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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 10/26/2007 1:49 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
I actually posted this back in June, in the Motorcycle Safety forum. I had a recent discussion with some HD riders and I thought this might be a good repeat post in the Cruisers Forum. So here ya go. I taught an ERC (Experienced Rider Course) last June, in which I had four Harley riders in the group. Three were on HD-FLHs with floorboards and the typical car-like raised rear brake pedal, and one was on a V-Rod with the extreme forward foot controls.
 
During pratically every stop exercise all four of them would lock up the rear wheel, consistently. This was especially evident during the quick stop exercise, every one of them SIGNIFICANTLY locked the rear wheel on every stop. I think the problem is two fold. One, the floorboard/brake pedal combination promotes lifting the foot off the floorboard and placing the ball of the foot/boot onto the pedal. Two, all four of them were not adequately using the front brake, easily evident that I hardly saw any compression of the front forks. One rider did use the front brake a bit more and it was evident he had a good deal of riding experience by his confidence of riding the bike, but he STILL was locking the rear tire (he had earlier told me he'd been riding for over 30 years). So I coached their braking technique this way:
 
1) Keep the heel of your boot on the floorboard, and apply the rear brake with the heel still on the floorboard, always. This minimizes the amount of rear brake pedal pressure you can apply.
2) Try to use more of your boot nearer the toes rather than just with the ball of the foot. This gives better control by using the smaller ankle and foot muscles, not the larger leg muscles. It gives your that higher braking effort feedback at your boot without over-powering the brake application.
3) Apply the front brake to initiate forward weight transfer, but then learn to SQUEEZE the front brake progressively, and continually quicker and harder as the bike continues to slow. USE THAT FRONT BRAKE!! You have the advantage of a long wheelbase bike, low CG, wide large contact patch tires, you CAN apply a LOT of front brake. On most every bike I have brake tested in high effort stops I can almost get the lever to the grip by the end of the stop.
4) As the weight transfers forward, decrease rear brake pressure to minimize rear wheel lockup.
    Get used to that front weight transfer and fork compression, so the bike just "squats down".
 
By using these techniques, all of the HD riders were able to stop their bikes in a much shorter distance, with almost NO rear wheel lockup. Granted, this was only at 25 mph, but the technique still applies at higher speeds. But that also means it has to be practiced at speeds like 45 mph. Also, the other bikes in the group were two BMW K1200LTs, the largest BMW made, which also feature ABS and power linked brakes. After more practice, the HD riders were almost matching the BMWs for braking distance, including one gal on her Softail that obviously was very tentative about riding her bike when she first came in.
 
The challenge with floorboards and raised rear brake pedals; is that if you use the ball of your boot on the pedal with your heel off the floorboard, your brake application uses all the large leg muscles along with near full leg weight on the pedal. This makes it VERY difficult to modulate that rear brake with any finesse. I think given the HUGE popularity of Harley's, and the wrong braking techniques I see, it accounts for MANY of the results of bike crashes where the rider looses control. You HD motor-cops out there, speak up if I am wrong!
 
For those of you with HDs and floorboards and metric cruisers with floorboards and a raised brake pedal, try these techniques and you'll be surprised by the better rear brake control you'll gain. But, that means you HAVE to practice your braking, especially at getting proficient at using the front brake. You are not harming your bike in ANY way to practice and master high-effort braking skills. In fact, it could well help you avoud totalling your bike and yourself.  Enjoy the RIde!



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Post Edited (Andy VH) : 11/2/2007 2:22:08 PM GMT

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mrlimeysteve
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   Posted 10/31/2007 6:16 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
very good info, dude!!!!
i ride with a lot (mostly) HD folks and ive seen a couple of examples of this that ended in bent chrome, gouged paint and mild road rash... these examples were from long time riders who, by all other standards, were good riders. i never knew why they were doing the rear-brake-lockup-thing until now...
now i have a way to explain it to them!!!
btw i have 37 yrs experience on motos and have 5 mrc's and am an ex instuctor. thanks again...
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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 11/2/2007 7:59 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
You're very welcome, hope it helps get the point across to more riders, and gives them better control of their bikes. I really thought this post would get more reactions, but yours is the first.


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
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Mac_Muz
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   Posted 11/2/2007 5:41 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Good thinkin Andy.... I read and replied over there long ago, but just the same this belongs here too!
 
Congrats! 1st sticky in C&C....


So many bikes, and so little memory
Ossipee New Hampster "Eat Seeds or Die"
 
 

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 11/2/2007 6:39 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Whoooo hooo I got a sticky, I got a sticky, nah, nah, nah, naaahhhh, nah.

Wait a minute, that doesn't sound good, braggin' about a sticky.


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
Get MSF trained, check out: http://www.msf-usa.org

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texrider
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   Posted 11/2/2007 6:50 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Or, just buy one of those shiny VTX 1800's with the linked braking system.

Be a sight cheaper than paying what HD wants for their ABS equipped models.

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 11/4/2007 8:37 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
The potential problem with linked brakes, I feel, is a dependance on the rear brake pedal. Most all linked brake systems use only a portion of the bike's front brakes when the rear brake pedal is pressed. These days it is very common for cruiser style bikes to have multi-piston front brake calipers, such as calipers with two or three pistons per caliper. On the linked brake function, when the rear brake pedal is pressed, usually only one piston of each front brake is applied, no matter how hard the rear brake pedal is applied.

