When To Use Your Rear Brakes- Well, It Depends Doesn't It?

Journeyman

"And this one is just right" ~ Goldilocks
Joined
Aug 13, 2017
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2,151
Location
Old Fort, NC 28762 USA
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2020 3R
Opening up for discussion on this topic which I've been exploring more lately, especially as it pertains to riding in the twisties. Most advice, based on racing, is to use the front brake to shorten the rake of your bike. This puts more pressure on the front tire, increasing contact area and by shortening the distance between the tires makes the bike turn in more quickly. Sounds good and I most often do that. BUT- we are not all riding on the sweeping relatively flat turns of a race track. So, how does this advice hold up if you are going steeply downhill in the mountains (front tire is already heavily loaded) or taking a super sharp turn? I think that you have to consider all of the factors- in my opinion, there is no one simple answer.

I've found that in extremely twisty territory that I trail the Rear brake, more so than the front, or even exclusively. In these kinds of turns you are no longer counter steering and I think (?) that is the "tipping point" for where you make the switch. Think about the cone training where you feather the clutch and drag the rear brake making slow but very tight turns. Try grabbing the front and see what happens- you'll be glad that you have, or wish that you did have, crash bars.

Going down a steep hill- are you still going to put most of your stopping power on the front brakes? Add some gravel to that mix and see what happens.

So, this is just food for thought. Just curious what other riders have found. I just tend to have a knee jerk reaction to advice (even when it's virtually unchallenged on the infinitely wise Internet) as to what you should ALWAYS do.

Here's some material on the subject....
Btw, I've seen this guy riding a Rocket- is he on here?
and...
 
Opening up for discussion on this topic which I've been exploring more lately, especially as it pertains to riding in the twisties. Most advice, based on racing, is to use the front brake to shorten the rake of your bike. This puts more pressure on the front tire, increasing contact area and by shortening the distance between the tires makes the bike turn in more quickly. Sounds good and I most often do that. BUT- we are not all riding on the sweeping relatively flat turns of a race track. So, how does this advice hold up if you are going steeply downhill in the mountains (front tire is already heavily loaded) or taking a super sharp turn? I think that you have to consider all of the factors- in my opinion, there is no one simple answer.

I've found that in extremely twisty territory that I trail the Rear brake, more so than the front, or even exclusively. In these kinds of turns you are no longer counter steering and I think (?) that is the "tipping point" for where you make the switch. Think about the cone training where you feather the clutch and drag the rear brake making slow but very tight turns. Try grabbing the front and see what happens- you'll be glad that you have, or wish that you did have, crash bars.

Going down a steep hill- are you still going to put most of your stopping power on the front brakes? Add some gravel to that mix and see what happens.

So, this is just food for thought. Just curious what other riders have found. I just tend to have a knee jerk reaction to advice (even when it's virtually unchallenged on the infinitely wise Internet) as to what you should ALWAYS do.

Here's some material on the subject....
Btw, I've seen this guy riding a Rocket- is he on here?
and...
definitely not while turning, i never use front brake unless its a straight line.
 
Anything slow all rear, like you said the front in a slow turn, in a parking lot, etc. it can put you on the ground. When riding at speed (hoonin) i use rear and front to settup for turns, getting bike settled and under control, on dip in im off rear and maintain easy on front until i see the exit, i trail brake until i see the exit, this is if its needed. But i never trust a turn until i see that exit. When normal riding i may just roll on through turn with nothing. If gravel appears in corner im easy off front and square up as best i can. The rear on touring without abs is tricky, if i ask to much of it and speed is to high im chirping the rear and it isnt doing much, i let off reengage till i can get something out of it. I use the rear mostly i guess while riding at speed just to settle the bike, i use it sometimes to help with lane control if i over shoot something. Things happen so fast out there sometimes its just a reaction that i dont always get right, but it only takes a second to realize right or wrong decision was made. Seems i do better as the riding season progresses, I’ve already made mistakes this riding season beaking, but concentrate on this alot when riding, percentage of brakes applied, when where and why are always on mind, and when i lapse in this concentration i normally pay fot it.
 
You should be able to use every part of the motorcycle at any and all times. Front brake in corners rear brake at any time. It makes no difference. Bottom line... Become good at doing many things in many ways. The moment you have to do something you are not skilled in doing becomes a time you eat road
 
Dont like using the front brake if im turning..even worse if its downhill so i tend to use the gears alot...i'll feather the front brake to scrape some speed off before i lean the bike then come off the brakes and watch that far away exit point. I dont like moving my foot to use the rear brake while im using that foot to balance things so if i find i'm going way to fast i will brake with the front and the rear and change down before i lean her into the corner.
I find using the gears better than wearing the brakes out...the bike wont dive like it does with brakes.
 
I tend to agree with Mongler07's comment about reading the road and conditions etc...feeling the bike beneath you and feeding the right pressure to either end of the bike in a very natural way, rather than being specific/rigid in how much braking force the front or rear should get.

However, I must admit that I am a generally a rear brake user, for the reasons already given. Particularly in slow speed maneuvering. Only use the rear brake when doing a tight U-turn, for example.
In fact I have the rear brake lightly applied for most of a U-turn, just to keep a bit of tension through the driven wheel and feed the speed using the brake lever rather than using the throttle. Far more control doing it that way.

The front brake is more important at high speeds as it has more braking power due to the tyre being forced into the tarmac under front braking. Extended steep down hill descents need as much front braking bias as possible in order to reduce the chance of boiling the rear brake fluid.

Everything in between, requires a balance between the two ends, but then I do tend to make full use of engine braking most of the time and view the brakes as a stopping device more than a slowing down device.
 
Blaine may know Leiscester highway from trust and I guarantee you that you need front brake going down hill in the corners. If you use the rear much you will lock it up and begin to slide out. Of course you need read the conditions but it is steep and curvy so you will be on the binders. Those that do not like to use the front will not do well up here.
 
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