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How to Brake Properly on a Motorcycle

By Edited Mar 3, 2016 1 1

With the natural desire of humans to constantly go fast, the simple idea of riding a motorcycle is oftentimes enough to fire up one's unhindered adrenaline to unprecedented levels. Even though motorcycles have an uncanny ability of placing a person's thoughts and mind into a deep senseless preoccupation, safety and attention to surroundings should always remain paramount principles in the foremost part of your brain. From driving the speed limit, to proper helmet and equipment wear, to learning how to brake properly, all these elements can significantly contribute to a more safe riding experience all around.

While you follow these guidelines to learn how to brake properly on your motorcycle, I encourage you to contemplate situations or scenarios that you have either been in, or may be in one day, where proper braking could mean the difference between life and death. With gruesome pictures, of motorcycle fatalities, surfacing just about every day on the internet, it is important that we all realize the weight and brevity of operating our motorcycles properly. Learning how to brake your motorcycle properly can be a great place to start.

Things You Will Need

  • a Motorcycle
  • Motorcycle Protective Equipment
  • Motorcycle Gloves
  • Motorcycle Pants
  • a Motorcycle Jacket

Step 1

It is first important to realize the placement of your motorcycle brakes, as well as the significance of that placement. With all motorcycles having at least two brakes, you will find that these braking systems are both located on the right side of your bike. Generally upon special request, your motorcycle's braking system can either be switched, or you can certainly have a new bike built custom made. While a huge percentage of the world population is right handed, motorcycles with right handed braking systems may be unsuitable and inadequate for those left handed bikers who long for the thrill of a peaceful morning drive through a scenic countryside.

Within immediate hand reach, your first brake can be found attached to your right handlebar. Much like a traditional bicycle, it will typically be a metal extension of the handlebar. Dependent upon the force and quickness of your squeeze, your motorcycle will experience either a soft, fluid braking stop or it will experience a sudden, immediate, stop. With stored up force from driving, a sudden stop, while sometimes necessary, will also cause a great transfer of force that may be unexpected. Fortunately, practicing safety means proactively anticipating things that could go wrong and stupid decisions other drivers may make. As a motorcycle rider, in a way, you are already vulnerable because you inherently don't have the same barrier of protection that those in a car will have. This is more the reason to use every opportunity you can to practice safety.

With no relation to your right front handlebar brake, your second brake is typically activated by a motorcycle rider's right foot. While brakes are entirely different systems, their overall effects on your motorcycle are similar. With this in mind, these breaks are most effective when they are used in conjunction with one another.

Step 2

While you may have begun to favor one brake over the other, primarily for convenience or another reason altogether, it is imperative that you not neglect any one braking system. By utilizing and activating both motorcycle brakes, simultaneously in conjunction, you will subtly condition yourself to not become dependent on any one system entirely. Unfortunately, there is a bit of debate regarding which brake a motorcycle rider should actually activate first.

While some say that activation of your rear brake first will lead to a more quick stop when needed, others cite that an immediate rear brake activation can cause your motorcycle to skid more easily and increase your likelihood of getting into an accident. In fact, application of the rear brakes first has been proven to immediately shift weight forward which will make the rear of the motorcycle very light. When the rear of your motorcycle is made very light, your tire grip will be decreased and your skid potential will increase. In order to ensure that the back end of your motorcycle isn't completely weightless, it is recommended that you first apply your front breaks and, then, after a short delay, apply your rear brakes. It does not take very long at all for weight to shift and even out, while making it more safe to then apply your rear braking system.

(NOTE: Because safety is involved, and the effective application of this Info Barrel article step could ultimately mean the difference between life or death, I highly encourage anyone to leave comments--regarding their experiences, and any scientific testing or rationale--so that everyone who reads this article can also benefit from your insights. I would like for this article to be as accurate as possible. I really value and appreciate any feedback you can give regarding any step mentioned here!)

Step 3

Once you have fully understood the activation, location, and placement significance of both the front and rear breaking systems, it is important that you search out an empty lot in which to practice this skill. A high school or an elementary parking lot may make a great place to practice the skill of motorcycle braking, especially when no classes are in session on a Friday evening, Saturday, Sunday, or Holiday. It has been said that the best time to learn this skill is prior to your actually having to use it. As with any equipment, familiarization with it's functionality can greatly reduce your likelihood of experiencing an accident.

Step 4

Before going out for a motorcycle drive, be sure to fully understand and anticipate the weather for at least an hour longer than you intend on being out. Because of the fluctuating accuracy of weather reporting, if you are planning a long drive the next day, be sure that you check to see any changes in weather patterns occasionally leading up to your drive. If percentage of rain or precipitation changes, take notice of just how much it changes and over what time period. Inclement weather can inherently increase your potential for danger, and, for this reason, only skilled riders should ride in those conditions. Rainy or snowy weather may also create slick road conditions that will have a direct impact on how you apply your breaks. In these particular situations, some have argued that applying the rear break first should actually be done in order to keep the back end of your motorcycle behind you.

(NOTE to any readers: If you have any particular experience riding a motorcycle, in any type of inclement weather, it would be an absolute honor to have you share those experiences with us in the comments' section below! Because many readers will be reading this article, it is important that we all collectively strive to give the best, most safe, advice that we possibly can.)
Learning how to brake your motorcycle properly is a vital component of safe and effective riding.

Tips & Warnings

Always be sure to wear protective motorcycle equipment before you take off on a drive. While one may love the sense of freedom from a cool breeze brushing through your hair as your drive, wear of a motorcycle helmet has proven to save many a person's life.


Oct 31, 2010 9:52am
I needed to read this article 40 years ago! A college boyfriend was trying to teach me to ride his motorcycle, but I couldn't figure out how to brake so I slowly rolled into a tree! Neither I, nor his bike, were hurt. After that, I just rode on the back, behind him. Never forgot the experience, though. Good of you to get this information out there!
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