Learn to brake bet­ter

Prac­tice pre­vents nasty sur­prises LEARN­ING EX­PERT

Motorcycle News (UK) - - This Week - Mark Ed­wards Re­tired po­lice mo­tor­cy­clist, now Class One an in­struc­tor for Rapid Train­ing

Sim­ple steps to stop faster

Get to know your brakes

It is pos­si­ble to ride many miles with­out the need for hard brak­ing. In fact, if you are fre­quently us­ing heavy brak­ing in your ev­ery­day rid­ing then it is a sign that your plan­ning and an­tic­i­pa­tion skills are fall­ing short. How­ever, when con­fronted with an emer­gency, your brakes are your best friend, so it’s worth get­ting to know them well. A bike’s brakes are way more pow­er­ful than its en­gine, so they need to be used with skill.

Don’t wait for an emer­gency

Like any prac­ti­cal skill, there is no sub­sti­tute for prac­tice. If the first time you have to do an emer­gency stop is a real emer­gency, chances are you will fall off in the at­tempt.

Break down your brak­ing

Car driv­ers only have to re­mem­ber which pedal to hit, but brak­ing on a mo­tor­cy­cle is a much more skilled af­fair. Amaz­ing rates of de­cel­er­a­tion can be achieved, but only with loads of prac­tice. You should aim to sep­a­rate brak­ing into three stages, lead­ing with the front brake. The first is that ini­tial bite, this puts the bike on no­tice; the front-end dips and the weight is trans­ferred for­wards. This al­lows you to reach the sec­ond stage where the full power of the brakes comes in. With the front end bury­ing into the ground, you can get ev­ery­thing stopped very quickly. Re­mem­ber that the weight trans­fer to the front will make lock­ing the rear wheel more likely, so be gen­tle with your ap­pli­ca­tion of the back brake pedal. Then just be­fore you reach the de­sired speed, release the brakes gen­tly so that the bike set­tles back down smoothly.

Link it up for ex­tra power

Get­ting all this to hap­pen seam­lessly and in the blink of an eye is where the skill comes in – so prac­tice. Track­days are ideal for this, but a quiet piece of road to prac­tice on can be just as good. Some rid­ers dis­miss the rear brake, but it can sup­ply a use­ful brak­ing ef­fect and also re­duce ‘nose dive’. If you are a scep­tic, try a ride on a bike with linked brakes to see just how ef­fec­tive they are.

Brak­ing round the bend

In an ideal world you’ll only ever be brak­ing in a straight line, but there are times when you’ll need to brake in a cor­ner. This is go­ing to be harder as you’re trad­ing the avail­able grip be­tween cor­ner­ing and brak­ing. The front brake will make the bike want to stand up, so use it smoothly. The rear brake can be ef­fec­tive here, as pro­gres­sive use can shed loads of speed with­out af­fect­ing the steer­ing.

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