Knowing how to brake well on a motorcycle is essential on the road and on the track. When a car suddenly turns left in front of you, you will realize that your ability to brake and steer will help you avoid an accident that would be inevitable for a less experienced driver.
Those who have perfected these two techniques are the best drivers. Effective braking is a way to accurately control speed through bends, the power of modern motorcycles, and panic in sudden situations. A good knowledge of braking techniques can also add a tremendous amount of confidence to your driving capabilities.
In this article you will learn basic and emergency braking technique, along with ways to practice them on your own:
Basic and Emergency Braking on a Motorcycle
How fast do you drive? Let’s say you enjoy weekend road trips at 80 mph with occasional accelerations of up to 100 mph when conditions allow. Do you know how much time you need to brake at 100 mph? Braking tests at a speed of 100 km/h have shown that at this speed, a braking distance of about 114 feet (35 meters) is required in ideal conditions (good asphalt, warm tires and an experienced driver).
Have you ever trained emergency braking at the speed you normally drive? You should, because that’s the speed you could drive when your dog suddenly ran out into the road in front of you. But experience shows that most drivers are much better at unscrewing the throttle than pushing the brake, because it’s easy to unscrew the throttle but braking hard isn’t that easy. Strong braking requires a lot of exercise.
If you are traveling at 100 mph (160 km/h), practice braking at that speed and make it part of your ride. Choose an empty parking lot or a busy road and discover what your brakes can do. The sooner you discover how much distance you need to traverse, the more careful you will be when and where you will drive fast.
Braking practice will also show you the braking capabilities of your motorcycle, which will be especially important when you start using the brakes for much more demanding changes in speed during cornering. You will be aware of the importance of maximum deceleration, in which you will soon be blocking the tire, but it is also important to master the fine braking technique used in some of the treadmill techniques.
You need to become satisfied and confident in your brakes. But don’t worry, with enough practice the feeling will come naturally.
As we said before, choose a suitable place to practice your braking (empty parking, no traffic). The goal is to repeat the braking at the front and rear tire blocking limit. Notice how the weight moves forward when the motorcycle starts to brake. Moving the weight forward, the front tire carries the entire load during heavy braking, and the rear tire becomes very light.
- Start small and careful with a few easy stops.
- Tests have shown that the fastest and shortest brakes are achieved by using both of the two brakes, although some sports drivers do not use the rear brake for fear of locking and misconceptions that using the rear brake does not help. Remember, it is correct to use the rear brake, but do not overdo it. With heavy braking on the front brake, the rear tire is so slightly laden that a sophisticated brake feel is required to prevent the tire from locking.
- Use two fingers, the index finger and the middle finger on the front brake lever. The times when the brake on all the toes of the lever is long gone, and today it not only puts too much pressure on the brakes, but also reduces the ability to control the throttle (“intermediate”) when shifting to lower gears.
- Grasp the brake lever gently with your fingers, do not “grab” it abruptly, as there will be pressure on the front suspension and inevitable slipping of the front tire or lifting the rear end. By practicing, you will be able to bring the front tire to the limit of slip at which point the friction between the tire and the asphalt can be heard. When exercising well, quickly blocking the front tire will become your game. If you accidentally lock the front brake, release it immediately to keep the wheel spinning, otherwise your engine will slip and fall fast.
- Develop the habit of keeping your fingers on the brake lever whenever the throttle is not fully open. In other words, if you are driving around the city or slowing down before cornering, your toes should be at the brake lever, thus reducing the reaction time to the brake.
Braking Tips and Tricks
It is often more difficult to explain how the engine is operated than simply discovering how it is operated alone. Anyone who knows how to ride a bicycle is familiar with the typical handling of a two-wheeled vehicle. A few years ago, the term “countersteering” appeared to describe the actions required to turn a two-wheeled vehicle: pushing the left handlebar lever turns the wheel to the right resulting in a motorcycle turning to the left.
Confused? Think of it as simply pushing the lever in the direction you want to go: to turn left, push the left lever and vice versa. Knowing how to ride a bike or motorcycle means that you have already unknowingly used countersteering. Just a little bit of conscious countersteering helps a lot for a novice driver to manage effectively, and when that driver is ready for other ways of keeping track, countersteering will be used along with several other techniques.
Once you get used to the basics of counter steering – push the lever in the direction you want to go – you’ll be ready for almost a myriad of variations in managing a motorcycle. Speed control is not only a way to avoid an accident, but also the secret of precision sports driving.
Here’s a video demonstration of countersteering:
When you start experimenting with your steering, you will find that the motorcycle’s ability to turn is directly related to the force on the steering levers. If you press lightly, the motorcycle will turn slightly in the desired direction. If you push hard and hard, the motorcycle will simply fall on that side. Try to try a gentle turn with a slight push on the lever and an abrupt turn with a heavy push on the lever. With an understanding of this technique comes better driving, confidence and ultimately driving pleasure.
The faster you drive, the greater the gyroscopic effect on tires, wheels, discs, chain, etc., which means that it will take more power to move them out of their chosen direction of motion. Changing direction at 100 km/h (62 mph) will require more pressure on the steering lever than changing direction at 50 km/h, not only to start the turn but also to end it. Most of the efforts of motorcycle frame designers are focused on developing a true sense of steering, balancing stability versus swivel to obtain steering characteristics that will suit the purpose of the motorcycle.
No matter what type of motorcycle you ride, perfecting your action on the steering levers will greatly increase the capabilities of your motorcycle beyond the classic descriptions of “steady” or “agile”. When you are fully acquainted with the basics of countersteering, you will also be able to address some advanced techniques that will further increase your driving control and your self-confidence.
The text on these basic techniques – steering and braking – does not deal with speed, style or suspension and focuses on the driver where they need to be. It is very easy to get behind some of the minor additional details and completely forget that motorcycle movement must be controlled by braking and steering.
If you are a new driver or know a new driver, make sure you have mastered these basic techniques before you start worrying about anything else. If you do not know how to stop and operate, you should not even ride a motorcycle.
Lessons From The Road
The feel of the brakes is much more important than the braking power itself because runners can use the brake to the deep corner when necessary. This technique is called trail-braking. You should not think of the brake lever as an “on-off” switch, but rather accurately dose the pressure.
The rear brake on a racing motorcycle should not lock, no matter how hard it is depressed. Adjust it so that it cannot happen (limit lever travel, etc.) Do not be fooled: the best drivers constantly use the rear brake. And lastly, don’t forget to change the fluid frequently in the brake system. If you drive all year round you should do this 3 times.