HANDLING

By Nenad Rodic,
posted 04/05

BRAKING

Apply some force to brake levers and stop or slow down. It sounds very simple but your ability to corner and go fast greatly depends on how well you can brake. Front brake has a greater stopping force than the rear brake and most breaking is done with the front brake (if you don’t believe me check the condition of brake pads both front and rear). As long as you are going in a straight line apply as much force as possible to the front brake and some (enough not to lock the wheel) to the rear so you can slow down quickly. Later you brake before every corner faster your average speed will get. First time Jaguar won 24 hour Le mans was due to disc brake implementation for the first time in history, which allowed them to go fast longer and brake later into every corner. Similarly later you brake and more confident in your braking you are faster you’ll get. When in a corner control speed mainly with the rear brake, but make sure there is enough weight on the rear wheel to prevent lockouts and skidding. Back to top

CORNERING

How fast you’ll go through a corner depends on conditions, bike and your skill. Let’s take race as an example with no traffic and no competitors around you. Let say that you judged the corner correctly and you are going into it at safe speed. Make sure that you are back in your saddle pushing down on it with your pelvis. If you are going very fast and you need to lean the bike a lot do not pedal but lift your inside leg up with the knee naturally pointing in the direction of the turn (unless you are trying to keep aerodynamic integrity intact). Press down on the pedal with your outside leg, straighten the inside arm and push the handlebars with it. This will cause that proper pressure is applied to the tires especially to the outside softer compound.

1 Your bike leans more than you do. Your body naturally aligns itself with head and shoulders over the outside brake hood. This technique is called counter steering and should be used only in fast turns on good pavement (good and dry road surface).

Shown in the photo is Lance Armstrong turning by using a countersteering technique. Notice how low the heal of the outside leg is. Inside leg is pulling up while the inside of the thigh of the outside leg is pushing in. Inside arm is straighter than the outside and is pushing the bars down.


If you are time trialing and want to keep pedaling through the corner you may want to lean your body into the turn very much like motorcycle racers, and keep the bike less leaned and more up than in counter-steering technique so you can pedal without hitting the ground with pedals. Back to top

PACK RIDING

If you train with other people you need to know the basics of pack riding.
1) Always hold your line
2) If there is pace line going do the pull or get out of top few positions in the pack
3) Always keep your hands on the brakes
4) If something sudden happens try to avoid the danger without using the brakes if possible
5) Touching the wheel in front of you with your front wheel is not a big deal; do not panic
6) Bumping into another rider or being bumped by another is also not a big deal, do not panic
7) Do all corrections by moving your body rather than your bike
If you’re not sure of riding in the pack go with your friends to a grassy field and play with touching wheels and bumping into each other. Crash few times. It’s good for you. Back to top

CRASHING AND CARS

If crash is unavoidable but you have an option of choosing how to hit the ground always lay the bike down by turning while hard braking with the rear brake. It is good to ride mountain bike and practice this, since it’s much more common occurrence on dirt. If car cuts you off and you cannot slow down in time lean onto the car and turn with it given it is doing a turn. If it cuts you off and stops making you rear end it, call your lawyer. If car runs in front of you always try to steer your bike toward the end of the car since car will never go backwards, therefore you have better chance of avoiding it if the driver panics.
SUMMARY: Skilled cyclist handles the bike by shifting weight. Course corrections come from your body and not from the handlebars. Back to top


RIDE LIKE A MESSENGER by Jared “Jaffa” Prince the fastest bike messenger in the world


As a bike messenger in San Francisco, I’ve learned that bike handling skills must be mastered in order to make it through each week. Every single day, and at every given moment, you must be prepared for what might happen next. You may think you have a clear line of sight in front of you, then the drunken homeless guy falls onto the road, or the crazed taxi driver pulls a u-turn without signaling as he competes for his next fare. Perhaps a tourist from Europe temporarily forgets where he is and begins driving on the opposite side of the road while trying to take photos of the skyline. Quick actions must be taken. They are often what save me from potentially life-threatening situations.
From observing myself on the bike while at work, I notice that my hands are always lightly holding the bars, my weight is always evenly distributed from the pedals to the seat, and my head is always held high. This differs from road riding, were we tend to lean harder onto the bars and keep our heads lower to allow more air to flow over our bodies (rather than catching it in our chests and slowing ourselves down). As we steer, most of the control comes from the hips and the trunk, allowing the hips to fall to one side while still keeping control of the upper body with a strong core. Not much steering is done by the hands except when it necessary to pull through the traffic. Back to top

By Nenad Rodic, founder of Triathlonplace.com