So How Useful is Your Rear Brake?- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    Retro Grouch
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    So How Useful is Your Rear Brake?

    One of the most popular rides in Santa Cruz is the Sand Point ride in Nisene Marks Park. It's a 8 mile climb up a fire road through the redwoods, with a 1 1/4 mile "incline" 2 1/2 miles from the top. Riding the "incline" in reverse is fast (sometimes very), bumpy and challenging on a rigid bike. When I built up my SASS I wanted to use a Tomi-cog, but because a SASS is disc specific, I used a BMX canti brake on the back. Well I've been riding the bike with much gusto, even a few times fixed, but the braking left something to be desired. The rear canti was so weak, it was almost unnoticeable even when just pushing the bike. So last night I removed the Tomi-cog and installed the rear disc. I have always gone with the belief that the front brake does 80%+ of the braking, but it turns out 10-20% additional braking is noticeable and significant.This was a good thing because today was a "fast" day.

    The fire road to Sand Point is decomposed granite, mixed with sand, over bedrock; and the condition is cyclical. Enough rain (like this year) and the trail is cover with 2" of slippery but strangely un-sticky mud. As the mud dries the trail gets faster and faster. Eventually the trail dries and starts to breakup into powder. However, at one point prior to the breakup, like today, the trail is dry, with corners that are just tacky enough to hold a tire at remarkable speeds. And of course you can only go as fast as you can slow down, and as I said before, it was a very fast day. As my eyeballs were bouncing down the "incline" I heard this horrible scraping sound on several occasions, usually during a rough spot. I finally figured out it was the rear tire skidding, something I had never experienced with this bike before. So after touting the usefulness of a weak rear brake I'll have to eat my words and admit, a strong rear brake is an advantage; unless you want the crows to catch you
    Last edited by aka brad; 06-03-2010 at 11:11 AM.
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  2. #2
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    i didnt read anymore then the title but i use my rear brake alot. hardly ever if not ever by itself. its usuallly while im using my front also.

  3. #3
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    I've had a similar revelation recently. If similar means opposite. After riding a BB5 rear and constantly whining about how hard it is to fine tune and how little power it has, I finally got my BB7.

    First ride out I went into the bushes when I came into a couple steep switchbacks and instead of my reliably crap back braking, I locked up the wheel. Not a huge deal, but it pushed me into a new line that I shouldn't have tried to ride out. I did it several more times before the ride was over.

    I hate not clearing sections I normally get through, so relearning brake modulation is pissing me off. So, in my case, a weak rear brake is better because I lack the skill to manage a decent brake.

  4. #4
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    the rear brake is for control, the front is for stopping. What do you need brakes for on the nisene fire road anyway?
    "Things that are complex are not useful, Things that are useful are simple."
    Mikhail Kalashnikov

  5. #5
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    I switched from XTR v brakes to BB7's. I honestly think my V-brakes worked much better. The discs seem to slow me down while not really locking up (the front anyway) but the V-brakes would flat out lock up and stop you. So for me it has been the opposite. All of a sudden everything is faster for me. I too have had some off trail excersions (ie with a tree most recently as posted a week or so ago) because I was carrying too much speed through a section that I normally would have been going slower through.

  6. #6
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    i use my rear brakes all the time. either i modulate it to slow down without front brakes, or i lock it up to kick/slide out the rear and put me on the right line.

  7. #7
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    i just read the first post...

    lol @ canti brakes on an MTB

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg
    the rear brake is for control, the front is for stopping. What do you need brakes for on the nisene fire road anyway?
    Funny you should mention that. I make it a point not to use my brakes on the upper portion before the incline as much as possible. Usually I can get away with 3 times. Down the incline however, is another story. The first run (as you know) is about 300 meters straight shot to a gradual turn to the right and then a hair pin; 30 mph to 2 mph. If you can manage that without brakes, more power to ya
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  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexrex20
    i just read the first post...

    lol @ canti brakes on an MTB
    What
    . Oh you're 25 YO, that explains it.
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  10. #10
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    Ride it don't slide it. But then brake as much as you want on all that wilder buffness

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloreality
    i didnt read anymore then the title but i use my rear brake alot. hardly ever if not ever by itself. its usuallly while im using my front also.
    Hmmm. Please this is not a flame , but you seem to have a firm grip on the obvious.
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by scottzg
    the rear brake is for control, the front is for stopping.
    ^^^ This.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Hmmm. Please this is not a flame , but you seem to have a firm grip on the obvious.
    i was falling asleep and i couldnt read.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    What
    . Oh you're 25 YO, that explains it.


    do you cook your food on a stick over a fire pit? do you wear leather moccasins? do you tell time with a sundial?

    didn't think so.

    so why do you use cantis on an MTB?

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexrex20
    do you cook your food on a stick over a fire pit? do you wear leather moccasins? do you tell time with a sundial?

    didn't think so.

    so why do you use cantis on an MTB?
    Well, first I have two bikes in my stable with canti's because they came that way new! not the side pulls, but the standard canti's used until Shimano came up with V Brakes in 1996 (what were you then? 11 YO) Second, you need to entire post. I have a disc specific bike (no brake bosses) and used the disc mount on the hub for a Tomi-cog (for a flip flop fixed gear), but this eliminated the rear disc. Like most bikes the rear bridge is drilled and I wanted a rear brake, so I installed a side pull canti; a rather elegant solution but if just wasn't strong enough.

