Good braking makes you faster - Pedal Progression


28 January 2022

Good braking makes you faster

If you’re looking to maximise your speed on the trails then braking isn’t always the first skill that springs to mind. Good braking can help you maintain your speed through sections and ride corners smoothly while helping to keep trails fresher for longer.

Our much loved trails trails at Ashton Court handle exceptionally high volumes of traffic and are ridden by riders of all abilities – trail erosion is a constant battle. Lucky for us, the Ride Bristol army of volunteers are on a mission to combat the results of trail wear and keep our trails sweet all year round.

This year we’re psyched to see the newly refurbished Super Nova trail getting so much love – but love hurts. It’s suffered a beating in its opening month with corners and features getting blown out and chewed up from skidding. Aside from the sheer number of riders on the trails, it’s actually poor braking technique that’s accountable for the majority of trail erosion we see.


A method to the madness

Braking is all about maintaining a safe speed through corners and sections so we have a smoother ride and glide down the trail with ease. Coming in too hot and grabbing a fistful of rear brake in an instant isn’t exactly the elegance we should be aiming for. Slowing down your overall descent of the trail will give you more time to respond to corners. Working out where to brake on the approach to a berm will enable you to manage your speed going in, so that braking (or skidding) isn’t required through the turn.

In coaching sessions we often say “go slow to go fast”, meaning we have to slow down our overall approach in practise to train the movements and gauge the timing of things. As those things come together we eventually start riding better and faster. But the coaching mantra above is even more relevant when thinking about braking too. Approaching the corners slower will enable you to turn without dragging the brakes in the berm. The cumulative effect of this method is more speed overall, as you smooth out the tricky sections, link turns and ride more consistently. Before you know it your descent down the trail will become faster as will the ever important Strava time. Magic!


It takes practise.

Coaching will teach you how to hit those berms quicker, safer and find a flow you never knew you had. You’ll learn when and where to brake, how to turn and maximise grip without compromising the trail. With good braking and proper cornering you’ll not only be able to manage berms and corners easily but even be able to generate more speed from them. Learn all about pumping turns and riding berms in our upcoming public session ‘Find Your Flow’, on 5th Feb & 19th March. More speed = more fun!

We have various coaching packages available to suit, such as Intro To MTB, bespoke 1-2-1 sessions and half day public group sessions. Check it out and give coaching a go this year to see your riding improve for the better!

Remember, go slow to go fast 😉




Written by:

Phil Simpson