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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 4/27/2005 6:14 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
As an instructor of both the old MSF program and the new BRC program, I can say that high effort, maximum braking is a skill very few riders possess or practice. And those that most likely have never practiced it are the ones following other vehicles WAY to close, sometimes not even a car length at 60mph.
 
Over the years, I'd say most students I have trained initially will only apply the front brake to a certain comfort level and figure that's all they have. Usually the rear brake is way over-applied. But think about it, a car has one brake pedal you operate with your foot, with big muscles in that leg, knee and ankle. the brake pedal on a bike can feel somewhat similar, but it only applies about 30% of your braking power, and less as wieght transfer under braking occurs. This misuse of the bike's braking capability means a lot of people hit what they try to avoid or loose control and claim "hadta lay er down!" And get effective at using both brakes, why give up that 30% the rear gives you by not using it. Could mean not punching the Buick!
 
High effort braking is THE most critical skill to master, not just learn. As weight of the rider and bike transfer forward (that's one reason the front fork compresses) under braking, the load on the front tire contact patch increases, which increases that wheel's ability to apply braking effort. One of my fellow instructors explains the correct technique the best, "start smooth and finish FIRM!" Meaning, quickly apply both brakes smoothly, as the front tire load increases, keep increasing your squeeze of the front brake lever, and KEEP increasing it until the bike comes to a stop. Head and eyes up looking well forward helps stabilty. At the same time, smoothly relax brake application on the rear brake to keep from locking it up. Remember, a locked sliding tire will never create as much braking force as a tire that is sliding. (I think you meant to write "as a tire that is rolling."....Cadd.) With practice you'll be surprised how far you can squeeze that front brake lever as you come to a stop. Even on my 94 BMW 1100 I can almost touch the lever to the grip by the end of the stop.
 
But again, this takes time and practice. Its not something you just go out and "hammer." Practice gradual increasing squeeze on the front. If at any time you sense front wheel lock, and you can sense it, IMMEDIATElY release the brake and then re-apply. Once you get familiar with the feel you can easily judge how close to lockup you are getting. The best place to practice this is one an empty, clean, level parking lot. Don't initially practice this on a sloped road. That comes later. Recall too, that the technique has to be adjusted depending on the bike you ride. A low center of gravity, medium power braking Harley is easliy stable during high effort braking. A high center of gravity, very powerful braking Honda CBR900RR can easily get unstable under high effort braking. Each needs a different "touch".
 
Because, I'd guess 80%+, of cycle riders follow other traffic WAY to close (one of my pet peeves, and yes I DO get after myself for the same thing), maximum braking skill is the most critical skill you need to master. I welcome all comments, and challenge me if something I said doesn't make sense. Enjoy the ride!

Post Edited By Moderator (CaddmannQ) : 4/29/2005 1:54:16 AM GMT

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Luke
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   Posted 4/27/2005 7:02 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Agree that panic stops are the most important skill to routinely re-practice and stay current.


If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?

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RedDog
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   Posted 4/27/2005 7:55 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Good one, Andy.

I agree that braking correctly applying both brakes is the only way to go. I see too many riders/bikers just using one of them. It's so important to use them both. Back in 86 I quickly figured out how good the brakes are on a Gixxer 1100. On a track picking up some serious speed down one of the main straights hitting the last brake marker, applying hard, hm firm, I smashed my balls into the tank and saw stars for the next couple of rounds.

Hint: Prepare your arms for the power in them brakes!


RedDog
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Smitty
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   Posted 4/27/2005 11:25 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Agree with you Andy. To us ex-competitors we understand the use of one's brakes even it we did start out with single cam drum brakes & graduated to older disc brakes & now to far superior disc brakes with Kevlar or SS braided f/brake lines.

The bit of riders being to close is one I always bring up if the conversation is there, not only to cages, but to fellow riders & in many cases there have been some pretty serious accidents to actually deaths of the rider to the rear hitting the one in front. Some have even been on some of the m/c boards to ask if the rider in the front should not pay for their damages!!!!!

