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why oh why do i go for the rear brake first?

Discussion in 'New Riders and Riding Tips' started by chriskerr, May 20, 2008.

  1. It might be the years spent on dirtbikes, but i cant seem to break (no pun intended) the habit of hitting my rears first before entering a corner, or indeed for slowing up in traffic.. how do i stop this (again no pun intended) my road bike must have the most underutilised front brake out there...

    I have even tried forcing myself to not use the rear at all, but it seems to creep back time after time, forgetting that compression lock-ups for turning are not favoured on the ashpalt (at least for normal folk)

    any tips for helping me to retrain the brain so to speak?


  2. all i can suggest i practice in emergency stops in carparks, learn to trust your front brake, tyre grip and the way the bike dives under brakes, these are from what i have seen and experienced myself as to why people are reluctant to use the front. Also just think concentrate on the whole which brake to use as you are setting up for a corner, and make an effort to release the rear and apply the front :)
  3. Perhaps try adjusting your rear brake lever to a height that is very uncomfortable and awkward to use .. just until you get out of the habit.
    Just a thought :)
  4. I used to have that habit too! Before everyone on Netrider told me I could possibly kill myself with my habits.

    Maybe it's easier for me because I'm just learning how to ride, but I mentally spoke to myself each time I went into a corner NOT to use the rear brakes. That if I wanted to use the brakes to use the front (or both) to slow down BEFORE taking the corner.

    The whole "you'll get into an acco and kill yourself" thing really helped :)
  5. Now I'm a bit confused. They taught me in the pre learner course to always uses both brakes together. Is there a reason you would only use the front brake and not both brakes together?
  6. yes your right, both together is the quickest way to stop, but we are talking about braking before cornering, where you are only trying to reduce speed, therefore front is normally sufficient for that task, the rear can sometimes help settle the rear of bike though, but the front is the important one :)
  7. No reason to just use the front brake, that I know of, except for laziness.

    The bike will be more 'settled' (less jacking-up at the back of the bike, usually) and will stop faster using both together.

    But if you're not braking hard and in no rush, you don't have to use both. That is to say, the bike won't catch fire or suddenly explode or anything.
  8. The reason they put 2 brakes on a bike is to use them. If you were not meant to use one it wouldn't be there.

    I use both BUT what you have to remember is ...

    THE BACK one is going to stabilise you at low speeds (used correctly), at speed it will slow you down but its NOT going to stop you fast (you will lock it up a long time before you stop).

    THE FRONT is used to STOP. The front brake will slow you down a lot faster than the back (the way the weight transfers under brakes , etc). but I still use a bit of the back aswell, it will lock up quite easy if your braking hard with the front but.
  9. is there a chance that you've got a sub conscious fear of locking the front on having the bike slide out from under you?
  10. Just stop using the rear brake altogether! I only ever use it like a handbrake for hill starts, or when I'm riding at 10/10ths.

    The chances of losing the rear end under heavy braking is very high. All the weight gets stacked on the forks and the rear tyre is just skimming the road, very easy to lock up.

    If your not used to the sensation of the rear sliding out and reacting quickly, you'll just lowside. Which is silly when you'd still have full steering control even when hard on the front brake (i.e. steer into a gap).

    Make sure you have good rubber on both ends. Old, hard rubber will washout easily. Trust your tyres!
  11. I agree with stewy.

    I was the same (due to dirt bikes also) with the foot brake. So my boyfriend would took me down to an empty car park and make me practice using my front braking again and again and again. I still catch my foot creeping up every now and again but not nearly as often as I used to..
  12. What's the problem? I use the rear often by itself. If you only need braking force that is handled sufficiently by the rear, why not use it?

    There is no reason you need to be concerned by using the rear brake by itself unless you need more braking force than it can provide with stability.
  13. Triway, you are an experienced rider. Rear brake has it's place if used in a directed and conscious application with all the possible side effects understood.

    A noob who overpractices rear brake use will most likely dive on the rear brake in a scare, too hot for a corner or emergency situation. Once that rear hoop stops spinning, the MAIN component providing stability is lost. Depending on the circumstances at the time, rear brake could be the worst response. If the skid goes out sideways and the rear is released, a highside becomes possible and more and more probable the more sideways a bike gets before the release.

    There are many threads on the issue and there's even one where some of the practical reasons for using rear was discussed.

    Chriskerr, adjust the pedal down and start retraining your brain.
  14. I have no problem with use of the rear and in fact have locked it up a few times (wildly!) and been ok as I understand and can react to the rear moving around, the point is more that its become a habit that i need to overcome to ensure that I CAN slow-up quickly and safely if I think I'm going to come too quickly into a corner, locking up and sliding around isnt quite as predictable as a nice fast cornering technique on the road :grin:

    I have considered the idea of making the rear uncomfortable or adjusting it so that tapping it doesn't really do anything, but these seem to be unsafe methods, I guess I will have to mentally run through front braking each time. I do use the front by the way, always, but the tendency is for my foot to stomp down first then pull the right lever in.

    thanks for all the replies

  15. Could someone go back to basics for me re: which brake to use in which scenario. My understanding of braking is rear = slowing; front = stopping but used in conjunction with the rear brake.

