Video: How To Use Your Brakes To Actually Ride Faster - How To Bike with Ben Cathro Episode 5

Aug 18, 2021
by Pinkbike Originals  


HOW TO BIKE

EPISODE 5



Braking is one of the most important skills to master on your bike. When used correctly your brakes can actually help you maintain control and go faster. Ben Cathro is back to explain proper braking technique.




We'd like to extend a huge thank you to Santa Cruz Bicycles, Deity and POC who supported this project.







104 Comments

  • 80 0
 if u pizza when you should french fry ur gonna have a bad time M'kay.
  • 6 0
 Hahaha... but if you french frie when you should pizza it's even batter
  • 47 0
 You just brake when you want to slow down, and then let go when you want to go fast.
  • 8 1
 What? No. The fellas I ride with, we all disable our brakes before we head out.
  • 3 7
flag pen9-wy (Aug 18, 2021 at 14:01) (Below Threshold)
 You are the wisest person on the internet today. Like a scythe through the bullshit you normally read. Say it as it is. Also Cathro clearly cant do this as well as the next guy, hence the times on the board. That's racing .
  • 21 0
 How do I break (pun intended) the habit of a lifetime? Comfort braking halfway through a turn. It becomes a negative feedback loop, feel like I'm not going to make the corner, brake coming into the apex, I don't make the corner.
  • 14 0
 Strong body position and let that shit fly.
  • 31 1
 Start with a turn you ride often, then try to ride it a few times going slower than you normally would. This Way you can really try to not touch your Breaks whilst cornering. If you manage to do it slow you can start to up the speed with which you enter the turn all whilst looking to the exit of the Corner. That way you can slowly start to build up confidence. Maybe that helps you
  • 11 0
 Find a turn to practise on. Practise on it.
  • 25 1
 Start by scrubbing too much speed before the turn so that you're not tempted to touch them in it. Repeat with all manner of different corners. You'll start to feel ridiculous and take more speed in, but the minute you start to touch them back off the speed in the next one so that you don't. There's going to be a grey area in which you're tempted to grab them, but don't really need to. Practice to narrow that grey area so that you're letting go as late as possible, and not touching them thru. Always look thru the corner as early as you can. It'll give you a little but of perspective that helps you to stay off.
  • 4 1
 This is something everyone does from time to time, but generally it comes from not braking enough before the corner to bring your speed under control. A couple ways to practice this are: (A) really exaggerate how much you brake before a corner. Slow down more than necessary so you're fully confident you can get through the corner without braking and then slowly back off the extra braking (B) Do some chainless runs (or 'mock' chainless runs where you simply don't pedal). For me, this tends to flip a switch in my brain where I naturally start braking early, carrying exit speed out of tricky corners, and pumping through supportive berms to generate speed, rather than entering into turns fast knowing I can just get on the pedals if I brake too much.
  • 2 0
 Do Deathgrip drills and challenge your freinds! Doesnt have to be dangerous or super fast to be exciting as long as you match corner tech, speed and consequence in a good way. Riding easy trails you know deathgripping is also helpful.
  • 6 0
 I had the same habit for a while, then teached myself to look through the corner. As soon as you turn in (at a comfortable speed in the beginning) try to spot the exit. Took me some getting used to, but that seemed to be the ticket for me.
  • 2 1
 Deathgrip is your friend.
  • 5 0
 go slower first. seriously, practice some known corners at slower speeds. go for a ride an say, "I am not going fast, I just want to ride as smooth as possible". Do this more and you'll get faster/unlock new and better lines (or just new and more fun lines)
  • 5 0
 @trialsracer: Truth. My "just gonna be smooth" laps wind up being PRs half the time.
  • 3 1
 Personally, I think trail braking is faster in most cases. Braking entirely before the corner means you're braking earlier than you need to. Trail braking let's you brake later, increase traction on the front wheel and you can still hit the apex at the same speed to get the same exit speed. However, practicing braking entirely before the turn does help brake the comfort braking habit. Also, trail braking correctly is a more difficult complex maneuver.
  • 4 0
 @Exbow: looking through a corner is super key. I recently started being more conscious about doing that. Has helped tremendously in berms.
  • 4 0
 @jojotherider1977: I've had this Eureka moment whilst going for my motorcycle license. My instructor pointed it out to me that I was spotting the apex, but not the exit. Been applying it to my bike riding aswell and I must say that it led me to a whole lot less mid corner braking a much smoother cornering.
  • 1 0
 I think we do that, because we do not dare to lean on the front enough. So the braking loads the front wheel. Try to get more centered on the bike in the turn. Tricky bit: Breaking before means leaning back. So as Ben says: Get of the brakes only when centered again.
  • 2 0
 A LONG time ago I had a coach who would have our team practice periodically ONLY using our front brake (start slow on easy trails and then work up to faster speeds and harder trails, but never try on very difficult trails). While there's certainly potential for learning bad habits, he was VERY clear about the objectives and take aways.

