How to use your motorcycle brakes properly
“The Pace 2.0 challenges riders to add this statement to their riding portfolio: “I can go to the brakes at any time during my ride.” The Brake Light Initiative (BLI) will take this challenge much further as I illustrate that a rider’s ability to use the brakes anywhere, anytime will significantly improve his or her riding.
Each and every brake application begins with the first movement of a brake lever or pedal, typically the point where the motorcycle brake light flashes on, and that initial squeeze begins the forward weight transfer to load the fork springs and front tire. This initial squeeze can happen relatively quickly, but it shouldn’t happen abruptly. Big difference.
If grip is good, meaning you aren’t leaned over very far and the pavement is solid, warm, and dry, you can continue to add lever or pedal pressure and aggressively reduce your bike’s speed. But someday you’ll find yourself on a gravel road or in the sleet on the commute home, and the only motorcycle braking forces the tires can handle at that point is just enough lever or pedal pressure to light up the motorcycle brake light. Let’s say the cold, wet tire will only handle 4 percent of a bike’s total braking ability. Because you squeeze on the lever gently, you will be able to sneak up to 4 percent rather than grab 10 percent and crash instantly. “But it was the gravel’s fault!” No, it was the brake-pressure engineer’s fault. We engineers must be linear while increasing our brake and throttle pressures.”
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