By Brian P.
September, 2004

Proper maximum braking technique, to avoid traffic conflicts, is a skill in which many motorcyclists are deficient. The traction of rolling rubber is much higher than sliding metal, leather and skin. Laying a motorcycle down is almost always the wrong choice to make. However, with some knowledge and practice, motorcyclists can improve their braking skills considerably, which may some day save their life. Here are some important considerations when braking, in order to keep the shiny side up —-

1. Using both brakes is the best braking method: a. It is the most efficient and effective braking method. b. It helps to develop the habit, so that when maximum braking is needed it is a reflex response.

2. The front brake is the most important brake, supplying more than 70% of the total stopping power for the motorcycle.

3. The best front brake technique, is a firm squeeze with progressively increasing brake lever pressure. This will allow time for forward weight transfer and increased front tire traction, with less chance for a front tire skid.

4. In a maximum braking situation, it is important to remember not to grab the front brake lever. Remember that what’s important is not how fast the brake lever moves, but rather how far the brake lever moves in toward the grip. Keep increasing the front brake pressure, keep the lever moving in toward the grip. This is what will shorten your stopping distance.

5. The best rear brake technique is moderate to light brake pedal pressure. Remember that during braking there is a forward weight transfer. This will lead to a decrease in the available rear wheel traction. It may be helpful to actually progressively decrease the rear brake pressure during the stop, to lessen the chance of a rear tire skid.

6. The possible result of a front tire skid is immediate loss of control and a low side crash. If the front tire skids during braking it is recommended to immediately release the front brake lever, then reapply with a more appropriate progressively increasing pressure.

7. The result of a rear tire skid is loss of ability to steer the motorcycle. If the rear tire would move out of alignment with the front, and if the rear tire would regain traction, the result could be a high side crash. If the rear tire skids during braking, it is recommended to keep pressure applied on the rear brake pedal, until the motorcycle comes to a stop.

8. Braking in a curve is complicated because the amount of traction available for braking is reduced. If the available traction is exceeded while braking in a curve, a slid out will occur.

9. Finally, when maximum braking is required in a curve there a two possible techniques. a. Straighten the motorcycle first, then apply the appropriate maximum braking technique discussed above. Apply light braking pressure while straightening the motorcycle, then when straight, apply the appropriate maximum braking technique.

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