By following the tips above, determining your braking points will become instinctual and your pace will increase as you gain experience on different trails in different conditions. A wise man once asked, “when do you go to your brakes?” The most truthful answer being – “WHEN YOU ARE SCARED.”
Now that we are in tune with some of the basics and you are standing in front of a corner or technical section ready to map your braking point, what are you actually looking for? In a nutshell, deviations from flat terrain where the suspension becomes more active.
In flatter areas, the suspension is not needed as much, and the tires can consistently bite while rolling in the forward direction. Without lateral changes in direction influenced by rough terrain or a cornering compression, the tire is better able to keep traction and allow the brakes to slow momentum quicker. These flatter areas are where you want to set your braking point and do the bulk of your braking. This point can be set further away or closer to the corner based on how much momentum you will have on approach, how much traction the terrain allows for, and how much power your brakes can give. When you scrub speed in flatter areas and let off the brakes in undulation areas, you can better utilize the movement of your suspension giving you more traction and more confidence to start increasing your exit speeds.
To understand this better, let’s bring in 5-time World Cup Overall Champion and the main contributor to the design and function of TRP brakes, Aaron Gwin, to see how he likes to approach mapping his points.
To reiterate what Aaron was saying, when entering any section, focus on the following:
- Analyze terrain for best spots to apply the brakes.
- Judge your targeted entrance speed and choose the best point on that chosen spot to set your braking point.
- When you are approaching the corner, don’t jam on your brakes. Instead, smoothly apply the brakes to keep traction on the tires and keep the geometry of the bike unchanged. When you keep your bike planted, it allows you to slow down faster and enter the corner with more control.
- Don’t drag your brakes though the corner. Do all braking ahead of time so you can let off them sooner and keep as much exit speed as possible.
- Find the best line to straighten out a corner so you aren’t leaning over as much. The more you lean, the less contact the tire will have to the ground and the harder it will be to accurately brake.
- Be smooth, keep the wheels on the ground, and don’t overshoot the corner.
Learning these techniques is one thing but practicing them is the only way to ensure your braking is dialed and your friends are left in the dust. Find a corner on your local trails that you are comfortable hitting over and over and use it to test different points until you find the one that gives the most control and the most exit speed. Try braking sooner, try braking later. You can even disregard all of the information above and try heavily braking through the corner to see what we are talking about. The important thing is just to safely experiment with it to become familiar with the feel of your brakes and with the process of picking points and sticking to them. The more you practice on terrain and equipment you are familiar with, the faster it will become second nature and the faster you will be at riding trails blind.
Now that you have a comprehensive guide to braking points from the experts at Tektro Racing Products, we encourage you to reach out with any questions on this column or about how our products can differentiate you from the pack by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org or sending us a DM to our social media pages, @trpcycling. With 35 years of manufacturing experience and a countless number of podium position over the year, you can trust TRP to deliver the expert technical knowledge and performance products you need to become the fastest rider in the world.
Follow closely as next week TRP Presents everything you need to know about brake rotors and pads.