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  1. #1
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    How many fingers do you use on your brakes?

    I have been riding regularly for several years, and just two months ago, I upgraded to a bike with disc brakes. The improvement in stopping power is awesome, and I have much more confidence going downhill now (also due to the change to full suspension).

    I have noticed that in pictures of people taking jumps and downhills, many seem to use just one finger on each brake. I have tried it, and it does seem like I can probably get enough stopping power, but it seems to take more effort and I don't feel confident in my ability to make a sudden stop or slow down suddenly when going downhill. It also feels like my fingers can slip off the levers more easily.

    I am wondering how many people here use two fingers with their disc brakes. Are there any good reasons why I should challenge myself to learn to use just one finger on the brakes? Or should I just go with what is comfortable now?

    Thanks!

  2. #2
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    go with what's comfortable...IMO...

    for me i run single fingers on my hydraulics.....for my V's and canti's it's 2 for the rear and 1 for the front. (general rule)

    single fingers on your brakes allows for more 'control' (more fingers on your bars)...
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  3. #3
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    i use two fingers

  4. #4
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    Uno but some brakes don't easily allow 1-finger braking. I run BB7s and Formula Megas and 1 finger is all I need!
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  5. #5
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    It depends on the shape of the brake lever, the braking system, and my physical condition.

    Usually on my MTB with Avid levers and BB7s, I just use one finger. But, if I am in a race situation where the course is really hilly, and I am getting really fatigued (ie 8h solo race) I'll sometimes use two fingers.

    On my commuter bike with V brakes and Shimano levers, I tend to use two fingers quite often, as it just feels comfortable with the levers.
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  6. #6
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    I still use two for the most part, just been doing it a long time and it feels good to me, even tho my brakes would work with one finger. Funny thing, the reason I noticed this thread was I just saw a recent pic of Ned Overend and noticed he had two fingers covering each lever and wondered if he did it for the same reasons I do.
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  7. #7
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    I use one finger, but if i know there is a big downhill section I tend to use two.
    Last edited by Joel.; 10-06-2009 at 06:51 PM.

  8. #8
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    I have avid single digits. I use one or two.. Usually one or it will put me over the bars.

  9. #9
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    Two now, but when i first got back on the bike i used four >_<.

  10. #10
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    avid single digit 5 and avid fr-5 levers, i use 1-2 depending on how much pressure i need to put
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  11. #11
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    Two. One would be sufficient for braking power, but two feels more natural.
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  12. #12
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    I use one finger only. I either configure the brake so I can use only one finger - or I toss it out.

    Why one finger only? To have control for moves and to simply hang on. I do ride DH in the resorts and some of the aggressive riding transports to trail riding. If I'd use more than one finger for the brakes I'd fear my hands would slip of the bars.

    Brake configuration: (1) For a better leverage you need to move the brake levers further to the middle of the bars. I see many beginners running the brake levers touching the grips. But this means that the index finger touches the lever blade to the very inside. Not a lot leverage and the brake feels powerless. Moving the lever to the inside of the bar allows the index finger to grip the outside of the lever blade for max leverage. On my bikes I almost have an inch of space between grips and brake lever. (2) You need to adjust the reach. That means you have to adjust the distance between the lever blade and the grip. Or at least the point at which the brake engages when you squeez the lever blade in. If the lever blade is too far out or engages to far out the brake feels weak and your hands will tire very soon. Too far in feels just unsecure :-)
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  13. #13
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    I used 2 for awhile when I was running non hydro brakes, but with the juicy 5s, I almost always use one finger now.
    Every once in awhile I will use two when the section goes down at a very steep angle, though I really don't need two. I guess it's a psychological thing in those situations.

  14. #14
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    Do different levers sit at different distances away from the bars? Using one finger makes the finger feel like it is stretching for me with my bike.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by quikflip27
    Do different levers sit at different distances away from the bars? Using one finger makes the finger feel like it is stretching for me with my bike.
    Probably yes. But more important: About every lever can be adjusted. For real hydrolics there is usualy a small allen socket on or under the lever blade. Typically very close to the ever axle. Turning that socket in increases the distance, turning it out reduces it. Be careful to consult the manual though. Many brakes have a socket to keep the lever blade's axle in very close to the lever adjustment socket.
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  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by PissedOffCil
    Uno but some brakes don't easily allow 1-finger braking. I run BB7s and Formula Megas and 1 finger is all I need!
    Same here. Different brakes have different abilities, but properly set-up BB7s are a 1 finger affair.

