Braking in corners

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Jd843
Posts: 3
Joined: 20 Feb 2020, 7:48am

Braking in corners

Postby Jd843 » 20 Feb 2020, 7:54am

Hi

I want to improve my cornering, particularly on hairpins on descents. One of the main tips I’ve heard is to never brake through a corner - by the time you start to lean the bike over, you should be completely off your brakes. Makes sense to me.

But something is bugging me. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of descents, including those by pros/ex-pros, where they brake into corners A LOT. Example here: https://youtu.be/RQqugV1pQOY

Please can someone explain this to me? I know a pro cyclist is going to be a lot more skilled at cornering, but I’d have thought being skilled wouldn’t help if you lose traction on a corner due to braking... does “don’t brake through a corner” just mean don’t brake harshly?

Thanks!

User avatar
Cugel
Posts: 3147
Joined: 13 Nov 2017, 11:14am

Re: Braking in corners

Postby Cugel » 20 Feb 2020, 9:06am

Jd843 wrote:Hi

I want to improve my cornering, particularly on hairpins on descents. One of the main tips I’ve heard is to never brake through a corner - by the time you start to lean the bike over, you should be completely off your brakes. Makes sense to me.

But something is bugging me. I’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos of descents, including those by pros/ex-pros, where they brake into corners A LOT. Example here: https://youtu.be/RQqugV1pQOY

Please can someone explain this to me? I know a pro cyclist is going to be a lot more skilled at cornering, but I’d have thought being skilled wouldn’t help if you lose traction on a corner due to braking... does “don’t brake through a corner” just mean don’t brake harshly?

Thanks!


"The pros" are mad for the winning line. Their cycling behaviours shouldn't be taken as a lesson for everyday cycling. Also, they have a lot of practice at doing things the wrong (i.e. unsafe) way.

It is best to reduce your speed to that safe for the corner before you get there. This is sometimes easier said than done on an unknown road. In any event, try to learn how to approach for the best line around the corner, looking ahead to where you're going rather than at the ten yards in front of your front wheel. Trust your instincts. With experience, they'll begin to tell you that it's safe to go a bit faster than you did last time, until the real limit is approached.

Many of the steeper corners need braking in the corner no matter how well you approach them. Even if you come to a near stop before a steep 180 degree hairpin, you'll have to brake to get 'round it without going off the edge, in some cases. Braking amounts then have to be judged via practice but also with general rules in mind such as, "less brake when wet or muddy"; "favour back wheel braking over front if it is wet or muddy otherwise use both equally"; "brake very gently and be always ready to let go of the brake should there be a precursor-twitch warning of a slide".

Sometimes you misjudge approach speed or angle so you feel inclined to brake. But you might be surprised at how much further over you can lean to get 'round a bend before you slide and come off. Big sticky tyres at lower pressures help. You can also look for road cambers in the bend that help rather than hinder a steeper lean. But if you do lean more any braking-danger is increased, of course. You must make the quick decision! Lean more or brake?

Cugel

peetee
Posts: 1815
Joined: 4 May 2010, 10:20pm
Location: Cornwall

Re: Braking in corners

Postby peetee » 20 Feb 2020, 9:15am

It’s not advisable sure but an experienced rider can reduce the risk of a spill by reading the road conditions and knowing the handling characteristics of their bike. There is a difference between braking to reduce speed and braking to eliminate greater speed. In the first you are shifting the weight distribution of the bike and rider towards the front which can cause the traction to fail in one or both tyres. In the latter you are maintaining a speed (say in a downhill corner) where your tyres are holding traction but any additional speed will cause them to slip.
Current status report:
Back on two wheels in deepest Pastyland and loving every minute. Mission: to enjoy big, bad hills again.

reohn2
Posts: 37857
Joined: 26 Jun 2009, 8:21pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby reohn2 » 20 Feb 2020, 9:18am

Dowsett appears to be scrubbing speed off on approach and feathering the brakes on entry then when a safe speed is reached letting the bike roll.


There's a lot going on when descending,some people don't like it and fear the speed others take on the challenge and relish it.
The important thing is to keep withing you personal comfort zone.
As someone who's always liked descending I find it very important to have confidence in good dependable tyres in top condition and correct tyre pressures for load,tyre pressure table here:- https://www.google.co.uk/search?num=10& ... NwExjl-QBM:
At the apex of the bend g forces are at the greatest so a prejudged safe speed is essential with a safety margin for error.
But first you need to be able to read the road conditions accurately and the tightness of the bend,the tightness of a bend is best read by looking at where the edges or kerbs of the road meet in the bend the slacker the angle of those two edges the the tighter the bend,one eye kept on the kerbs/edges angle tell whether the bend is tightening or slacking off that and the camber of the road judges how you approach it tight = slower,adverse camber = slower.Obviously you're also looking for road defects uneven bits etc,and discolouration on the tarmac which may signify spilt oil or diesel,(which you tend to also smell first) or leaves etc.Keep off the margins where there's dust and small stones.
On the bike keep body weight in line with the centre of the bike,inside pedal up,and pressing down on the outside pedal,onnthe drops with the brake levers easily reached.
You should also be relaxed when descending if you're not you're outside your comfort zone.
Last edited by reohn2 on 20 Feb 2020, 9:45am, edited 1 time in total.
-----------------------------------------------------------
I cycle therefore I am.

pwa
Posts: 11667
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby pwa » 20 Feb 2020, 9:27am

I used to go to the Alps for cycling in the summer and had to learn how to do this.

