Riding Basic: Braking

Image credited to original owner
Image credited to original owner

Braking, one of the most important aspects of biking. Are we really braking the right way?Brakes have evolved a lonnngggg way. When motor vehicle was created a long time ago, they actually cannot be slowed down or stopped without cutting off the engine. One man is actually needed to run in front the vehicle carrying flags to warn others a vehicle is passing through! Imagine that!

Now, it’s a totally different story. Brakes today brings our bikes from 100-0 faster than they accelerates from 0-100. The question is, do you use your brakes the right way? As a start, you need to know all the most important to use to stop, is your front brakes.

image credited to Paultan.org
image credited to Paultan.org

Malaysian Culture:
If you’re anything like me, raised in kampong, and lives with kapcai all along to get moving around, most probably you’re taught to use rear brakes to slow down. The front is dangerous they say, the bike may flip over. This teachings are still a habits among many Malaysians, as I often observe motorcyclist pivoting their right leg up and down maneuvering through traffic. And the front brake lever untouched.

Well, that’s like super wrong. You should use your front brakes more, as matter of facts, you’ll do fine without your rear brakes at all. If you somehow disagree with me, dig this. If a rear brakes is the way to brake,  why does a sportsbike, got a fancy twin big floating disc, with a 6 pot monoblock calipers attached to each, and have only a small single disc with a small caliper for the rear? On a GP bike, the rear caliper and disc is even more smaller!


The facts :
The real truth is, you should only use your rear braking braking power no more than 30%. 70% of your braking force should come from the front. You can even opted using 100% of the front brakes and leaves the rear brakes alone.9 times world champion Valentino Rossi when asked about how much rear brakes he use answered “I used them in the pits”. Yes, Mike Doohan did reallocate his rear brakes to the left handle bar to operate with his thumb after losing the function of his right leg. But he didn’t use the rear brake to stop, he uses it to stop the rear tyre from spinning on acceleration. Myself, during my racing days, uses 100% front brakes. But I’m nobody, so that doesn’t count 

The Explanation :
Ok, it needed some basic physics to explain. But it is simple. A bike creates momentum as it moves. A momentum is a force that prevents a bike from stopping even after power is cut off.

When you brake, momentum keeps the bike to shift its weight forward. Now, the only contact point between a bike to the road is its 2 tyres, the front and the rear. As I said before, and you yourself can feel it, when you brakes, all the weight of you and your bike shifts forward. Where does all this weight shift to? The front wheel or the rear wheel? The front right? So if all the weight is shifted to the front wheel, does it make sense to use the front brakes more?


About the flipping your bike over thingy when you use the front brakes, well, it is actually very hard to do a stoppie. Your sense while squeezing the front lever are good enough to prevent an accidental stoppie. If you never use your front brake before reading this, give it a try. Your stopping distance will reduce significantly. A rear brake are used a bit more on a wet surface, as you didn’t brake as hard in the dry, so the weight didn’t fully transfers to the front wheels, and still are on the rear wheels.

As for why some racers opted to not touching the rear brake at all, that’s because in racing you need to have your focus. By neglecting the rear brakes, your brain have one thing less to focus on, and can concentrate on other thing such as preparations on attacking a corner and stuff. Sort out your braking, Happy riding!

article contributed by Mr.Aqmal

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