Braking is one of the most essential skills for a cyclist to master, but even if you have been riding since you were a kid, you may not know everything there is to know about safe, effective and proper braking.
- When you apply the brake, push your body weight backwards. When you brake, your body naturally shifts forward toward the front wheel, meaning that the majority of your braking power goes to the front brake. By leaning back, you even out your braking power, making it easier to control your bike and brake effectively. This is especially useful if you must brake from high speed; it helps prevent flying over your handlebars. To practice this technique, you can do emergency stops in a parking lot or a grass field.
- Avoid braking while turning. Ideally, you want to slow down, get low and take your turns smoothly, but if you absolutely must brake on a turn, make sure it is a very gentle action. Braking on a turn is one easy way to end up in a tangled pile on the ground with your bike.
- Keep your shoulders loose, your elbows bent and your grip relaxed when you apply the brakes. If you tense up your body when you hit the brake, the stopping forces all go into your hands. This can lead you to braking harder than you wanted to, which can result in losing control of your bike.
- If it’s wet outside, treat your brakes carefully! Much like how it takes a longer time for cars and trucks to slow down when the roads are wet, your bike can take three times longer to come to a complete stop on wet pavement. This means that when you brake, you need an early, light touch. Pulling your brakes too hard, too late can cause you to skid on the pavement and lose control. This tends to lead to crashes.
- Lastly, be attentive. You should always have enough space around your bike and between you and any obstacles ahead to make sure you have time to slow down and avoid danger.
If you have suffered injury in a bicycle accident, our bike crash attorneys are willing to discuss whether you have a case in a free, no-obligation consultation. For more information on bicycle safety, you can continue following our blog or check out our bike safety guide.