04 July 2016

Brake, Don't Break

A year ago...
(Or was it two?) WOW, I'm gettin' old!
I was riding alongside someone I care about... a relatively new rider.
This new rider was astride a Harley-Davidson motorcycle with more displacement than I had between my legs until I was well into my sixties. Still, with my "two-wheel" experience and personal knowledge of the myriad ways you can hurt yourself, I watched "H-D rider's" technique and was surprised to see NO use of the front brake.

At our first stop I mentioned it...
"Don't you realize that's where most of your stopping power is?"
I was the only non-Harley rider in the group. Other riders of that brand seemed to be offended by the fact I had made the suggestion.

So I asked another question:
"When you do a brake job on your car, which brakes are most likely to need maintenance, and WHY?"
Cumulative Harley riders didn't know.
So I told 'em.
They still seemed unconvinced.
I dropped the subject... maybe it is dangerous to use the front brake on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle?

I'd be delighted if more people were introduced to motorcycling.
To this end, I constantly recommend the "Motorcycle Safety Foundation's" introductory course.
(Even if you don't ride you should take the course... it's a GREAT education about bikes and what makes them tick.)
But there's a reason many people think motorcycles are extremely dangerous.
One of the reasons they think that is because bikers are exposed to idiots in cars and trucks.
Another reason is that many riders haven't been properly educated about how their machines work.
As an ex-EMS helicopter pilot I can tell you LOTS of stories!

Here's my (old biker) advice...
If you operate a technical machine... motorcycle, airplane, helicopter, etc...
NEVER quit learning about it.
A good education may help you avoid your local Emergency Room.
Don't BREAK.


Tumo said...


KG Ericson said...

I have learned more about the bigger bikes since I switched from the crotch rocket, and the one consistent I've heard is about the rear break. If I'm not mistaken the biggest aversion to using the front break is because it's in front of so much weight on a linear axis. So that if the front brake is used at the wrong time, the heavy bike will force itself off that line and want to pass the front (sort of). So I was told that the front brake should not be used heavily when cornering. Besides that scenario, I break front quite often when my axis is upright and vertical. :)
But always learning.

Greybeard said...

Serious question Kyle...
Isn't the same true for an automobile?
If the rear of the bike is trying to pass the front, aren't you mis-using the brakes?
I have always heard that's where about 70% of your braking power is located.

The Old Man said...

Look at the physics of the weight shift when you brake. Front brakes wear more due to that weight concentrations both on scoots and cages. Try locking up your scoot rear brake at 60 and prepare for excitement....
Do some experiments in a local parking lot. Best way to learn.