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Which brake do you favor under normal conditions?

  • Front. Period.

    Votes: 8 13.6%
  • Rear. Period.

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Straightline stop-front.

    Votes: 6 10.2%
  • Straightline stop-rear.

    Votes: 4 6.8%
  • Slowing for turn-front.

    Votes: 3 5.1%
  • Slowing for turn-rear

    Votes: 10 16.9%
  • Both, equally.

    Votes: 45 76.3%
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

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Premium Member
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2,850 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Another issue/tip/rule I hear alot is either always use the front brake, stay off the rear; or always use the rear and stay off the front. So just out of curiosity again, how many do which mostly?

Please note, this is another very non-scientific poll. I know there are several factors that can change braking specifics, so in the interest if keeping things simple, lets keep it simple.

Road conditions are clean and clear, dry, warm, non emergency braking, and in terms of just general slowing for a turn or stopping for a light.

Which one do you most mostly under normal riding conditions.

And again, comments are optional and entirely your choice. :)

Multiple choice allowed.
 

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Newb with a Bullet!
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589 Posts
I figure a car breaks with both so that must be the most efficient. That and if you're trying to stop why not apply the most "stop" you have? I'm trying to remember, been several years since I took the rider's safety course but I am 90% sure that's what they teach there as the best technique. I think they say to use both brakes equally at all times and don't lock up the rear. You have to do an emergency stop in class and go from like 35mph to a stop in a space of so many feet they have painted on the course without locking the wheel.
 

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Premium Member
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369 Posts
If a really need to brake, I use both. If just slowing down, the engine and shifting to smaller gear(s) usually does the job, but if someone is behind me I try to remember also press the brake pedal enough to light up the brake light.
 

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and the Adventure Cycle
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6,141 Posts
It's been awhile since I've really payed attention to how I brake, but most always both, although probably not equally.
It's one of them things that after awhile just becomes second nature. Even in the conditions you describe different things can still come into play as to how much of each to use.
 

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Premium Member
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4,054 Posts
Usually both equally, especially in an emergency stop. I often come off the front brake as I get to where I'm turning and especially if it is a very sharp right turn, I keep on my rear brake a little. In an emergency stop though, you have to react to what is happening with your bike. My last emergency stop I started sliding and my rear started to my right and I came off my rear brake and let up on the front brake some to straighten out, then went back into full brake on both to stop.
 

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Straight roads are evil
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580 Posts
Both, but not equally. Since most stopping power is in front, that gets used more.
 

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Registered
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738 Posts
The answer should be 'favor both equally' under normal situations for 2 reasons;

1. 70% of the bikes stopping power is in the front brake - so you must favor the front

2. Conditioning your brain to automatically use the rear brake in an emergency situation (i.e., develop a good habit) to obtain 100% stopping power means that you must favor the rear

So, both front and rear need to be favored equally under normal situation to stop the bike efficiently (front) maintain and reinforce good braking habits (rear). You don't have time to think about braking during an emergency situation, it has to be automatic. How to brake for specific road condtions builds on this 'good habit' foundation using knowledge, technique, experience and skill.
 

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Senior Lurker
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509 Posts
USE BOTH BRAKES! :doh:

Here's the (MSF) logic: Train yourself to use both brakes properly for all stops at all times, so when and if you ever need to do a "quick stop" or "emergency stop" your reflexes (muscle memory) will work properly and you will instinctively apply both brakes properly. If during your "normal riding" you fall into bad habits about favoring one brake or the other, when the time comes that you actually need to use both brakes you will most likely screw up, your muscle memory will most likely fire off before you have time to think about what you should do and you'll brake poorly and increase your risk of injury.

After food shopping, when you come to a stop in your car, did you every notice that your grocery bags fall forwards? That's because the weight of the vehicle (and all of its contents) transfers forwards and loads up the front suspension. This is important!

As long as we're on the subject about braking properly this is something to be very aware of: The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is acutely aware of the three main physical skills that motorcyclists tend to lack that lead to many unnecessary single vehicle (meaning motorcycle only) accidents. 1. The ability to properly take turns. 2. The ability to properly swerve. 3. The ability to properly stop quickly.

So you ask: How do we stop the bike quickly and in the shortest distance possible? Well as we know weight transfers forwards when braking, so the front brake is going to do most of our stopping. As weight transfers forwards the weight on the rear wheel lightens and increases our chances of locking the rear wheel. When braking we want to use both brakes, there's no point to not using the rear brake and missing out on stopping power, but a locked wheel skids and slides, it's not really braking to its fullest potential. Another thing to be cautious about is grabbing or pouncing on the front brake. While the front brake does have more power, if you apply too much brake pressure on the front brake before the weight of the bike transfers forwards you can stop the front wheel from spinning altogether - thus causing a low side accident where the bike just falls face down, usually to the right because your right arm is pulling so hard on the brake. Skidding is not braking!

