Welcome to Netrider ... Connecting Riders!

Interested in talking motorbikes with a terrific community of riders?
Signup (it's quick and free) to join the discussions and access the full suite of tools and information that Netrider has to offer.

2 vs 4 finger braking, and covering the brakes

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by jekyll, Jul 21, 2007.

  1. Hi.

    Stay Upright advocate NOT covering the brakes, and using all four fingertips when braking. They also tell you not to cover the brakes lest you get a fright and grab them.

    Most of the books ( esp Smooth Riding the Pridmore Way) I've read tell you to use two fingers and cover the brakes 90-100% of the time.

    I'm trying to work out which makes more sense to me.

    pros / cons of each method:

    four fingertips

    - maximum braking effort can be applied with all four fingers
    - less risk of accidentally grabbing the brakes eg in a turn when startled
    - increased sensitivity at the lever using all four fingertips

    two, covering:

    - may not be able to apply maximum pressure without prestidigitation to get into four finger grip halfway through squeeze
    - reaction time is quicker, which helps reduce speed before extreme braking is required
    - grabbing can be conditioned against by practice
    - (i) tend to use the front brakes more readily and often to gently adjust speed if they're right there under your fingers

    anyone else have any opinons / ideas to offer?
  2. Depends on the style of riding. 2 fingers for a track for sure, even one. You need the added throttle control. There is no denying though, that 4 fingers gives u finer control...at the loss of grip, and the multitalented throttle+brake control.

    On the road, you should probably always cover ur break. not jumping on te brake, is something you as a rider have to learn not to do, gentle application stops u quicker than locked wheels.

    On a lighter note, get yourself some brembo brakes...one finger is all you need.
  3. two for when she is er sedate... four for playing up.
  4. I'd say you get less sensitivity if you need to use all four fingers. More force is required and you can't get as much feel. suppose it depends on the brakes, but most modern bikes are pretty good as far as hydraulics go.

    If the risk of accidently grabbing the brakes is significant, then using a different amount of fingers is not the solution. You really need to train your reflexes to set up the brakes and use them smoothly. Unless the surface is very bad, it is quite hard to lock up the front with correct technique. Also, if you've got your reflexes right, front brake lockups aren't that big a deal.

    As for pressure, this really depends on the brakes. On my XT i need to use 4 fingers to do stoppies, but only 2 fingers for normal riding. again, if you've got the right technique, the front brake can be used a lot (slow speed maneuvering, for example) where people normally say you shouldn't.

  5. Stayupright's advice is noob focussed.

    I'm sure their roadcraft chats talk about setting up/covering brakes coming into intersections... coz that's what I've done ever since their advance riding course.

    I cover the brakes heading into intersections and whenever I'm in non ideal traffic situations... I usually go the 4 fingers (using the thumb and palm for throttle control- e.g. blipping) but occasionally go the one or two fingers.

    Since the brake is a lever, your pinky can provide a lot of braking force without that much effort.

    I'm definitely a 4 finger advocate when talking noob techniques.

  6. im normally a 2 finger braker. That lets you use two fingers to indicate :p
  7. Don't know about anyone else, but waiting to release the throttle and using four fingers on the brake is a death sentance.

    I always ride with one / two fingers covering the brake, and also cover the clutch. I constantly use all of the above with a wee bit of rear brake all the time when manouvering.

    Mind you the R1 has a 12 cylinder set of brakes which would not lend itself to being set-up and squeezed as per L's course. You would flip your self ass over! :shock:

    I also ride my little project cbr250. I still use the above method, and I always find I can manage all sorts of crazy traffic by applying brakes whilst still rolling on the throttle (helpful use of clutch as well!).

    Still the four finger method is sound for newbiees as you will not have the coordination until you've been riding for quite a while. Just have to ride like your on a scooter and definately up a cars behind!
  8. Pretty simple I think for the average road rider.

    Cover the brakes when you think there is a possibility you might need to stop. Use all fingers to apply the brakes all the time.

    Racers, whatever they like, they are 100x the rider I'll ever be so no advice needed!
  9. I'm a two finger braker.

    Riding a big twin, I always blip the throttle on downshifts to help match the revs (and damn it sounds good!) and find the blipping and rev matching is much much easier if I'm two finger braking.

