Just to illustrate that there are better and worse ways to apply brakes, here's an example of a less-than-ideal way: I was biking on a borrowed bike and getting used to the brakes. The front brake lever was squishier than the rear. After skidding out and landing my hip on a stump, which lowered morale significantly for the next half-hour or so, I learned to give the front brake a harder squeeze to compensate for the squish. This was on a mountain trail and at the urging of my biking companion on that day.

So my question is this: How does one brake under certain circumstances? Are there times when all-front or all-rear braking makes sense, or is it always best to apply pressure somewhat evenly to both brakes, and are there different braking techniques on roads vs trails and such?


To reduce your speed significantly while on dry roads, I recommend front brake first and hardest, because the front wheel will have most grip. If you only want to lose a little speed (but more than soft-pedalling), and gently at that, e.g. in a group riding situation to prevent others running into the back of you, then rear-brake only.

On wet roads or loose surfaces you must avoid locking the front-wheel, so brake evenly and simultaneously front and rear. You have a chance of controlling a rear-wheel that is locked and skidding; that control is unlikely to extend to a locked and skidding front wheel.

If it is icy and extremely slippery, consider rear-brake only and don't go too fast to begin with!

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