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landlover

Another rear brake use question

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Hi, first I use both front and rear always. When the VFR was taken in for yearly service the service adviser said your rear brakes are wearing quicker than the fronts and front brakes are 80 to 90 percent of stopping power. At first I was like I use both but after a while see where he was coming from. Even though I use both I still rely mainly on the rear, in an emergency you go to what you know or what is always done. How can this be corrected just use the front brake for a while? Use both but just lightly touch the rear and grab a handful of front brake. Is this making any sense and do you have any suggestions?

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On normal stops you're probably safe enough, but relying on the rear brake is a bad habit that will bite you when you need a maximum performance stop. The rear will lock and you probably won''t have any feel for threshold on the front. I suggest practicing quick stops. In Msf and the Ohio cirriculum the process is reach,  touch, squeeze on the front. Squeeze progressively all the way to stop. The rear brake should also be applied using light to lighter pressure. If you don't lighten the rear as you stop the rear will lock as weight transfers to the front. Remember, if thr rear does lock, keep it locked until you come to a complete stop.  If the front locks, release  immidieately.  A one day Msf Basic rider course 2 mght be a great way to get some coaching whie you practice. Good luck! BTW:I typically get 2X rear pad life compared to the fronts  

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Plus one on everything Oldnslow said.

 

Hi landlover. Your situation does bear pondering - you are wise to check around before adopting new techniques or practices. Opinions on braking technique are like navels; everyone has one.

 

The % of front brake stopping power your service advisor described is pretty close - some might say 70% front brake, others who never use the rear brake would say the front is 100%. If we assume clean, dry pavement and stopping while riding in a straight line, the amount of braking available at the front vs at the rear has to do with weight shift: the more you brake, the more the weight of the bike and rider shift to the front, providing the front with more traction. At the same time weight is shifted off of the rear tire, which reduces available traction at the rear, and thus reduces available braking forces at the rear. If you watch motorcycle roadraces, it is not uncommon to see the rear wheel completely airborne under very hard braking. In this case the front brakes are responsible for 100% of the braking as the rear brakes cannot provide any stopping force.

 

That being said, under 'normal' non-threatening, non-competitive street riding, my preference is somewhat like yours: I use the rear brake [lightly] when cornering with gusto, but am relying on the front for all primary whoa-horsey type actions. In city traffic, I'll use just the rear to come to a comfortable stop at a stop sign or traffic signal, not for any real reason except to keep awareness sharp, along with wearing the rear pads more evenly with the front.

 

When performing an emergency stop/avoid maneuver, I'll use both brakes, but I have practiced automatically emphasizing the front brakes, because the harder I stop, the lighter the rear gets and the more likely the rear brake is to lock up if even slightly over-applied. Locking  the rear wheel when your bodily safety is at risk is very, very bad because a sliding rear tire follows the laws of physics it was taught from the moment it left the mold: unless kept perfectly in line, it will slide out to the side of the motorcycle that the center of gravity is on in relation to the not [yet?] locked-up front wheel. For example if you are stopping as hard as you can to avoid a homicidal automobile and apply too much rear brake and lock the rear wheel while at the same time turning to the right to avoid said homicidal vehicle, the locked and sliding rear tire will venture off to the left with no regard whatsoever for your future health and hapiness, completely ignoring your peril and even its own fate. As pointed out above, this is bad, and can lead to unscheduled repairs or worse: spousal retribution.

 

An exercise I use to keep in practice and maintain proficiency is to find a safe environment and practice variations on the following decelerations:

 

- from 70mph to 30mph using 60% of maximum braking with front/rear around 50/50, playing with the front/rear balance to learn what happens with more or less of either

- from 70mph to 30mph using 80% of maximum braking and attempting to keep front/rear around 70/30

- from 80mph to 20mph using maximum braking with all emphasis on front brakes [Note the change in effectiveness of applied braking forces from higher speed to lower]

- from 80mph to 20mph using maximum braking, all emphasis on front brakes, but after initial slowing has begun, adding in 3% rear to see how the bike's balance and handling begin to change

- etc etc etc

 

Note: when changing parameters like entry speed, braking force applied, or turn-in points, I have learned via excruciating experimentation to be extremely disciplined in limiting changes to very very small increments - 3% maximum change is my rule. This helps me avoid unknowingly crossing a perilous boundary that I didn't know was right there [I just pointed at the ground two feet in front of me]. Even a carefully executed 10% increase in speed, braking or turning force can easily land one in completely unexplored territory.

