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Should I use the front brake?

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I've been riding only about 15 hours so far, and when I was taught how to ride on a trip to Mexico, they told me not to use the front brake at all. I assume it's because a new rider might freak out, pull the front brake hard, and go over the bars. I find downhill much harder than uphill, and I've been reading articles about downhill technique. All of the articles say to use both the front and the rear so that you won't lock up either wheel but get a lot of braking power. If the hill is steep one thing I notice is that I usually have to put the bike into first to descend more slowly with engine braking, and brake as hard as I can without locking up the rear tire too much (it does slide some) ... or I keep it in second, put the clutch in, and brake as hard as I can with the rear. If the bike is sliding too much I just have to go faster which is tough at times. I assume the front brake is the answer to my problems, but I just want to hear if you all think I'm ready to try it and would gladly take any advice you can give to help make sure I don't toss myself over the bars.

Also is first gear ever the right choice for descending? When I was in Mexico I rode downhill in first sometimes, but they told me not to do that. Yesterday I went riding and got on a steep downhill with whoops and decided to put it into first to get the engine braking, and it seemed like it saved me from losing control. I wonder if that was the right call, or would you handle it differently?

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Going down hill shift your weight to the back of the bike and use the front brake.  On level ground, shift your weight back and use the front brake.  Somewhere between 75 and 85% of your stopping power comes from the front brake.  Use it and get used to it.

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Trust your front brake.  With all your weight on the front it works good 👍 90% front brake 10%back.  Just gota learn with riding the different terrain how hard you can apply it

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7 minutes ago, Motox367 said:

Trust your front brake.  With all your weight on the front it works good 👍 90% front brake 10%back.  Just gota learn with riding the different terrain how hard you can apply it

Is that a joke about all your weight on the front? The previous poster said weight on the back. I'd imagine all the weight on the front would increase the likelihood you'll go over the bars, although it might also increase the grip on the front tire, which could reduce the likelihood the front tire locks up/slides?

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It is a balance.  You can in fact pitch your self over the bars if you just grab the front brake with out shifting your weight.  To maximize your braking power you need to have as much weight on the front wheel as you can in order to maintain traction.  It is a learned feel, just like the balance point when doing a wheelie.  That is why you need to use your front brake and not be afraid of it!  Try this on level ground on a dirt surface, with the bike up right and your weight in a neutral position with the bike rolling in first gear at about 1/4 throttle, start pulling on the front brake until you get the front tire to slide.  If your weight is positioned correctly you should be able to slide the front tire in a straight line.

Edited by GlennRay
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1 hour ago, pontoon said:

Is that a joke about all your weight on the front? The previous poster said weight on the back. I'd imagine all the weight on the front would increase the likelihood you'll go over the bars, although it might also increase the grip on the front tire, which could reduce the likelihood the front tire locks up/slides?

No joke. Watch fast mx racers all weight is on front wheel coming into corners at one point.  What gives you front end traction . I'm talking in attack position.  If you sit down front brakeing and don't learn to shift your weight around where it needs to be you'll be prone to front end wash cause there won't be the traction needed. Sometimes I'm forward and hanging off or sitting on side of seat coming in depending on the corner. Best thing make yourself a figure 8 track and play around with it

Edited by Motox367
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This was the first and greatest lesson that I learned from riding Trials.  How to use the front brake.  I wish I knew how to do this when I was racing MX.

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The only thing the rear brake is good for is setting up slides.  That is why the flat trackers don't have front brakes but do have rear brakes.

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It's an interesting topic, the front brake is about 70% of your braking power, but that is all that it's good for, the rear brake is about controlling the bike, I can ride a bike with no front brake no worries, but I cant ride at all with no rear brake.

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I have ridden trials compietions with out a working rear brake and have done ok.  I would not like to ever try that with out a front brake and a working rear brake.

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A motorcycle with both front and rear brakes is always going to be the best thing to ride.  The important thing to know is how both brakes affect the performance of the bike.

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8 minutes ago, Ttoks said:

It's an interesting topic, the front brake is about 70% of your braking power, but that is all that it's good for, the rear brake is about controlling the bike, I can ride a bike with no front brake no worries, but I cant ride at all with no rear brake.

It sounds like you need to practice using the front brake.  There are many times I never touch the rear brake.

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Only if you don't know what you are doing.  The front brake gives you 80% or more of you stopping power. If you are going to give that up then more luck to you.

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Both brakes, modulating the front and don't be afraid to use engine braking, it is your friend if you have a 4t.  This has been discussed here a million times, everyone has their own technique.  I tend to use the rear more than most guys on downhills, its there so learn to use it, just don't lock it up.  The problem with depending too much on your front brake on a steep downhill is if you are moving faster than 1st gear and you hit a rock or bump it may send you over the bars no matter how far back your ass is.

Edited by cjjeepercreeper

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1 minute ago, GlennRay said:

Like I said, it all depends on the situation.

And what you are used to doing.  I got used to using my rear brake a bit riding street, so I'm comfortable using it.  Most guys that ride dirt consider it a foreign object!

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When I started riding dirt and for the whole time that I rode MX I only used my rear brake.  When I started riding Trials, the first thing I had to learn was to use the front brake.

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