Downhill cycling is always fun, flying down with the wind rushing through your helmet and the feeling of exhilaration. But it’s only fun if you feel safe and in control.
Your brakes will generally be disc brakes on an e-bike, the same as a car. This means there is a round metal disc front and back. There are brake pads on either side of those which close onto it when you brake. These discs are metal and if you apply anything to metal at speed it will heat up.
On long steep descents, the brakes get too hot and could stop working as well as they do on the flat. They can start to squeal and the braking effect is reduced. If this happens, stop and wait a few minutes for the brakes to cool down. Should you have concerns that your brakes are not functioning as they should, go to a local bike shop and ask them to have a look.
Whatever you do, never touch the disc brakes when they are hot.
If there has been a lot of downhill on your route and your brakes are screeching. Go into a bike shop and just get them checked out for your own peace of mind.
Hands & Shoulders
Squeezing the brake levers for a long period of time can take its toll and you can end up with sore hands and shoulders. It’s a good idea to take a break as this will relieve the pressure. I find bringing my shoulders up to my ears and then releasing them again helps with the tightness. Shaking my hands and rotating my wrists helps with any numbness due to the increased pressure on the handlebars. I do this a few times when I stop on a long descent.
When it is very warm or in the rain, your hands might become slippery and it would also be a good time to take a break to dry them off.
One of the key points when descending is to relax. This is easier said than done but if you can relax you will be able to descend more smoothly and with more speed. When there are corners look in the direction you are turning, this helps to bring you around the turn smoothly.
Use both the front and rear brakes, many people are frightened to use the front brake but this has the most stopping power and should be used the most. Don't continually pull on the brake lever instead, brake and release, brake and release, and so on, this will prevent them from heating up too much.
Always use the brakes smoothly, don’t jam them on, and remember to brake in good time before coming into a turn, the secret is to be starting to turn at a comfortable speed so you don't need to brake during the turn. or leastways a very small amount.
Trial But No Error!
The more you go downhill, the better your bike handling skills will become and you will relax more knowing you can control your bike comfortably. This will give you the confidence to try more routes and open up that new world.
Downhill feels great especially if you are confident, but make sure you are confident for the right reasons and not reckless.
Finally, always remember to make that noise you did as a kid, otherwise, it’s a wasted downhill. Whhhhhheeeeeeee!!