 

During these braking drills, I play with any combination of factors I can that is safe:

- higher speeds to full stop

- 60% or 80% of maximum braking and gradually overemphasize rear brake to safely learn how much is too much

- initiating braking while turning to learn how the weight shift takes the center of gravity up and toward the outside of the turn

- etc etc etc

 

By the way, practicing that last one [braking while turning] at safe, controlled speeds until you instinctively respond with balanced, opposing steering to the forces that want to send you to the outside of the turn can save you from the common BWTTRW crash [Brake-While-Turning-Then-Run-Wide].

 

OK that's enough out of me. I hope others chime in with their recommendations and experiences. Always be learning, always be practicing.

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Landlover, I think you already have the bases to start an adjustment of your front/rear braking ratio.  I wouldn't change anything, yet.  I would get out and practice my braking in a controlled environment such as an empty lot or street with no traffic.  Do your normal braking and measure the distance it takes you to get stopped.  You are the only person that knows how much you normally squeeze the front brake and how much you normally press down on the rear brake.  Once you have a distance it takes you to stop and you already know how much you are applying on each of the brakes, you now have a baseline from which to judge the results of making changes.

 

If your bike has linked brakes, anytime you apply only the front you are getting some rear because of the linked brake design.  Your owners manual should explain this and give you an idea of the ratio.  With that in mind, I would then go back to your practice area and start changing the feel of the front brake and rear brake.  I like making these type of changes is small increments.  You are going to squeeze a bit harder on the front and press a bit lighter on the rear.  Measure the distance to stop and compare to your baseline.  The results should be a shorter stopping distance.

 

As you progress in your experimentation, you can include the front brake only, as well as the rear brake only, and of course varying degrees of different pressure ratios.  You will be getting results that you have read or learned during training, but are now experiencing first hand.  Depending on your bike, your preferred ratio of front/rear brake ratio may in fact differ from others on a different bike, or different than you would experience on a different bike that you ride.  But through the process you should also be getting various results of which you can select the results you most favor.

 

I personally prefer using mostly front brake to dump off a lot of speed quickly and use some rear brake (and less front brake) just before the full stop to smooth out the bike weight distribution, especially when riding 2-up.  Regardless I want to avoid locking up either front or rear at any speeds, but especially at higher speeds during an emergency stop.  With that said, my bike responds well to using a lot more front brake.  My brakes are not linked, and neither are they ABS.  I have read many times the recommendation of certain front/rear ratios.  I think these recommendations give us an idea, which is to use primarily front brake with some back  brake for most effective braking.  However, because I use my hand for the front brake and foot for the rear brake, and have no system on my bike that tells me how much brake I am actually applying on each, I find it impossible to determine actually the exact amount I am applying!!

 

I do find that practicing different methods and ratios and measuring the results, provides me with the confidence to safely achieve normal braking and maximum braking. 

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When I first started biking inn the late 70's I was taught to ride by my older brother and that was just the basics. This is how you pull out, this is how you turn et'c, et'c,.

I was 16 and graduating from pedal power to engine power and, trust me on this, if you used the front brakes to stop the bike like you do on a motor bike You where OFF, no question.

I have talked with many of my contemporaries and they all did the same thing. Many of them still being rear brake heavy up until such times as they tried instructed track days or advanced training. I was broken of the habit when I had to re-take my licence about 15 years ago.

 That being said there are always occasions when using more rear than front is sometimes a better way of slowing. Very slippery conditions, I'd rather have the back squirm as it locks than let the front wash out.

Like others I would suggest practicing stopping on some empty straight roads. Here in the UK part of the Driving test for Motorcycles is an emergency stop so you are taught basic techniques of front first and then rear as you come to a stop. works well but how many of us actually practice emergency braking or even hard braking unless the situation arises when it is definitely needed. NOW.

 

I'd suggest trying a few now and then. keeps you in touch with how the bike feels under hared braking

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Get an Aprilia or Ducati, the back brake will probably be shite.

You will then learn to use the front all the time. :tongue:

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In the process of replacing my Lemans in 1997, I also test rode the then all new Ducati ST2. The rear brake was a joke, one need one's heel to stamp on it to get some response.

So I phoned Ducati enquiring what was up.  

 

"you donot need a rear brake"

 

"we are Ducati, we build race bikes"

 

 

So (after test riding as Firestorm, TL1000 and RS250) bought what turned out one of the very last new red 4th gens. for 1 week later Honda annouced the 5th gen....

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