Firstly, the idea that you can always get all your braking done before the corner and just let go of the brakes as you go round is wrong. But you want the braking you do on the corner to be light, not grabby, and you want to enter the corner at the right speed so that braking in the corner is just to stop you picking up speed too soon.

If there is traffic around you won't necessarily have the corner to yourself and you will therefore have to go slower and take a sub-optimal line around it.

To stop brakes overheating you should keep off the brakes completely for as long as you can between bends, and try to concentrate braking into shorter, hard phases just before each bend. That heats your rims or discs less than more constant and lighter braking. Obviously you have to judge how late you can leave it, and you will end up braking a bit sooner than you really need to just to be on the safe side.

Over heating of rims (if that is how your brakes work) can make your inner tubes pop, which isn't good. I don't know what happens with tubeless tyres. Overheating disc brakes apparently sound different before they do anything too bad, so if you hear them complaining you have a chance to stop and let them cool.

User avatar
Audax67
Posts: 4675
Joined: 25 Aug 2011, 9:02am
Location: Alsace, France
Contact:

Re: Braking in corners

Postby Audax67 » 20 Feb 2020, 9:35am

I usually try to plot my line while I'm braking before the bend, then keep my eyes on that line a short way in front of the bike all the way round, laying bike and body over at the same angle. Basic rule is that you will go where your eyes go*. Your bike will be much more stable if you keep your outside pedal down and put some weight on it. T'other rule is go in wide and come out close to the verge; the other way round can take you into the path of a car.

Agree with Cugel, you can't always do it, so hell for leather isn't the best recipe. Cars shove loose chippings into drifts on bends, and in summer you need to watch out for melted tar.

<anecdote>
A couple of years back I was approaching a blind bend on a steep downhill in the Black Forest. I didn't know the road but I'd had a glance at the GPS map on the bars and worked out how I wanted to do it. I had my braking all done but was still moving at a fair clip when at around 10 metres before the bend the road surface changed, going from smooth tarmac to worn and a bit loose, with the frontier in a straight line across the road - public works gone soft in the head. I had to dot-brake all the way round, and I came out of it right over on the wrong side of the road. If a car had been coming up I'd have been toast. The best technique in the world can still kill you.
</anecdote>

* Also helps when negotiating cycle path barriers. Staring fixedly at a barrier you're trying to avoid is a great way to hit it.
Last edited by Audax67 on 20 Feb 2020, 2:44pm, edited 1 time in total.
Have we got time for another cuppa?

pwa
Posts: 11667
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby pwa » 20 Feb 2020, 9:44am

I remember having an unpleasant moment descending the Grand Ballon in the Vosges, when I set myself up for a regular hairpin only to find that on the bend itself the smooth tarmac gave way to setts (blocks of paving stone) which required a much slower speed than I was taking into the corner.

thatsnotmyname
Posts: 375
Joined: 23 Jan 2020, 10:23am

Re: Braking in corners

Postby thatsnotmyname » 20 Feb 2020, 10:30am

Braking through a corner is fine providing you aren't grabbing big handfuls of brake in 'panic' mode. As long as the tyre is loaded properly and braking is smooth or 'progressive' it should be fine. Probably too many variables (eg tyres, road conditions, loading, etc) to be any more specific than that.

pwa
Posts: 11667
Joined: 2 Oct 2011, 8:55pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby pwa » 20 Feb 2020, 10:40am

It is probably worth mentioning that under heavy braking the front brake will be doing more work than the back. If you look at disc brakes on cars for example, the front one is often larger than the rear because it does more work. The weight is pressed down through the front tyre under heavy braking, meaning it has more grip, whereas the back tyre slides easily due to the lack of weight on it. So you want to get your bum back and your head low.

mig
Posts: 2160
Joined: 19 Oct 2011, 9:39pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby mig » 20 Feb 2020, 10:55am

Audax67 wrote:I usually try to plot my line while I'm braking before the bend, then keep my eyes on that line a short way in front of the bike all the way round, laying bike and body over at the same angle. 1.Basic rule is that you will go where your eyes go*. Your bike will be much more stable if you keep your outside pedal down and put some weight on it. T'other rule is go in wide and come out close to the verge; the other way round can take you into the path of a car.