So, well written & hope others read it & practice what you mentioned.


Remember all the others on the road are crazy & out to kill you.

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YellowDuck
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   Posted 4/28/2005 6:18 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Nice post. About once every six months we end up explaining proper braking technique to someone aronud here. Maybe this should be a sticky.

I really liked the bit about sloping ground being another thing altogether. I once learned the hard way how easy it is to get the rear hopping out of control while braking hard downhill. Now I specifically practice downhill brking - a tough skill, not only because of the need to modulate front-to-rear differently, but also because it takes more arm strength, and because engine braking is much more likely to bust the rear loose.

One thing I like to advocate is that people should practice maximum effort braking from the highest speeds as at which they would normally ride. If you regularly explore 100 mph+, you should be confident braking hard from that speed. How many people ever do that? Doing a great, efficient stop from 25 mph in a parking lot is one thing. Having to haul it down quick from 80 mph with the front tire howling is quite another. It takes balls. Another good reason to do it is that it helps you realize just how dramatically stopping distances increase with speed - approximately FOUR times the stopping distance required if you double your speed. Maybe more if you haven't practiced.


I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.
Life's been good to me so far.
 

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luiggispeed
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   Posted 4/28/2005 7:37 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Standing ovation****
Nice post Andy.
We need more of this stuff.
I belive someone's gotta come up with an aftermarket anti-lock device,at least for rear brakes,composed of a sensor,and a tricked out master cylinder,it would save many skins all over the world,since a panic stop is a PANIC stop and most folks only have use their bikes for site seeing and just dont have the experience to master this things propperly.


""Attention!!!:for your own safety,we have proclamed that 'thou shall not try thy wheelies,or go past 55mph,never stunt ride nor have more than one beer.Anyone violating safety rules will be promptly executed,for his own safety.""

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RedDog
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   Posted 4/28/2005 10:22 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Shall we take a pitch about trail braking too - for the real advanced here? Actually we could dig up the old thread ... Practicing that is a neat help when shit happens and you come too fast into that corner. That's the sidekick.


RedDog
Travel Light & Leave Your Fears Behind You!
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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 4/28/2005 5:24 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Wow, I expected some responses but the comments coming back are great!

Red Dog: Black and Blue for a while? That's hilarious!

Yellow Duck: excellant comment about braking skills for the speeds you ride. Definitely a must!

luiggispeed: excellant idea. I wonder why it hasn't happened. But think about the litigation happy society we live in. If the motorcycle manufacturers offerred that, and some edge of the gene pool shmuck wadded up his ride, and claimed "the antilock rear brake was supposed to keep me from falling" to the jury of non-riders, guess who looses. I think that's one of the main reasons the manufacturers leave it up to us as riders to save our butts. Almost any jury sees motorcycling as a high-risk endevour. By the way, if I got in court due to a motorcycle accident, could I get a jury of motorcycle riders with the same experience as I have? Jury of my peers? Doubt it.

I appreciate too, that many of you agree that many motorcyclists follow way too close. I see it all the time. And, I'm STILL surprised that I catch myself doing it, though my sense of "way too close" is still much further back. Guess that's a signal to me that life is interfereing with my riding (losing my focus), when my riding has always been my focus away from the daily life crap. It's one of the reasons I ride! Two wheeled therapy!!!!

 

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RedDog
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   Posted 4/28/2005 6:03 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
To follow too close is to not ride your own ride - and we're back to: Who do you really trust? Being too close we had 3 riders wipe out last fall. None got hurt bad thank to full protective gear. An RC51 got totalled and 2 GSX-R1000 got away with minor damages. This all happen in a spirited ride riding way too close. You know, they see it on TV (races).

The good news are that 2 of them are now on the track, racing. And that's where that kind of riding belongs.
OK I brake ...


RedDog
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Normal People Scare me!