The answer is to apply a firm progressive ssssqqqqquuuuueeeeeeeeeeeeezzzzzzze to the front brake lever (the more the weight transfers forward during the stop, the more you can squeeze front brake lever for increased stopping power and not lock the front wheel) while simultaneously applying light to lighter pressure on the rear wheel (light pressure to begin with because it's not too hard to lock the rear wheel and gradually lightening the pressure on the rear brake because as the weight transfers forwards it will become even easier to lock the rear wheel. Remember, skidding is not braking, it increases your stopping distance.)

Think you're going to remember to do all of that when it really counts? Trust me you won't, especially if you get sloppy with your everyday braking and save proper braking for special occasions.

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If you grab your front brake and over-brake and stop the front wheel from spinning you only have a spilt second to LET GO and let the wheel spin again to try regain traction and then brake again properly -because after all you wanted to stop right? Holding onto a front heel skid pretty much always results in a "low-side" accident. So NEVER grab the front brake lever and if you accidentally do -let go of it!

If you stomp on your rear brake and over-brake you can easily stop your rear wheel from spinning and start it skidding. This is usually accompanied by a loud screeching from the rear tire rubbing on the road surface and most people's natural tendency is to want to stop that sound to they let go of the rear brake. Letting go of the rear brake once it's locked (on a dry surface) will allow the wheel to spin again and usually it very abruptly regains traction which often results in a "high-side" kind of accent where the bike literally throws you off the bike sideways.

On a clean dry surface the easiest way to control a rear wheel skid is to hold the rear brake down and keep skidding. Continue to brake properly with the front brake and come to a full stop. Keep your head and eyes up and level and keep the handlebars square. This is equivalent to "steering into a skid" in a car (as apposed to steering with a skid in a car which could spin the car in circles). Once you've stopped you can of course let go of the rear brake.

On lose surfaces like gravel, sand, mud, rain, ice, etc. you may (depends on your skills, comfort level and the conditions) have the option of easing off a little bit of pressure on a locked rear wheel. Since the surface of the road is lose the available traction is reduced and the rear wheel will not have as an abrupt and violent snap back in line with the front wheel when it starts spinning again.

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Bottom line: Get in the good habit of braking properly (with both brakes) at all times and also take some time every now and then to find a nice safe area and practice doing some quick stops.

-Sloppy
 

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Senior Lurker
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509 Posts
While we're at it, braking while turning usually results in falling! Brake and finish braking before you enter turns. Get in that good habit too!

-Sloppy
 

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Old Truck Junkie
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4,133 Posts
I ussually start my stop ( normal conditions) by appling the front brake. At the same time I will do the engine brake method. Then when close to the stop or turn I will incorporate the rear brake to assist in the stop or slow down.

I use both brakes, but not equally.
 

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Super Moderator
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11,972 Posts
I voted for every choice but the first two.

Mostly because I do on many occasions do all of them.

Sometimes I will stop using just the rear, sometimes just the front, and sometimes both.

The part of slowing for a turn goes the same way, it mostly depends on how much I need to slow down, how fast I am going and what I feel like using at the moment.
If I have to stop fast I always use both brakes, that has already been ingrained in my subconsious so I tend to "mix it up" the rest of the time.

I should also point out that my bike has "linked rear brakes" meaning when I apply just the rear brake it also applies one of the front discs. The front brake lever only controlls the front, and...the bike has ABS....so in the event of needing to stop fast I can pretty much stomp on the rear and squeeze the front lever like I want to bend it without fear of locking up either wheel.

That all said, it is a good idea to use both brakes all the time especialy if you are a new rider for the reasons already mentioned.

What I found intresting is the 3 votes for front only ...you folks need to read more.......

KM
 

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Old Twistie Sticks Rider
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5,072 Posts
I ussually start my stop ( normal conditions) by appling the front brake. At the same time I will do the engine brake method. Then when close to the stop or turn I will incorporate the rear brake to assist in the stop or slow down. I use both brakes, but not equally.
I do about the same as niterider, so I guess I would have to check all except the first 2 like KM...
I do wonder though if both brakes would be better than using the engine due to brakes being much cheaper than clutches to replace...
My favorite way was not listed, when I really want to stop, I just put both feet down and pull up and back on the handlebars and call out whoaaaa Clyde, hmmm, maybe that's why I don't have Clyde anymore...:doh:...lol...
You just can't find a shoeshop anymore to get shoes heeled and 1/2 soled...lol...
 

