May 2002 Safety Thoughts

Braking Strategies

by Dave Hansen, Safety Officer

These thoughts are not meant to be construed as the “correct” or “only way” to apply your brakes, but after a couple of incidents already this season by chapter members, I thought it might be worth discussing.  Rather than try to tell you how you should use your brakes, I’m simply going to describe the techniques I use.

First of all, almost all of my braking is done with my front brake.  This allows me to become extremely comfortable with the properties and limitations of my front brake.  I can control it well enough to allow me to maximize my stopping power without lock up.

I rarely use my rear brake, but here’s the times when I will use my rear brake:

·        Whenever riding on gravel roads, I apply rear brake first & cautiously

·        Riding in rain, I apply both front & rear brake together, cautiously

·        Riding “two up” & needing to stop quickly, I add rear brake after applying front brake to begin braking & initiate weight transfer

·        In “panic” braking situations, I add rear brake cautiously after applying front brake to begin braking & initiate weight transfer

The reason I never jam on the rear brake in “panic stop” situations is because it can & will result in over application of the rear brake.  This over application will cause rear wheel lockup as soon as the weight transfers to the front tire due to the motorcycle & rider mass’ reaction to the braking forces, reducing weight & traction to the rear tire.  

Once rear wheel lockup occurs, you have only one correct choice; keep it locked until you are completely stopped.  This may cause you to “low side” but, if you release the rear brake you will “high side”.

Just some food for thought.

Words of Safety