What we learned was -
Dedicated and Focused Skill Specific Practice is incredible. And Fun.
Breaking points need to be nailed, 100% of the time
Body positioning means a lot more than anyone suspected
You can brake a LOT later and a LOT harder than most people realize is possible (relative to the feature), but that braking AFTER the ideal breaking point had some pretty severe consequences
  • 1 0
 Pump track - smooth corners / nice berms get it dialled and break that habit, then take it to the trails.
  • 6 0
 Such a good movie Ben! I have trouble with braking through tight/loose turns. I usually enter hot, brake through the turn, and end up sprinting out of the turn to make up lost speed. What is your advice for these sections?
  • 1 0
 not Ben obviously...but may depend if the turn has a berm or not...if loose conditions w/ no elevated outer bank, the turn may warrant comfort braking all the way through or potentially a better line choice that flattens out the turn as much as possible. If there is a berm or something to grip, Ben's video does a pretty good breakdown on the technique.

in Central Texas, we have a lot of XC trails with moon dust conditions in the summer and no raised outer banks. Line choice is typically the best way to get through the turn quickly without washing the bike out or braking all the way through (maybe Ben will address this in his cornering video).
  • 1 0
 You can try the 2/1/0 technique: use both (2) brake before the corner to slow down before and have a comfortable speed for you, (1) release the front brake in the corner to resume traction in the front and will help stick your line and prevent front wheel washing and you can keep braking with the rear brake to manage speed and help keep the bike underneath you, (0) release the rear once you have the exit to your corner spotted and you know you're all good to go, which will help exiting with more speed.
  • 6 0
 Alright Ben.. you have challenged my thoughts on braking, which I like, but have a question for you.

When you move reward and straighten out your arms, aren't you taking away your control on the front?

Why can't you accomplish this by staying centered on your bike, (relative to the angle of the ground) lowering your center of mass, and pressing your heels down. You can still resist your body from accelerating forward but you are in a better centered position on your bike with more options for movement adjustments. Plus your adding more weight to the rear, which can skid way easier.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this and welcome anybody else's thoughts... stoked to always be improving my riding skills.
Cheers!
  • 1 0
 Try that technique on steeper trail & faster speeds, then you will find out why?
Just sitting on the saddle works well until trail demands more dynamic movements
  • 5 0
 Big time agree with you, you want to keep that weight through the bottom bracket and as unnatural as it may feel, leaning forward, even in the steeps will preserve that front and traction.

Saving some arm mobility (not straightening them out) will also help because you will have some forgiveness to let the bike move.

