Riding Skills – Brake Control


The next time you think about your motorcycle walk over to it and do this five-minute drill. Doing this drill will reduce your chances of crashing, improve your bike’s handling, and help your have better control with the most powerful component on your motorcycle.

The key to this drill is not to do it just now, but do this drill whenever you get a chance. Definitely every time you ride, the next time you are hanging in the garage, chilling with your friends at the local A&W. The skill is simple, but not simple to do without practice. So what is it?

It’s a sure touch and control of the brakes by training your hands and fingers to have the muscle memory needed to do this without thinking about it.

Position the bike so that you can roll it forward in a straight line for at least 60 feet. Downhill is best since it’s easier. Put your bike in neutral, turn on the key without starting the engine. Pull the front brake lever until the brake light illuminates.

You are going to roll the bike forward either standing beside it or sitting in the saddle. Have your braking fingers resting on the front brake lever. I use two fingers, it allows me to apply plenty of pressure, it quickens my reaction time to pull the brake lever, and it prevents me from grabbing too much brake too quickly. As you roll your bike forward squeeze the brake just enough to put the pads against the rotors but not enough to stop the bike. You should hear them dragging lightly but not adding resistance. Keep trying until you get it completely repeatable without over thinking it.

Once you get that down it’s time for the next piece. Increase the pressure at the lever to slow your bike, almost stopping but releasing pressure to keep rolling. Do not fully let the brake pads come off the rotors. Repeat this process until you get used to doing it smoothly. 5 minutes at a time to keep from getting fatigues. This touch will help you improve every opportunity you apply the brakes. You will have more control and be a safer rider. You want to begin and end every application of the brakes using this technique. How much pressure you apply depends on how much speed you are scrubbing off coming into a turn. Remember, each time you go to the brake it begins and ends with this drill.

Bradley Smith gave a speech at a YCRS class. “I’ve really been focused on the first 3 percent and the last 3 percent of my braking. How I put weight forward onto the front tire and how I take the last bit of brake pressure off the front tire.”

The reason is your tire only has so much grip and the more braking you accomplish before you lean and the smoother the suspension transitions after the brakes are released allow for more traction going into and out of a turn. This touch is what you need to slow your bike when the road turns to gravel over the hill, diving into a blind turn to find out there is an obstacle in the way, or any other adversity that suddenly jumps in your way. It will also give you the confidence   to be able to apply some brake pressure mid corner without grabbing too much.

Practice, practice, practice will help you get better with this and keep you safe on the road. Don’t forget to practice with the rear brake as well.

Let us know how this technique works for you!

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