, not in the turn, if at all possible (hey, we all get it wrong sometimes). You should not be braking in the turn, that is for emergencies only and is an indication that you've misjudged the turn and should have braked more before entering it (or that you should have chosen a different line through the turn).

Modulating your speed with the rear brake is fine, it can save wear on the front brake for when you need it. There are a few other times you want to use the rear brake - slippery surfaces (wet, gravel) to avoid washing out front wheel; while turning (if you've misjudged your speed or the sharpness of a turn), again to avoid washing out front and to avoid high-siding. However, to slow significantly or stop from a high speed you need to use the front brake.

Last edited by noimagination; 07-16-21 at 06:14 AM.
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Old 07-16-21, 05:44 AM
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This was helpful for me:

https://www.sheldonbrown.com/brakturn.html
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Old 07-16-21, 10:13 PM
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Put on some cheaper, durable tires to practice braking techniques. I used Continental Ultra Sport II a few years ago after resuming riding a road bike because they're very durable and grippy but also pretty darned good tires for the money (used to be under $20 each, not sure about the current price). Great tire for an indoor trainer too, so I don't need to swap wheels on my old school steel bike to ride outdoors.

Some folks recommend sliding back on the saddle, or even off the rear of the saddle, for straight-line emergency braking -- such as on a downhill, or emergency stop to avoid being struck by a negligent driver. It's not the best technique for every situation, but you need to practice these techniques to develop the muscle memory, instinctive use and confidence.

On gravel and loose stuff some riders recommend staying seated to keep weight on the rear wheel, both for seated climbing and most braking. Some techniques include deliberately locking up the rear wheel to dig through gravel and loose topsoil to hit the firmer stuff underneath. Again, you have to practice to decide whether it works for you. Worth using some inexpensive but durable tires to practice.
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Old 07-16-21, 11:54 PM
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Originally Posted by flangehead View Post
It's helpful, but as with many things Sheldon, it's not exactly correct either.

Braking with both ends is far more effective than using only the front, and the rear alone will stop a bicycle...I've had to do it when a front brake failed. Know how to use both brakes and adapt your braking to the surface condition. The only way to do this is practice. Braking only slows you down, but it's a vital bike handling skill.
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Old 07-17-21, 06:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
It's helpful, but as with many things Sheldon, it's not exactly correct either.

Braking with both ends is far more effective than using only the front, and the rear alone will stop a bicycle...I've had to do it when a front brake failed. Know how to use both brakes and adapt your braking to the surface condition. The only way to do this is practice. Braking only slows you down, but it's a vital bike handling skill.
Using both brakes is more ‘effective’ at keeping the front and rear brake wear even. For hard braking or emergency stops though using 100% front is correct. Maybe if you can get enough of your weight behind the saddle you could use a little rear brake but the vast majority of weight will be on the front tire and the braking force available from the rear is small.
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Old 07-17-21, 07:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
Been doing a lot of hills lately. I read or watched a video where someone recommended slowing down using the rear brake.


while doing that I’ve had a few occasions where (especially in a turn) my rear wheel locks up and I start a short skid. Luckily I’ve corrected by releasing the brakes in time to prevent losing control.

im using rim brakes and keep my but on the saddle


any tips to avoid the skids?
Use the front brake. When you are braking (especially downhill) there is a lot more dynamic weight transfer onto the front wheel, so more braking grip available on the front wheel. Using the rear brake only to slow down is likely to lead to skids, as you have discovered. Personally I always use both brakes, but with more pressure on the front brake.
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Old 07-17-21, 09:16 AM
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I sometimes wonder if people who advocate using the rear brake only don't live where there are technical descents. There are number of those around here where you can pick up so much speed between tight turns that braking with the rear only won't scrub off enough speed. Plus, I think you'd end up having to be braking so much you'd risk fade from heat build-up, versus a quick grab of both brakes before a turn that slows you down better, distributes the heat between F and R, and allows the rim(or disk) to cool a bit before the next turn.
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Old 07-17-21, 09:26 AM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Using both brakes is more ‘effective’ at keeping the front and rear brake wear even. For hard braking or emergency stops though using 100% front is correct. Maybe if you can get enough of your weight behind the saddle you could use a little rear brake but the vast majority of weight will be on the front tire and the braking force available from the rear is small.
Now this isn't the gravel forum, but in conditions where in the front tyre will slip before the rear wheel completely "unloads" Id argue some rear wheel braking is better than none at all. That said I almost always brake front only.
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Old 07-17-21, 10:47 AM
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Anything that tells you to use the rear brake on downhills you need to realize that they aren't telling you to lock up the back wheel. As you go downhill, weight is already shifted off the rear somewhat. Braking shifts that weight off the back wheel even more. So it becomes easier to lock it up. For a while, many mfrs have been putting smaller disc's on the rear and I think that is why. So they won't tend to lock up so easy.

Though coming from rim brakes to disc, I had been locking up my rear too and went sideways way too many times. Thankfully only one time resulted in a crash. Though all, including the crash were sort of fun and in a childish way I was saying to myself "do it again"! But I didn't.

