Maximum Braking Technique

There are many skills we as motorcyclists must learn. Some we never master, some we should. One of the most important skills we can learn is stopping our motorcycles in the shortest distance.

First - braking is caused by friction or traction and only so much traction is available at any given time. Traction is used by three forces - acceleration, cornering, and braking. Traction used by one force cannot be used by another.

If we're using 80% of our traction for cornering, and try to use more than the remaining 20% traction for braking, we crash. In fact, most single vehicle motorcycle accidents are due to this.

Second - sliding rubber does not stop a bike as quickly as rubber that is turning slightly. This is called "impending skid."

As you slow down, weight is shifted forward to the front wheel so more pressure can be applied to the front brake lever without locking the front wheels. If you apply too much pressure too quickly, you can lock the front wheel. If that happens, you lose all steering control and only great luck will keep you upright.

So the second component of maximum braking is to "apply" the front brake, increasing pressure as weight is transferred forward. If you get over zealous and accidentally lock the front wheel, immediately release it, and then reapply the front brake.

Third - as weight is shifted forward, the rear brake requires less pressure to cause the wheel to lock up. Since sliding rubber travels faster than rubber at impending skid, the back tire may try to pass the front. If you panic and release the rear brake, the motorcycle will try to throw you. This is called high-side maneuver.

So the third component is to decrease amount of pressure applied to the rear brake as weight is shifted forward. HOWEVER, if you accidently lock the rear wheel, DO NOT RELEASE BRAKE PRESSURE! The bike may fishtail a little, but it will straighten out and stop.

So maximum braking occurs when the bike is upright. The front brake is applied with increasing pressure and the rear brake is applied fully with reduced pressure as weight shifts forward.

Dale Baker #09956 Safety Director, OH-10