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Safer Braking with floorboards on Cruisers.

Discussion in 'Cruisers' at netrider.net.au started by Randall, Feb 27, 2013.

  1. I found this article on a USA site very interesting and relevant. I was trained using this method....an old technique but worth revisiting. Pre-loading the front brake is all very well but if the rear wheel locks up, we all know what can happen. If you have any Metric cruiser with floorboards this will apply to you.
    Its long but worth a read.


    "I had a recent discussion with some HD riders and I thought this might be a good repeat post in the Cruisers Forum. So here ya go. I taught an ERC (Experienced Rider Course) last June, in which I had four Harley riders in the group. Three were on HD-FLHs with floorboards and the typical car-like raised rear brake pedal, and one was on a V-Rod with the extreme forward foot controls.

    During pratically every stop exercise all four of them would lock up the rear wheel, consistently. This was especially evident during the quick stop exercise, every one of them SIGNIFICANTLY locked the rear wheel on every stop. I think the problem is two fold. One, the floorboard/brake pedal combination promotes lifting the foot off the floorboard and placing the ball of the foot/boot onto the pedal. Two, all four of them were not adequately using the front brake, easily evident that I hardly saw any compression of the front forks. One rider did use the front brake a bit more and it was evident he had a good deal of riding experience by his confidence of riding the bike, but he STILL was locking the rear tire (he had earlier told me he'd been riding for over 30 years). So I coached their braking technique this way:

    1) Keep the heel of your boot on the floorboard, and apply the rear brake with the heel still on the floorboard, always. This minimizes the amount of rear brake pedal pressure you can apply.
    2) Try to use more of your boot nearer the toes rather than just with the ball of the foot. This gives better control by using the smaller ankle and foot muscles, not the larger leg muscles. It gives your that higher braking effort feedback at your boot without over-powering the brake application.
    3) Apply the front brake to initiate forward weight transfer, but then learn to SQUEEZE the front brake progressively, and continually quicker and harder as the bike continues to slow. USE THAT FRONT BRAKE!! You have the advantage of a long wheelbase bike, low CG, wide large contact patch tires, you CAN apply a LOT of front brake. On most every bike I have brake tested in high effort stops I can almost get the lever to the grip by the end of the stop.
    4) As the weight transfers forward, decrease rear brake pressure to minimize rear wheel lockup.
    Get used to that front weight transfer and fork compression, so the bike just "squats down".

    By using these techniques, all of the HD riders were able to stop their bikes in a much shorter distance, with almost NO rear wheel lockup. Granted, this was only at 25 mph, but the technique still applies at higher speeds. But that also means it has to be practiced at speeds like 45 mph. Also, the other bikes in the group were two BMW K1200LTs, the largest BMW made, which also feature ABS and power linked brakes. After more practice, the HD riders were almost matching the BMWs for braking distance, including one gal on her Softail that obviously was very tentative about riding her bike when she first came in.

    The challenge with floorboards and raised rear brake pedals; is that if you use the ball of your boot on the pedal with your heel off the floorboard, your brake application uses all the large leg muscles along with near full leg weight on the pedal. This makes it VERY difficult to modulate that rear brake with any finesse. I think given the HUGE popularity of Harley's, and the wrong braking techniques I see, it accounts for MANY of the results of bike crashes where the rider looses control. You HD motor-cops out there, speak up if I am wrong!

    For those of you with HDs and floorboards and metric cruisers with floorboards and a raised brake pedal, try these techniques and you'll be surprised by the better rear brake control you'll gain. But, that means you HAVE to practice your braking, especially at getting proficient at using the front brake. You are not harming your bike in ANY way to practice and master high-effort braking skills. In fact, it could well help you avoud totalling your bike and yourself. Enjoy the RIde! "
  2. Just goes to prove that Americans can't ride :D.

    Seriously though, the old, Harley style stomp pedal is a legacy of the days when H-D brakes were so ineffective that you could practically stand on that pedal before the wheel would lock. The application forces necessary made a car type pedal a sensible arrangement. With the improvement in brakes, even H-D brakes, over the decades this is no longer the case and the pedal arrangement is no longer such a good idea. However, it is retained for "the look" and, for the same reason, has been adopted by the Japanese.

    I do find it a continuing source of amazement, however, that so many riders are reluctant to experiment with braking techniques to find one which actually works and just continue stamping on the back brake until it makes them crash. How many people really believe that locking the rear under braking is normal?
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Back brake on my Harley is useless. Front brake is very effective. Very rarely use the rear for anything other than control.

    Did ride a bike with no front brake (a Harley bobber). Very interesting. Coming up to intersections you look far ahead and really plan your speed. Dangerous and stupid, but wasn't too bad so long as nothing went wrong. Did have one time a van pulled out infront of me and I locked the brake and just missed it. They looked very sorry when I was next to them at the next red light (seemed genuine, it wasn't intentional).
    • Like Like x 2
  4. I just thought Harley riders were useless..........

    Rear brake is only a useful tool at <= walking speed....it provides dynamic stability and keeps the chassis under tension for low speed, tight maneuvers....

    Linked rear brake or otherwise.......if you rely on the stomp-rear-brake method - you are a chump......or --you ride a Harley.....
  5. The back brake on my bike is surprisingly good, but much like lucifer_mr2 I only use it for control and rely on the fronts for stopping. Occasionally when I need to stop quick I'll use both and hang onto my eyeballs from the stopping power :) Of course being a BMW it has ABS and telelever front suspension which helps with aggressive stopping as well.
  6. That telelever suspension on your bike is weird. Push down on the forks, it jams. Pull down and back and then it compresses.
  7. The shadow has footboards, yeah because you have to move your foot to brake it is easy to miss and hit too hard, but as with all bikes you just need practice. Every bike is different, nothing to do with the style.