Maximum Motorcycle Braking and Swerving
by Jim Noss
The majority of motorcycle braking systems have a right-front
lever for activating the front brake and a right foot pedal for
activating the rear brake. There exist some variations on the
basic motorcycle brake systems. Some of these innovations may
affect how you handle low-speed manuevers.
- Integrated brakes: Application of the rear brake will cause
some application of the front brake.
- Linked brakes: Application of either the rear or front brake
will cause some pressure to be applied to the opposite brake.
- Anti-lock brakes: Popular in BMW and the Yamaha FJR bikes.
These are designed to minimize skidding in the event of a
maximum-braking straight-line stop.
If you are going to learn anything about motorcycling, it is Stopping a motorcycle in the shortest possible distance
. I urge you to practice in a safe place, an empty parking lot in order to keep your braking skills sharp.
You may ask, but how do I implement maximum motorcycle braking?
Well, the best way to achieve maximum braking is to apply both
brakes fully without locking either wheel. Simultaneously
squeeze the front brake lever and apply the rear brake pedal.
Keep your body centered and keep looking straight ahead to
maintain your balance. Do not look down or you will most likely
go down. Looking straight ahead helps you to keep the motorcycle
in a straight line.
Braking in a Curve
The important thing to remember about braking in a curve is that
the amount of traction available to you and your tires is
reduced. Why? well this is because there is a limited amount of
grip (surface area of the tire) existing between the tires and
the road surface when the motorcycle is in a leaning over
position. Now the key to stopping quickly in a curve is to get
the motorcycle in an upright straight position as soon as
possible. Time is distance, do it quickly. You want to do this
so that the maximum amount of traction is available for braking.
By uprighting the bike, more surface area of the tire will be in
contact with the road. If road and traffic conditions allow,
straighten up the motorcycle first and center or square the
handlebar before you apply maximum braking. You will now be
making a Straight-line stop.
Ok, there may be a time when conditions do not allow you to
straighten out your bike and time to square your handlebar.
These are, running off the road in a left-hand turn (me, I did
this) or dealing with the oncoming traffic in a right-hand turn.
In these conditions, you will need to apply both brakes smoothly
and easy. Do not slam down on the brake controls, this will most
likely cause you to lock up one or both tires and cause you a
world of problems such as going down. As you gradually apply the
brakes, the lean angle will be reduced into a more upright
position; as this occurs apply more braking force.
The goal is to have the motorcycle straight up at the end of a
stop. Remember, this is the reason you want to center up the
handlebar as you near the end of the stop.