Braking exercises on the road

Motorcycle Training

These exercises don’t have to be performed on the road as safety is paramount! You need to be safe and legal.

Think about this: Under normal riding, you can travel many thousands of miles without ever needing to touch your brakes.

This can make you ‘rusty’ and unprepared when the time comes. Therefore you will benefit from practising your braking every time you are out riding. Practising promotes precise technique.

To practise safely on the road you need to make sure you do not disturb other road users. If you want to practise emergency braking, find an area devoid of all traffic – with lots of space, allowing you to make mistakes without incurring any unwanted consequences.

Exercise 1: Conscious practising with the front brake only.

Brake preparedness means moving your fingers to the brake lever and carefully taking up the play. Practise brake preparedness consciously every time you approach a developing hazard.

The goal is that you always apply the front brake first and as a result have the shortest possible response time. Practise using the front brake regularly when you are riding.

Gradually increase brake pressure, for example by braking a little later when approaching a familiar bend on the road. Do it gradually. Make sure you are always comfortable and in control. Watch your riding position and your vision. Consciously assume braking preparedness every time you approach a road crossing where you expect to have to stop completely.

Be alert and always make sure the bike is in complete balance. If it is not, you will have to adjust your riding position and the way you use your vision.

Exercise 2: Get familiar with the rear brake.

If you have a bike that does not stop effectively with the front brake only or a motorcycle with much of the weight on the rear wheel, you need to practise rear brake use. It is absolutely necessary, for instance when you ride with passenger and/or luggage.

Learn how much pressure you need to apply to the pedal in different situations to make the rear wheel lock. Lock the rear wheel for a short moment, and then let up. Practise until you feel confident about brake pressure. Learn to identify locking both on wet and dry surfaces, tarmac and gravel. Practising with the rear brake should be done very carefully.

Exercise 3: Combined use of front and rear brakes.

Notice that the rear locks earlier when you apply front brake as well, because you transfer much of the load to the front tyre and off the rear. Have your focus first and foremost on the front brake. See if you are able to apply the proper pressure on the rear at the same time. Concentrate most of your attention on the front brake with just light application of the rear. The front brake is far and away the most important brake and must be given priority.

However if your motorcycle has a considerable part of its braking effect at the rear wheel, you must practise to use it effectively.

Exercise 4: Moderate braking in a bend.

Choose a quiet, familiar bend on a day with a dry surface. Choose a speed that makes you feel comfortable, so that you have ample road grip and wide safety margins. Brake carefully with the front brake. Notice how the bike wants to stand up when you brake, and steer straight ahead. The steering becomes heavy, that is, it feels reluctant to steer.

When you become familiar with this reaction, try to oppose this stand-up tendency by simultaneously counter-steering to make the bike follow your intended course through the bend. Practise until you are comfortable balancing the stand-up tendency with pressure on the handlebar.

You have complete control under braking in a bend when you are able to find the right balance between braking pressure and steering command, so that the bike both brakes and steers and is in complete balance at the same time.

This is the best way to perform controlled braking in a bend.

Exercise 5: Emergency braking in a bend.

Imagine that you suddenly see an obstacle in the bend in front of and you have to brake hard. You have become familiar with the motorcycle’s tendency to stand up when you brake while the bike is leaned over. When you have to brake hard, you can consciously use this stand-up tendency. Remember that in order to use your entire grip to brake, the bike must be travelling straight ahead.

Start at moderate speeds and with moderate braking. Brake carefully with the front brake, the bike stands up, brake hard until you have reduced the speed as much as you want, release the brake softly and steer into the bend again.

Notice that when you have reduced your speed and released the brake, the bike steers effortlessly into the bend again. Be sure your riding position is correct.

Gradually increase speed and brake pressure until you feel comfortable with this technique. If you feel most comfortable in a left-hander, start there. When you master them, start practising in right-handers. Remember that the goal is effective speed reduction, not necessarily braking to a full stop.

Exercise 6: Braking and swerving.

This is best practised in an area free of traffic but you can still practise the technique and establish core skills when you are out riding on the road. Make sure you are alone on the road. Choose a point on the road ahead of you, for example a repair patch. Brake carefully on your way towards the chosen point. When you get closer, release the brake softly. Swerve by applying a light anchored push (steering command) and throttle control.

Immediately straighten the bike with a new steering command the opposite way, follow up with a new steering command/throttle control and steer the bike back to your original course. Be conscious that you anchor yourself on the outer foot peg, give a precise steering command and immediately follow up with throttle control.

Gradually increase the force with which you swerve and the speed of the manoeuvre. You also need to practise emergency braking combined with swerving. But then you need an area with lots of space and no traffic.

Road - Driving

(Adapted from an original booklet published by the Norsk Motorcykkel Union) supplied by Maxrider.

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