Downhill mountain biking tip – Releasing the brakes for control

Here’s a downhill mountain biking tip you don’t hear everyday: Release the brakes to regain control when you’re braking or skidding out of control downhill.  Now this might sound a bit crazy, but releasing the brakes just for a split second when you’re losing control downhill, can often be just the thing to get you back in control.

Confused as to how this downhill mountain biking tip works?  It all comes back to the logic that:

A rolling tire has more grip than a braking or skidding tire

Of course, its a split second decision that depends on the situation and the trail.  But, if braking or skidding is putting you out of control, then releasing the brakes often puts you back in control.

Allowing the wheels to roll to find grip, just for a moment, can be enough time for you to find traction and control.  That restored control can then help you steer away from trouble and get back on the brakes if need be.

downhill mountain biking tipI’ve had to do just that on several occasions on the downhill in the video below.  It’s so steep, dry and loose, that it’s really easy to get into trouble.

It’s the type of descent you need to brake nearly all the way down as you weave between the trees.  And if you don’t brake enough at the top, it’s almost impossible to slow down by the time you realize you’re going too fast.

So here’s where this downhill mountain biking tip kicks in.  When I find myself braking or skidding out of control or heading for a tree on that descent I do something that might seem quite bizarre.  Instead of fighting the bike, panicking and braking even more which often makes things worse, I simply:

Release the brakes and relax

It takes a bit of courage to let the brakes go when every muscle in your body is saying otherwise.  But often, releasing the brakes for that split second is exactly what you need to do.

Remember, a rolling tire has more grip than a braking or skidding tire.  So, releasing the brakes and allowing the wheels to roll can often give you the chance to get some traction back and get back in control.

Sometimes this downhill braking technique helps you adjust your line and continue to the bottom.  Other times it helps you steer safely away from danger and off the side of the trail to a safer stop.

In both cases this downhill mountain biking tip can put you back in control by helping you avoid a crash and possibly serious injury.  Check out the 2-minute video below to see ‘Releasing the brakes for control’ in action.

Next downhill mountain biking tip:

How to Heel Drop for better control downhill