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Some thoughts about bike brakes

We love motorcycles because we like how they go. But we love them more when they stop in time to avoid a crash. Day in and day out, brakes keep us from wiping out on the road. There are a few points we need to understand, however.

Braking is your bike's most important feature.

You remember how, as a newbie, you needed to learn braking before you ever accelerated. You can avoid some bad situations by downshifting ad techniques like countersteering. But it's the brakes that will save your life, time and time again.

Use both front and rear brakes ... depending

Most riders learn that there is a balance in braking that allows for best performance. The front wheel brake is the most important of the two. Many experts suggest applying about 70 percent of your braking to the front wheel, using the hand lever on the front grip. The other 30 percent goes to the rear wheel via the right foot pedal.

There are exceptions to be aware of:

· Bikes carrying more weight in the rear (e.g., choppers) require more rear braking.

· Sport bikes respond better to front braking, because of their more upright design.

· Dirt bikes tend to have better control when the rear brakes are used. When biking offroad, lay off the front brake.

Know your stopping distance

Truth: most cars come to a full stop faster than most cycles. This is important to know, because you need to stop when the vehicle ahead of you stop. High-performance cars like Corvettes and Ferraris can stop on a dime. Even pickup trucks can stop as quickly as most motorcycles.

Here are just a few examples:

  • A 2013 Ford F-150 pickup going 60 mph can come to a complete stop in 132 ft.
  • A 2014 Mazda 6 can stop in 121ft.
  • A 2008 Porsche 911 GT2 can stop in just 98 ft.

Whereas:

  • A 2015 Harley Street 750 needs 152 ft to come to a complete stop.
  • A 2011 Kawasaki Vulcan Vaquero needs 144 ft.
  • A 2011 Suzuki GSXR-1000 needs 140 ft.

A good rule of thumb is that any vehicle in front of you can stop faster than you can. All brakes are not created equal. So stay alert - and pay close attention to road conditions.

Learn more
How to Brake on a Motorcycle
Five Things not to do When Braking on a Motorcycle

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