Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Art of Safe Riding - Braking

Few riders realise that the front brake is the most effective in a two wheeler. Just using the rear brake allows you to barely use some 30% of the total braking force possible. Using the front brake is like pushing the bike from its front against its direction of motion and this is far more effective that trying to pull it to a stop by hanging from behind it. Moreover, using the front brake throws a lot of weight on the front tyre and this allows it to grip the road better. Grade your braking so that some 70% of the braking effort comes from the front brake while the remaining 30% from the rear wheel. The rear brake is primarily to stabilize the bike and preventing a violent weight transfer onto the front wheel. Too much rear brake will lock up the rear wheel and the bike slides out of control. The only precautions while making full use of the front brake is to keep the bike upright and avoid its full application on wet or gravel roads. In slippery conditions, use the rear brake sparingly while making the most of the available engine braking. And while in a turn, try and straighten up the bike as much as possible before applying the brakes. Stop turning before you start braking.

Get used to the front fork dive on applying the front brakes. Be smooth but firm in the brake application (squeeze the lever as if it is the trigger of a gun, don't grab it). The harder you learn to apply the front brake and the sooner you can get it to its full power, the shorter will be your stopping distance.

Tips about braking:

1. Roll off the throttle.
2. Apply the brakes simultaneously to settle the bike.
3. Increase front lever pressure as you decrease rear pedal pressure.
4. As you near a stop, decrease front lever pressure and increase rear pedal pressure, if necessary.
5. Ride with two fingers covering the front brake lever. In case of an emergency the natural reflex of clenching the fist automatically applies the brake. (By the way, almost all of the power in your fingers is in the first two.) To come to a smooth halt, bring the rear brake alone into action while releasing the front one just before coming to a full stop. The jolt that arises on stopping, from the front forks dive, does not happen this way.

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