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Discussion Starter #1
I was just thinking about this today - I had to ride a lot of crowded traffic on the highways and freeways of southern Cal.

If you are a newb rider, and have just passed your MC license, PLEASE teach yourself to ride with two fingers of your right hand (index finger and middle finger) on the front brake lever. Your fingers should be resting there without squeezing the brake, but ready to apply that brake with a two-finger squeeze at any instant. This type of riding is really essential in dense traffic. I DONT suggest that you start out riding heavy traffic, but sometimes you just get caught amongst a lot of vehicles.

It doesn't feel very comfortable when you first learn this skill. Hanging two fingers over the front brake lever can be tiring on your hand and give you cramps. so you have to build up to it slowly. But it is an ESSENTIAL skill if you wanna stay alive on a bike on crowded streets.

I do it ALL the time when riding streets and highways in the city - which for me is 80-90% of the time. If I'm out on the open roads and theres no other vehicles, I take a rest and don't do it.

Just a tip. It is a very good habit to get into.

cheers,
dT
 

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I teach new riders not to do that.

The reason being that if they have to brake in an emergency situation and fully use the lever, having fingers under the lever can block full usage of the brakes. This can add several feet to a stop, which may be needed to avoid hitting something.

In an emergency situation, there isn't much time to think and muscle memory takes over. The hand will go to the position that it was trained to do.

Bad habit.
 

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Maybe we can find a compromise here fellas.........

Staying fully aware (SIPDE) of your surroundings, and not allowing yourself to be distracted by ANYTHING that would interfere with a quick response as needed, is the key.

If a rider is pre-occupied with the radio, a GPS or other thing; maybe even distracted by thinking about things that are not directly related to the operation of your bike, then they are opening themselves to a costly mistake.

"Cover" the brake when you need to, and don't do it when you are in more controlled situations. Learning when to "cover" and when NOT to "cover" the brake, is a good lesson.

With a Standard Shift car, (for example), it is not a good idea to be "riding" the clutch, (not a problem for a bike), but some situations warrant it (holding the car on a hill where you need to be able to be at that friction point and being only on the brake will not help you.

I see both sides of the idea of "covering the brake," depending on what's going on around you. It's not necessary to do it all the time, but only when you see potential issues that will warrant the coverage.

-Soupy
 

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Covering the brakes is a good idea when there is the immediate potential for traffic to cross your right of way. At that point, you probably shouldn't be on the throttle anyway.
 

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At bad intersections, where it's almost a guarantee someone will pull out, I cover the brake ready and waiting, and that goes for the rear brake, my foot is over the lever ready to hit it if necessary. Same goes for heavy traffic. Maybe I'm a bit paranoid, but I don't like the taste of metal (or plastic(.
 

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Don't ever rest fingers on the brake, especially a less experienced rider. Have seen where in a panic the brake gets pulled while trying to give throttle instead. They beat it into the heads at MSF to leave the brake handle alone unless you are using it. It's okay to anticipate danger, but not braking. If you are so close to traffic ahead of you that you need to keep fingers on the brake, you need to back off. But then those are the same bikers that complain about cages tailgating them.
 

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On some bikes even the slightest amount of pressure on the brake lever can activate the taillight, and that could confuse motorists behind you if your brakelight is constantly flickering.

Something to be aware of.. otherwise I agree "covering the lever" can be a good idea.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I cover the brake at all times ... because in L.A. the drivers ARE that bad. HAHAHA!! have to laugh ... but I'm not kidding.

when I got my MC license in CA, I did it the old fashioned way by "riding around the circle" (during the test). The guy who taught me how to do that ... also reinforced the idea of covering that front brake AT ALL TIMES while riding in Southern California. It's a survival skill for us out here. In other parts of the country where traffic is more relaxed, you can probably pick and choose.

It probably true that "learning riders" should stay off the front brake ... just while they are learning the controls. Once they have got that though - they can learn to apply gradual squeeze pressure)on that front brake. It's a valuable skill to learn early on a bike.

cheers, dT
 

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Never really gave it much thought, but I do not rest any fingers on the break lever.
I trust my reaction time, I guess.
Have not seeeeeeriously been tested though -- just several quick avoidance maneuvers when it was good I did not make any break contact -- and a few quick stops to avoid drivers pulling on to the road, but not at great speed.
 

