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Long steep winding descents

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by nikku, Sep 9, 2006.

  1. Hi everyone.

    As I'm gradually gaining more confidence on the bike, I want to try some different types of riding. There's a (small) mountain just a few k's from where I live, with a narrow two-lane road winding up to a lookout at the top. I reckon it would be a nice, convenient scenic ride.

    I'm wondering what would be the best way of controlling my speed on the downhill return. The road is steep and winding enough that I would probably do 40km/h max down it in my car.

    Front brake, rear brake, or engine brake? Which one should I use primarily, to control speed? Or different depending on whether cornering or straight? (not many long straights though)

    Obviously with my lack of experience I'd be going pretty slow (hope I don't piss anyone off behind me :D ) so there should be a large margin for error, but I just thought I'd find out what the "correct" technique would be.

    Any advice appreciated!
  2. Brakes are meant to be used, so don't be afraid to. Your entry line into the corners is even more critical when you have gravity trying to make you go faster than it is climbing, or travelling on level ground. You should stay between second, third and fourth gear, as the engine braking will enable you to concentrate less on your brakes and more on smooth flowing lines through the corners. Most of all, just practice, practice and practice.

    {If you have people 'banking up' behind you when you are practicing, find a SAFE spot to pull over, don't use too much front brake, especially if the verge is dirt, pull over and stop and let them past. You won't learn anything if you are worrying about the people behind you...}
  3. Yep, there are a few places where it's safe to pull over so I shouldn't annoy too many people :)

    But as for braking, would you use the normal 70%/30% front/rear split, pretty much all the way down?
  4. no, mainly front, the rear wheel is largely unweighted coming down hill, and any chance you have to lock it up should be avoided. I use the rear a fair bit in lots of situations, but in your learning phase, you should concentrate on getting the bike going at a speed with which you are comfortable, set up for the right line through the corner, and then get off the front brake and just lightly 'trail' the back brake through the corner.
  5. .....and yes, be in the appropriate gear to control your speed. engine braking by compression is very important going down hill.
  6. Geeez, ya not talking about Mt Archer are ya Nikku? "make-out mountain"

    I don't know if its common but I have always been more comfortable going up hill than I have been coming down one.

    Hornet appears to have covered everything, and Joel is right about using your gears.

    p.s. Do the locals lads still get pi55ed and steal the cojones of the bulls in the main drag..??
  7. Sounds like a plan, thanks to you both!

    Related question, I'm guessing that engine braking and rear braking, since they both act through the rear tyre contact patch, should be treated with the same caution to avoid rear-wheel lockup, since as Hornet pointed out the rear wheel will be lighter going downhill?

    Yep, that's it Nobby, Mt Archer. Tried riding up there on a push-bike once before deciding bugger that; I'm hoping the motor-bike attempt will be more successful :D
    And yeah, I heard about the poor bull statues being neutered when I first came to Rocky, but haven't heard about it happening lately. Might just be in the wrong circles though :)
  8. It is a common mistake to use trailing/closed throttle on down hill decents. I use to and wondered why I never felt comfortable. You should slow/brake enough to use positive throttle through the corners, just as you would going uphill or around any corner. Positive throttle gives more control.
    Front and rear brake plus engine braking...be in the same gear you climb the hill in.
  9. OK, engine braking is less likely to cause a problem AS LONG as you are in the gear you need to be in BEFORE you commit to the corner.

    If you rush up and knock it down a cog or two while you're also trying to turn, you could lock the back wheel and have exactly the same problem as if you jumped on the back brake.

    Once again the secret is planning, being in the right gear and having done your braking BEFORE you commit, and then riding the right line through the corner and being perfectly set up for the next straight, or corner as the case may be.
  10. extremely good question.
    because you are effectively braking the back wheel with the engine, you supplement that braking with the fron brake whilst you are setting up for a corner. if further braking is required mid corner dragging the back brake can help. too much front whilst cornering can lowside you.
    really though, its not that technical, just do it, take it easy and dont push yourself too hard. comfort will come with practice
  11. Yeah, I'm probably thinking too much (it's interesting though). But at the very least I've gotten a simple message to take away from this thread:
    Slow down enough first that I can accellerate (or at least, not brake too hard) through the turn. Just like any other corner - just gotta keep in mind it applies here, too :)

  12. Ride fast, take chances :LOL:
  13. Also be mindful of the fact that the accelerator will be much more effective down hill as well. May sound obvious, so just be smoooooth with the throttle.
    Try to avoid leaning on teh handlebars too much too if it's a steep hill. Paul summed it up quite well, it's easy to get into the trap of using gravity to drive you. brake and accelerate through a corner, even downhill. Using gravity can cause too fast entry/exit speeds.
    I used to scare my friends when driving a car down hils, I'd nail it down hill out of corners....stil do it on the bike too.
    The reason people feel more comfortable going uphill than downhill is going uphill, acceleration pushes you down into teh road surface more, while downhill is the opposite. Also reducing throttle uphill gives a faster, more responsive action, so you feel more in control.

    Regards, Andrew.

  14. Hi Hornet600 & joelridescbr ... both your comments & advice are great & invaluable! As the Great Ocean Road (VIC) is my stomping & practise ground - if you are not familiar there is a section of hair pin bends and lots of twists and turns enough to put hairs on an 'L's' Girls chest! I am learning when not feeling right or comfortable with a particular manoevre & placement to try to understand what I have to do better ... it all makes sense all the do's and don'ts ... ! Practise! Practice! Practise! I do have an idea of what you mean by 'entry line' but would you please clarify it??
  15. entry line is your position in your lane with regard to how you are going to attack a corner.
    ideally you will round a corner in a smooth fluent movement, so you pick your entry, visualise your exit, set your speed (braking , gearing) then you execute the corner.

    of course some corners arent simple, but if you go in with a mental plan, you should be ok. if you are thinking your way through it you should be able to feel when its right or not. each corner is different so to tell you where to be from here is silly :p

    like you said, practice practice practice.
    and try to keep one step ahead!
  16. Thanks joelridescbr - this is so cool to have a network of riders to be able to discuss & learn different & important issues / techniques in a supportive environment .... Ciao
  17. Yeah, and netrider's not bad either....
  18. Best thing to do is to take all the advice given here and try it out.
    Do a couple of runs trying the various braking combo's, gears..etc so you learn the feel/response of each.. Do each run at a comfortable pace so you have plenty of time to plan your corners..etc..

    Trying the different methods will add to your experience and build up your confidence..
  19. Another trick with riding downhill is to "sit back" in your seat a little more - compensate for some of the lean downhill.

    Remember this won't make the bike ride any differently however your slight difference in position may make you feel more confident and not like you are about to go over the 'bars.

    But the advice from Paul (Hornet600) and Joelridescbr is the best you will get. Don't do anything you are uncomfortable with and if you need to stop then do it rather than get yourself into a situation you can't control.

    Pretty much remember to do things sooner rather than later, so if you need to change down or think you need to change down do it early and smoothly rather than late and quick and it is better to go slower than you may have liked than quicker.

    And don't tense up - be as loose and relaxed and fluid as possible.

    Most of all - have fun.