by Robert Calpin
Last year I had a really bad accident mainly due to lack of concentration for a split second and my front disk brakes being too effective and abrupt. On my previous bikes I had V-Brakes and was always very pleased with the performance.
Accident description: I flew over a slight downhill ridge and upon landing, slammed the brakes on very suddenly, the front suspension went down and my centre-of-gravity was too high. I flew over the handle-bars landing on my helmeted head, then my left shoulder, then my back (still holding the bike), after which the handle-bar extension hit my chest and I let go of the bike.
Result: 3 broken Ribs and ripped ligaments at the Collar bone to Left Shoulder area. The Ribs healed OK, but I needed 2 operations on my left shoulder, which is now coming along nicely.
THE PROBLEM with my Juicy 5 disc brake set is they really stop dead when braking suddenly. Iâ€™ve always thought they have a kind of either Off or Full-On action. This can be deadly when considering the above worst-case accident scenario. What Iâ€™d really like is a more steady linear braking action. Does anyone have some advice. Maybe there are new products on the market ?
Or maybe a different grade of Brake Pad?
I’ve already had the handle-bars changed to a design having approx. 2-cm higher Grips. Iâ€™ve set the front suspension stiffer, now ca. 110 psi and marked the front brake lever with a bright yellow sticker. I now try even more to force myself to brake Back then Front, but in surprise situations this is difficult. I also try to wear a Rucksack as often as possible â€“ even if itâ€™s empty. My theory is this will soften a back- landing and offer slight protection at the shoulders area.
Also Iâ€™m looking for simple shoulder protectors. All I can find on the Internet are the full protector suits.
Does anyone have any ideas ?
Your crash sounds very similar to mine. When I tell my story on the mountain bike forums there are always people who say, “You just to learn how to ride better,”or “Just don’t land on your head.” I am like you… I think this could happen to any of us as we all have had instances where we were a little out of control.
I don’t have any great solution. Here are a few more ideas I can add to your adjustments.
I try to only use one finger of my left hand to brake. I even moved my left brake handle to the right as far as far as I could (and still be able to use my shifter) so I would have a hard time breaking with two fingers.
I just use the regular Shimano XT or XTR pads… but I never put a new set on the front. I always take a set off the back and put them on the front. My front pads don’t get a lot of wear and tear as I consciously try to never use my front brakes (unless going down a steady, steep hill).
I have also practiced sliding my butt off the back of the seat just above my back wheel, so if I need to stop really fast I will have a lower center of gravity.
But as you say… what will I do when I get excited?
I know you can get motorcycle gear to protect your shoulders and can even get a device that attaches your helmet to your shoulders to protect the neck.
I have not had a major crash since I broke my neck. This is mostly due to a couple of things.
I have since realized that my bike will roll over most anything (including the rut that caused me to panic and slam on both brakes) if I can keep my weight back.
I have become a more skillful rider, finding myself out of control less and less.
I have have made many of the same adjustments as you.
I open this up to our fellow readers… What do you do to prevent a major injury? Please share your ideas as they can only help all of us prevent injury and enjoy this great sport.