How To Use Handbrakes On A Bicycle

Video Blog
May 07, 2019
How To Use Handbrakes On A Bicycle

Hey guys. Dustin here, CEO of Sixthreezero. Want to talk to you today about how to use handbrakes or caliper brakes, but mainly handbrakes on a bicycle. Basically two different types of bikes on a bike. There are coaster breaks that you could have, where you peddle backward to stop, and then there are bikes on your handbrakes. Now, the handbrakes, there can be different mechanisms for stopping. There could be disc brakes, or there could be the caliper brake pads, caliper with the brake pads. Now, I'm just going to show you specifically, if you have breaks that are controlled by your hands, how do you use them. Seems very simple, but if you've never ridden a bike before, it might be a little bit challenging, so let's get into it.

You're going to have two brakes, two levers. You're going to typically have one on the right-hand, one on the left hand. Now, on the right-hand, you're typically also going to have your shifter. It could either be a twist shifter or it can be a trigger shift, which you're going to push with your thumb, so you're going to have two brakes. Now, you're going to have a front and a rear, so number one suggestion I'm going to say is if you're riding super, super fast, and you're coming to a stop, either only use the rear brake or engage both brakes, but if you're riding really fast, you don't want to just engage the front brake, because that might cause you to flip over your handlebars, especially if the brakes are really dialed in perfectly and the stopping power is super on point, could be very dangerous. Another thing is if you're coming downhill, either go on the rear brake to ease into the stop or engage both brakes gradually, but don't pull either brake really tight.

Let me show you what I mean. If we're peddling, so right here on your... Another thing is your right hand is going to be your rear brake and your left hand is going to be your front brake, so if you're going along... Again, now when you brake on a bike, you don't have to pull it like this. You don't have to pull it all the way in. You could just do a little and you could let the brake pad ease the wheel to a stop. Now, this is true of disc brakes or brake pads. You don't have to engage it really quick. That's going to cause you to jolt, or you might come to an immediate stop. Typically, it's not like what you're looking to do. Same as driving a car. When you drive a car, you're not going to slam your foot on the brake. You're going to ease that brake in, depending on how much pressure you need or don't need.

You can adjust your brakes how you like. If you like them to be a little looser, more play here, meaning like you can push it down and it'll only apply a light amount of pressure, you can adjust it that way, or you can have them really tight, where you put a little bit of pressure and it grabs the wheel immediately. It's really up to you. You know, an average in between is going to be something where you have to press it to about here to get full engagement, but if you have it here, it'll be rubbing the wheel, here rubbing a little bit, here not rubbing at all. So yeah, you can find out how you like it, and every brake pad, every bike, every handbrake's going to be a little bit different. It's going to be impossible to tune two bikes exactly the same. It's just going to be a very difficult task to accomplish, so as you ride your bike, you're going to get a feel for how much pressure you should apply on those handbrakes to stop.

So, let's just do this really quick. We're riding, and again, the rear brake is right here, so you can see I clicked that and it stopped. So, again, for generally speaking, if you're riding casually, you really only need the rear brake, and you can just give it a little bit. Let me flip to this side. Just give it a little. See how the wheel gradually stops. Now, let's go ahead and do that again. Now, if I grip this really tight, it stops like that, so that's not going to be ideal, necessarily. So let's do one more. Again, you're just going to come in real easy. Already, it's rubbing, and there you go. It stops. One more time. And you're just going to have to find that and get comfortable with how much pressure, so it's already gripping. You can't see, gripping more, and now watch, we're going to come to a stop. That was a very slow, gradual stop.

Now, on the front wheel, obviously we can't pedal to get this moving, but the same thing applies. You know, you've got your break here. Just give it a little bit. There it goes to a stop. So again, typically I would stay with the rear brake on very gradual braking. You don't necessarily need the front brake unless you're going to engage both and you're going at high speeds, then engage both. I hope that explains a little bit on how to use handbrakes on a bicycle. If you have any questions, please reach out to the team at, or call us, 310-982-2877, or comment below. If you have any questions, please comment below. We'd be happy to answer.

And don't forget, on our website, on the top navigation, we have a questionnaire, the body fit questionnaire tool. You can answer about 20 questions, and it's going to help fit your body to the right type of bike, and also, we have a 365-day test ride policy. If you don't love your bike and you ride it for 365 days, you can send it back, no restocking fee, free shipping both ways, no questions asked, because our goal at Sixthreezero is to make sure you love your bike.

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How To Use Handbrakes On A Bicycle