    To aid in the effort department , ensure that your levers are positioned so that the fingers you use are on the absolute outer edge - this provides more leverage. Also, many people wrongly tune their brakes for an overly stiff lever pull - this setup will require more effort and at the same time diminish modulation. The trick is to balance modulation/responsiveness/effort.
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  17. #17
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    Depends on the terrain I suppose.

    But I typically use one finger. Middle finger. Adjust your lever so you don't mash your other digits. The middle finger is positioned the farthest out on the lever. Also allows your index to work with ring and pinky to hold onto bars. I've found this provides the least amount of fatigue to your hands.

    Then work on braking a little earlier and a little less. As you learn to carry more corner speed, you actually do brake less. I typically use my brakes to help turn in and adjust my line in the corner versus all out scrubbing off speed. You actually scrub speed as you are cornering so you don't need to jam so hard. Use more of your concentration on managing traction in the corner.

  18. #18
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    I use 2, but I'm about to upgrade to BB7's from V brakes so I'm sure I will learn to use one finger pretty quickly in the near future.
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  19. #19
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    It really comes down to the person ridnig (and they brakes they have). I have seen plenty of people use 1 finger, and when i made upgrade from Vs to Discs i could see why, and I even went with 1 finger braking for a little while. But, 2 fingers has always been more comfortable for me, so that's what i use mostly.

    I'm often on the end of a few jokes as i brake with my middle and ring fingers, rather than index and middle. To me, Its nice to have my index wrapped around the handlebars.

    Not to hijack your thread, but just out of curiosity, does anyone else here do that?
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  20. #20
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    ^^ Yeah retards and weird people.... j/k.
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  21. #21
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    After a few others mentioned they use the middle finger to brake, I tried it out myself and I cannot stand it. I feel I have a much more secure hold on the bar when I brake with my index finger.
    Now about the ring finger!?! That just seems weird to me, but whatever works for you, brother.

  22. #22
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    I've gone for one finger.

    Lever setup has a lot to do with it: one finger near the end of the lever should do it.

    With V-brakes I used two fingers, I might have been able to set up the levers so that one would have been enough.

    Before V's, I had a bike with cantilevers. Sometimes I'd hold the bar with my index fingers and have the other three on the levers.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaba Klaus
    I use one finger only. I either configure the brake so I can use only one finger - or I toss it out.

    Why one finger only? To have control for moves and to simply hang on. I do ride DH in the resorts and some of the aggressive riding transports to trail riding. If I'd use more than one finger for the brakes I'd fear my hands would slip of the bars.

    Brake configuration: (1) For a better leverage you need to move the brake levers further to the middle of the bars. I see many beginners running the brake levers touching the grips. But this means that the index finger touches the lever blade to the very inside. Not a lot leverage and the brake feels powerless. Moving the lever to the inside of the bar allows the index finger to grip the outside of the lever blade for max leverage. On my bikes I almost have an inch of space between grips and brake lever. (2) You need to adjust the reach. That means you have to adjust the distance between the lever blade and the grip. Or at least the point at which the brake engages when you squeez the lever blade in. If the lever blade is too far out or engages to far out the brake feels weak and your hands will tire very soon. Too far in feels just unsecure :-)
    I also move my levers inboard for more power...works well. Sometimes I'll use 2 on the front, 1 on the rear, as I sometimes need to increase the braking on the front, but rarely on the back.
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  24. #24
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    what Kaba Klaus said.

    Your 1 finger will also get stronger.

    its not the number of fingers on the lever that is important, it is the number of fingers gripping the bars. I am a 3 finger bar man!

    If your one finger is not strong enough, get a hand excersizer.

  25. #25
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    V-brakes with ceramic rims, I use two on the rear and one on the front almost all the time. Sometimes I will use two on the front but normally only on really slow technical descents where I am threshold braking on both wheels. The ceramic coating makes a big difference in how effective my brakes are, with XT brakes and levers they work great.

  26. #26
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    I'll have to pay attention next ride, but I believe I use two on both brake levers. It feels more comfortable and I feel as if I have more control.
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  27. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by perttime
    I've gone for one finger.

    Lever setup has a lot to do with it: one finger near the end of the lever should do it.

    With V-brakes I used two fingers, I might have been able to set up the levers so that one would have been enough.

    Before V's, I had a bike with cantilevers. Sometimes I'd hold the bar with my index fingers and have the other three on the levers.
    When I had V-brakes, I found I would alternate between one and two finger pulls.

