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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.

  1. Integrated brakes: Application of the rear brake will cause some application of the front brake.
  2. Linked brakes: Application of either the rear or front brake will cause some pressure to be applied to the opposite brake.
  3. 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.

Straight-Line Braking

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.

Contributing author to Cycle Solutions www.CycleSolutions.net www.KingpinCruisers.net


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