Agree with Cugel, you can't always do it, so hell for leather isn't the best recipe. Cars shove loose chippings into drifts on bends, 2 and in summer you need to watch out for melted tar.

<anecdote>
A couple of years back I was approaching a blind bend on a steep downhill in the Black Forest. I didn't know the road but I'd had a glance at the GPS map on the bars and worked how how I wanted to do it. I had my braking all done but was still moving at a fair clip when at around 10 metres before the bend the road surface changed, going from smooth tarmac to worn and a bit loose, with the frontier in a straight line across the road - public works gone soft in the head. I had to dot-brake all the way round, and I came out of it right over on the wrong side of the road. If a car had been coming up I'd have been toast. The best technique in the world can still kill you.
</anecdote>

* Also helps when negotiating cycle path barriers. Staring fixedly at a barrier you're trying to avoid is a great way to hit it.


1. exactly!
2. i live in manchester :lol:

User avatar
Mick F
Spambuster
Posts: 48202
Joined: 7 Jan 2007, 11:24am
Location: Tamar Valley, Cornwall

Re: Braking in corners

Postby Mick F » 20 Feb 2020, 11:06am

Many hairpins hereabouts, not least the couple on the A390 not three miles from here.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.53502 ... 312!8i6656
Downhill hairpins you MUST brake as you'd never get round them. Same in the car. You MUST brake.

With racing, the traffic isn't coming the other way so you can use the whole road.
As we live in the real world with real traffic, you have to stay on your side of the road.
Mick F. Cornwall

whoof
Posts: 2063
Joined: 29 Apr 2014, 2:13pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby whoof » 20 Feb 2020, 11:09am

If you take a look at the link below you can see the guy in third place (whiteish jersey) doesn't take the corner well and drifts wide around the corner but his speed is such that he can correct this.
He does however make a better job than the fourth rider.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gO0i6hjJXlk
Make sure that your ability exceeds the situation you will be putting yourself in. Cars are hard, walls are hard the floor is hard.

Brucey
Posts: 37358
Joined: 4 Jan 2012, 6:25pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby Brucey » 20 Feb 2020, 11:17am

looking at a video you can't tell how hard anyone is on the brakes; they may be just feathering them or they may be braking quite hard and you would not easily see the difference.

Also not apparent is how steep the gradient is; the inside of a hairpin (a left turn in the UK, a right turn in most other places) is often ferociously steep, such that if you are not on the brakes, you are likely to speed up enough that you won't make it through the corner.

The best way to learn to ride fast is to ride with others and let them show you how. But 'safe' is relative; it is very easy to come unstuck if the slightest thing goes wrong. Things like brakes and tyres need to be in tip top condition on an alpine descent; they might have been fine for hundreds or thousands of miles beforehand but then give trouble under those conditions, and by 'trouble' I meant you are headed for a very nasty accident.

I've had my share of descending like a loony and it can be great fun. But these days I am a little more circumspect.

cheers
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

PDQ Mobile
Posts: 3394
Joined: 2 Aug 2015, 4:40pm

Re: Braking in corners

Postby PDQ Mobile » 20 Feb 2020, 11:19am

Slight thread drift.
One of the fascinations of the recumbent position is being able to pedal and deliver real power no matter how steep the angle of lean.
Combined with the low centre of gravity on good dry surfaces this allows extraordinary cornering ability.

Most short wheel base recumbents are somewhat front wheel "heavy" and under hard braking on really steep descents the back wheel will be very light or even lift.

This ability to deliver power though a ( not too steep) bend throws the weight back in much the same way as a rear wheel car and to some extent compensates for the light back wheel in terms of grip and of course allows for increasing speed through and exiting the bend.

Once on family outing in the hills of Majorca we had been overtaken on the long climb by loads of mostly German roadies, some of whom had made friendly but slightly disparaging remarks about my PDQ. :twisted:

On the long smooth tarmac descent over the pass I re-overtook a fair few of the tail enders! Accelerating through the sweeping bends.
Happy days. :D

Nothing can catch such a bike on such a descent.
The only limit on good surfaces (in the dry) is one's "bottle".

Cyril Haearn
Posts: 12337
Joined: 30 Nov 2013, 11:26am
Location: Between the woods and the water

Re: Braking in corners

Postby Cyril Haearn » 20 Feb 2020, 11:57am

Mick F wrote:Many hairpins hereabouts, not least the couple on the A390 not three miles from here.
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@50.53502 ... 312!8i6656
Downhill hairpins you MUST brake as you'd never get round them. Same in the car. You MUST brake.

With racing, the traffic isn't coming the other way so you can use the whole road.
As we live in the real world with real traffic, you have to stay on your side of the road.

I have driven in some hilly places but not in Cornwall
I read some advice: use the same gear to drive up as to drive down, seems to make sense maybe, one should not use the brakes much
Nice one Cyrille, nice one son..
Cycling-of course, but it is far better on 49" fixed
We love safety cameras, we love life "1330"