Muddymoles mountain biking in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

How to: Use your rear brake

Posted by Matt | July 20, 2007 | 7 comments so far

If there’s one thing about Mountain Bikers, it’s how nice they generally seem to be and how willing they are to share any knowledge they may have with others.

In that spirit, Jem recently returned from an MTB skills course to dispense all manner of useful advice along the lines of ‘Pedal, pedal, pedal’, said in a kind of All Mountain yodel.

But one nugget of information he imparted did at least seem to lodge itself in my consciousness and I’ve been trying it out ever since. I’m talking about using the rear brake more effectively, not just in moments of major ‘I’ve got to stop’ panic when all anchors are thrown overboard.

Some people seem to pick this up unconsciously but for those of us with feet of clay here’s a quick rundown of this technique – why use it, and what you do.

Why do you use it?

The idea is that you use the rear brake to help balance yourself and the bike when you are travelling slowly, in particular trying to negotiate tight obstacles on the trail. The natural tendency to wobble is reduced through simple physics, or as I suspect, the use of anti gravity circuitry hidden inside the frame of the bike that it activated by the rear brake.

However it does it, you find yourself able to magically hold a line you would normally have lost, or bring you bike speed down to ridiculous levels without falling. All very useful.

So what do you do?

It’s quite simple really. When you feel you need a bit of extra help, drag the rear brake by gently squeezing the lever. Don’t yank it on, but just feather it until it starts to bite and gives you the control you need.

A good way to practice is by riding round in an ever tightening circle, maybe in an empty car park. You be surprised at how tight you can go once you’ve mastered this technique.

Out on the trails, it’s amazing how often this comes into play.

Try it, I hope it helps.

Filed under Tips in July 2007


About the author

Matt is one of the founding Molefathers of the Muddymoles, and is the designer and main administrator of the website.

Having ridden a 2007 Orange Five for many years then a 2016 YT Industries Jeffsy 29er, he now rocks a Bird Aether 9 and a Pace RC-627.

An early On-One Inbred still lurks in the back of the stable as a reminder of how things have moved on. You can even find him on road bikes - currently a 2019 Cannondale Topstone 105 SE, a much-used 2011 Specialized Secteur and very niche belt drive Trek District 1.

If you've ever wondered how we got into mountain biking and how the MuddyMoles started, well wonder no more.

There are 7 comments on ‘How to: Use your rear brake’

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  1. Andy says:

    I’ve got another good tip for everyone. It’s called “chunking”.

    If you’re trying to get up a big hill and your body is screaming to give up. Try the following:

    Pick a spot a bit up the trail (a tree, rock, bush, anything you like)

    Tell yourself “I’m going to get to that tree/rock/bush etc”

    As you get to it, pick another spot ahead of you.

    Tell yourself “I’m going to get to that tree/rock/bush etc”

    Before you know it you will be at the top.

    Trust me it works.

    Hope I am not stealing your thunder and teaching people to suck eggs.

  2. Justin Evans says:

    Cool, that sounds like practical fun, I’ll give that ago tomorrow.

    Andy thanks – I like your theory – I’ll be sure to give that ago on my next big ride!

  3. robmanns2000 says:

    I use this technique all the time on the mtb -the same tip applies for riding a scooter/motorbike – they teach you this on the CBT (compulsory bike training) within the first 10 minutes!

    It makes a massive difference when negotiating anything slow and tricky.

  4. Muddymoles says:

    Mud and blogs

    Wet weather mincing and a round up of recent blog divertimenti.

  5. Muddymoles says:

    How to: Use your front brake

    Stopping – pretty fundamental to any pursuit that involves speed but not always as easy as you’d think to master.

    It’s not just about having the most powerful brakes!

  6. Related: How to: Use your front brake | Tips | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

  7. Related: Mud and blogs | Mutterings, Stuff & nonsense | Muddymoles: Mountain biking (MTB) in the Surrey Hills and Mole Valley

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