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ZAMM Fanatic
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Discussion Starter #1
On dry pavement most bikes can brake a LOT harder than most owners will ever attempt.

So why do so many bikers lay their bikes down when a car/truck pulls in front of them?

an INCORRECT MINDSET

There's obviously a mindset that, "If I'm going to hit this I'm somehow better skidding/sliding along the ground. Putting the bike BETWEEN me and the obstacle I'm about to hit"

Such a rider couldn't be more wrong.


EVEN IF you will STILL broadside a car, riding your brakes all the way in is going to result in hitting it FAR SOFTER incurring FAR LESS INJURY than laying the bike down.

Laying the bike down is going to chew YOUR leg up, probably break it or your ankle, and unless you immediately let go of the bars the weight of the bike (momentum) is going to drag you right INTO the obstacle, perhaps right under the tires!

Seats, crash bars, pegs, mufflers, legs, ALL have a much lower coefficient of friction than tires on dry pavement.

The MINDSET Needs to be...I'm going to slow this bike down as much as I can BEFORE I broadside this moron, but I AM NOT going to surrender, lay down, slide, etc.

The Mindset needs to be....I'm going to suffer far lesser injuries broadsiding (at a greatly reduced speed) than I EVER will laying it over and SLIP SLIDING my way into same vehicle.

Putting the BULK / BOTTOM of the bike between you and the vehicle you're about to broadside may SEEM to make sense, but... even a half-second of additional full-force braking could make a huge difference, quite possibly the difference between life and death, or even...getting lucky and actually stopping short.

THIS is why I apply my front and rear brakes (almost) EVERY SINGLE TIME I stop...so in a panic, I don't forget and ONLY use front brake, giving up 30-40% of the braking available to me.

In a 'mergency you're going to instinctively do what you've rehearsed thousands of times, and you want it to be USING BOTH BRAKES.

You must ACCEPT that you're gonna broadside regardless and decide you're gonna ride it all the way in scrubbing off as much speed as you possibly can en route.

In essence you're dumping fuel --- kinetic energy, MV**2. Scream your lungs out as you give 100% of your attention to making a maximum braking effort!

Time WILL slow down for you as your adrenalin level skyrockets, giving you heightened senses, superhuman strength, etc. Keep that bike upright!

It's MINDSET....you must overcome the reptile brain and it's fear-based desire to lay the bike down!

SKILLSET? It NEVER hurts to practice panic braking, and/or locking up the rear tire in parking lots on a REGULAR basis.

Once again you NEED the skillset, but without the MINDSET, ya gonna die!
 

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I'm going to offer a small caveat:

There is no such thing as "panic braking". "Panic crashing"--absolutely. In fact "laying it down is panic crashing at its finest. The irrational act of thinking that your bike stops better by skittering along the pavement.

I like the mindset idea a lot. Lots of people ride while waiting to crash. Then, when there's a totally survivable event they go into panic mode, make large, unnecessary inputs and WHAM they're on the ground and often cover their tracks with "I had to lay her down." Ask, "How did you do that--the lay 'er down part?" You'll get a blank stare and a repeat of "I lay'd 'er down". In fact that is means "I panicked and I don't really know what the hell happened."

Overbraked the rear and made a steering input is what happened...
 

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Driftless Rider
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"Laying it down" to prevent a crash is kind of like saying, "He took a swing, but I blocked the punch with my face."

I agree with the premise of your post, and concur on all but one point.

"Time WILL slow down for you as your adrenalin level skyrockets, giving you heightened senses, superhuman strength, etc."

In the time it takes to have (or avoid) a collision, the adrenaline rush simply doesn't have time to kick in. The brain does not process information any faster in "panic" situations. It is a trick of memory that our brain plays on us after the fact. Our brains are, for the most part, wired to essentially ignore the mundane and store the unusual.
When something stressful, emotional, or completely different happens, the brain locks those items and scenarios into place in greater detail. The sights, sounds, smells, feelings are more vivid because the brain has recorded them for future use and analysis.
During the time of the actual incident, the brain relies on muscle memory and instinct, there is no time to process much of anything. Which is why it is more important to practice skills than to just know the skills.
Lacking muscle memory is where people tend to "freeze up" and seem not to react at all.
 

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Then, when there's a totally survivable event they go into panic mode, make large, unnecessary inputs and WHAM they're on the ground and often cover their tracks with "I had to lay her down."
"Laying it down" to prevent a crash is kind of like saying, "He took a swing, but I blocked the punch with my face."
I think these are the most likely. The rider is unprepared and probably unpracticed and makes violent moves with the controls in a panic. The motorcycle behaves accordingly and goes down.
 

