Advanced Riding Course: Braking Techniques

Let Niall Mackenzie inside your head and get your riding into tip-top braking advice

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Niall Mackenzie's picture
Submitted by Niall Mackenzie on Mon, 22/03/2010 - 11:45

These days my riding is split pretty equally between main roads, off road and circuits. Although these disciplines require different riding skills, when it comes to stopping all three use similar techniques. With that in mind, this month I’d like to talk you through what keeps me fast and safe when it comes to braking from speed.  

When the best racers in the world go from 200mph to 40mph before that next hairpin, it’s hard to comprehend just how much skill is involved in those few seconds of deceleration. There may only be a handful of souls on the planet capable of doing it, but I’m sure anyone who has ever ridden a bike can appreciate the talent necessary to be part of Rossi and Co's incredible balancing act.

While stopping for the traffic lights after you leave the M6 at junction 15 may not need Casey Stoner’s expertise, the braking principle is pretty much the same, its just the whole procedure happens at a more sensible pace.

The following may all occur in a split second but this is basically how my thought process works when braking hard from high speed, be it on the road or racetrack.

Effective, safe braking is all about transferring weight onto the front tyre and suspension so closing the throttle is my first action to get this underway. As I’m rolling back the twist grip my fingers are already covering the brake lever ready to apply a tiny amount of pressure just to get the brake pads in contact with the discs. Further gentle pressure safely transfers most of the weight to the front of the bike so at this point I can then squeeze hard on the lever with virtually no risk of locking up the front wheel.

Providing the braking force is kept constant the worst that can happen at this point is the rear lifts off the tarmac or comes slightly out of line. If this happens then I simply gently release some pressure bringing things back into line. I understand you might not be doing this every day on your daily commute but I still think it is worth practising this as it can come in handy should you ever need to stop quickly and safely.

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