    If it's a smoother terrain with steeper declines, I use two. If it's a technical decline, I use one. If the trail went back and forth from the two, then so did my fingers. I found I was flopping back and forth and didn't even realize it.

    I also think that those of us that started out on cantis, then moved onto V's and finally onto discs are a lot lighter on their brake use. Probably just used to flying through the trails with brakes that barely can keep your speed in check. Used more to modulate and help turn in corners than ever coming to a stop :P

  28. #28
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    one thing I found was to properly space your brake lever from the grip and the angle of it on the bar.

    with the lever angled down and positioned so that i get my middle finger on the very edge and my index just inside, i can get max leverage when pulling which i find to be a suitable style for heavy braking downhill or quick modulation of the lever.

    if you've got your lever set so your whole hand can grip it, your weaker pinky and ring finger are providing the pull on the best leverage point of the lever.
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  29. #29
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    two fingers front, one finger rear. still getting used to hydros after my v brake days.

  30. #30
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    one finger going around the block 2 on the trails. i run disk breaks.

  31. #31
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    ... and if we just ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Rod
    I'll have to pay attention next ride, but I believe I use two on both brake levers. It feels more comfortable and I feel as if I have more control.
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  32. #32
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    I hang two on em out of habit, but really only use my middle finger on both
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  33. #33
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    My weight is about 100 kg and I usually use only one finger even on my V brakes. I usually change my stopping finger with the middle one when it is tired. This way I can keep the handlebar under control. I must mention that I ride XC mainly.

  34. #34
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaba Klaus
    I use one finger only. I either configure the brake so I can use only one finger - or I toss it out.

    Why one finger only? To have control for moves and to simply hang on. I do ride DH in the resorts and some of the aggressive riding transports to trail riding. If I'd use more than one finger for the brakes I'd fear my hands would slip of the bars.

    Brake configuration: (1) For a better leverage you need to move the brake levers further to the middle of the bars. I see many beginners running the brake levers touching the grips. But this means that the index finger touches the lever blade to the very inside. Not a lot leverage and the brake feels powerless. Moving the lever to the inside of the bar allows the index finger to grip the outside of the lever blade for max leverage. On my bikes I almost have an inch of space between grips and brake lever. (2) You need to adjust the reach. That means you have to adjust the distance between the lever blade and the grip. Or at least the point at which the brake engages when you squeez the lever blade in. If the lever blade is too far out or engages to far out the brake feels weak and your hands will tire very soon. Too far in feels just unsecure :-)
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  35. #35
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    2 fingers most of the times, specially on rocky downhills.
    1 finger sometimes.

    I do have hydraulic brakes.

  36. #36
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    I used to use 2 fingers till I learned to trust (and use) my front brake. The front brake gives you so much more stopping power than 1 finger on each works for me now...

  37. #37
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    I've never really thought about this. I just got into disc braking rather than v brakes so I'll try 1-finger and see how things go.

  38. #38
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    1 on front, 2 on rear as my base. need more or less, i will adjust when needed, just so i don't fall on my face.

  39. #39
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    i use all 4... my last two fngers are shoter than normal

  40. #40
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    Two fingers here...One finger and I get cramps...

  41. #41
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    For you guys that slide the levers towards the middle of the bars, do you also slide the shifters over? On my setup right now the brake setup is on outside of the shifters - that's the way it seems to fit best, as well as the way it came. So, would you slide the whole assembly over, or would you change it so that the brake setup is on the inside of the shifter setup, and keep the shifters in the same place? I'm going to play around with it to see if reach would be a problem, but I'm curious as to what you do.

    BTW - it's a great idea, and something that new riders like me wouldn't necessarily think of. Thanks for sharing.

  42. #42
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    even since my BMX days in the early 80's I always use 2.

  43. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by breakingbryan
    For you guys that slide the levers towards the middle of the bars, do you also slide the shifters over? On my setup right now the brake setup is on outside of the shifters - that's the way it seems to fit best, as well as the way it came. So, would you slide the whole assembly over, or would you change it so that the brake setup is on the inside of the shifter setup, and keep the shifters in the same place? I'm going to play around with it to see if reach would be a problem, but I'm curious as to what you do.

