Learning How to Control Your Bike
How long have you been biking? Do you consider yourself an expert cyclist? Whether seasoned biker or not, it is important to know and learn how to control your bike. Actually it is one of those vital skills that will save your life in times.
Imagine scenarios like you are biking on a city path and you realize that you are about to take a flight of stairs or you are on a country road and there’s a bridge right ahead of you. In situations like these, you can take control of your bike primarily through your brakes, or by learning other ways of controlling your bicycle.
How to Control Your Bike Using Brakes
When first learning how to ride a bike, practicing how to use the brakes effectively is one of the keys to good biking. Unlike a car where you can suddenly hit the brake, with bikes you don’t just easily jam and skid them.
This is why your brakes must be in good working condition for maximum control of your bike. Powerful brakes let you ride the bike smoothly. When the brakes are weak, you may need a replacement or repair. But before anything else, you also need to understand how weight transfer affects bike control.
How Weight Transfer Works
Notice that when you stop, whether on foot, on a bicycle or in a car, you weight tends to shift to your front. When you suddenly halt from running, you have to put one foot forward to keep you from losing balance.
In the same way, when you stop your bike, the weight also shifts to the front wheel. If you try walking your bike and then squeezing the front brake lever, the bicycle will suddenly stop, but the back wheel will somehow take a lift off the ground.
How, then, can you make a powerful stop without getting into a risk? The trick is to use the rear brake to signal how hard you can apply squeezing pressure on the front brake.
The Rear Brake as Signal
You can practice using the rear brake as signal in an empty parking lot or at a quiet neighborhood in achieving a quick, smooth stop. Squeeze the front lever three times harder than the rear, while also adding force on both brake levers. Applying light force on the rear brake lever also stops the rear wheel lightly.
To practice a powerful stop, squeeze both brake handles really hard, the front lever always three times harder than the rear. The rear wheel will take to a skid, but this time, the weight will be lifted off the rear wheel, so the bike will skid lightly.
When the rear wheel skids, it is your signal to slowly release the front brake in order to shift the weight toward the rear to reduce skidding. Once the rear wheel stops skidding, squeeze the front brake handle really hard to keep the rear wheel just below skidding point.
This is the braking technique for stopping just straight ahead on a plain, dry pavement. With constant practice, you will be able to learn how to control your bike smoothly.
Bike Scenarios in Using Different Brakes
The first scenario is using the rear brake handle alone. When you only squeeze the rear brake lever, the rear wheel will skid and your bike will take a while to stop, so stopping distance can take time.
On the other hand, if you only use the front brake lever and squeeze it a little too hard, the bike will pitch forward. The rear wheel will lift itself off the ground, and then you can release the brakes. This can be a helpful technique when your bicycle starts to go out of control.
However, always be ready with a bicycle helmet because you might be thrown off your bike with pressure. Well, you cannot be riding the bike without your helmet, anyway.
Taking Control of Your Bike under Poor Condition
The way to use your brakes to take good control of the bike on a road surface that is not smooth and is slippery takes a different technique. This also applies if you are about to take a turn. In such conditions, you can let the front wheel skid by braking lightly and applying less pressure on the front brake.
When biking on a good pavement, be on the lookout for bumps or humps and slippery spots. Release both brake levers as you traverse along bad spots, and then apply a little force again after getting back on a smooth road surface.
On a road full of dirt or gravel, test the surface by squeezing the rear brake lightly. If you notice that the rear wheel skids quickly, do not use the front brake. Control bike speed to manage the brakes and stop smoothly to avoid accidents.
During wet weather, the pavements tend to be more slippery. The rims of your bike will be slippery as well, so dry them up by applying the brakes ahead to prepare your bike for a smooth stop. The brakes normally work after about a 100 feet or more, so they must be applied ahead of time.
When you plan to make a turn, swerving suddenly is so not advisable to do. Practice braking on a road turn by applying the braking technique on slippery surfaces, or get a feel of the brakes and use what works best for you.
When riding over a steep downhill slope, apply both brakes of equal force to control bike speed and avoid overheating the rims. There is always the risk of a pitch-over especially on an extremely steep slope, so it is best to never leave your brake handles.
Continue to apply force on both brakes and be never over-speed so that you won’t have to take a sudden stop.
You need to be equipped with the proper training so that you will have good biking confidence under different riding situations. Part of being a safe biker is learning how to control one’s bike.