    Oh, and I am an asst Scout Master and I have cooked food on a stick over a fire pit. I also wear UGG boots on a regular bases (used to wear Fairchild Indian moccasins in the 70's because it was cool) and I have a sundial in my backyard. Don't be so sensitive about your lack of life experience. You question is akin to my 11 YO son asking why there are phone booths since everyone has a cell-phone. We all have a lot to learn..
    Last edited by aka brad; 06-03-2010 at 10:30 PM.
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  16. #16
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    I use the rear brake for control and wicked awesome wheel lock squeals to scare people , I kind of destroy the trail alot ,but not as much as people who ride the day after it rained and create huge pot holes and try to cover them up with logs (more like sticks) making the trail un-rideable because when the trail drys people go around the wood creating a new trail thus repeating the cycle of rain riding because the old wood rots where the original trail is expanding the trail and killing plant life. dont get me started on the trash people leave on the trail......
    "If women don't find handsome , they should at least find you handy."-Red Green

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by aka brad
    Well, first I have two bikes in my stable with canti's because they came that way new! not the side pulls, but the standard canti's used until Shimano came up with V Brakes in 1996 (what were you then? 11 YO) Second, you need to entire post. I have a disc specific bike (no brake bosses) and used the disc mount on the hub for a Tomi-cog (for a flip flop fixed gear), but this eliminated the rear disc. Like most bikes the rear bridge is drilled and I wanted a rear brake, so I installed a side pull canti; a rather elegant solution but if just wasn't strong enough.

    Oh, and I am an asst Scout Master and I have cooked food on a stick over a fire pit. I also wear UGG boots on a regular bases (used to wear Fairchild Indian moccasins in the 70's because it was cool) and I have a sundial in my backyard. Don't be so sensitive about your lack of life experience. You question is akin to my 11 YO son asking why there are phone booths since everyone has a cell-phone. We all have a lot to learn..
    you have the sundial as a yard ornament; you USED TO wear moccasins 30 years ago; you cook over a fire pit with your boy scouts. they are all novelties, and they are all obsolete.

    get off your high horse grandpa. you say i have a lot to learn. i say you're old fashioned and need to get with the times.

  18. #18
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    don't let his beaking ruin every thread, we all know he knows nothing. just ignore.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  19. #19
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    It was working great for scaring the hell out of squirels yesterday with all of its loud squealing! I swear it sound like a damn car horn a couple of times.

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by alexrex20
    i say you're old fashioned and need to get with the times.
    Are you calling me a retro grouch?!! Oh no, that was me, sorry. Now go out and ride your bike you young whippersnapper!

    BTW, how is singlespeed not a novelty? (I'm the guy in the middle)
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    Last edited by aka brad; 06-04-2010 at 01:15 PM.
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  21. #21
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    Good God that is a big front chain wheel!

  22. #22
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    aka Brad is a fake retro-grouch!

    What he describes are "calipers", not cantis (which are short for cantilever), so obviously he's a fake.

    [edit]Cantis [edit] can be set up to be as good as Vee's, and work just fine on MTB's as long as you don't ride in the rain/mud/snow. Calipers, on the other hand, can be pretty weak.

    Cooking over a fire is far from obsolete, it's calls a BBQ, and using a wood fire is what you would expect these days at a high end restaurant.


    ... rear brakes are very useful, even though they only contribute 20% on hard stops or steeps - that's the 20% that keeps you in control. But I don't have a rear brake on my fixie, as the legs are good enough for the 20%.
    Last edited by itsdoable; 06-04-2010 at 09:32 PM.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable
    aka Brad is a fake retro-grouch!

    What he describes are "calipers", not cantis (which are short for cantilever), so obviously he's a fake.

    Calipers can be set up to be as good as Vee's, and work just fine on MTB's as long as you don't ride in the rain/mud/snow. Calipers, on the other hand, can be pretty weak.

    Cooking over a fire is far from obsolete, it's calls a BBQ, and using a wood fire is what you would expect these days at a high end restaurant.


    ... rear brakes are very useful, even though they only contribute 20% on hard stops or steeps - that's the 20% that keeps you in control. But I don't have a rear brake on my fixie, as the legs are good enough for the 20%.
    Hey! What? Thanks; I guess. True, the "side pull cantilever" I tried on my SASS, is commonly called a caliper, however any brake that uses a beam attached or connected at one point to produce a mechanical advantage is a cantilever. Also true, a high quality caliper brake is as powerful as a straight pull cantilever (aka V-brake). Unfortunately a $20 BMX Caliper is way too flexy to even handle the 20% needed for a rear brake. V-brakes were first designed for rear suspension as a cant-brake hanger was problematic. Interestingly enough, V-brakes were not universally accepted when first released, the main complaint was they were too powerful; a complaint you still hear, especially for the rear braking duties, leading Shimano to introduce a "Power Modulator", to give V-brakes modulation similar to canti brakes.

    Gonna have to try that leg rear brake fixie thing fix.

    I love this $hit
    Last edited by aka brad; 06-04-2010 at 10:43 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by itsdoable
    But I don't have a rear brake on my fixie, as the legs are good enough for the 20%.
    Same here, but I've had problems with mine fading on long downhills.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek
    don't let his beaking ruin every thread, we all know he knows nothing. just ignore.

    got sand in your vagina?

  26. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by umarth
    Same here, but I've had problems with mine fading on long downhills.
    The fade decreases with some "brake-in" time.

    My problems is the drag I get on long fast downhills.

  27. #27
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    I use my rear brake (BB5) to the point just before when it locks. I also sometimes ride it a little in corners for some more front grip.
    I see hills.

    I want to climb them.

  28. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stevob
    I use my rear brake (BB5) to the point just before when it locks. I also sometimes ride it a little in corners for some more front grip.
    When I taught bicycle patrol to cops, I explained that you need to use both brakes with the same pressure until the rear locks up. When that happens it is better to ease up on the front rather than the rear brake. It's counter intuitive actually maintain better control.

    Now my future fixie riding will no doubt use reverse pressure braking. I don't know if that equals 20% or not, but the biggest problem will probably be maintenance.
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