It can take hours and hours of practice to perfect braking on a motorcycle. But you’ll be thankful for this practice when your body automatically does what it’s supposed to in an emergency stop situation. Here are some tips to ensure your skills are where they need to be:
- Keep one finger on the front brake lever at all times. This cuts down on your reaction time so that you can stop right away in the event of a sudden need to slow down
- When you need to stop, grip the bike between your legs so as to ensure you’re not shifting around unnecessarily
- Understand that most stopping action rests with the front brakes. Gradually apply these brakes until the weight of the bike gets distributed to the front tire. This brings said tire into greater contact with the pavement
- After applying the front brake, it’s time to utilize the rear brake. Do this while applying consistent pressure to the front brake. You can also downshift at this time to further decrease the speed of the motorcycle
- Do not jam the brake or lock up the wheel. Extensive practice can give you a feel for when a jam or lockup is about to occur. It’s up to you to learn how much pressure is appropriate for bringing your motorcycle to a stop
Following the systematic steps as listed above has been shown by research to be the most effective means of braking. Only using the back brake isn’t good enough. It takes longer to stop, the back wheel is put in danger of locking up, and the bike could skid out of control.
There are also certain steps that you can take in emergency situations to mitigate the risk. Focus primarily on the front brake, and whatever you do, don’t jam down on it all at once. Do not use the back brake until the initial panic wears off. Pulling the clutch can also bring you to a safer stop. Keep a tight yet controlled grip and squeeze the lever appropriately.
Practice Makes Perfect
Try practicing both normal braking situations AND emergency situations. In the latter, make sure to refrain from using the rear brake. If you’re about to start riding a motorcycle you’re unfamiliar with, then train yourself in familiar environs before you travel to areas you’re not accustomed to. This way, you’ll know for certain that you can properly operate your motorcycle.
All the training in the world won’t matter, though, if your braking system is in disrepair. Service the brakes regularly, and keep the rest of your motorcycle in good shape while you’re at it. Even on short trips, your brakes should be sound and your tires should have the proper amount of tread. Proper braking can be the difference between life and death.