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True. But I use engine braking and go slow enough (common sense) to not need much of either brake in those conditions. Feathering clutch when needed as well. But for most folks just slowing down for the condition will work. Just because the speed limit is 75mph doesn't mean you should do 75mph in snow.

And gravel is another area to be cautious.
Absolutely correct! I let the engine and transmission do as much as the hard work as possible then trim with braking as needed. In snowstorms I ride like I drive my car: Stay in the ruts left by other vehicles and drive/ride at a speed at which I can recover when things get sketchy. Such allowed me to ride all winter on a 250cc scooter and I quite enjoyed myself. :)
 

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I’m just one if those people who gets hung up on proper technique.
That is the right attitude! Practicing wrong is worse than not practicing. I treat every time I climb on board as practice, and try to do as much right every time as I can. You want your instincts and reflexes to automatically respond correctly when that situation comes up where you need them.
Like several others have said, every turn/curve/corner is different. Cruising the farmroads I'm usually taking it easy, where I don't have to brake for the wide curves. Some curvier stretches I go into curves a little harder and brake on the way in. Both brakes but mostly front.

Trail braking is a useful skill you should develop, it's useful and also can be fun. One place I use it regularly is coming home from riding, turning into my neighborhood. Coming off of a busy road into a residential street, my goal is to be out of the way of whoever's behind me as quickly as possible. I turn on the turn signal early and start slowing down, then at the turn I brake semi-hard on the front brake As I downshift and drop into the turn. I ease off the brake as I roll on throttle in 2nd gear, and the whole operation is surprisingly smooth. Most of the real slowing takes place about the same time my rear end is out of that busy road, just in case. It's a lot like the example in MCRider's video here:

(I highly recommend all of Kevin's videos, I have learned tons from him.)
And like hogcowboy said, I think slow/tight maneuvers is what you're thinking of, where you would use the rear brake and throttle at the same time. That didn't make sense to me until I tried it a few times, but that little bit of rear brake really helps.
 

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Nice discussion. I don't know that breaking before a turn requires any different technique than other breaking. Once off the throttle you're going to get some engine breaking, but I'm always applying the back break then trimming off with the more powerful front break (if needed) to execute the desired slowdown/stop. Especially with sudden hard stops I believe this technique minimizes the rider's chances of sliding out.
 

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This wasn't completely clear from the MSF course. If you are going to slow before a turn, do you slow with front and back brakes or just one or the other?
Or, do you slow with back brake but not let off throttle while doing it?
Basics of braking would be this: Roll OFF the gas first, apply front brake with smooth and consistent pressure. On modern sport bikes the front brake is capable of providing 100% of braking power. I use only front brake when riding on a Sportbike unless I end up in dirt or gravel. Cruisers or dual sports may require some back brake as well so once front is applied then you can also add steady pressure for the rear brake as well. Set your entry speed before the corner and then once you have steered the bike and are leaned, on line and pointed where you want to go you begin rolling on the gas.

Many corners don't require trail braking so you can set your entry speed first, come off the brakes and turn the bike with no brakes, no throttle....but some, like decreasing radius turns or blind corners may require trail braking. Trail braking is simply the act of simultaneously releasing the front brake WHILE adding lean angle and steering in the corner. I've written a couple articles on the topic of braking and they may answer all of your questions more fully. you can find the links to them below. Included is an article on Emergency Braking, Trail Braking AND and interview with Keith Code (Founder of the California Superbike School and Author of the Twist of the Wrist series) on trail braking.



 

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I kind of got in the nasty habit of using the front brakes for most all my stopping just because front brakes are easier to change on a Goldwing. Now I don't have a Goldwing but I still have the habit.
 

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I kind of got in the nasty habit of using the front brakes for most all my stopping just because front brakes are easier to change on a Goldwing. Now I don't have a Goldwing but I still have the habit.
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I do that all the time on purpose. Ergo, it works well, is easier, better for maintenance, much more control. Compare the sensitivity of your hand compared to a foot with a boot on. The only time(s) it isn't so good is in gravel and in a slow turn.