    Is the front brake to be used by itself if you want to stop gradually, ie: approaching a stop sign? With the rear used also only in an emergency stop?

    Also, should you always use engine braking when setting up for a corner?

    Just linky me to another thread if this has all been covered. I gotta gets me to a training course, methinks. A fair bit of time lapsed between getting my L's and getting my bike and things have become a bit cloudy. I don't want to be teaching myself bad habits.

    Thanks for the post, chriskerr. It's very informative :)
  16. Some people don't like using the front brake because when they hit it, the bike lurches forward and it's uncomfortable and feels unstable.

    If this is the case, chances are the damping in your forks is too low. You can sometimes dial this out if you have adjustable suspension, or otherwise you can bring your bike to a spanner night and put some heavier weight fork oil in it for about $15 all up.
  17. Just take the rear brake pedal off. :)
  18. Use the rear brake, but understand it's limitations.
    I too use my rear brake all the time, in traffic in particular. Some quiet commutes, I rarely touch the front brake at all, using rear and compression braking.
    Get into teh habit of using that rear brake for light braking duties (controlling speed, bringing the buffer space back up in traffic etc), but when you apply rear brake, cover teh front too. When you need more brake, get onto teh front brake whilst still using the rear.
    Go ahead and practice it somewhere, the rear brake is absolutely nothing to be afraid of and locking it up does not mean an instant trip to the tarmac.

    Regards, Andrew.
  19. I mostly agree with what Typhoon said. The rear brake is nothing to be feared, but it IS something to be respected. Having said that though, understand that depending on the circumstances, rear brake could be the worst response to a situation.

    Using rear brake at an innappropriate moment could be the worst decision you make. It can work directly against what you need the bike to do. So, use it judisciously. To me that doesn't mean "out of habit", or because joe bloggs said it was ok.

    You know, it can fun to lock the rear and get a skid going, just to know how it feels, without letting the bike get out of shape of course. Worth creeping up to that skill practice though.

    So why do I appear so anti rear brake??

    Because it's a very simple device, terribly misunderstood and can utterly fcuk your day if you've used it wrongly.

    As for an example of the misunderstanding part - on another bike site (one that focus's heavily on motorcycling physics), I read (paraphrasing in simple terms) that the rear wheel gets "sucked" up into the suspension when using heavy rear brake - meaning you can get the rear to chirp or lose/lighten contact purely due to the braking forces alone (nothing to do with weight transfer). Now that messed with my head. Reading that surprised me... but I have no reason to doubt the physics.

    Try as I might at public road speeds, I couldn't and can't get the rear tyre to chirp or hop along or anything like the description - but that's not to say that the theory is wrong. More than likely, it is happening, but my bike set up means it doesn't get to the chirping stage. I can lock the rear easy enough though. Maybe it happens at higher speeds... I haven't tested it at track speeds... on my bike.

    Is it a relevant fact? Dunno. Did you know that it could happen? Did the rider who just flippantly told you how you can use rear brake here there and everywhere know it?? What else didn't they know?

    Most riders only have their own frame of reference as a view point. Lots of riders espouse rear brake use flippantly cause what they do works for them, for their bike and for their typical speeds, riding style and roads... but do they understanding truly what they're doing? Modern tyres and modern levels of road grip give high levels of traction that cover up a multitude of sins... they might not have been caught out yet. Do they know how that advice will work for a noob on a noob's bike??

    For such a simple device, it actually has some seriously complicated and misunderstood actions and outcomes and if you take those misunderstandings out of the very safe operating envelope most of us tootle along in, things can go pear shaped. So I say, rather than fear it, treat it with respect and make it your second choice rather than your first.

    Anyway, some (uncontroversial) rear brake facts:

    In a straightline, you will stop faster with both brakes applied than compared to one or the other applied. (You'll stop even faster if you don't pull the clutch in until the last moment.)

    You can't expect to get more than 0.4g decelleration from rear brake only.

    Rear brake during slow manouvers provides a controllable load that a feathered-clutch-higher-revving engine can work against and this stabalises slow manouvers.

    Applying rear brake out of corners was pioneered on the race track to help stabalise a bike's corner exit by virtue of controlling wheel spin. (Are you spinning up out of the corners?? No? Then why are you using rear brake?)

    Rear brake can slow you down safely and effectively.

    Rear brake is more effective on a cruiser due to rear biased weight distribution, than it is on a sports bike.

    Any braking (front or rear) in a cornering situation, uses up traction. It's not right to say that using rear brake uses up less traction than the front so is safer in a corner. (jumping on the rear in a corner is EXACTLY one of those cases where your day can be seriously ruined...)

    Baby seals don't instantly die when you use it.

    ...I can't think of anything else.

    Almost anything else said about rear brakes, i.e, when to use them, how they're used, the potential benefits etc etc is controversial to some degree.

    [/soap box off]

    Happy braking.