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So long
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The "I layed it down" crowd needs ABS. But, they're the first to point out that an expert can stop faster on dry pavement without it, as if they're that expert!
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
Maximum Braking & Laydown Avoidance....

As understand it "Laying it down" largely results from skidding the rear tire, combined with failure to keep the bike upright..... (not keeping eyes forward as well...)

Which is probably why in the MSF class they make you skid the rear and keep it upright, and drill you to look up and out, not down.

(Same thing we teach beginning snowboarders! Look down, FALL DOWN!)

What I seriously doubt is that I have the mental bandwidth to modulate the rear AND think about how hard I'm gonna pull in the front reins at the same time in a panic situation.

Seems like grabbing a handful of front brake and just applying SOME rear would require the least mental horsepower in a 'mergency.



Here's some (imho GREAT!) comments (plagiarized) from a former MSF instructor. I tried to register and obtain permission to republish, but the registration form on the site isn't working properly. (said I needed a username of AT LEAST 9999 characters.) I rather doubt he'll mind HIS posting being reprinted and perhaps SAVING SOMEONE's LIFE... and since there's no copyright, etc. I'm gonna claim FAIR USE...

from 2005....

>As an instructor of both the old MSF program and the new BRC program, I can say that high effort, maximum braking is a skill very few riders possess or practice.

Over the years, I'd say most students I have trained initially will only apply the front brake to a certain comfort level and figure that's all they have. (Doh!)

Usually the rear brake is over-applied. Think about it, a car has one brake pedal you operate with your foot, with big muscles in that leg, knee and ankle. (As the car brakes your body weight shifts forward applying EVEN MORE force to the brake pedal!)

The brake pedal on a bike can feel somewhat similar, but [the rear can only supply] about 30% of your braking power, and even less as weight transfer under braking occurs.

This misuse of the bike's braking capability means a lot of people hit what they try to avoid or lose control and claim "I hadta lay'er down!" You need toget effective at using both brakes. Why give up that 30% the rear gives you by not using it. It could mean not punching the Buick!

High effort braking is THE most critical skill to master, not just learn. As weight of the rider and bike transfer forward (that's one reason the front fork compresses) under braking, the load on the front tire contact patch increases, which increases that wheel's ability to apply braking effort.

One of my fellow instructors explains the correct technique the best, "start smooth and finish FIRM!" Meaning, quickly apply both brakes smoothly, as the front tire load increases, keep increasing your squeeze of the front brake lever, and KEEP increasing it until the bike comes to a stop. Head and eyes up looking well forward helps stabilty. At the same time, smoothly relax brake application on the rear brake to keep from locking it up.

Remember, a locked sliding tire will never create as much braking force as a tire that is rolling. With practice you'll be surprised how far you can squeeze that front brake lever as you come to a stop. Even on my 94 BMW 1100 I can almost touch the lever to the grip by the end of a stop.

But again, this takes time and practice. Its not something you just go out and "hammer." Practice gradual increasing your squeeze on the front. If at any time you sense front wheel lock, and you CAN sense it, IMMEDIATElY release the brake and re-apply.

Once you get familiar with the feel you can easily judge how close to lockup you are getting. The best place to practice this is one an empty, clean, level parking lot. Don't initially practice this on a sloped road. That comes later.

Recall too, that the technique has to be adjusted depending on the bike you ride. A low center of gravity, medium power braking Harley is easliy stable during high effort braking. A high center of gravity, very powerful braking Honda CBR900RR can easily get unstable under high effort braking. Each needs a different "touch".
 

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I'm GOOD with the part about max braking.

I'm BAD with the part about smashing into the side of the car.
Go OVER it.
Jump off your bike, push yourself up in the air, and go over the top.
Nobody has superglue holding their butt to the seat. Don't slam your body into metal. The metal always wins.

The best option is brake and serve. But you need to constantly do the drills for this to work. There's no time to THINK in an accident. Whatever you programmed your self to do ... that's what you've gonna do!

dT
 

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It maybe wrong but I've always heard just stand up just before impact and you'll fly over or land on a car. Worked for my wife although she wishes she'd let go of the grips instead of hanging on. This was a left turner. She landed on the windshield bitching up a storm according to reports. I could have told them she can have a foul mouth.:D
 

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I have always operated under the theory that there is a time to ride and a time to stop riding. Max brake until impact. Then let go. A few years ago I had a women pull into my lane, slam on her brakes in front of me trying to make an exit she had missed. My entire conscious was focused on braking and watching my tire approach her bumper. When we touched I let go and the bike catapulted my threw me through my windshield and over her car. Result one sprained wrist. Another time a ten foot retread came popping down the road in heavy freeway traffic. I decided how to hit it and what I would do to keep out of the way of the bike if I went down. But the stop riding signal never went off and I stayed with the bike until I could get the tank slapping stopped. As a person who learned to ride offroad I never lay it down. But I have had occasions to stop riding.
 

