Brakes are the most important bit in any motorcycle. If you want to ride safely, with lesser chances of road accidents, you need to L-E-A-R-N proper braking techniques. We often hear opinions from fellow riders that: “I don’t use the front brake, it is too dangerous on my bike” Or “I never use the rear brake, it is completely useless” and so on.

If you are from this clan, you simply need to L-E-A-R-N effective braking.

Do you know which brake is the most important on any motorcycle? If you answered – front brake, you are right. Front brakes provide you with most stopping power (60-80%). If you still don’t believe, you should see these numbers:

Official tests revealed that using both brakes on a standard motorcycle will stop you with mean deceleration of .776 G (gravitational constant). And just the front brake delivers almost stopping force of .711 G!

But when rear brakes are used exclusively, deceleration is significantly lower – only .425 G. Bikes with linked braking systems (LBS or Combined Braking System – CBS) were tested too. Usually, on such motorcycles both brakes get applied in different proportions when only one brake lever/pedal is pressed.

Actually results were lower when using foot pedal or the front brake control only (but brakes are linked together). So even with CBS, using both brakes gave better results (.740 G compared to .583 G or .440G). And the point is – you should always use all brake controls simultaneously, not just the front brake (or the rear brake).

The rear brake is extremely important too. Even on a sportsbike, which usually transfers most of its weight on the front, rear brake use is still needed. You will use that before all the weight is transferred (after that rear brakes will be partially inefficient), and those few moments will decelerate motorcycle greatly.

On cruisers and other heavier bikes rear brake is even more important, because the rear part of the motorcycle will be continuously stable throughout the braking process, and that’s why rear brakes will not lose power just after 1-2 seconds, like on the sportbike.

In addition, rear brake applies stabilizing effect, and holds your rear wheel at the back, without sliding sideways, or hopping around.

Useful tip: During panic braking, do not think of downshifting; just pull in the clutch and brake as hard as possible. Studies showed that downshifting while braking adds few additional meters to your normal stopping distance. So just pull in the clutch and brake.

Good braking tips

Of course this needs a lot of practice, you can’t become a “braking expert” overnight. And the thing is – you need to practice braking from higher speeds (like say over 70-80 km/h) not from 25km/h, when you are training in a parking lot. The problem is that braking from the low speeds may seem easy, you just push the brakes hard and that’s all. But in real situation, braking from closer to or over triple digit speeds can be disastrous if you push the brakes to the limit – over-braking will cause loss of control, and you will crash (usually this happens, if the front wheel locks).

This brings in ABS into the picture! Results have proved that ABS results in shortening braking distances. Also ABS eliminates the risk of wheel lock-up and stops are relatively safe. The good news is that ABS is now mandatory on motorcycles over 125 cc in India.

Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) in Motorcycles – Explained

Some Quick Tips for Braking

  • When going downhill, use the front brake. Many riders think that you need to apply brake to the “less stressed” rear wheel in this situation. But it is wrong, it may lock up (loose grip and pass the front). Remember – if a wheel carries lesser weight at any particular moment, it will lock up easier than the wheel with more weight on it.
  • Check your front suspension frequently. If you have weak suspension and worn out springs, this could impact your motorcycle’s braking specially under hard braking (you may even lose control). So front suspension in bad condition is dangerous thing.
  • While you are riding a heavily loaded motorcycle, or a pillion, make sure you don’t push front brakes too quickly and too strong – wheel will lock immediately if the front springs will be pushed to the limit. You will have to use the rear brake in appropriate proportion.

Ten Things Pillion Riders Should NOT Do!

Finally, how should you brake? A recommended sequence for this procedure is:

  1. Close the throttle and use the rear brake.
  2. Straighten the motorcycle if needed, and adjust your posture and hand position.
  3. Use the front brake and declutch. Don’t squeeze brakes too firmly. Rear brakes shouldn’t be applied at this moment.
  4. Adjust the brake pressure.

10 Tips to Avoid Accidents While Riding in City: Most Basic But Often Neglected

This whole process usually takes only a few seconds to stop from high speeds and it’s really quick. So in order to do everything right you just need to practice braking – there is no way around it! Mastering braking is an extremely important part of biking and can save you many a times from accidents – minor or major!