I think I've got it figured out now, with practice so will you. Don't lock up your rear wheel! But do use rear braking to modulate your speed downhill or anywhere. It's less desirable to have your front wheel lock up and fly out from under you than the rear. IMO.
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Old 07-17-21, 01:19 PM
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Originally Posted by gregf83 View Post
Using both brakes is more ‘effective’ at keeping the front and rear brake wear even. For hard braking or emergency stops though using 100% front is correct. Maybe if you can get enough of your weight behind the saddle you could use a little rear brake but the vast majority of weight will be on the front tire and the braking force available from the rear is small.
Noted. Thanks for the physics lesson...emergency braking is a rare event, or should be, if it isn't the rider might want to start considering what they are doing wrong. Like I original finished my post, braking is a skill. Using one brake when you have two is not skillful.
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Old 07-17-21, 01:22 PM
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Originally Posted by Iride01 View Post
Anything that tells you to use the rear brake on downhills you need to realize that they aren't telling you to lock up the back wheel. As you go downhill, weight is already shifted off the rear somewhat. Braking shifts that weight off the back wheel even more. So it becomes easier to lock it up. For a while, many mfrs have been putting smaller disc's on the rear and I think that is why. So they won't tend to lock up so easy.
I find that my rear is easier to lock on my road bike (140mm), where on my gravel bikes it requires a lot of deliberate action (160mm). YMMV, but I find the smaller discs have a much narrower modulation threshold. I think the smaller discs are for weight saving, because some people think saving 20 grams (less than 1 oz) matters.
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Old 07-17-21, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
I find that my rear is easier to lock on my road bike (140mm), where on my gravel bikes it requires a lot of deliberate action (160mm). YMMV, but I find the smaller discs have a much narrower modulation threshold. I think the smaller discs are for weight saving, because some people think saving 20 grams (less than 1 oz) matters.
Google 'leverage'. It's a simple concept. Smaller rotors are going to create less braking force all other things being equal. That's why pretty much everything w/ disc brakes uses smaller brake systems on the rear compared to the front. It's all about putting the power where the traction is. Less weight is a nice byproduct of this but not the main reason for it.
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Old 07-17-21, 03:42 PM
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1) Avoid using the rear brake
2) Avoid braking while turning - brake before entering the curve. Not always possible, I know. If it's the case, point 1 will help!
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Old 07-17-21, 11:15 PM
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Never jam on the front brake alone or you might go over the handlebars unless you remember to scoot your bottom back behind the seat.

only using the rear to the point of locking it up is never recommended
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Old 07-17-21, 11:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Noted. Thanks for the physics lesson...emergency braking is a rare event, or should be, if it isn't the rider might want to start considering what they are doing wrong. Like I original finished my post, braking is a skill. Using one brake when you have two is not skillful.
No need to be cranky. What did you mean by far more effective?
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Old 07-18-21, 02:21 AM
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I’m not being cranky gregf83. 70-80% of a bicycle’s braking force is generated by the front, leaving 20-30% for the rear. Emergency braking aside, which is far different than slowing to turn or slowing to stop in controlled situations, braking is best served using both brakes…understanding that the front provides the bulk of the stopping power while the back adds to it. The skill is in how the brakes are applied.
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Old 07-18-21, 02:23 AM
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Originally Posted by eduskator View Post
1) Avoid using the rear brake
2) Avoid braking while turning - brake before entering the curve. Not always possible, I know. If it's the case, point 1 will help!
Point number 1 is completely wrong. The back end is very useful for slowing the bike, especially while descending, but it is ineffective alone for stopping unless speed is VERY low.
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Old 07-18-21, 04:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Symox View Post
im using rim brakes and keep my but on the saddle


any tips to avoid the skids?

Dual pivot brake is overkill on the back; I've always stuck with single pivot there. A nice single pivot has more than enough oomph to lock up the rear, so any more power is wasted on giving up modulation.

If you have to squeeze harder to lock it up, it's easier not to.
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Old 07-18-21, 08:09 AM
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Only in extreme circumstances would I recommend using just the back brake. The object is to find the right balance of front/rear breaking force for most situations you are likely to encounter. It is important to not put yourself in a situation where you can't stop safely by carefully applying both brakes. If you're speeding down hill on wet pavement with a sharp turn ahead, It may be too late. Just don't go there.

Short of ABS brakes it's unlikely we can find the perfect front/back brake pressure balance, and that's OK. Just relieving the back brake of much of the work is enough to reduce skidding. With some practice we can probably get quite good at judging the right balance, Something I should be doing more of too. If you feel it's too dangerous to apply normal front brake preasure, Then error on the side of safety and back off.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 07-18-21 at 11:04 AM.
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Old 07-18-21, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Badger6 View Post
Point number 1 is completely wrong. The back end is very useful for slowing the bike, especially while descending, but it is ineffective alone for stopping unless speed is VERY low.
For whom exactly? OP wants to stop skidding - the simplest way is to not use the rear brake
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Old 07-18-21, 09:54 PM
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In that regard, you are correct eduskator .

But, in terms of proper bike handling, learning to modulate th rear brake is a far better (and safer) option.
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Old 07-19-21, 12:15 PM
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Shimano STI's of differing models and versions have differing ways to change the lever position. Other makes probably have similar too. So changing lever distance might let you "feel" the brakes more to modulate them better. Just make certain you'll always have enough lever travel for the "oh crap" moments.
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Old 07-19-21, 12:29 PM
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I use a lot of rear brake, I do a lot of descending and I am a heavier rider. I can't think of many times I have locked the rear wheel, it almost never happens.
While it's true the front provides 70% or more of the stopping power, careful use of the rear on a steep descent can aid in your control and help keep the front from getting too hot. Sometimes when I just want to scrub speed I will alternate front to back.

There is a steep grade I do which is twisty and a bit off camber. I use lots of both brakes on that thing.
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