For an article in Adventure Cyclist, I needed a photo on braking technique, so my children and I went to a steep hill in Discovery Park. They rode up and down the hill while I snapped photos. Even though the photo above has a little speed blur, I like it so much that I want to share it with a wider audience. You really can see how braking on a bike works:
- The front tire compresses a lot as the inertia of bike and rider put most of the weight on the front wheel.
- The rear wheel is barely touching the ground.
- To counter this forward weight transfer, the rider pushes his body backward.
- He locks his arms to prevent going over the bars. (Cyclists go over the bars not because the bike rotates around the front hub, but because they fly forward when the bike slows down.)
- He picked a line on clean asphalt away from the mossy edge of the road for better traction.
- With good traction, the rider uses only the front brake. (The rear wheel is barely touching the ground, so any braking there would cause a skid.)
Add to that powerful V brakes and grippy tires, and it’s amazing how quickly a bike can stop. I am glad my children have practiced braking hard. Hopefully, it will be instinctive when they need to stop in a hurry.