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braking technique

jimbones

Chimp
Oct 19, 2006
67
0
I have been riding for awhile but a riding buddy of mine is very critical of my braking technique. :rant: He says I should use only 1 finger. I use 2. He really bugs me about it as if it is a very bad habit. Is it? Am I really doing this wrong? :confused:
Thanks
 

JustMtnB44

Monkey
Sep 13, 2006
849
119
Pittsburgh, PA
No, there is no wrong way to do it. It is preference, but depends on your brakes too. Going back years ago on my old v-brake bikes it sometimes took me two fingers to get full power. Now with hydro discs I use 1 finger pretty much all the time. On my FR bike with Avid Codes 1 finger is plenty. I like having more fingers on the bars, I feel like it gives more steering control and stability.
 

slowitdown

Monkey
Mar 30, 2009
553
0
The main difference is in control over the bike while braking. You can control the bike better with 1-finger braking -- the extra finger on the handlebar makes a positive difference if the terrain is rough or you need to handle the bike while you're braking.

Lots of times people use 2 fingers because their brake levers are too far outboard (toward the end of the bar) and their index finger doesn't hit the brake lever at the optimal point. If you use a 1-finger technique, you should move your brake levers inboard so that the index finger grabs the brake lever just inside the little ball or nub on the end of the lever.
 

jimbones

Chimp
Oct 19, 2006
67
0
thanks guys. i will move my levers. i use 2 fingers because i believe it is a comfort thing.I also feel I get better modulation of the brakes with 2 fingers.
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,373
0
SF
If you do want to try the 1 finger method, move the levers in so you are grabbing it at the end. Even switch the levers with the shifters.
 

slowitdown

Monkey
Mar 30, 2009
553
0
jimbones, also check out the reach adjustment.

If you need to use 2 fingers for modulation it might be because your lever reach is too far.

Everyone has personal preferences on reach, but I think you'll find that if you can adjust the lever reach so that the brake locks up when the lever is pulled almost all the way to the grip, you won't need to use 2 fingers. When you adjust the lever this way, basically you are moving its start point closer to the grip/bar.

You should also check out the orientation of your levers. I think it's good to start with levers about a 45deg angle, halfway between flat (horizontal) and straight down (vertical, pointing to the ground) and then rotate them on the bar to match where your arms are in your most typical riding position. When your arms, wrists, hands line up there's less strain on your hand/fingers, and you won't have to work so hard to hold onto the bar, or the brake levers.
 

kickstand

Turbo Monkey
Sep 18, 2009
3,441
393
Fenton, MI
I experimented with this recently while out riding, I typically use two fingers, I realized it was because of brake lever location. I haven't had a chance to get back out riding, but moved my levers to allow for 1 finger braking. Regardless there is no wrong way to ride a bike, whatever way allows you to enjoy riding, and riding to the best of your ability is the way that is best for you.
 

cecil

Turbo Monkey
Jun 3, 2008
2,064
2,345
with the voices in my head
I experimented with this recently while out riding, I typically use two fingers, I realized it was because of brake lever location. I haven't had a chance to get back out riding, but moved my levers to allow for 1 finger braking. Regardless there is no wrong way to ride a bike, whatever way allows you to enjoy riding, and riding to the best of your ability is the way that is best for you.
get the book "mastering mountain bike skills" you will be amazed how much faster you will be able to ride.
 

rigidhack

Turbo Monkey
Aug 16, 2004
1,206
1
In a Van(couver) down by the river
Another quick tip for setting lever position: grab the bars as you normally would, now extend your pointer finger. They are likely to be pointing at the ground somewhere out in front of you. Position your levers so that they are at the same angle. The idea is to be able to reach your lever simply by extending a finger.
 

woodsguy

gets infinity MPG
Mar 18, 2007
1,083
1
Sutton, MA
I've been braking with my middle and ring fingers for nearly 20 years (since my grip shift days). Since going with hydros for the past 5 years I sometimes will only use my middle finger. But not for any other reason that I'm too lazy to move the ring finger as well. I feel that I can grip the bars just fine with my thumb and first finger so it doesn't matter what my other fingers are doing.
 

slowitdown

Monkey
Mar 30, 2009
553
0
I feel that I can grip the bars just fine with my thumb and first finger so it doesn't matter what my other fingers are doing.
That's interesting.

It's also very bad advice. You should work on trying to re-train yourself to use either the index finger alone, or the index+long finger combo. You might think you can control the handlebar just fine with a thumb and index finger being the only ones on the bar, but I'm sure you're lacking experience riding at high levels of speed and technical challenge with that very compromised grip.

I strongly suggest re-learning how you hold onto the grips and brake levers.
 
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cecil

Turbo Monkey
Jun 3, 2008
2,064
2,345
with the voices in my head
Another quick tip for setting lever position: grab the bars as you normally would, now extend your pointer finger. They are likely to be pointing at the ground somewhere out in front of you. Position your levers so that they are at the same angle. The idea is to be able to reach your lever simply by extending a finger.
that is great advise, although if you a dh'er when your getting way back over the rear tire, cause the trail so steep your finger wont reach the lever
 

cecil

Turbo Monkey
Jun 3, 2008
2,064
2,345
with the voices in my head
:rofl:

please, just stop.
cuz in the seated position on my dhrig my fingers point down at the ground, when the seat is in the middle of my chest, and my a** is behind the rear wheel my fingers point straight out, and yes i the levers were hard to reach, i had to move for way forward to get index finger on lever

you dh??
 

sanjuro

Tube Smuggler
Sep 13, 2004
17,373
0
SF
cuz in the seated position on my dhrig my fingers point down at the ground, when the seat is in the middle of my chest, and my a** is behind the rear wheel my fingers point straight out, and yes i the levers were hard to reach, i had to move for way forward to get index finger on lever

you dh??
You know you can tilt the levers up...

P.S. There is a World Champion, the designer of the DW-Link, and a mechanic who married a World Champion, all posting to this site.

I don't believe you fit any of these categories...
 
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FullMonty

Chimp
Nov 29, 2009
96
0
I always get an inner chuckle when I see a dude roll into the shop with the brake levers on his Norco A-line or whatever pretty much parallel to the ground. The bike is only rideable in the "I'm so scared and don't know any better that I basically put my balls behind the rear tire and buzz them 'til I feel better" position. Tilt that **** down, it'll force you forward and put some weight on the front tire so that you can steer.
 

swoody

Chimp
Mar 25, 2008
51
0
Chicago, USA
Lots of times people use 2 fingers because their brake levers are too far outboard (toward the end of the bar) and their index finger doesn't hit the brake lever at the optimal point. If you use a 1-finger technique, you should move your brake levers inboard so that the index finger grabs the brake lever just inside the little ball or nub on the end of the lever.
Great tip here :thumb: I knew something felt a bit off about my brakes, after reading this post I realized they are too far apart. So I went outside at 2am to fix this :D
 

JasonJ

Chimp
Apr 10, 2010
26
0
2 finger user here too and I don't see any trouble with it... in fact, this subject never really crossed my mind at all till just now that I stumbled on this thread... I guess besides preference, the terrain is also a big factor on this subject so if I ever get the time to do more technical biking, I'd probably give 1 finger a try.

thanks for all the inputs here people!
 

jimbones

Chimp
Oct 19, 2006
67
0
Lot's of suggestions Thanks all. I feel I don't have any more control with 4 fingers on the bar vs 3. I agree that my brakes are probably adjusted too far out. I'll adjust and try again.