Safe & Smart Use Of Motorcycle Brakes

When we think of vehicles, we think of mileage, power and top speed but we never give consideration to one important aspect of any vehicle, braking. Many riders don’t know about proper and safe braking techniques. There is an old saying, power is nothing without control. Controlling the vehicle at any circumstances is a sort of an art. As we may all know bike stuntmen strive to master this very art. For them too, brakes are an integral part of almost all common moves, wheelies, stoppies and burnouts all require proper brake manipulation in order for the rider to be on the safe side. Most stunt accidents occur due to improper braking techniques.

In city riding conditions ,one of the most common types of braking errors committed is the application of front brake on loose or wet surfaces, this would lock up the front wheels and in turn lead to a slide and crash. All vehicles are manufactured with appropriate braking systems in place which today are really reliable. In effect, a geared vehicle would have three forms of brakes. You might be wondering how, its simple.. If you are a rider with a decent amount of experience, you would have noticed how the bike slows down when you change to a lower gear from a relatively high RPM. All racing drivers in almost all forms of racing, be it car or moto, use this very technique for a more powerful braking force. CVT, or automatic geared vehicles wouldn’t have this form of braking because the rider cannot control the gearshift.

Ideally, braking should be applied in variable ratios depending on how fast you are going, a general rule would be to apply more front brakes at higher speeds especially if your bike sports a disc brake as it offers much more power in terms of stopping when compared to the usual drum brakes. However, if you are riding in the rain, you would notice that the disc brakes does not have the bite that it had before the rain started, which would be a good thing as otherwise it would lock up the wheels every time you apply the brakes.. This because the pads and the disc surface become wet, thereby losing their effectiveness, which you can solve by applying the brakes lightly while riding. This is where a rear drum brake would shine.. Since the drum brakes are sealed, they stop better in the wet.

In India right now, more than ever, manufacturers and governments are becoming more and more eco friendly, due to awareness. Earlier all the two wheelers used to have drum braking systems. Now manufacturers and government are changing the view towards it. In drum brakes the material which is used for brake shoes is made up of leather, asbestos etc..etc…By using these materials the rate of emission becomes high. So mostly all the manufacturers turning towards disc system. But due to cost, manufacturers are still not able to provide disc system in all the models. The problem behind a drum brake is that it creates a hazardous dust of asbestos, which can cause health problems. So instead of drum brakes, the disc brake system is always superior and effective and also very much easier to maintain.

Usage of disc brake is very effective but also very dangerous in inexperienced hands; by using both the brakes simultaneously accidents can be avoided. Rider can learn how to use all the brakes by practicing. The judgment of braking can be learned by practicing on short roads or empty roads.(Please do not practice in public or in heavy traffic, not near to hospitals or schools, that may disturb or harm others, it is also recommended to use proper gear while riding the bike). It is very necessary to learn when to apply the brakes. Gentle braking should be applied at the time of turns. Traction is generally less at the time of turn because bike is leaning, if rider’s always performs hard braking then the consequence can be unpredictable.

Speed is the most important criteria which a rider should keep in his mind. At high speed the vehicles actual weight increases by some amount due to something known as downforce, which is created due to the wind.

We don’t have specific tool to measure the braking pattern. But on judgment and practice we can guess the braking ratio. The first thing we would recommend you, is to learn the brakes limits, try to understand what force would make the wheels lock on an empty ground at low speeds, try it on muddy ground too at really low speeds with riding gear and learn how to recover from this lock up. This would teach you what kind of force you should never apply under any circumstance.

The wheels locking up, especially the front ones, are something that should be avoided at all costs, even if in an emergency always maintain control over the force you apply on the brakes. This would require a little practice but would eventually help you a lot. Even if the front wheels lock up, don’t panic, simply release the brakes the moment u notice the lock up and this would restore control… They say practice makes perfect.. practice your braking skills on an open ground and on different surfaces while remembering to do it really slow with your safety gear on because, the only thing you would use in an emergency would be your brakes and proper use within limits would save you for sure.

– Chinmay Dangre