Even before the invention of ABS in cars, emergency motorcycle braking has always been fundamentally different to braking in your standard sedan. You have to factor in balance, front and rear brakes, not to mention the risks involved in locking up your front brakes.
While your best lesson in emergency braking would be to take a defensive riding course, we’ve covered some of the basic points to give you an insight into the proper technique for emergency braking on a motorbike.
Main Consideration for Emergency Braking
When braking suddenly, especially when using the front brakes, much of the weight of the bike pitches onto the front tyre. As the front brake is released, much of this weight shifts to the back tyre, increasing as you accelerate. The important thing to remember is to not load too much weight at once, as this is how you overload a tyre’s traction. Rather than grabbing the brake or throttle, apply them smoothly.
As mentioned above, one of the main factors affecting tyre grip is the weight loaded on each tyre. With greater weight loaded on a tyre, the pressure flattens out the tread of the tyre, increasing the surface contact. This improves your bike’s grip on the road surface. When you snatch the brakes you apply all the force and weight of your momentum to the front tyre while it has reduced grip. Applying the brakes slowly allows the weight to flatten the tyre, increase grip and provide traction for the brakes. Your front brakes provide more stopping power, yet your rear tyre will have the most traction at the start of the braking, this is where we have a problem;
Front Brake – The front brake will always slow the bike the fastest, however, you need to apply this brake gradually enough to avoid the tyre slipping out or going over the handlebars.
Rear Brake – Designed more for mid-corner and fine adjustments to stabilise the bike, the rear brake does little to slow down the bike in a hurry. You’re more likely to lock the tyre and lose traction and skid the rear wheel.
It’s important to remember to pull the clutch when you’re emergency braking. When you don’t, the bike is still propelling forward against the brakes. It also reduces the bike’s ability to pitch forward, reducing the grip on the front tyre.
Other Considerations for Emergency Braking
If you know you’re on a dangerous road or traffic is precarious, you should be ready to react quickly on the front brakes. Practice your technique of riding with two fingers on the front brake lever, ready to apply as you leave the throttle.
Shifting & Engine Braking
In a sudden stop engine braking is likely to lock the rear wheel, even for an instance, ruining your balance when you need it most. Although you should avoid engine braking in an emergency stop, when you pull the clutch in try to drop the gears down ready for when you need throttle. After you’ve stopped suddenly to avoid hitting the car in front, you may still have to throttle out to avoid being hit by the car behind. Your bike needs to be in gear ready for this, otherwise you’re likely to stall trying to take off in 4th gear.
The surface of the road you’re on will have a massive impact on your braking. Consider loose gravel, water or oil and the effect it has on your braking. If you know the road you’re on has poor traction, you’ll need to apply your brakes more gradually to avoid skidding your tires and dropping the bike.
That’s just a start to the skills and considerations necessary for effective emergency braking on a motorbike. As you become more experienced you’ll start to work on ergonomics, body position, anti-lock brakes, your technique will get better and with it, your reaction times will improve. Defensive riding courses are a good way to work on these skills.
If you’re looking to get on a newer, safer bike, talk to the team at Aussie Bike Loans today. Our finance experts will source a bike loan to suit your current situation, as well as motorbike insurance.