Cyclecraft - I totally disagree!

Discussion in 'Commuting' started by Jacomus-rides-Gen, 29 Feb 2008.

  1. Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    This book is amazing, gives brilliant advice, and since reading it I have found my cycling so much safer and more comfortable. I have just recieved my 2007 edition book, as I gave my last one away to a friend. I was leafing through it last night to check on my approach to a gyratory system, and found that I was correct :sad:

    I noticed a section I hadn't read before, the stopping and braking section at the front (Page 46/47 in the 2007 edition). I was none too pleased to read what JF has to advise new cyclists about braking.

    He instructs readers to run with their bikes and jam on first their front then their rear brakes to see what effect it has, noting underneath that the front brake stops the bike fast, but may throw you over the bars, and the rear stops you slowly but safely.

    He then goes on to say that the correct braking technique is rear brake first, then the front fractionally after the rear has been applied, "so that the rear wheel does not start to lift."!!!

    I can see a few things wrong with this immidiately - the rear brake has absolutely nothing to do with keeping the rear wheel on the ground, that is only affected by the riders body position and use of the front brake. Secondly it could well instill a dangerous fear of the front brake into new riders, as of course, if a rider is not sat on the bike it will tip up onto its front wheel with barely any effort.

    I don't think that there is any value in teaching a beginner a sub-optimal braking technique, the rest of his book is so good I am genuinely puzzled as to the reason behind this incorrect technique, and strange teaching.

    Has anyone else noticed this? Or disagrees with me? Its just that I want my gf to read Cyclecraft, but don't want to have her bike handling skills affected by this cooky advice.
     
  2. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London
    I'm not sure I see anything wrong with that. I would think JF's method is based on a rear wheel skid likely to be significantly less catastrophic or lethal than an uncontrolled endo, and it's probably quite good to understand what will happen if you go headfirst over the handlebars.

    JF's method doesn't limit overall braking, because max stopping force from the front is at the point just before your rear wheel lifts, at least in the dry.
     
  3. OP
    OP
    Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    The way he says it in the book is in bold in my first post.

    Besides, you can still lock the rear by applying the front hard enough whether you apply the rear first or second.

    I have always been taught that you apply the front smoothly up to the maximum force you decide is appropriate for what you are doing, then you can gently use the rear, before backing off smoothly.
     
  4. Crackle

    Crackle Squatter

    For me Front then rear on the road but I've taught my kids to do it the other way around because it's less catastrophic if they get it wrong, especially off-road. Only now am I teaching them the other way round because they have more experience and can pick the concept up easier.
     
  5. OP
    OP
    Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    To be totally pedantic, it does, as it delays the use of the front brake. But I do admit, that is if one is being totally pedantic. But he also says that the rear wheel locking is a sign that the rear is about to lift, but thats not true because you can lock the rear wheel using only the rear brake.

    I just find it strange - why wouldn't he discuss progressive braking, which is a much safer technique for the rider than rear first application?
     
  6. OP
    OP
    Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    How?

    Doing anything to the rear brake makes absolutely no difference to the rear wheel staying on the ground, surely? Braking with the rear doesn't magically glue the wheel to the tarmac.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    Pah, I'm getting a bit het up about this. Time for a cup of tea methinks.
     
  8. domtyler

    domtyler Über Member

    Jaco, why don't you approach it with a totally open mind and run through the exercises as instructed as a novice would do? See how you get on.
     
  9. LLB

    LLB Guest

    If you are on a loose surface, rear and front in equal quantities, and if you get nervous list off the front ad the grip is marginal

    If you are on the road, 90%front and 10% rear as all the weight and force is on the front end.

    Lifting the back end takes a lot of braking effort.

    Take a look at the difference in caliper size on a motorcycle braking system to see where the force is needed/applied.
     
  10. OP
    OP
    Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    Maybe I'll do that Dom, I'll post if I do.

    It's just that this advice looks to me like scaring people away from using their most effective brake, and into relying on a less powerful, more unpredictable one.

    It goes against my motorbike training, and against the couple of cycling manuals I have read + Sheldon Brown.
     
  11. fossyant

    fossyant Ride It Like You Stole It!

    Location:
    South Manchester
    To be really pedantic.... I've never seen the front cover of 'cyclecraft' and have no intention of reading it..... been cycling properly for 22 years (as a full on roadie) more years before that..........all about common sense really, but a very good read for new cyclists I'm sure.

    Braking, my rears wear out first, because I use that more to adjust speed, the front is really applied less, only on quick stops, or cars cutting you up. - natural instinct for those of us who have been sat on a bike for so long.... You only slam on the front in a straight line - don't touch going round corners at all, only use the rear slightly to trim the speed....

    Lifting the back end or locking it up is easy on a road bike......you have to shunt your weight back if coming to a quick halt - and I use single pivot brakes..... not new dual pivot.....
     
  12. Twenty Inch

    Twenty Inch New Member

    Location:
    Behind a desk
    The same technique IS taught in motorbike riding, where the weight and speed are much greater.

    Applying the rear brake first scrubs off speed and slows the rear of the bike down. Slam the front brake on, the rear of the bike doesn't slow and you jack-knife or go base-over-tip.

    Since doing my CBT, I've used the back brake on the pushbike much more sensibly.
     
  13. BentMikey

    BentMikey Rider of Seolferwulf

    Location:
    South London

    Um, would not applying the front fractionally after the rear mean that there is no significant delay? Unless you interpret fractionally as more than a second, say.

    I really can't see what you find wrong with JF's approach. Rear wheel locking *is* a useful indicator of being about to lift it, under certain conditions. Think of why a fixed wheel is so great at feeling the road!
     
  14. OP
    OP
    Jacomus-rides-Gen

    Jacomus-rides-Gen New Member

    Location:
    Guildford / London
    I was taught that there is not any slamming to be done ever. The only thing getting slammed will be the riders body into something solid if they wipe out due to poor brake use.

    I was taught to feather the rear for small speed adjustments, especially at low speed, as it doesn't make the bike dive. Any braking is to be done in a bell-shaped hump, whilst assessing the situation to see if anything has changed causing you to need to change your action.

    Squeeze the lever on until you reach the maximum force applicable to the situation, and then as you approach the speed you are aiming for, slowly release the level again so as to keep your deceleration constant.

    Motorcycle Roadcraft gives the statistic that 19% of riders fail to use thier front brakes in an emergency. Personally I believe that it is due to insuficient training leading them to be scared of using their front brake.

    This is a direct quote from the book: "In normal conditions optimum braking is achieved by using both brakes, applying the front brake momentarily before the rear."

    Personally I put my faith in my RoSPA instructor, who trains Police motorcyclists over my CBT. Though I don't think I was told rear brake first for the CBT, I think I was told front first.
     
  15. Plax

    Plax Veteran

    Location:
    Wales
    Wow, totally over my head. I personally have found myself predominantly using the front brake to slow and stop. The times I've used the rear brake I must have pulled too hard as the rear wheel has locked and skided. But then one time I was bombing it down the road at 25mph+ and a car was coming up the road and there was a parked car on my side. I stopped in a timely fashion though! Of course if I had been using my super observational powers I'd have slowed down and free wheeled so I'd have got to the obstruction after the car had passed.
     
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