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Emergency Braking – Facts vs Myths

There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding correct emergency braking technique.

  1. Mouth
    There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding correct emergency braking technique. Perhaps it’s the fact that most riders are tentative with the...
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    Gigi Bytes, AJV80, Shorty- and 14 others like this.
  1. I did a Stay Upright course about ten years ago and this was the method they taught. emergency breaking is something that should be practiced as it is a perishable skill, though recommend you don't rehearse in the centre of your lane approaching a set of traffic lights where there is always oil residue from cars etc - would be an embarrassing single vehicle off, something a mate of mine did years ago while squidding.

    • Agree Agree x 1
  2. An excellent analysis of emergency braking.

    Only one, very minor quibble.

    "Two fingers should be off the throttle going for the brake lever as you close the throttle."

    Assuming any reasonably "normal" angle of brake lever, it's better to move all four fingers onto the lever because then the shutting off of the throttle is pretty much automatic.

    Think about it for a moment...... your thumb is left on the twist grip, the other four fingers are on the brake lever, bringing it back towards you..... you don't have to think about releasing the throttle, it just happens.

    You also can, progressively, pull on the brake lever harder with four finger....OK three, the pinkie doesn't do a lot, but it keeps it out of the road.
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  3. I wonder whether the two finger thing is something of a carry over from track based training where riders are often being taught race based skills and using fairly high end machinery. If you're riding very light bikes, running huge discs with 6 piston calipers and braided brake lines and short levers that facilitate throttle control for downshifting while braking and give very fast sensitive brake response then perhaps two fingers are the norm, but it's not what most of us learn with. My first bike had a front disc brake, my second had a front drum brake and at first I was convinced that it wasn't working ! Two fingers ? Not going to fly on that bike.

    As I also went from a 2 stroke road bike to a 4 stroke trail bike with much lower gearing when I didn't seem to be getting much from the front brake I down shifted earlier for the next intersection and promptly discovered compression lockup, that was just riding home from the dealership.
  4. Dunno.

    In the NSW pre-learners course, it is a very common thing for instructors to have to tell folk to use all four fingers on the brake lever, and most of those learners probably haven't watched too many famous hero racers riding in GPs.

    To me, it seems that the right hand on most "normal" motorbikes can be doing two different things....... either twisting the throttle or squeezing the brake lever.

    Trying to do both things at the one time seems to be making life just more difficult than it needs to be.
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  5. Couldn't you think of it as covering the throttle for the numpty behind.
  6. You could think of it that way, but I doubt it.

    Emergency braking tends to be where we've done the "Oh Shit!" business and our only option is to slow down or stop the bike as quick as possible.

    What happens behind you is in the lap of the Gods.
  7. I note that the 'two fingers' advice is under the heading "Cover brakes": in this context it is perfectly valid and what (I hope) most of us do. Unfortunately it seems that instead of describing the safety factor of covering your front brake lever in a road situation where braking may be needed and thus reducing the reaction time, the paragraph has morphed into a description of emergency braking.

    Covering your brakes should be just that: two fingers out on the brake lever ready to initiate braking and saving vital time in an emergency.
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  8. Same for me. I had no motorcycling background nor have I any interest (then or now) in the MotoGP and I kept doing the 2 finger thing until the instructor declared me a lost cause for the issue. It was the natural and instinctive thing to do and i find it easier to blip the throttle with more grip from my 4th and 5th fingers.
  9. But...but..... this is about an EMERGENCY stop!

    The clutch is in, your tapping down gears, without letting the clutch bite......... why, in the name of all that is holy, do you want to blip the throttle.......progressively getting more and more pressure on the front brake may well stop you running into something awfully hard.

    Blipping the throttle may make you sound good, but it ain't going to save you from the potential bump.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  10. I can pull my front brake in completely and smoothly with the same ease with 2 fingers than 3 (my pinky doesn't reach) so I didn't see the difference. Conversely I use 3 fingers (short pinky) on my clutch lever so who knows? :p
  11. What do you mean by "completely"?

