Learn to use your brakes when mountain biking

mountain biking brakes

When we start mountain biking, it is common to be told never to touch the front brake and to give preference to the rear. The reason for this advice is only to prevent beginner accidents by totally locking the bike and flying off the handlebars. In the cycling world, this type of accident is known as OTH (over the handlebar).

However, it is better to correct this “tip” as soon as possible. If we brake in this way all our lives, the result will be that the rear tire locks completely, which causes erosion on the trails, until we can mark a ditch in the shape of a “V.” Due to having flat tires, the big wheel mongoose bike provides good stability. If you want to be a better mountain biker, it is important to master the use of both the front and rear brakes.

Types of brakes in mountain bikes

The two primary types of brakes found on mountain bikes are disc brakes and mechanical disk brakes. Mechanical disc brakes provide a more effective and controlled braking system than the old-fashioned caliper (or rim) brake. Mechanical disc brakes can be seen as a blessing to those who suffer from allergies, as they provide even better control over contact with dust and debris. The third type of brake system is called V-brakes. This is a hybrid system that combines the advantages of both a mechanical disk brake and a V-brake (disc brake).

The main advantages of disc brakes are:

  1. They are much more powerful than rim brakes.
  2. They are less sensitive to dirt and dust than rim brakes.
  3. They are easier to clean than rim brakes.
  4. They are lighter than rim brakes.
  5. They are more effective than rim brakes.
  6. They are more powerful than V-brakes.

The main advantages of V-brakes are:

  1. They are less expensive than disc brakes.
  2. They are easier to clean than disc brakes.
  3. They are easier to operate than disc brakes.
  4. They are easier to maintain than disc brakes.
  5. They are less sensitive to moisture than disc brakes.

Its use must be dosed to avoid the total blockage of the bicycle. In a flat, nothing may happen if the bike crashes completely; But if you find yourself on a descent, it can cost you a big accident. The wheels, when locked completely, will lose control in steering and even in traction.

How to break on a mountain bike safely?

Braking is an essential skill for all bikers. It’s important that you don’t only brake with the front brake, but also with the back brake. This will help you control your speed and decrease your chance of crashing. Remember, if you find yourself going too fast, tap your brakes lightly. If this doesn’t work, try braking harder and sooner so that you can slow down quickly and avoid a crash.

The first thing you need to do is to brake as soon as you see an obstacle. If you are going downhill, you should brake as soon as you see a rock, a tree, or a car. If you are going uphill, you should brake as soon as you see a steep hill, a small bump, or any other obstacle.

The second thing you need to do is to brake harder and sooner. If you brake later and harder, you will have to brake more and harder to stop. This can be dangerous, especially if it is a steep hill. If you brake too hard, you will crash.

The third thing you need to do is to brake as much as possible. If you brake less, you will have to brake more and harder. This can also be dangerous.

Using the front brake

The front brake does 65% – 75% of the work of stopping the bike as it stops the inertia of the bike. It is very important to avoid pressing it completely, as it will instantly lock the front wheel, especially if you use hydraulic disc brakes since these are even more sensitive. 99% of the cases in which the front wheel locks end in a fall and even in flights over the handlebars. This is more dangerous if you are on a steep hill with a lot of inclines.

As you will see, the use of the front brake is not a matter of the play. We recommend that you practice and know the braking characteristics of your bicycle. Test under the bike first, stand next to it, and with both hands on the brakes, go a little forward and test the front brake. Go dosing the force until it is completely blocked. You will notice that when fully locking, the bike immediately lifts from the back.

Exercise on the bike flat. In the same way, does the brake. Remember that it is not the same force that a lever asks of a mechanical brake to a hydraulic one.

Front brake and center of gravity

Remember that when the front brake is applied on a flat site, the front suspension is compressed. This makes the bike’s center of gravity move forward.

In the same way, when on a descent and the front brake is activated on the incline, the center of gravity shifts forward with the compression of the fork.

The center of gravity of the bicycle is located approximately at the height of the saddle, so it must be borne in mind that this very natural movement of the bicycle will interfere with our handling of the bicycle and our way of braking.

If you find yourself breaking with the front tire on a slope, the center of gravity will be higher than normal and if your body is not in the proper position, there is a greater probability that the bicycle will throw you forward.

For this reason, it is recommended that when applying the front brake, you load your weight backward. This is achieved by applying the attack position on our pedals and pushing the body back from the saddle. In this way, it will be more difficult for the rear tire to rise and avoid losing control of the bike.

Using the rear brake

The rear brake is responsible for adjusting or correcting braking. Your job is to stop the remaining percentage, between 30% – 40%. It is used to slow down and helps control the movement of the bicycle, achieving a sense of security and efficiency when using it.

It’s not about just using the rear brake. Abusing the rear brake can cause the rear wheel to lose traction and, therefore, control of the bike. This can end in a side fall. Also, as mentioned at the beginning, overusing it will cause damage to the trails.

On long descents, you should alternate the use of the front and rear brakes depending on the situation or obstacle. This will prevent your hands from getting tired.

Remember that you have to slow down progressively. Practice with your bike and see how your bike moves, how you control or lose control when using the brakes. The more you know about your bike, the better your technique.

The braking strategy to control speed and avoid losing control is to apply the brakes one and one in short pulses while pedaling. This will reduce the speed but not much and continue to maintain the flow or momentum.


Mountain biking is a great way to get exercise in the great outdoors. However, it’s important to use your brakes when you’re mountain biking to avoid injury. Braking can be accomplished by squeezing your hand brake levers, applying pressure to your back brake caliper, or pressing on the rear tire with your foot. There are many different types of mountain bikes depending on terrain preference and riding style. Learning to use your brakes in different situations will allow you to overcome obstacles with greater confidence and confidence better.

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