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Whitham's guide to better braking

Let Whit impart his fair share of knowledge to you, to help you get yer'sen stopped reet quick

1 START STOPPING

"Most crashes on the brakes are down to the initial input. A panicked grab can result in a locked front wheel and a trip down the road. In the dry you can just slam it on, but not so in the wet. What you need do then is get some weight on the front tyre before fully applying the brakes or it will wash out. Initially brake gently to move weight forward and settle the bike, then brake harder and harder. The more weight that's on the front the more pressure you can apply, but be smooth and feel for the front locking. In a straight line you will probably get away with the front locking briefly; in a corner you won't, so always brake upright in the wet."

2 HOW MANY FINGERS

"When I'm instructing on track days people often ask me if they should be using two or four fingers on the brake. I use two fingers. On race and modern road bikes the brakes are so good you only need the strength of two fingers, and I've always found that with two fingers you get more feel for what the bike's front end is doing. With four fingers you're only hooking the twist grip with your thumb, which isn't very sensitive. Use two fingers and you have the thumb and two fingers still on the bar to feel for feedback from the front end. The only real downside to two finger braking is if the brakes fade you end up pulling the lever back so far it traps your fingers - and without slowing the bike."

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