– Aleks

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  1. Huh, This article is misleading.
    Use of engine braking actually helps a lot. I thought this blog gives a right information. But i must think about folloeing this blog further.

    Very disappointing article.

      • And where is it mentioned that Engine Braking helps..As per your article: “when braking, don’t downshift, just pull in the clutch. Studies showed that downshifting while braking actually adds few additional meters to your normal stopping distance”.
        This statement of yours implies you guys are belittling the importance of engine braking. Engine braking or put simply downshifting as you decelerate adds up to the stopping power, not to mention the fact that it is a lot safer and effective.

        I think Deepak or whoever has written this article seriously need to get his basics right.!!!!

      • Engine Braking doesn’t helps as our intension in the crucial situation is to stop the vehicle not just the engine

        i know who killed or spoiled their engine in the name of engine breaking.

    • “Studies showed that downshifting while braking actually adds few additional meters to your normal stopping distance.”

      The author most probably implies that – if you focus on down-shifting then those few fractions of seconds which could be focused on braking is lost and hence less effective. And I am not arguing with that… though I cannot agree with it too.

      • Those fractions of seconds are what gets counted as you upshift to the right cogs at the right time, to give one the best possible push in any drag race. Same holds true even for slowing down. 🙂

      • I agree Deepak…

        @Fuzzy: Drag racing and Panic Braking are completely different. In the former u accelerate, Have a greater distance and time to reach to point B from point A; while in the latter u decelerate, have a very few meters and fractions of seconds to Crash at point B from point A… I hope u found the difference… Plus declutching and downshifting is different in this situation… If u downshift too much at a high speed ur rear wheels will start ‘snake dancing’…. Plus in those fractions of seconds u wont have the additional fractions to downshift…

    • Kedar,
      In the first step of the procedure mentioned by author i.e. “1.Close the throttle and use the rear brake”, the duration between closing the throttle and applying rear brake is actually nothing but engine braking (which is zero when u are in emergency). If you want more of engine braking by downshifting then it involves many extra steps:
      1. pull the clutch.
      2. downshift.
      3 open the trhottle and engage the clutch
      4. close the throttle.
      You can opt for this if you have some 100meter plus distance to go before coming to halt.
      However the line “when braking, don’t downshift, just pull in the clutch” is misleading in the sense that you dont just pull the clutch on the go. first you apply brakes (first rear then both) then after considerable decrease in speed you pull the clutch.

  2. I prefer to use both front & rear brakes in 70:30 ratio.also i feel if u r at under 50 speed on straight road in lower gear than engine braking can be used togather with brakes.

  3. there is article in xbhp magazine regarding panic braking and breaking techniques that’s is 100% correct here in this article some sentences are quit missleading

  4. Very informative safety tips, especially the need for practice in braking, not applying too much brake on a wheel which carries less weight etc. Now I understand how the Suzuki GS150R’s front-heavy handlebar has an advantage over other front-light bikes like Dazzler, in braking. Even though I couldn’t completely understand the advantage of front-heavy weight distribution of a bike, I was thinking that there should be a good reason for it when companies like Suzuki, which has taken so much care to make the design of each and every aspect of GS150R perfect, maintains this strategy in all their bikes. Now, I know why and it is not a disadvantage. Thank you.

  5. yes there are misleading info on this article. well if you don’t downshift then you have more speed and you may loose control overall afterwards. this I m not not talking abt panic braking which is different. in pani situation obviously you may not have the time to downshift, the first reaction will be braking- front brake, after few millisecs rear brake then clutch – this is normal when something comes right in front of you and ofcourse then you fall..but there are techniques to fall too.. but hey! we’re not talking abt motogp. and 100-0 in 3 secs –well a normal person riding a normal bike cannot do that.. especially without landing on the tarmac or over the bridge into the gutter. SERIOUSLY emphasis on the words ‘normal person’ and ‘normal bike’

  6. I usually apply the front and rear brakes simultaneously on my FZ. Is it good or bad?
    I dont’ know if the braking is good for the FZ; the bike always stops whenever and wherever I want it to stop… For pillion also I guess its safe.