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I agree that your mindset has to believe you can stop in an emergency situation and that it is better to try to stop before and/or avoid hitting the object as opposed to just laying it down...

However, I think that you also have to have the skill set to do this.

No amount of telling yourself to stop the bike before hitting the car will change your ability to quickly and effectively brake hard enough to avoid the obstacle. You need to know knowledge of how to correctly and effectively emergency brake and you also need to have some practice in doing this. To expect anyone to be able to make an effective emergency stop in a sudden life or death emergency situation WITHOUT HAVING ANY PRACTICE is sort of unreasonable....hence the reason so many lock up the brakes or crash when forced to make a sudden stop.

My suggestion, learn how to make an effective emergency stop and then practice it so that you have the confidence and experience to do it when the situation arrises.
 

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Brake

I agree Misti.
One of the things I have been preaching for years. The advanced course is now teaching it to a degree.
The Harley rider in the video does not touch the front brake.

However when I have talked about hard braking before, the rookies disagree with me, and claim to know more.
It becomes impossible to teach folks that already know everything, with their two or three years of experience.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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The Harley rider in the video does not touch the front brake.
I'm amazed at just how many are afraid of the front brake. You would think that would be very high on the list to teach in any basic riding class but it apparently isn't or it isn't being emphasized enough. Guess that's why I'm seeing so many bikes with linked brakes now. So if the rider won't use the front they will for him/her. Braking is so critical that masking poor skills is just going to cause more fatalities I fear.
 

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I'm amazed at just how many are afraid of the front brake. You would think that would be very high on the list to teach in any basic riding class but it apparently isn't or it isn't being emphasized enough.
Proper use of the front brake is emphasized heavily in the BRC. A student should be coached any time they make a straight line stop or brake before a curve and neglect to use the front brake. Along with "keep your head up" it's probably one of the top things that gets mentioned during a class.
 

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I guess the number of wrecks proves that maybe they don't practice it then.
 

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I guess the number of wrecks proves that maybe they don't practice it then.
There's not much we can do after the class is over. Hopefully most of the students practice often and continue to become safer riders. Sadly, some students are just there to squeak by and get the license waiver and don't pay attention to all that safety stuff.
 

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Except not pass so many with more panic braking tests I guess.
 

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IMO that "safety stuff" was the most important and useful thing I learned in the class. I had ridden before but had never consciously thought about constantly looking for an escape route, watching the wheel/tire of a car to see if they are starting to move, and things like that.

I also learned how to use the front brake correctly. Prior to the course I applied the front brake but not nearly as hard. In the class I took they definitely taught using the front brake.
 

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I'm amazed at just how many are afraid of the front brake. You would think that would be very high on the list to teach in any basic riding class but it apparently isn't or it isn't being emphasized enough. Guess that's why I'm seeing so many bikes with linked brakes now. So if the rider won't use the front they will for him/her. Braking is so critical that masking poor skills is just going to cause more fatalities I fear.
Absolutely and completely agree. We have a training bike at the Superbike School that has outriggers to prevent the bike from crashing. We use it to train our students to lock up the front brake. We do this for two reasons. 1. To give them the reality of what it actually FEELS like to lock up the front tire. Usually they are astounded by how much front brake pressure this takes and 2. so we can teach them what to do if they do lock up the front tire.

Most of the time it takes at least 5 runs for a student to pull the front brake hard enough to lock up the front tire. Then we coach them through what to do if the front tire locks, and how to get maximum braking done without locking up the front tire.

It's a great tool to be able to give students a reality of what emergency braking really feels like without the fear of crashing!

So, if you do lock up the front brake, what do you do?

:)
 

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I would assume that you ease up enough to unlock it? I'm not sure I would have the presence of mind to do that in an emergency situation though, I'd probably let off completely for a second.
 

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Depends. If you do that on a wet road you pick the bike back up if you aren't injured. But my first instinct on dry road would be immediate release an reapply but not as hard. Maybe just pump them even but quickly. That's what I do on sand and gravel anyway.
 
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