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CaddmannQ
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   Posted 4/28/2005 6:57 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Andy VH said...excellant idea. I wonder why it hasn't happened. But think about the litigation happy society we live in. If the motorcycle manufacturers offerred that, and some edge of the gene pool shmuck wadded up his ride, and claimed "the antilock rear brake was supposed to keep me from falling" to the jury of non-riders, guess who looses....
I thought that BMW was already selling bikes with anti-lock brakes?
 
Was I just dreaming that?  confused


Cadd
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CaddmannQ
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   Posted 4/28/2005 6:58 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
PS: I absolutely agree that 80~90% of EVERYBODY on the road follows too closely.


Cadd
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RedDog
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   Posted 4/28/2005 8:19 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Andy VH said...

Red Dog: Black and Blue for a while? That's hilarious!

Well Andy, you know how it goes. I met this gorgeous American girl and since I had been drooling on a European Racing License for years giving me the right to see Europe from their race tracks' point of view, she gave me the racing course as a Valentine present - GREAT surprise. And we had a new GSX-R1100. Yummie!
We had a great racer for our instructor in the hyper spirited class. So we walked the track and he pointed out this and that, correct lines, brake markers, how King Kenny made one great sweeper out of 3 corners and the particular point on the track to hit, etc. Then 15 cruising laps, a break and pep talk, little more speed, step by step, until we could start gunning it for some serious 3 digit speed braking in at first brake marker. Then the 2nd and then when we came blasting down the long stretch and braked hard at the last brake marker, I did not stretch my arms and the force came so sudden that I smashed my balls to the tank and saw stars for the next rounds. Blue and black, you got it and wife was not happy either -  kind of anti Valentine. shocked
So then I know how powerful these brakes are - and to prepare for that. There are more to hard braking than just squeeze the lever firmly. And then some ...

 


RedDog
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RedDog
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   Posted 4/28/2005 8:30 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Oh another thing, mind flies: At the huge Conti-Treffen in Germany one year, they lined up the fanciest Mercedes against a BMW kind of sportbike to show how good braking can be on a bike. They took off side by side and braked from different speeds. Surprise for many, the biked stopped car lengths shorter than ABS equipped Mercedes. Nice to know when you are out there amongst the "appliances" - if you can brake. Practice, practice and then some practice. Tough task to master, but one thing very important to learn.

BTW, the brakes on my new GSX-R1000 is the best I have ever experienced.


RedDog
Travel Light & Leave Your Fears Behind You!
Normal People Scare me!

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 4/29/2005 5:56 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Hey CaddmanQ; you're right BMW, and I believe Honda and Kawasaki have produced bikes with anti-lock brakes. But I don't know of any motorcycle manufacturer that offers rear-brake only ABS (like on pickup trucks). My 94 BMW R1100RS has abs. It feels weird when the abs is engaged, and the brake pulsing does create some shuddering reactions in the chassis. Its an ok feature but again it has to be practiced to get familiar with it.

Some new BMWs have "power brakes", and honestly from what I have read about them I don't like the idea. I think its a feature we don't need and adds unnecessary cost and complexity. I have read about people almost damaging their bikes when moving them with the engine off, and there is practically NO brakes. Even read about a rider that had a brake system problem on his new BMW that caused te brake system to fail with no brakes!!!

No thanks. I'll stick with the older proven systems that I know work.  

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 4/29/2005 6:25 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Hey CaddmanQ, thanks for the correction in my message. Never fails, I type, read it, re-read it, then submit it and of course I goofed. Oh the perils of being a dyslexic engineer (boy does that sound dangerous!).

Yes, a sliding locked tire will never generate the equivalent braking force of a ROLLING tire braked just to the point of lockup. I learned that in actual vehicle testing on a past job responsibility.