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Registered
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411 Posts
It all depends on what I'm doing and how quickly I need to slow down. If I just need to scrub off some speed, I may use the rear. If I need to quickly scrub off some speed, I'll use both. If I'm engine braking, I'll only use the front. If I'm coasting into a stop, I'll use both. Emergency stop - both. I feel like I have a better "feel" for the front brake, though.

--FA
 

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Linkmeister Supreme
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7,960 Posts
I hesitated to mark my braking habits down at all, based on only 6 weeks of riding my bike before crashing almost 14 months ago now. It is obvious to me now, after a lot of reading, that I wasn`t using my brakes properly or to best advantage. When I ride, I shift and brake like a truck driver, which I have been for 35 years. What I mean, is that I back off the throttle way back from lights or slowing traffic and coast or downshift and use engine braking to slow down, far more than I use the brakes. When I finally did have to use a brake, it was almost always the rear brake which I used.

In the past year I have read a lot of "Motorcycle Safety Tips" written by James R. Davis. Here is a link; www.msgroup.org . I also bought David Hough`s excellent book "Proficient Motorcycling', which I recommend to every rider here.

I know now that I should be using my front brake virtually every time I slow down or stop. Mr. Davis describes the proper use of the brakes as tapering on and off, much as you would do in a car to avoid jerks as you begin braking and ease up as you come to a stop. The difference on our vn750 being that you have separate controls for front and rear brakes. Many newer bikes have ABS or linked brakes as KM pointed out, that are designed to help us keep from skidding.

When we need to stop in a hurry, the front brake is our best friend. On a cruiser it has the potential to supply about 70 to 80% of the stopping power. On a sportbike, the front brake can supply 100% of the stopping power! Just look at pictures of them doing "stoppies" where the rear tire is coming up off the ground, or "endos" where they actually rotate right over the front tire, end over end.

In a rapid stop we need to taper onto both brakes over a one second time period, to load the front tire and then smoothly apply as much front brake as possible without skidding. David Hough suggests a "time hack count" of "one thousand and one" as we start the front brake lever squeeze. If we are fully squeezed down before the one second count, it is too fast. As the front tire gains weight we can squeeze harder and the rear tire gets lighter and we need to taper off the rear brake on it before it skids. If we have learned to use the brakes to the maximum without skidding, we will be able to do it in an emergency and feel and/or hear the brakes as they reach the point just short of skidding, where we are getting the most rapid slowing of the bike.

Then as the emergency resolves we need to back off the brakes over that same one second time period. Of course at very slow speeds or just as you are stopping you only want to use the rear brake, as the front one sliding out on loose ground could put you down.

Take some time and read some of James Davis`s braking safety tips in the link above. You may become better friend with your front brake, as you learn a little more about how it works.
 

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ExNewbie..Still Learnin'!
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256 Posts
I have to weigh in here and agree with Sloppy, I use both whenever I stop. Muscle memory is everything in an emergency (I've had two emergency stops so far, locked rear on first one, went and practiced a bunch, read" how to compensate for nose-dive", and fared much better on the second, both due to giving cagers too much credit) so do yourselves a favor. Find a big parking lot and practice, practice, practice. It might just save your life (melo-dramatic to be sure, but true). A superb resource is located at www.ridelikeapro.com which is based on the former motorcycle policeman, Jerry "Motorman" Palladino's many years of experience and suggestions. No matter how long you've been riding, I'll bet a couple of frosty ones that you'll be more than challenged by his Practice Guide. Take a look, TONS of free info, and some stuff to buy if you have some cash laying around.
 

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Recovering Dirtbiker
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47 Posts
I tend to use different things in different scenarios.

Most times (Straight braking) I'll use both brakes depending on the rate of decel -- If it's a slower stop I'll use engine braking and tap the front brakes to turn on the brake lights.

I never really brake in turns unless there is something in the way (that whole brake on a turn == fall down thing). Before turns it depends on decel rates, if I'm just slowing from say 45->35 or 55->45 I'll usually just use the front brake to cut the speed.

Quick Stops and quick traffic stops I always use both brakes.
 

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Registered
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6,450 Posts
Both always, no exceptions. That's the way I was taught to ride and it was reinforced by the MSF. When I first started riding I would use only the rear just to get a feel for what it felt like. I wanted to know how much front brake to feed in, in order to stop correctly. It actually worked, I stop with equal front and back everytime on every bike - even though the front is responsible for 70% of the stopping power...
 
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