Life from an outsider's perspective…

Teaching people how to slow down & use their brakes –

women’s brake shoes

It’s recently become apparant by simple observation (& also looking at brake pad wear patterns) that many cyclists use the wrong braking technique for steep descents (>10%) here in Tenerife. For maximum braking effect when travelling in a straight line, you only really need to use the front brake. Using only the rear brake is a recipe for disaster because the rear wheel will eventually skid and you could possibly lose control -you react by jamming on the front brake as your only last remaining alternative and that’s what gets you into trouble.

  • Don’t be afraid to use the front brake – due to the distribution of weight, it’s by far the most effective of the two brakes.
  • It is best to use the front brake for stopping, and the rear brake for “speed modulation”. 
  • Never apruptly apply the front brake while taking a corner, or the front wheel can slide out.
  • The trick is to lean back over the seat as the declining road gets steeper so that you won’t go over the handlebars.
  • With disc brakes, It is said that organic disc brake pads provide better modulation, but their heat tolerance is extremely poor. Sometimes they’re gone within only about 5 downhill rides!!
  • A better alternative which I use exclusively are sintered metallic brake pads. They are harder than organic pads and thus will cause a faster wear rate of the disc rotor, but that’s the price you pay for improved braking performance! They are also no more expensive than regular organic pads. Using these, you can descend 2km of 10-20% slopes with 6″ discs and not have to worry about brake pad life or overheating problems.

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