On steep terrain if you maintain that weight over the bottom bracket it might create the perception of being rearward but that’s the bike mimicking terrain as you maintain your body position.
  • 1 0
 I pick a spot to do this and think of it like dropping an anchor, throwing my weight in the back seat on my back tire and for that second it has tons of traction and doesn't skid. It's a dynamic move, kind of like manualling over a bomb hole is.
  • 8 0
 @bencathro How do you work round Shimano variable bite point?
  • 12 0
 youtu.be/piWBVDh1pTE

Minnaar mechanic had a great method that worked really well for me
  • 1 0
 I saw something interesting recently, but I don't have Shimano brakes anymore to try it. There is a video of Marshy showing Greg Minnaar how to do a lever bleed on Shimano brakes, he says to bleed with the free stroke screw all the way out, squeeze the lever a few times, then screw it all the way in, a few more squeezes, then screw the screw all the way out, then back in by 1/4 turn as having the screw all the way out sometimes caused issues with the brake fluid getting out of the master cylinder (or something like this, can't quite remember). I wonder if this is the fix for the inconsitent bite. It's one of the reasons I will avoid Shimano brakes if I can.
  • 1 0
 @melonhead1145: i think backing out the free stroke is standard recommendation from shimano. it doesn't seem to have much impact on its own but when used during the bleed process you can really push the contact point way out.
  • 3 0
 @JamieMcL: This is the most useful Saint brake bleed video I have ever watched. This is how im doing it from now on. Thank you for this.
  • 1 0
 @JamieMcL: this for sure!
  • 2 2
 @JamieMcL: everyone always forgets to dial out the freestroke screw*. that is the key to eliminating the issue. air hides behind it and never moves unless you wind it all the way out.

*it doesn't do anything, besides f*ck up the bleed and cause wandering bite point
  • 2 0
 @conoat: Yep. I never knew that, and have been doing wrong this whole time. Infact did it last week, wrong.
  • 3 0
 For me wbp seems to be exaggerated if i run the reach adjust pretty close to the bar, which was my default for a long time - after pushing the levers out a good inch or so, I noticed that the bite was much more consistent and I had more power too. not really ideal, but I was able to adjust my hand position around it without much drama
  • 1 0
 @conoat: Is also there, to adjust the reach for different hand sizes, but most, just get used to lever position? rather than making it right, but will try bleed with it wound out!
  • 1 0
 @aljoburr: but it doesn't actually do that though. I have never seen one that actually appreciably changes the free stroke. lol
  • 1 0
 @JamieMcL: his gron at the end of the vid is priceless
  • 1 0
 grin*
  • 1 0
 @JamieMcL: Marshy's brake bleeding routine really did the job for me.
  • 6 0
 That move, when he's going OTB but then grabs the top tube and walks it off while chuckling? Yah, im a gonna practice that.
  • 3 0
 You call it " comfort" braking and i call it " fear" braking. You call it " race" braking I call it "panic" braking. You also forgot to talk about my favourite " organic" braking where you use natural trail features to slow down...raspberry bushes, poison ivy, tree limbs, sharp edges of rocks are my favourites.
  • 3 1
 I feel proper brake technique can be acquired simply through lots of time on the trails (rear wheel lift or (worse) crashing is the best indicator you are probably doing something wrong) but this was a great video brake down that reinforces the good habits. Well done as always Ben! (true, nothing better than shredding a berm with perfect speed).
  • 3 1
 Curious to hear from Ben about rotor size front and rear. The notion being that while yes, much of your braking comes from the front brake, there's no denying the rear brake sees more dragging, and so overheating. So to avoid overheating, you want your rear brake to be at least as big, if not bigger than the front. thoughts?
  • 4 0
 Many things I've seen agree that your rear brake should be as big or bigger than your front. Go 203 front and rear, then you only need a single spare size with you.
  • 5 2
 Larger rotors mean more leverage and more leverage means you're more likely to lock the back wheel when you don't want to; there are potential downsides to throwing the biggest rotors and the most powerful brakes you can on a bike. (But whatever works for you, there's no hard rules)
  • 2 0
 Check out Troy Brosnan's bike check from Leogang. He is running a 200mm front rotor and 220mm rear rotor for this reason
  • 1 0
 @src248: having switched to 203 front and rear in my experience you don't lock up more with a larger rear rotor. Your finger quickly learns to adjust how much squeeze before locking (ie., less). I wouldn't ride with smaller than 200/203. The difference in control, power is huge.
  • 4 0
 Use the rear brake only, lean back, and pull up on the bars while jumping have to be some of the worst advice around.
  • 8 1
 you forgot, "let your Ibis do the job"!!
  • 3 0
 Excellent. Probably one of the important skills and the hardest to get right.
  • 1 0
 I am so bad for comfort braking. Thank you Cathro, going to think about this more Really the best skulls video stuff I've seen - broken down in a really easy to understand manner
  • 1 1
 What about braking with middle finger? I find I have stronger clamping force on bars, better control, elbows pointing naturally out, no hands sore. Just not applicable to shimano brakes.

