David Lozano, the 11-time Spanish national champion in mountain bike and cyclocross racing, and Novo Nordisk teammate Corentin Cherhal, explain how to brake like a pro.
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1. Weighting game
“A common mistake is that people distribute their weight incorrectly,” says Lozano. “This can change braking efficiency and bike response. The harder you brake the more crucial it is to get your weight correct.”
Cherhal says position is critical too. “Your centre of gravity is lower on the drops and higher on the hoods. I feel hoods are safer, you can brake harder because your weight will be shifted towards the rear of the bike.”
2. Change with the weather
“On wet roads you don’t apply the same pressure as you would in the dry, but when you’re racing on dry roads put more pressure on the front brake to slow the bike before using the rear to stop or reduce the risk of a slide,” says Lozano.
Cherhal echoes this: “Be especially cautious in the wet. Your braking technique should be softer and you should watch out for the road markings, which get extra slippery when wet, and manhole covers. Anticipation is key.”
3. Time for a brake
“Good braking is reliant on good timing,” says Lozano. “When heading into a bend, you should be able to almost stop before the corner. Slow down and stop pedalling. It takes years and confidence to pedal through the corners.
“Remember to brake before the bend and never in the corner. To counter a skid, I put all my weight as far back on the bike as possible and brake two to three times. Practice releasing the brakes to avoid skidding too.”
4. Give brakes a break
“Before every ride, make sure your brakes are clean and dry,” says Cherhal. Make sure you’re using the best ones in the best way too.
“Choose the correct pads (carbon, aluminium, ceramic, and so on) and ensure they are pressed flat against the rim,” says Lozano. “Always check the blocks are aligned well before heading off.”
If you’re not using disc brakes, make sure the cables are responsive and not worn. Consider upgrading the brake blocks from stock-standard ones.