  7. Hi,

    The difference in effect of the Front / Rear Brakes is a welcome note. But we would be very thankful, if the Brake systems on Indian Motorcycles (Disk / drum combinations) are dealt with. As you know, the bikes such as BMW are bought by only a few and they have special knowledge and training before / after getting them.

  8. one thing i want to point out is NEVER EVER EVER HOLD CLUTCH LEVER AT HIGH SPEEDS. besides in downhill engine bvraing is very very important it is the only safe thing in slope.

    braking differs from 100cc bike to a 150/160/180/200 cc bike.

    PS engine breaking is waste in traffic , in my bike i will be in 3rd gear @ 25kmph , if i close throttle it will drop to 10-13kmph without depressing clutch.

  9. Braking perfection comes only after lot of practise.. there’s nothing like perfect technique..
    as long as your back is seated in the pillion your braking technique is good 😆

  10. engine breaking gives good control while slowing down and in case of panic or sudden brake engine might stall to avoid that you can press the clutch. if you are in a high rpm in a top gear that time if you bring down a gear it will damage your engine in such cases you slow down a bit and then down shift it is a combination process.
    In slipper road conditions i feel comfortable with engine braking rather that locking a wheel.

  11. Now this is what I think and this is what I have experience guys, braking is a huge part of riding. I have exp DRUM brakes in front and rear same goes with DISK brakes. I have a Bullet 350cc Standard (Drum brakes rear and front), Pulsar 150cc DTS-I (front Disk- rear Drum brakes), pulsar 220cc DTS- I (Fi engine) (rear front disk brakes). Now when you are on a high speed you need instant braking I normally use mixing both brakes together its much safe also you have a less chances of skit. It will also depend on what road are you riding on normal speed I also use my gears to slow down also mixing my brakes together, during rain season I prefer not to use my front DISK brakes because they are very instant this is when I use my gears, rear brakes….

  12. nice about tips. braking and balancing is important.
    only way to control the bike is to make decision smarter and quicker while braking.
    I own a stunner.I just apply brakes off equally balanced(front and rear). That avoided me most of the hits.
    In the beginning my classmate advised me off by using rear first and gain control and then to follow front.It is good with his type. He applied the same thing on mine. What happened is bikes rear with me on rear seat just got shifted two times back and forth. Any way he controlled and we were safe.
    What the point i wanna say is. Feel your bikes performance. It will show its reflection for your action. According to which you carry out your bike controlling braking.

  13. While breaking first use the rear brake then if required pull and release the front disc brake a few times rather than pulling it in completely in one go..if you have some distance left ahead of you then do try this pull-leave braking as it helps a lot.
    do not touch the clutch till the last moment as engine braking helps a lot..don’t believe me ?? well try riding the bike while descending a flyover with clutch pulled in and then without will understand what i am saying.
    Try to keep the braking ratio as front-60% and rear-40% for immediate braking and reverse the ratio for other situations.

    Moreover vary the speed of the bike while approaching intersections ,traffic signals or congested roads this not only saves you from the braking hassle but saves a lot of petrol too.

    Ride safe and love your bike..!!

  14. i think most imp is that u do not panic in crisis situation. This is where most bikers make mistakes and apply too much pressure on the front brakes. Discs are used for instant breaking where as liners will take a while to bring the vehicle to a halt. Always pump (Apply and release) the front brakes and apply the rear brakes. Also make optimum use of the clutch in these situations to brak the vehicle speed.
    i have met with accidents but if i had not used the technique mentioned above i might not have been commenting today on this.

  15. Well I have experienced some emergency situations myself when in high speeds and I can say that hitting both brakes simultaneously with decluching does help hell of a lot!

  16. boss but according to experience engine braking that downgear really helps in braking
    it avoids skidding which is likely to occur when you catch the clutch and apply the rear brakes ……………………………………………………
    check this stuff out man.
    i think your peice of info is not up to the mark


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