Braking training for novices

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drossall
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Braking training for novices

Postby drossall » 30 Aug 2017, 8:25pm

I'm not a qualified trainer but, as a Scout Leader, I take Scouts out cycling. I'm interested in what the current view is on the teaching of braking (front vs rear). I do not want to start a debate on which is best, just what is current practice when training novice students. Two things triggered this question:

  • Last year, I led the off-road cycling for a District expedition to Scotland (day rides mostly on old rail trails, so not massively technical). We had had reports of accidents in previous expeditions because the hire bikes had disc brakes and kids were going over the bars. I responded by doing a significant training session every day before departure, but I taught the use of both brakes together, discussing the merits of each.
  • This year, for various reasons, we used an instructor for a very introductory session, on a field with games and balance session, followed by a short, very mild, purpose-built track with some basic technical elements. He insisted that the Scouts should use only the back brake (possibly because he did not have the time I had had the previous year to ask participants to demonstrate controlled braking before we set out).

I don't think it would ever have occurred to me to teach the use of a back brake only for such a session?

profpointy
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby profpointy » 30 Aug 2017, 11:27pm

if he's teaching anyone back-brake-only then it'd be better they didn't get taught at all !

Hey they could find themselves facing a manslaughter charge

drossall
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby drossall » 30 Aug 2017, 11:36pm

It was clearly meant as a first step in a learning process. Is that comment based on your instructor training though, do you mind if I ask?

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pjclinch
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby pjclinch » 31 Aug 2017, 9:51am

The Level 1 Outcomes aren't that specific beyond warning of the dangers of front-only (over the bars) and back only (skids), but course materials may well offer more.

In Bikeability Scotland L1 trainees are encouraged to use both bakes together. However, there's rather more to braking than which one or both, it's also about the speed of application (squeeze rather than grab), bracing back with arms and for the really hard stops moving weight back off the saddle. It's also taught progressively, so you start off slow and get quicker with the high speed emergency stops only when trainees are used to bracing their body back with their arms.

If you cross over in to sport coaching it becomes bit more nuanced as we're then braking during fast corners, going down steep banks, hopping the bike etc. But for basic L1 National Standards Ride-a-Bike 101, both brakes together, squeezed rather than snatched, bracing the upper body backwards with straight arms.

(Properly set up V-brakes, especially combined with a downhill gradient, can be quite good enough to send you over the bars if you don't have the technique, as my son found out when he got a shiny new Islabike after something with... less efficient stoppers.)

Pete.
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Si
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby Si » 31 Aug 2017, 4:06pm

Yep. As we all know, LTP is best done on a smooth surface that slopes down hill a bit. No matter how much you explain it to them (you are giving two hamsters a cuddle not crushing walnuts) or get them to do walking practise, the first couple of times they get any speed they'll panic and grab a whole wadge of brake. Thus getting them to use the back initially can be beneficial. Leys face it, at these speeds the back will stop them fine. Once they actually get going you enfoce correct use of the brakes.

bertgrower
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby bertgrower » 2 Sep 2017, 8:37pm

I alway teach Left brake (rear) before Right (front)
I get them to do emergecy stop a few time increase speed.
Remember sit on the saddle with arm straight pushing back.

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pjclinch
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby pjclinch » 3 Sep 2017, 9:21am

Given the inability of some to tell left from right* (signalling, I say "just point in the direction you want to go" and some of them still get it worng...) I think the nuances of one-before-the-other are perhaps going to be more confusing than helpful for at least some trainees, some of the time. Both together has the virtue of simplicity and is quite good enough.

Not that it's ever been a factor for trainees, but on one Cycle Training Assistant course I took one of my potential trainers had a continental bike that was wired up the other way. At some point we might start seeing coaster brakes back in the UK as Sensible Bikes are more and more common, so keeping things simple has its virtues.

Pete.

* "hold your hands out with the palms facing down... okay, your right hand is the one with the thumb on the left"
Often seen riding a bike around Dundee...

bertgrower
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby bertgrower » 3 Sep 2017, 1:24pm

I have no trouble getting the to do left before right.

I ask the group standing in straight line facing me to close their eyes and put their left arm up in the air. You soon thevones who are confused. Then i stand with my back to the group and put my left up and say this is my left then then this is my right.


If you say use both brakes at the same time they often put the front on too hard and lift the rear wheel.

profpointy
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby profpointy » 3 Sep 2017, 1:38pm

Whilst I sort-of get the kids can't be trusted to use front brake properly it is still teaching them to do the wrong thing. By way of comparison, if you do back brake first on your motorcycle emergency stop you will fail the test. Likewise on a push-bike emergency stop requires front brake to have any chance of stopping quickly.

bertgrower
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby bertgrower » 3 Sep 2017, 3:06pm

We are not teaching motocycling. When i use to say ude both brakes at the same time they often lifted the back wheel sometime in alarmingly manner.

drossall
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby drossall » 3 Sep 2017, 3:11pm

profpointy - I think that's the thing that confuses me about it, and why I wanted to know what the current best practice is. I was dealing with 10-14 year olds, many of whom would have done some form of Bikeability. In last year's event, I knew there were some proper descents on the route (though nothing technical). The issue was the unfamiliar disc brakes. Personally, I don't think that disc brakes are suitable for hire bikes at present, because the riders will so often be unfamilar with them (although that may change in the coming years).

This year, the bikes had V brakes and we were riding on a field and in some neighbouring trees - much less demanding, but I still question whether teaching even the favouring of the back brake, let alone using it by itself, leads to good, controlled braking.

On the other hand, again in a Scouting situation, I once saw a trained instructor give a good, clear explanation of using both V-brakes, but leading with the rear. He then asked my Scouts to demonstrate that in a straight line on a good surface, rather as I did last year. They all did as asked except one unfortunate who, inexplicably, did the opposite, led very hard with the front and went over the bars.

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pjclinch
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby pjclinch » 3 Sep 2017, 8:26pm

Bracing back is actually more important than worrying about which brake to use. Get that hardwired early on and that's good practice for just about any stopping eventuality.

Pete.
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drossall
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby drossall » 3 Sep 2017, 9:08pm

I hadn't come across bracing back. I'm sure I do it instinctively, just that I hadn't noticed. Moving weight backwards, I do of course know.

profpointy
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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby profpointy » 3 Sep 2017, 10:27pm

there is a downhill right turn on my former commute home. Withought robust use of front brake you can barely stop at all, obviously forgoing more than a cursory hand signal. We've also had someone only just getting off a manslaughter charge in london because of not having a front brake. To teach people to eschew use of front brakes in case they go over the heandlebars seems nuts

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Re: Braking training for novices

Postby Vorpal » 4 Sep 2017, 9:25am

What I was told to teach is to use both brakes, but to put the rear on slightly before the front, and to shift their weight backwards when braking.

I also told them (not part of provided teaching material) that most of the stopping power comes from the front, but they should practice braking with their front brake, someplace safe like a playground when there aren't too many other people around. I also explained that the reason for shifting weight backwards, and the reason for using both brakes together was the perceived risk of going over the handlebars.

Some of the kids I taught, especially the ones with BMX bikes were fond of doing skids, so I used to also explain to them why skids aren't stopping, but I encouraged them to do them anyway, because I felt the benefits of playing with bike handling skills like that outweighed the detriments. 8)
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