    Never done a trackday, so can't comment.
  10. +1 Ashes and rob. Whenever I feel like I am in a less-then-ideal situation, I cover the brakes, using my thumb/lower hand for throttle trimming but I am conscious to where my hand is. Grabbing is good, if you are progressive, I am certain in my own mind that even when experienced riders are emergency stopping, they progressively grab the brakes to prevent useless front wheel skidding

    Road riding, go between two and four, depending on the likelihood of having to brake heavily.
  11. I have pazzo shorty levers.. only 2 fingers fit :D
  12. The angle my pazzo shorties are make it very comfortable to use 2 fingers also the brakes on my CBR thou is very responsive and only ever needs 1 or 2 fingers to stop....

    Also On the road I always cover the brakes when I come to intersections, traffic, especially when girls are around then its eennddoo......
  13. On my CBR thou, it's 2 fingers unless stoppies are required :oops:
    On the Bandit, it's four fingers all the way, cause the damn thing is no featherweight.

    I'm a fan of set up and squeeze, if you get on to the brakes properly it's amazing just how hard you can pull them when you need to.
  14. +1 for me too, then again i only need 1 finger to lock the wheel up if i want
  15. Thanks all.

    I used to use two fingers always over the brakes. I felt pretty cosy with it, but after the Stay Upright adv. riding course they had me back to four-at-a-time, and not covering the thing at all. I got cozy with that, too.

    Aside: they also got me to use my fingerTIPS to squeeze the lever, which I think is great advice all around.

    I was re-reading some of my books and decided to try the "old" way again, and took the bike out for a ride to get a feel for it again.

    My feeling is that with 2 fingers always covering, I'm much more ready to get on the brakes early, and find myself setting up and using them - lightly - more often, as a speed modulator. I think this is a Good Thing.

    I do find I stop quicker with 4 though on my bike.

    So I need to get back to practicing some emergency stops and practice "adding in" the extra two fingers to turn a good squeeze into a minimum distance stop (without jamming fingers under the lever or letting up pressure).

    Some good reasoning here, guys, thanks.

    By the way, what are the pazzo levers like?
  16. Retards, might I suggest that you all practice stopping from 160kph as often as you practice accelerating to 160kph.

    Elaborating, whatever speed you travel at, practice emergency stops from that speed. AS OFTEN AS YOU EVER REACH THAT SPEED. It's only fair.

    Once you get used to that you'll know whether you need to cover with 4 fingers or one depending on your bike.
  17. There's no one easy answer IMO. As devotard points out, it all depends on what your bike's brakes are capable of.

    Some bikes won't start stopping hard until the lever is back to the bar, while others will allow for a stoppie with good pressure from 1 finger.

    In general I tend to ride around with just my index finger covering the front brake. If I see something my index finger is squeezing to set the brakes up while the other fingers are reaching for the lever. With two fingers covering I found that I could squeeze hard enough to trap my other fingers between the bar and lever, and that was bad. With one finger, I couldn't squeeze hard enough to grab the brakes in that initial critical instance of weight transfer where we never want to grab hard, and I also couldn't squeeze hard enough to trap my remaining 3 fingers. It also allows for finer throttle/brake modulating control too where I could lightly trail the brake into a corner if needed and crack the throttle with finer control.

    See though, that was just how it worked best for me and my bike. If your brakes are spongy, 4 fingers would work better 'cos you couldn't really grab them hard 'cos they're spongy. If your brakes are more wooden than what mine were, then 2 fingers would work well. If your brakes are borderline capable of doing 1 finger stoppies but have a fair amount of lever travel (like mine) then 1 finger covering works best.

    i.e. work out what works best for yourself, your bike, and your style. There's no one best way to do things for everyone, but there is a best way that works for you and your bike, and as long as you're comfortable with it, and it works best for you (practise your emergency braking) then go with that.
  18. Hey sister of Borat! Do you even ride?
  19. I am a three finger man and sometimes cover (or rest) my fingers on the lever and always cover when going through schhool time pick up and past a line of traffic in multi lanes.

    I find it easy to blip on the downshift if I have the index finger in control of the throttle.

    Am I the odd one here since I am neither two or four??? :)
  20. Interesting mix of good advice and inflammatory tone there. Something in particular got your goat, or is this how you introduce yourself to everyone?

    Personally I don't intend to reach 160 off the track. That way I won't need to find a deserted runway to practice my stops on.

    [FLUX], that's an interesting technique ( 1 + 3) and it might be easier than 2 + 2 in terms of bringing the other fingers in ... I'll try it. Thanks