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Bicycle Braking

Consult your bicycle owner’s manual or have a bicycle shop adjust the brakes. When your hand brake levers are fully applied, they should not touch the handlebars. Each brake shoe pad should wear evenly and never be separated more than one eighth inch from the rim.

When either brake is applied, additional weight is transferred to the front wheel. The more weight a wheel supports, the more effective the applied braking force; therefore, the tendency to skid is lessened.

Applying excessive pressure to only the rear brake causes shifting of weight to the front of the bicycle and decreases the weight on the rear wheel. Since the rear wheel is now supporting less weight, it will have a tendency to skid, and thus decrease the ability of the bike to stop.

Applying excessive pressure to the front brake shifts weight to the front wheel, but in this case the weight transfer increases the effectiveness of the brake. However, it is dangerous to apply the front brake too hard, as the rear wheel may lift off the road and the rider may be pitched over the handlebars. Braking with the rear brake alone will avoid pitching over but is not very effective in stopping the bicycle.

The best system for a fast and safe stop is to use both brakes in a 3:1 front-to-rear ratio. If the rear wheel starts to skid, this indicates that your weight is unevenly distributed, and you should ease up slightly on the front brake. When braking hard, slide your body to the rear as far as possible.

When either brake is applied, additional weight is transferred to the front wheel. The more weight a wheel supports, the more effective the applied braking force; therefore, the tendency to skid is lessened.