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How do you apply the brakes?

Noel's picture

By Noel - Posted on 13 April 2008

Index Only
43% (16 votes)
Index + Middle
46% (17 votes)
Index + Middle + Ring
0% (0 votes)
Middle Only
8% (3 votes)
3% (1 vote)
Total votes: 37
blackbetty's picture

I was actually talking about this the other day with a bloke called Nicho from bike addiction.

I was complaining how much arm pump I got in the 6 runs I did at thredbo the other week. He said that half of it is just hardening up a little but that there was definitely a large gain to be made by ensuring that the levers were positioned correctly so as to not over extend the hand when braking. Come to think of it, it seems really obvious but I guess it was one of those things that I just didn't really adjust at when I bought the bike. I think some tinkering might be in order.

According to this book I have as well, for XC purposes the levers should point further downwards and the closer you get to DH, the further they should point to the horizontal.

Brian's picture

I tend to vary but mostly just brake with my middle finger. However, I am going to start to brake with two as I am suffering big time after the Andersons + Oaks ride the other week. Actually, I am not 100% certain if it was from this but I'm sure it didn't help.

Alex's picture

at thredy the raw nrg dude was telling me to set up levers so pretty much only your index and possibly only your middle as well can reach the edge of the lever so as to gain maximum leverage and a furthest away fulcrum point (so moving the brake levers towards the headset) and it works a treat, definantly a 1 finger brake setup like that, and arm pump at thredbo? i hear ya buddy! i was in agony, admittedly i had the levers set up the old way as i didnt change them till after i got back lol..
also, have heard and since aggree, that heaps of push ups help with arm the end of the day though, a 10min odd run will make your arms sore, unless you do it, or such arm exercise, all the time! there was a racer dude who actually had the tendons cut inside the forearms so as to never get arm pump again, but maybe that is a bit of overkill? Eye-wink

pikey's picture

when you use your testicles to apply the brakes Sad

Matt P's picture

Who told you that?

Sorry, just sounds like a bunch of twaddle.

Guess he plans on never being single again Eye-wink

Rob's picture

Yeah... that cut tendons story sounds like complete BS.

ar_junkie's picture

There are various injuries that surgery may 'release' the pressure around the area i.e. the sheath or partial lacerations, usually once all non-surgical treatments have exhausted. As far as completely severing the tendon altogether, unless he/she is wanting a career as a lame sock puppeteer, I doubt he/she would be able to brake at all...
Come to think of it, wouldn't that make you a better DHiller?

Matt P's picture

But a pump is hardly an injury.

Surely it would be more down to conditioning?

I've never heard of a rock climber (who are ALWAYS going to be subjected to a "pump") having tendon surgery to reduce the effects of a pump.

A bit of well formed resistance training should do the job!

Bruce's picture

I remember reading an article in a mx magazine a while back about arm pump, they explained it to be a muscular problem not tendons, their explanation said it was to do with the muscle pumping up with blood & the outer layer of the muscle not being able to expand causing the pain. They did mention in some rare cases that people had the muscle removed. Another interesting point they made was people that do a lot of weight training suffered more from arm pump.

Matt P's picture

But removing muscle is a bit like chopping your head off to prevent migraines!
Did the article discuss what type of weight training caused more forearm pump? I would suggest that if a MTBer suffered from a pump but was also a regular weight trainer, the weight training is probably not aligning well with their style of riding and that if they want to reduce the effects, they should re-evaluate their resistance training program.

Weight training = resistance training and as strange as it may sound, holding on to a handle bar with any degree of intensity is also resistance training.

Bruce's picture

Apparently its only a small muscle in the forearm & even they thought that removal of it was fairly extreme.
There were some exercises that were supposed to help but I cant remember what they were, maybe those hand crunch things?(its probably ten years since I read it).
I think the issue with weight training was to do with the more traditional body building types, they said something about all the extra muscle putting extra pressure on the problem areas.

Bernd's picture
Matt P's picture

I googled compartmental syndrome and it (at a quick glance) appears to be almost the opposite of what appears to be the main point of discussion.

A muscular "pump" is the increased blood flow to a muscle generally during exercise causing it to partially swell and to a small degree impede its function.

Have a look at the link below and it points to CS being due to a LACK of blood into the vessels, possibly causing collapse, that is due to swelling within the muscle.

Not being a myologist, the symptoms could be recognised as sounding similar but in actual fact being quite different.

Alex's picture

yeh may not have been the tendons i assumed it was, but it was something underneath the forearms that he had cut to stop armpump pain..

Beany's picture

I've been getting "leg pump" when I'm charging around Narrabeen lakes and slamming on the back pedal brakes, leaving skiddies everywhere. I can leave skiddies at will and my buddies now call me "The skid-miester" or "Skid -dynamite".

Man it's cool fun - dude.

Noel's picture

for XC, it says in this magazine that if you use the middle finger for braking it gives more opportunity to change up and down in gears. So I'm looking at how to set up my brake and gear levers on the new bike. Still playing around with it.

Most magazine photos show index finger, especially the DH'ers.

I ride XC so I'm umm'ing and ahh'ing about whether to start getting used to Index only or Middle only.

Quite a few magazine photos look like the riders use a grip shift.

I can see that using your testicles could pose a problem Mr Pike, especially on longer descents. haha

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