Braking is the art of slowing down. Breaking is misjudging the process and breaking something on you or your bike.
The key to hard braking is to do it when the bike has zero lean angle and to react quickly but smoothly. Zero lean angle means you have maximum contact patch available for braking forces (see “The Fight for Traction”). It is important to remember that most of your braking should be done before you turn into the corner. Hard braking after the turn in point will make the bike stand up and run wide. This may result in you crossing the centre line into oncoming traffic or running off the road.
It is important to react quickly. A motorcycle travelling at 100 kph gobbles up almost 28 meters/second. In 3 seconds a motorcycle will travel the length of a football field. Good reactions come from good vision (see Eyes Part 1, II & III).
The ability to react quickly has to be tempered with the ability to prioritize movement.
- Roll of the throttle – it’s hard to slow down with the gas on.
- Pull in the clutch – it’s an emergency stop, you don’t need to think about engine braking.
- Pull on the brake lever , gradually increasing the brake pressure as the weight of the motorcycle comes forward squishing the front tire into the pavement.
- With practice this while process takes around one second.
When you have come to the realization that you have it all under control, you can ease off the brakes to return the weight bias to both wheels and balance the bike. This is especially important when entering a corner. The ideal brake pressure application is shown in the graph above. If the front wheel starts to lock and skid that is a sign to release the brake lever pressure, regain traction and reapply the front brake.
Practice makes perfect so find a parking lot and refine your skills. Make the proper procedure your reaction and ingrain it into your muscle memory.