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It's actually more advanced rider technique. Especially on hills. Think San Fransisco. Bumper to bumper traffic and you are going up hill to a traffic light and if you put your right foot down you might be in a trolly groove. Get the picture? Not a place a noob should be. But many of us started there. Bad as it is. You learn a lot. But I'd still say avoid the constant fingers over brake unless you have a San Fran type reason. Just learning to accelerate is enough for a noob.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I figure my job is done ... just by posting the info. Those new riders who want to make the technique part of their riding skills ... well now they know how to do it. Those who dont see the purpose - thats fine. Im good either way :)

The main value of the technique is that it saves you "time and distance" in an emergency. Both of those things are critical when an accident scenario starts to unfold. If you dont have your fingers on the brake lever ... then you have already lost two seconds of time ... ONE second for you brain to decide WHAT to do, and ONE second for your body to move your hand and foot to the brake controls. If you are riding at 30mph, thats 44 feet every second. So two seconds saved is 88 feet ... a lot of distance when things are going bad.

Enjoy your day! Its all about staying safe and having FUN!!
 

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In the MSF course students are told not to cover the front brake and should be corrected by the instructor if they do so during slow speed turning maneuvers.

This is a range safety rule since a little panic while turning can cause a grab of the front brake, causing the motorcycle will immediately go down. (A large percentage of drops in the BRC are from misusing the front brake)

Students are encouraged to cover the clutch since a squeeze (and hopefully hold) of the clutch if the motorcycle starts to get away from them is a good thing.

I get to work with a large number of new riders. The ones that try to "two-finger" the front brake consistently have longer stopping distances in the quick stop exercises than the ones who keep their fingers above the brake lever.
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
I understand that the folks teaching the MSF classes may not want the learning riders to use the two-finger brake rule.

I'm NOT saying that the riders who are learning should use this technique .. BUT I am saying that once they start riding on the actual street - its a skill they should pick up relatively quickly.

I do think you owe it to the new riders to let them understand that its a technique this is desirable in their future riding - You don't want to put the perception out there that the technique is "wrong" ... because its not wrong.

WHAT the newb riders don't understand ... and are not told by the system ... is that many of the real accident scenarios on the street can only be survived if they apply advanced techniques. And without those advanced techniques - their survival chances are not good. The learning curve out there is pretty vicious - but the MC world does not explain that.

dT
 

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Did you read Dodsfalls post? People who do it do not do well in emergency braking. I do not hesitate to cover my brakes when it is appropriate but I also do not hold the throttle open when I think I should be covering my brakes.
 

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I have to agree with Dods on this. I've been riding over 45 years and never do I cover the front brake. It would seem the natural design of a motorcycle would be to take your hand off the throttle when applying the brake. How easy it would be to unintentionally turn the throttle when quickly trying to brake. Removing your hand from the throttle to apply the brake makes sense to me.

I also understand that every rider is a little different and has their own way of doing things. I have no problem with that. Over the years I have developed the skill of applying both front and rear brakes simultaneously with the proper amount of pressure that brings my bike to a very quick stop. But that's me, and probably frowned on by some.
 

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I poked some fun above, but I have to admit that I often cover the front brake with two fingers. I did it while riding this morning. It's common for sport bike riders and I'm sure you'll find the same for most racers.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
the technique takes a little adjusting to ... but its not hard.
I don't even really think of it as an "advanced technique".

it's particularly valuable because the brakes become an integral part of your riding ... you don't have to think about "well - should I brake now?" ... you have continuous input into the motorcycle .... so the whole action becomes almost subconscious. that's the value.

but I certainly do respect the freedom of riders to decide how they want to ride their bike.

cheers,
dT
 

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Thanks Dodsfall, the S in MSF stands for safety, and that is why new riders are taught to NOT cover the brake. Would be like keeping the left foot on the brake of the car.
 
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