    BTW - it's a great idea, and something that new riders like me wouldn't necessarily think of. Thanks for sharing.
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    Brakes are on the inside of the shifters. They are perfect for one finger braking, and there is enough lever and grip area that I could get two fingers on the lever if I wanted to without the shifters getting in the way. Would not be ideal for 2 finger in the current setup though. There is enough room between the sifters and brakes that the levers could move out a little further if two finger was my style. As others have said though, I prefer more fingers on the bars than on the brakes.

  44. #44
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    Quote Originally Posted by b-kul
    two fingers front, one finger rear. still getting used to hydros after my v brake days.
    I just got a new bike with hydros after switching from an old v brake bike. I would think you would use two on rear and one on front since too much pressure on the front could cause you to endo. I figured you should put most of you braking in the rear to set up for a better line going into a turn. This is why I'm reading the newbie board.

  45. #45
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    There have been a number of threads on this. As the trail gets steeper, you have to apply more braking to the front, as there is decreasing weight and braking capability on the back. You can also reduce skidding on the trail by increased braking on the front. Newer riders are generally not inclined to use much front brake. As you get more experienced and comfortable with it, you'll tend to use it more. There are times when you may not be able to use much front brake (like downhill on gravel over pavement), but I find that's rare. Generally, my front pads wear faster than the rear ones, and I usually brake harder on the front brake.
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  46. #46
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kaba Klaus
    I use one finger only. I either configure the brake so I can use only one finger - or I toss it out.

    Why one finger only? To have control for moves and to simply hang on. I do ride DH in the resorts and some of the aggressive riding transports to trail riding. If I'd use more than one finger for the brakes I'd fear my hands would slip of the bars.

    Brake configuration: (1) For a better leverage you need to move the brake levers further to the middle of the bars. I see many beginners running the brake levers touching the grips. But this means that the index finger touches the lever blade to the very inside. Not a lot leverage and the brake feels powerless. Moving the lever to the inside of the bar allows the index finger to grip the outside of the lever blade for max leverage. On my bikes I almost have an inch of space between grips and brake lever. (2) You need to adjust the reach. That means you have to adjust the distance between the lever blade and the grip. Or at least the point at which the brake engages when you squeez the lever blade in. If the lever blade is too far out or engages to far out the brake feels weak and your hands will tire very soon. Too far in feels just unsecure :-)
    I think I agree that sometimes it is better to run the brake on the inside of the shifters, but then this sometimes puts the shifters where you don't want them! Swings n roundabouts!

    I wonder if you can get optimum positioning with those combined brakeshifter mounts?

  47. #47
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    Quote Originally Posted by AtlJayBas
    I just got a new bike with hydros after switching from an old v brake bike. I would think you would use two on rear and one on front since too much pressure on the front could cause you to endo. I figured you should put most of you braking in the rear to set up for a better line going into a turn. This is why I'm reading the newbie board.
    Its ok man - its a common newb mistake.

    As a few have said, most of your stopping power comes from the front. This is because of weight transfer and and the relationship to weight and traction/friction. In basic terms the wheel with more weight will have more traction. Tip: shift your weight to the front if your front tire washes out on turns.

    Ok back to brakes - as you apply the brakes, weight shifts forward, so the front gets heavier and the rear lighter. If you have been following so far you can understand the as the rear lightens the tire can begin to loose traction and skid; the opposite will happen at the front. As the front gets gobs of traction, its ready to put you OTB. Shifting your weight back can prevent this, but you also get the added benefit of combating rear wheel lock up as the rear is weighted.

    So since the rear tends to lock up easier than the front one finger = less force than two. Two fingers on the front so you can take advantage of the added traction and stop/slow sooner. This of course only applies to those that use two fingers at all. It's easier to modulate powerful brakes with a single finger - since you do not need a lot of force to actuate the calipers. You are also free to man handle the brakes with a single finger, as opposed to gingerly application with more.
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  48. #48
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    I slowly went from 4 to 2 and i now single fingers on my hydraulics
    cheers
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  49. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by Swthrtsuzy
    Two. One would be sufficient for braking power, but two feels more natural.
    +1

  50. #50
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    I can get enough braking power from one finger for normal riding. I can't comfortably get over the bars front stoppy with one finger from my Hayes Stroker Trail on sintered pads and V8 rotor though, but it's early days yet. Should I expect such? I can judder fast to a halt on one finger, but one finger aint really going to buck me over the bars. Whether I would want that though, or whether I should do a better bleed to get that I don't know yet? Brake set up was pretty damn meticulous. We'll see how they bed in...

    2 fingers acting gently more than enough to throw me but should the goal be one finger abruptness? Am I missing out on something?

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