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It's good to have a rear brake, because it works! Even on a supersport on the track there is a time for some rear brake depending of course on the bike and the rider. On the street there are a lot of times the rear brake can be of use effectively, especially for making emergency/threshold stops, on many bike designs, and especially on heavier bikes and/or with a passenger/luggage. On my bike I primarily use front brake, but I also train to use the rear brake in combination with the front and/or as an alternative to the front. On slippy slide surfaces at slower speeds I will use the rear, gravel, grass, ice or snow. In wet or dry parking lots I use the front almost exclusively. On the street, at speed I use the front, and reserve to engage the rear for those threshold stops. My bike will take about 15% rear brake, when I'm solo and about 20% when 2-up before locking when I'm hard on the front on a good traction surface.
 

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Agree with 28. As long as the rear tyre has some grip on the surface, the rear brake is of use. Street riders are not unweighting the rear like MotoGP riders. And that only happens at the slower ( relatively ) speeds. Pratice using both brakes, or else.
I got an orange light today with just enough space to stop. I would have been rear ended if I did. I went thru and checked to see the red come on, just past half way thru the intersection, with the cage behind me.
This is where street smarts sometimes trumps braking smarts. On my twin disc bikes I could have stopped easily.

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It's good to have a rear brake, because it works!
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My bike will take about 15% rear brake, when I'm solo and about 20% when 2-up before locking when I'm hard on the front on a good traction surface.
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The problem we all have is that it's so hard to tell exactly how much relative pressure we are using on the rear brake. Considering that the rear has different grabbing ability, is a different size, different amount of fluid line, different size pedal, using a foot instead of a hand, having the reduced feedback due to having a boot on, etc., there is no way one can know exactly how much pressure is on the rear. It's all a guess. We just have to say it's a little, a lot, or as much as we can. !!! :cool:

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Put your tow nail on it and scratch it. That is the sensitive touch. Put your heel on it and stand up. That is the firm approach. Somewhere in between should work. Without the traffic noise you can hear the tyre talking to you when it is getting close to locking. Same with the front, but a different tune.

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Put your tow nail on it and scratch it. That is the sensitive touch. Put your heel on it and stand up. That is the firm approach. Somewhere in between should work. Without the traffic noise you can hear the tyre talking to you when it is getting close to locking. Same with the front, but a different tune.

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But I'm hard of hearing, use ear plugs, toe nail on the TOP of my toe, and am tone deaf. So now what? :unsure:

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The problem we all have is that it's so hard to tell exactly how much relative pressure we are using on the rear brake. Considering that the rear has different grabbing ability, is a different size, different amount of fluid line, different size pedal, using a foot instead of a hand, having the reduced feedback due to having a boot on, etc., there is no way one can know exactly how much pressure is on the rear. It's all a guess. We just have to say it's a little, a lot, or as much as we can. !!! :cool:

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I understand your opinion Ron, bt it is not a problem we all have, at least not me. There was a time, and many riders do today, that many would not touch the front, rather they used the rear. I learned how much rear I can use by getting the training I needed. You can also find a deserted road and try it out, with some self-training. Start at a modest speed say 30 mph and use only the rear brake to stop applying just a touch at first. Continue the trial applying a bit more and a bit more. The braking will improve and you will get a feel for it. It's not going to suddenly dump you unless you purposely stump on the brake lever, which you are not going to do. Then combine the front and rear with a modest for stop, first apply the front and quickly follow with some rear. Work up to faster speeds and more brake as you feel confident. You don't need to get to threshold braking, just your normal braking from speed. If you don't feel good about trying it, by all means avoid it, but it appears you are riding a cruiser, and that rear brake probably has a lot more controlled stopping power than you may realize. In an emergency someday it might come in real handy.
 

