For many motorcyclists, mastering the various skills of riding simply means practicing manoeuvring, steering and the smooth change from one gear to the next. What is often overlooked is the skill of safe motorcycle braking. This is one of the most important skills that you must develop and that can save your life, as well as others on the road.
Admittedly, it seems to be such a straightforward thing to do. However, even experienced riders can get it wrong at times. The mistake made is to believe that braking is simply the action to stop. But it is actually more than that. It is essential in emergency situations where a sudden stop is needed, but if done incorrectly it can have disastrous consequences.
At Ride-Tek MTA we offer comprehensive courses designed to teach you how to stay in full control of your motorcycle at all times. From experience, we know that safe motorcycle braking can be a bit tricky for newbie riders to begin with. But with proper instruction and some practice in a protected environment, riders will be able to avoid life-threatening incidents. They can also maximize their control of their bike when on the open road.
So, what are the issues that every rider should keep in mind when it comes to stopping safely? And what is the best technique to use? We have compiled a brief rundown for your consideration.
Mistakes and Braking Technique
It sounds like a cliché, but like most clichés, it is true. No two motorcycles are exactly the same. Hence, being familiar with your bike and your bike’s braking system is essential. This takes a little time using the system and (most importantly) how your bike reacts when it is applied. There are several types of motorcycle braking systems. For example, your bike might have anti-lock brakes or independent front and rear braking systems. Being familiar with your motorcycle’s braking system is important.
4-Step Guide to Safe Motorcycle Braking
1. Evaluate the Scene – The first step is pretty obvious. You need to be fully aware of your surroundings at every stage of your riding. Keep in mind also that the road surface conditions have a very definite effect on your bike’s braking efficiency. So, always keep your eyes peeled and always look ahead. Also, keep your speed in check to maximize your reaction time.
- Obstacles – These don’t have to be large obstacles. They can simply be gravel or other small debris that can interfere with effective motorcycle braking. Remember, you may need to manoeuvre around obstacles. This way, braking hard may prove counter-productive.
- Road Surface – Road surfaces can provide varying conditions depending on the weather. At times it could be dry and hot, it could be wet. It could also be loose or frozen. It’s worth noting that each of these will effect traction and the effectiveness of your brakes.
- Hot surfaces can be sticky with road tar softened by the hot sun.
- Dry surfaces are generally believed to be the most grippy.
- Wet surfaces offer poorer grip and the braking distance is further in wet conditions. You should always ride more slowly in wet conditions and readjust your following distances which will allow you more time to stop safely.
- Loose surfaces, like dirt or gravel roads, mean longer braking distances are needed. With skidding becoming a real possibility on this type of surface, a gentle braking technique is a necessity.
- Frozen surfaces are by far the most dangerous. This is where patches of hidden or black ice can catch you unaware. So, extra care is required if a rider is riding damp roads in winter, and extreme caution should be taken, keeping speeds as low as possible until the motorcycle is back on a more grippy surface.
2. Practice, Practice and More Practice – Again, this is pretty logical. But while many new riders believe in learning as they go along, the most effective braking practice has to be structured. This means purposefully gaining experience in a variety of different weather and surface conditions, but crucially taking extra care when doing so.
Find a safe place, like a car park or an open stretch of road in a quiet area. Set up some simple braking drills. Vary the scenario gradually, progressing from straightforward stops to braking while cornering. Remember, you cannot become a master in motorcycle braking overnight. However, the more you understand your bike, the more capable you’ll be in controlling your bike.
Get Expert Advice from Ride-Tek
For new motorcycle owners, safely stopping can seem complicated. However, with the right instruction and plenty of practice, proper motorcycle braking techniques can become second nature pretty quickly. At Ridetek, we offer a dedicated Cornering and Braking Course. It covers everything from the best body positioning and eye direction to the most effective steering and counter-steering techniques. All of these techniques are applicable when taking emergency braking in straight or curved line scenarios. For more details on how to join this and other courses, check out Ridetek.com.au or call us on 1300 788 382.