After looking at braking data for the last several years, we’ve noticed there are several ways to use the data to ride safer, in more control, and faster.
Here’s 5 ways:
Learn how much energy you are wasting
Our power meters (the drivetrain ones) tell us how much energy we are putting out to ride a trail. The brake power meter makes it easy for us to see how much of that energy we are taking away. In its simplest form, the less energy we take away, the more we have left to use to move forward!
Think of an XC racer: the rider completes 1000 Joules of work on a climb, but takes away 700 Joules on the descent. This rider might want to think about training to ride more efficiently so that he can complete the tracks faster.
The fastest riders brake harder than the slower ones. They brake this way because they are waiting longer to brake. This results in more time spent going faster!
Riders can review their braking patterns and try to complete a higher brake power through practice. It will be clear that doing all their brake work in a short time (higher brake power) is usually faster.
Brake before the corners
Beginners brake heavily inside corners. This isn’t very good as it can result in loss of traction (the bike is being leaned!) and a crash. It’s easy for us to think about braking before the corners, and many riders think they are braking before the corners. However, when they see the trace of their braking it is clear what is going on…many riders are surprised to find themselves actually braking in the corners!
Rely less on your rear brake
The pros brake very evenly with their front and rear brakes. This is not only faster, but usually aids in more control. On the other hand, intermediate riders drag the rear brake. Most of the time, they have no idea they are dragging the brake, but this is not a very good way to ride.
When riders see the trace of themselves dragging their brakes, they can aim to fix this, which usually helps in the other points above. After a few sessions with the brake power meter they can often fix this.
Look for places to avoid braking
This is something the beginners to pros can do, and is a combination of all the above points. We know braking lightly isn’t very fast and might not be the most controlled (especially on the slippery stuff!). We also know we need to slow down before the corners so that we can be in control within them and exit with better speed. These can be helped by using the brakes evenly.
So what we do is look at the brake power trace for any instance that doesn’t agree with an ideal braking strategy. Light braking, rear-only braking, braking in corners are things we definitely want to review to see if they can be done properly. This is often apparent in the trace we view of raw data, but often is easier to see after the BPM is linked with the helmet camera.
The faster you are the closer you will want to look. Seconds count in racing, and informed braking improves race performance. Even the pros benefit 🙂
I can’t wait until you all can ride it too!!