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I understand your opinion Ron, bt it is not a problem we all have, at least not me. There was a time, and many riders do today, that many would not touch the front, rather they used the rear. I learned how much rear I can use by getting the training I needed. You can also find a deserted road and try it out, with some self-training. Start at a modest speed say 30 mph and use only the rear brake to stop applying just a touch at first. Continue the trial applying a bit more and a bit more. The braking will improve and you will get a feel for it. It's not going to suddenly dump you unless you purposely stump on the brake lever, which you are not going to do. Then combine the front and rear with a modest for stop, first apply the front and quickly follow with some rear. Work up to faster speeds and more brake as you feel confident. You don't need to get to threshold braking, just your normal braking from speed. If you don't feel good about trying it, by all means avoid it, but it appears you are riding a cruiser, and that rear brake probably has a lot more controlled stopping power than you may realize. In an emergency someday it might come in real handy.
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In the first place, I don't need instructions on how to use my brakes. I didn't ask for that. I didn't ask for advice.

Second place, get off your horse. You're full of baloney. You don't know when you're using exactly 15% or 20% of your force on the rear compared to the front unless you have some kind of pressure guage which wouldn't work unless it were attached to the calipers during stops and even it it were, it would vary throughout the entire time you had your foot on the pedal. The best you can do is believe you are using a "small amount" of pressure, a "moderate amount" of pressure, or "full pressure".

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In the first place, I don't need instructions on how to use my brakes. I didn't ask for that. I didn't ask for advice.

Second place, get off your horse. You're full of baloney. You don't know when you're using exactly 15% or 20% of your force on the rear compared to the front unless you have some kind of pressure guage which wouldn't work unless it were attached to the calipers during stops and even it it were, it would vary throughout the entire time you had your foot on the pedal. The best you can do is believe you are using a "small amount" of pressure, a "moderate amount" of pressure, or "full pressure".

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My sincere apology Ron and will attempt in the future to remember your sensitivity and refrain from using you as a reference, I meant no offense to you personally.

Now I'm walking on thin ice, or perhaps it is running on thin ice. So, my reference is not meant for you personally rather others that may be interested.

I agree, I cannot tell "exactly 15% or 20%". That is not what I said. One word was changed. I referenced 'about' 15% or 20% to illustrate a small difference in the amount of pressure on the rear brake lever, as compared to 100% or all the pressure to lock the rear wheel. I read a similar gauge using words 'small', 'moderate', and 'full'. Using numbers that could be referenced as 1/3, 2/3, or 1, or in percentages as 33%, 66% or 100%. My increments are smaller than that. Perhaps my boots have more flexibility allowing me to have a finer feel, perhaps not. Because I may have experimented more with the rear brake, I can judge the amount I am using to a finer degree than others, perhaps not. It's the same principle we use with the front brake. I agree that a 'feel' for the front brake using our fingers (I use 2 fingers) is finer than the rear using a foot, but that doesn't mean we can not develop a finer feel with our foot if we put forth the effort to develop it. Perhaps not some, but I and many others can, and because I have found it not that difficult and feel I'm no better than anyone else, that they could also, perhaps not.

Last year I was challenged to make a complete circuit of the Inde Motorsport Ranch track, 2.1 miles and 21 turns, at speed, using only my rear brake. This isn't something that is normally done, nor is it better than using just the front brake, but it proves how effective a rear brake can be in an emergency. Even though I knew what the outcome would be, I was still amazed how fast I could get around the course using only rear brake. Then I made a circuit using both brakes, mostly front with a little (again on that thin ice) in around 10%-15%! As far as the braking part, I could dump more speed using a combination of front and a little rear. It was much more effective on my bike (520 pounds wet, none ABS) than the other riders on sport bikes, but that was the exercise to determine how effective the rear brake can be in an emergency, whether that be on the track or on the street, for whatever reason we should loose front braking power, how can we use the rear brake to finish the race or get back home safely.