    On your bike, on dry roads, a good emergency stop should leave you paused, for a second or two, on the front wheel, before the back wheel bumps back onto the ground.

    If you can do that with two fingers, bloody good luck to you, most people need to work quite hard with all four fingers.
  12. Doable with 2 fingers...Maybe it's because my bike is super light. Current bike I can kick in the ABS pretty easily with 2 fingers. The difference in grip strength between 2 and 3 isn't huge for me.
  13. Depends on the bike and the brakes. On most of my previous bikes I'd need a full handful on an e-stop, whereas two fingers could easily do the job on my old RS250 (light bike, good brakes) and my current Hyper S (light-ish bike, ridiculous brakes). I imagine the same could be said for the many modern bikes that are carrying braking hardware that not long ago would have been considered racing grade.

    Just today I did a couple of e-stop practices on the way home from the Nasho. Two fingers had the front tyre mashed into the ground and pulling me up quick, and I reckon those fingers had a bit more left in reserve if I needed it. With this setup, adding more fingers won't necessarily improve the stopping distance (although it may add a bit of control).
  14. #15 CrazyCam, Mar 13, 2016
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2016
    That is, to my ears, a bit of a worry.

    I live at Beecroft, nsw 2119, and, if you have any time at all during the week for a wee bit of braking work I'm more than happy trying to help your braking technique.

    Kicking in the ABS proves absolutely nothing.... for all I know you might be doing it right, and just have strong fingers, but, equally, you could be "snatching" at the lever which leaves you at risk.

    The big "trick" as outlined in the O.P., is to transfer the weight, progressively, onto the front wheel, and progressively apply more braking force to the brake lever....thus caliper....thus tyre.

    Many years ago now, as part of the pre-learners course in NSW, they used to play a video of a bloke on a BMW with a pressure gauge in the front brake hydraulic system.

    Correction....... my memory failed me...... it used to be part of the StayUpright Advanced Course......... sorry.

    The point of it was to demonstrate how, with progressive application of the front brake, more and more weight is transfered to the front wheel, which increases the available tyre grip, allowing more and more braking pressure to be applied.

    Correct technique allowed up to about three times the braking pressure to be applied, without locking a wheel, compared to the results of snatching at the lever.
  15. Well, yes......I did have, but you didn't quote, "on your bike."

    Aye, but Havox is listed as riding a Ninja 300.

    ...and a bit more control is a bad thing?

    Yeah, there are bikes on the road that have absolutely brilliant brakes.

    Yeah, there are lots of riders with lots of experience who ride bikes with stupidly effective brakes, and they have grown accustomed to using two fingers on the lever.

    Fine..... good....

    But, I picked on a generalised write-up about emergency braking, and I felt that it was appropriate to draw attention to what I thought was bad practice for learners, beginners, less experienced riders....... so hang me for it.
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  16. Just pointing out another relevant consideration, mate. You wanna point out where exactly I tried to 'hang' you, or has this thread just got you worked up?
  17. Agree with your assessment of braking technique and yes I'm on a Ninja 300. Brake and clutch levers are VERY light.
  18. OK, maybe a bit over the top...... it's just a common phrase or saying....... perhaps only in Scotland?

    OK, but not everyone rides an RS250, or a Cagiva 125 or a Hyper S.

    It's just that I know what is the "standard" NSW pre-learners teaching, and, to be perfectly honest, I can't actually think of anything that is "wrong".

    Yes, with lots of experience and maybe with fancier machinery, there are other valid ways of doing stuff, but, in an environment like NetRider where we have many new or newish riders, I do feel that some kind of sensible level of comment is called for.
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  19. No, but nowadays good braking hardware is finding its way into even relatively modest middleweight bikes, let alone the 600 supersport bikes that have always been popular with riders fresh off their P's.

    Listen, I get and respect your general newb-friendly schtick, and I understand for those guys learning is often easier with absolutes. But there's no need to get so defensive when someone brings in a bit of nuance.