Seems like nobody is even considering it, is it more social related?
  • 2 0
 Some women XC racers with really small hands do it, it’s just not natural for most people and you have to have the levers bite far away from the bars.
  • 2 0
 Ben you are a funny entertaining and fast individual. I like how you are now coaching us with your videos better technique more fun. Thanks and keep it up.
  • 1 0
 Great video but one question. Where and what type of breaking do you use when you multi back to back berms? Such as in the alps bike parks. I find myself comfort breaking the rear through them. Thoughts?
  • 1 0
 If you can't scrub the speed off before each berm, do whenever you can.
  • 4 0
 the David Atenborough of MTB, could listen to this guy all day
  • 2 0
 The free body diagram of the forces under breaking is the wrong way around.
  • 1 0
 This is great! So much for us to learn about braking and glad to see this video come out. Wish it would have been a month earlier while our Kickstarter was live though Smile Smile
  • 1 0
 Curious to how he’s getting away with running that 223 Galfer rear without frame contact. I’m on the same bike and unfortunately there’s a little bit of contact
  • 2 0
 Loving this series, great vid
  • 1 0
 If you ride bmx you get the newest tech: invisible brakes. Lets see sram/shimano beat that.
  • 2 0
 I wore through so many right side vans using it as a brake
  • 1 0
 The trick is maximum speed into everything, and just enough braking to not crash. Duh.
  • 3 5
 You know what I love about this guy? Everything he teaches is to make you faster.. Fas-ter. And it’s the antithesis of most riding trends.
I can’t believe how many cute little fwippy poses I see out on the trails these days.. As if hot young girls are somehow watching. Stupid things off jump faces that do nothing but enforce bad form. And no one seems to know how to ride a bike fast anymore.
This guy is here to save modern trail riders from themselves!
  • 2 0
 In Russia the Brakes break you !
  • 1 0
 This is the best instructional video I've ever seen, superb work Pinkbike and @bencathro
  • 1 0
 For such a great explanation on braking he sure did a lot of skidding...I guess Ben needs some practice too.
  • 2 0
 Step 1. Remove brakes
  • 7 0
 Step 2. Get breaks
  • 1 0
 If anything, they slow you down.
  • 1 0
 I break lots of stuff with my braking technique or lack thereof.
  • 1 0
 How about steep muddy ruts? I find front braking causes issues?
  • 2 0
 Great video! thanks!
  • 2 0
 Good stuff Ben!
  • 1 0
 Drop in first, no need for brakes.
  • 2 0
 Mass is not a force Razz
  • 1 0
 This was really well done!
  • 1 0
 Yeah, don't let your brakes slow you down!
  • 1 0
 "A couple a right honkers.." lol
  • 1 0
 Brakes? You mean coward levers
  • 1 0
 How many SantaCruz bikes does Cathro have...?
  • 1 0
 My braking and speed out of turns is a hot mess
  • 1 0
 Ben "Use my Teachings" Cathro : D
  • 1 0
 Ben is so good!
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