I followed that up at the end of last year at the Arizona Motorsport Park paddock, doing an exercise to max out the rear brake in combination use with the front. Maximizing meaning locking up the rear. How much rear brake pressure on the lever does it take to lock up the rear when the front is at threshold braking? Some may not be interested it that, I was and I found out. The only way to know is to go there, which I did. Now I know ABOUT how much rear brake pressure to apply to get the most out of the rear during an emergency/threshold stop and more importantly I found out how to feel I was approaching the point of locking up to prevent the lockup and keep the bike under control if I did. To me this was valuable training, under the supervision of professional instructors, that I would not have had done on my own. Some would not agree, that is certainly their choice.

How much rear brake can be used effectively in combination with the front is going to be different for different bikes, riders and conditions. Light short wheel base bikes will get less effectiveness out of the rear (sometimes none), heavier longer wheel base bikes will have more effectiveness. In an emergency/threshold stop why would we give up a tool that can shorten the stopping distance? Myself, I want to use that rear brake tool if needed and I'm better prepared to use if now that I have trained to get more out of it. Perhaps instead of using percentages I should have used word term such as very light, light, very moderate, moderate, hard, very hard. With all this I mean no offense to any reader, it's just an opinion, and after all this is the internet.
 

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...(snip)

Last year I was challenged to make a complete circuit of the Inde Motorsport Ranch track, 2.1 miles and 21 turns, at speed, using only my rear brake. This isn't something that is normally done, nor is it better than using just the front brake, but it proves how effective a rear brake can be in an emergency. Even though I knew what the outcome would be, I was still amazed how fast I could get around the course using only rear brake. Then I made a circuit using both brakes, mostly front with a little (again on that thin ice) in around 10%-15%! As far as the braking part, I could dump more speed using a combination of front and a little rear. It was much more effective on my bike (520 pounds wet, none ABS) than the other riders on sport bikes, but that was the exercise to determine how effective the rear brake can be in an emergency, whether that be on the track or on the street, for whatever reason we should loose front braking power, how can we use the rear brake to finish the race or get back home safely.
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This, I think, is very informative. Good info. (y) Did you also compare with just the front brake in the same situation? You are fortunate to have been able to test your actions on a controlled course.

I suppose in a way, in speaking for him, my gripe is with the suggestion that the actions of a normal recreational street rider in a wide variety of situations would ever be able to be very precise is way off. Track riding is totally controlled.

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This, I think, is very informative. Good info. (y) Did you also compare with just the front brake in the same situation? You are fortunate to have been able to test your actions on a controlled course.
In reference to your quote, yes, I run the track for two days. During that time I run every lap (many of them), except the two mentioned above, using only front brake. The only exception to that was using a touch of rear brake during one left turn on one lap to determine it it would settle down a wobble I got on the previous lap on that turn. It didn't for me, but that has worked for others. I was fortunate as many others can be as well. I spent the time and money to take the training course that is open to almost anyone. However I could have done this very same experiment on any or many roads in around my neighborhood. I may in the future challenge some of my riding friends to do it locally this year.


I suppose in a way, in speaking for him, my gripe is with the suggestion that the actions of a normal recreational street rider in a wide variety of situations would ever be able to be very precise is way off. Track riding is totally controlled.
I think the terms normal recreational street rider would include a wide variety of drivers. I would consider myself as a recreational street rider, but perhaps not necessarily normal if normal was to mean average of all riders in the US. I am not a track rider or racer and at my age probably never will be. My joy of riding is on the street. I have been on the track during three different training classes which total 5 days. None of these would be considered 'track days'. In Utah at Miller Motorsports attending Freddie Spencer High Performance 2-day training course, in Arizona at Inde Motorsports Ranch attending the YCRS 2-day ChampSchool course, and in Arizona again at Arizona Motorsport Park attending the YCRS 1-day ChampStreet course. These are all available (not Freedie Spencer as that has closed) to almost anyone that wants to invest the time and money. What was different for me from most others is I attended the YCRS ChampSchool riding my street bike, a ZX14r, while most were on sport bikes.

And, it isn't as if I had never locked up the rear wheel from over braking previously to this training. In that regard perhaps I'm also not 'normal', but I know and have read many others who may be considered 'normal' that have. Many of them didn't fare as well as I and some did, meaning some crashed because of miss use of the rear brake. Many have found out the hard way through crash experience, I'm among those that escaped a crash (not because of talent) and then wanted to learned from training how to avoid and control.

