Progressive Braking, a motorcycle riding technique

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Progressive Braking, a motorcycle riding technique


Standard Japanese motorcycle brakes design:
Front Two 320mm disks, each gripped by 6-piston calipers.
Rear One 220mm disk, gripped by a 2-piston caliper.


At a conservative estimate, the front brakes are 5 times as powerful as the rear (remember the diameter of the disk has a big effect). And I'd bet that the foot lever is now as short as the handbrake lever.


In cars, they teach taper braking (progressive braking) - you bring the pressure up gently, to avoid a skid until the weight transfers forwards; at which point you can brake hard; and you let it off gently as you roll to a halt, to avoid a jerk when you stop.


'Bikers, too, need to learn progressive braking. But as we have separate front and rear brakes, we also need to learn to taper the force from rear to front and back to rear again as we slow.


An ideal stop goes something like this:

You apply both brakes gradually and with almost equal force for the first phase of your braking.


The weight will transfer forwards as the front suspension compresses, and your arms bend, the front tire now bites into the pavement.

There's now more weight on the front (up to 100% if you're braking at 1g - and modern road bikes can brake at up to 1.2g).

You now let off most - or all - of the rear brake and increase pressure on the front, which now has most or all of the grip. This middle phase of braking can be 100%:0% - if it is less than 85% Front, you probably aren't braking near your bike's limits.


The bike slows and the forces you are exerting through the brakes and tires diminish (the energy in the bike is proportional to the square of your speed).


The front begins to rise back up on its suspension.[If it's an emergency, you now breath a sigh of relief and a small prayer of thanks].


You taper off on the front brake - to prevent a slow speed lock up - and increase the rear brake pressure once more.


Even stopping from 100mph, the last 5mph is slow riding, and you should only use the rear brake for slow riding. So you do the final phase of stopping 0% Front and 100% rear.