In a past engineering job I was responsible for ABS antilock brake systems on class-8 fire trucks. I had the opportunity to get trained with Bosch engineers. From that I learned that all ABS systems work on the principle that maximum braking is achieved with 20% tire "slip". This means the braking effort at the tire contact patch is at max when that tire is slipping/rolling at a speed in feet per second 20% less than the actual vehicle speed. That's why an ABS equipped vehicle will squeal the tires and leave tire streaks on the road during an ABS stop. If the tire speed exceeds that 20% slip thresehold, the tire "locks up", but if it doesn't get to that 20% slip level then maximum braking is not achieved. That 20% slip applies to ABS systems on motorcycles, cars, trucks, airplanes and even locomotives.

 

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pms07
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   Posted 5/3/2005 10:28 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
YellowDuck said...

One thing I like to advocate is that people should practice maximum effort braking from the highest speeds as at which they would normally ride. If you regularly explore 100 mph+, you should be confident braking hard from that speed. How many people ever do that? Doing a great, efficient stop from 25 mph in a parking lot is one thing. Having to haul it down quick from 80 mph with the front tire howling is quite another. It takes balls. Another good reason to do it is that it helps you realize just how dramatically stopping distances increase with speed - approximately FOUR times the stopping distance required if you double your speed. Maybe more if you haven't practiced.

YD,
You know, that's a really great point and I hadn't thought about this in many years despite the fact that I practice hard stops (at fairly low speeds) kind of regularly.  I had my bike at 100 mph twice and over 105 mph once on Saturday checking out function/fit/noise on a new helmet (okay, it was an excuse to crank it up a bit...).  But I'll admit it's been a really long time since I hauled a big cruiser down to a dead stop fast from 70+mph, much less over 100...  You got me thinking this is another area I should practice routinely.  Thanks.
pms   
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YellowDuck
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   Posted 5/4/2005 9:09 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Just remember to look behind you before you do it. Then look behind you again. Then one more time just to be sure. I'm serious. You really don't want to do this with someone behind you on the road.


I can't complain...but sometimes I still do.
Life's been good to me so far.
 

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 5/5/2005 10:06 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Good point Yellow Duck. I love this stuff because it gives me a chance to prove that what the MSF teaches IS relative to real riding, if you take it for what it is worth.

Maximum braking on almost any motorcycle has the capability to exceed the braking capability of almost any car on the road, including the Ferraris, Porsches, MaClarens or whatever else you're able to enjoy. But that is dependent on the rider.

Also, recall in the MSF class how we always stressed VISIBILITY, both of being able to see around you and of making yourself seen. A motorcycle in traffic, even with a brake light, is still a slim vertical visual element that easily blends in and dissappears to other viewers, who may be paying attention or not. Because a motorcycle can slow and stop SO well, the following drivers may not sense it in time to react appropropriatley. Think of this, you're heading due west, late afternoon, sun is low and bright in the sky. You have to come to a quick stop almost in the shadown of the bus in your lane in front of you. To traffic behind you, all they "may" see is your tiny brake light, but the rest of you and your bike is a dark shadow. Also, because that light is so small, it doesn't change appreciably in size until the driver is too close to do much about it. 

So, unfortunately, it is up to us to watch our backs when braking hard. Remember, maintaining your "space cushion" applies anytime you are on your bike, and in every direction around you. It is up to you. Anytime you come to a stop, try to leave at least three bike lengths or more between you and whats in front of you. Then if you have to, and I did once, you have some space to manuever out of.

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OhioSteve
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   Posted 5/21/2005 7:50 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I am fairly new to motorcycling. I have 1800 miles on my GS500F. I am starting to ride more on the freeway now.

When I started riding, it seemed impossible to apply all four controls (clutch, shifter, front brake, rear brake) simultaneously. Finally I mastered that skill (at about 500 miles).

Unfortunately on the freeway that isn't enough. If you are travelling at 70mph and don't have a slipper clutch, then you must slow the bike somewhat before you start to downshift. Otherwise the rear wheel gets a bit loose. Its tough to remember to do that in an emergency. Its also tough to practice that skill. I can't practice stopping from 70mph in a parking lot. I try to practice it on Saturday and Sunday morning when the freeway is empty, and I am slowly getting better at it.
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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 5/21/2005 9:27 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

OhioSteve, that's great that you sense the need to practice, develop and improve on the skills that we long-term riders take for granted. For us just happens. But that is because we have ahd the opprtunity to devlop these skills over many miles (250,000+ for me). It takes seat time, but mostly it takes a willingness to continue learning about your riding.