I wouldn't consider training how to avoid and control a locked rear tire due to braking by actually going as far as locking the rear, to be a primary skill. But I would consider learning how effective the rear brake in combination with the front brake to shorten the stopping distance, to be a primary skill. And, this is included in the MSF basic riders course even, although I would say not to the extent it should be, rather a brief exposure.

I don't feel there is any reason a normal recreational street rider should avoid learning and developing their rider skills to include effectively using the rear brake tool to supplement reducing the stopping distance, provided that is done in a safe manner, regardless of having supervision and/or self-training, depending on the student rider. Also, nothing about lean angle and how much braking can be done at lean has been discussed here, that is another condition of braking I feel should be considered as primary rather than advanced or be avoided at all.
 

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I wouldn't consider training how to avoid and control a locked rear tire due to braking by actually going as far as locking the rear, to be a primary skill. But I would consider learning how effective the rear brake in combination with the front brake to shorten the stopping distance, to be a primary skill. And, this is included in the MSF basic riders course even, although I would say not to the extent it should be, rather a brief exposure.

I don't feel there is any reason a normal recreational street rider should avoid learning and developing their rider skills to include effectively using the rear brake tool to supplement reducing the stopping distance, provided that is done in a safe manner, regardless of having supervision and/or self-training, depending on the student rider. Also, nothing about lean angle and how much braking can be done at lean has been discussed here, that is another condition of braking I feel should be considered as primary rather than advanced or be avoided at all.
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As to the MSF training, as I recall, even in the advanced course there is little info given in respect to the importantace of brake usage. I only remember my instructor telling me that I almost dumped my bike because I dared to use the front brake in a confined tight turn. If he was correct, then the meaning of difference between a measure of trail braking at cruising speed and the lock up of a front brake in a slow speed turn was lost. It seemed to be a one instruction covers all situations.

As to normal rec riders learning, these days it's to possible to get some measure of advanced opinions on different media that wasn't available just ten years ago. A shame if riders don't peruse that path often. As to your comment on braking in lean angles, trail braking is mentioned on this site occasionally, but the subleties do take visualation.

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As to the MSF training, as I recall, even in the advanced course there is little info given in respect to the importantace of brake usage. I only remember my instructor telling me that I almost dumped my bike because I dared to use the front brake in a confined tight turn. If he was correct, then the meaning of difference between a measure of trail braking at cruising speed and the lock up of a front brake in a slow speed turn was lost. It seemed to be a one instruction covers all situations.

As to normal rec riders learning, these days it's to possible to get some measure of advanced opinions on different media that wasn't available just ten years ago. A shame if riders don't peruse that path often. As to your comment on braking in lean angles, trail braking is mentioned on this site occasionally, but the subleties do take visualation.

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I would not argue what you experienced or was told during your MSF course. They do have a very stringent curriculum, but still variation can and have been reported, as well as, comments made by various MSF instructors on the range may vary widely I suppose. However, and this may be in support of what you are expressing, my experience taking the MSF BRC, Intermediate, Advanced and Dirt Bike private lesson was somewhat disappointing. But that is a horse that has been beaten to death in many forum(s) and threads. I'll just leave it at, the BRC isn't the best, but it is the best available (in most areas) for beginner bikers.

I wasn't referencing trail braking, although I understand your comment. Trail braking is holding brakes longer and gradually releasing brakes coming into the corner. I was referring more to getting stopped or much slower in the corner because perhaps there is a blockage that suddenly appeared whether that be at the apex, before, or somewhere after. We have heard and/or read the line, "don't brake in a turn or you will crash", or this one, "don't brake while at lean or you will crash". Some even use the word 'die' in place of 'crash'! I think those are silly and dangerous statements which are way to broad, even when they are said with good intentions. Trail braking may assist us in getting on the brakes to stop or slow in the turn, which is a good advantage of trail braking for street riders.
 
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