It is tough though, to find areas where you can practice these skills without interfering with traffic flow or getting the attention of the police. If you ever have the chance to get some Track Days time, that is an excellent time to learn these skills in a controlled environment with professional instruction. Track time is not just for the racers. I know many riders that have never raced or never will race, but they still got a lot of good experience from some track time.

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OhioSteve
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   Posted 5/22/2005 4:47 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
How much does it cost to get onto a track? Mid-Ohio raceway is near me. Maybe I should call them.
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1Hawk
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   Posted 5/23/2005 2:14 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Motorcyclist Magazine has a great article on this subject in this months issue and it is well worth the read.  I agree with all and this is one aspect of riding that takes both time and practice.  We have two brakes and it is so true that many feel one is all that is ever needed.  So, when they do use the rear, they smash the pedal to the asphalt thus creating one very big problem.  Somebody should sticky Andy's post.............  Awesome!!!!!!

 

Hawk


In Nature, as in Society, most Creatures are Friendly.  The Secret, is Knowing those that are Not.  Therefore, Knowledge becomes the Key to Understanding.

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Andy VH
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   Posted 5/23/2005 7:57 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Most of the cycle magazines have some info in the back pages about track time programs, but check out Motorcyclist, Cycle World or Sport Rider. Of course another source would be the internet, try a Motorcycle Track Time search on your web browser. There are formal track time programs around the country, and some tracks (like Blackhawk Farms, near Rockford, IL) even have track days where you basically pay for laps in a structured non-racing environment, very inexpensive for the track time you get. Road America in Wisconsin has a number of track time days per year. Depending on the level of instruction track time can be only $50/day up to $450 for a weekend with professional/racing instructors.

1Hawk, thanks for the comment and support.

 

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RedDog
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   Posted 5/23/2005 8:30 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I love good brakes. That has saved pillion's and my butt several time. Me think it much more important to learn how to brake than accelerate ... And that's why I love Hyper Sport Bikes. They got the anchors - too.


RedDog
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1Hawk
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   Posted 5/23/2005 11:11 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
So true RD.....
 
 
Toward the end of Andy's original post, he mentions the distance that people followed other vehicles and how 80% of them followed to close.  Living in SoCal I can tell you this is fact, people in cages or riding bikes simply follow way to close and regardless of the vehicles braking potential, if you don't have the time to react or the distance to hazard required for the brakes to stop you in a safe and sane manner, somebody has a major malfunction.  The old wives tale says bikes stop faster and under the right conditions this might be argued however, when we consider how many people don't use the motorcycle braking system properly, I would bet against the bike making the mark.  Understanding the bikes braking potential and how any specific bike reacts to emergency braking scenarios is a fundamental necessity for newb and veteran alike. 
 
RD, I totally agree with you in that anybody can twist a grip and speed away, the problem occurs when the rider has to stop under conditions that were not anticipated when they decided to crank it up to warp speed.  So, from my point of view, forget speeding away until you can figure out how to properly stop the damn thing. Then, and only then, crank it up and have some fun.
 
Thanks again Andy.  Your post should be in the newb fact section, especially considering all the 40 and up folks that just got into bikes buying way more than they can handle.  I've started to see more folks out there with paper plates on bikes they have no business being on; like the two kids at Starbuck's I talked to the other night. They had two brand new 600 Katanas and no license or permit.  They were riding after dark as well.  I can see our insurance rates going up now........
 
 
Hawk 


In Nature, as in Society, most Creatures are Friendly.  The Secret, is Knowing those that are Not.  Therefore, Knowledge becomes the Key to Understanding.

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