So if the rider only uses the rear brake pedal, or never fully develops the capability to really use the front brake, that rear brake dependancy limits the amount of braking capability in an emergency stop. And ABS will do nothing at that point to reduce the stopping distance if the front brakes are underutilized. Proper full use of the front brake is a skill EVERY rider should practice and master. And with that should be proper skilled use of the rear brake. In a panic or emergency stop, that means using ALL the front brake that traction will allow, and limiting use of the rear brake to maintain bike stability.

So even a bike with linked brakes still needs proper braking skills by the rider. ABS in this case will help overcome improper braking action, or for that matter sloppy/unskilled braking action, which it really is in my book. But then, ABS is only meant to assist the rider, no rider should become dependant upon it, cause what if the ABS quits?


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
Get MSF trained, check out: http://www.msf-usa.org

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texrider
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   Posted 11/6/2007 9:41 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Some very good advise there. When I ride my linked VTX, I use a delay technique on the front brake application. This motion comes naturally, because I can feel what the rear pedal has done with the fronts, at any given time. So, I simply modulate my use of the lever in an appropriate manner.

I agree, there is no substitute for experience when handling large bikes. I find the linking to be a welcome helper, that improves my overall level of riding safety.
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jboland
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   Posted 11/28/2007 3:43 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Interesting post. I just finished the ERC myself and I was locking the rear brake like crazy on my Sportster during the max braking exercise, which sort of suprised me because I never thought of my Sporty as having particularly powerful brakes. But anyway, the instructor told me to press with my big toe instead of the ball of my foot and that improved my stops tremendously. The ERC is great and definitely convinced me of the need for continual practice.
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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 4/28/2008 2:22 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Everyone has their preferred method of brake application. Many times I have heard of the "apply the rear brake first and then the front". While that is workable, for most general braking applications it makes no difference. However, for a rider who has this process ingrained into their motor skills such that it always happens, the slight delay of the front brake application could have dire results in an emergency braking situation.

Think of it this way. You are riding at 60 mph (that equals 88 feet second) and need to brake quickly and with high effort in order to stop in time cause a Buick suddenly pulled out in your lane from the right. Conditions require that your only option is a hard straight line stop. You are 200 feet from the Buick when you first sense the threat. Normal reaction time to recognize the threat and actually apply braking is almost 1/2 second. So, 200 feet minus 44 feet, now you have only 156 feet between you and the Buick. A good high effort stop on many cruiser style bikes is about 140 feet. So say you are really practiced at high effort braking on your FLH, you apply BOTH brakes AT THE SAME TIME and squeeze the brakes on quickly with progressively higher effort (NO rear wheel lockup/slide), and you manage to stop the bike in 149 feet, seven feet to the good. Everyone shakes it off, you nod a brief but stern "Ok I made it" to the blue hair in the Buick. She realizes her mistake and hopefully remembers to actually LOOK for motorcycles before pulling out.

Now, if your braking habit was to slightly delay the front brake after you applied the rear brake, the results may be quite worse.
Same conditions, 60 mph initial speed, 200 feet to Buick fender garnish. Your initial braking reaction time is about the same but some distance is used up because the bike isn't at FULL braking potential for another ten feet. Note too, that ten feet took only 1/8 of a second delay to use up. Is your "delay time THAT QUICK? Now, even though you are finally applying both brakes with quickly progressive increasing effort, and NO rear wheel lockup, your stop will STILL exceed the "meet the Buick fender" distance BY AT LEAST THREE FEET! That three feet includes a lot of pain and damage.

Because of this type of scenario, I recommend everyone get used to using BOTH brakes at the SAME TIME for most all of your stops. Especially for those high-effort stops that you really do practice. You DO practice high effort stops, right?


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
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5th Wave
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   Posted 7/2/2008 11:41 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Very well stated material on a core riding issue: Braking and accident avoidance proceduring!

Recently matured my own riding style to permanently incorporate both braking techniques, as you wisely recommend: Always use BOTH brakes! Because when in trouble, we revert to habit. Period!

Since feedback from accident reports continues to zero in on the lack of "avoidance" techniques by affected riders, this advice is timely, and should become the standard mandated procedure!

A related issue I bring personally to the table in discussing this topic, is to additionally raise the behavioral sciences issue, of eye focus during braking: We GO in the direction of our "look!" This remains an under-studied phenomenon in humans because only we have detected it in motorcycling, in a sense, we have discovered its presence in the eye-hand-coordination human response to motorcycle steering. It actually trashes a core point of philosophy: "Reason"stops; our eyes take over! nono So, if we don't also learn to "look" in the direction of safety (for steering and ultimate locale positioning of our steer) when coming to a stop, be it a normal stop or an evasive maneuver, then in an accident situation we will as always, tend to revert to "habit" and not help ourselves avoid an accident!

Anyway, not sure if I've summarized it properly, but I hope you get the general meaning and take it from there!turn

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Budoka
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   Posted 7/15/2009 2:38 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.

Good point about the linked brake system actuating only a small portion of the front brake potential. But with Honda's system that first appeared on the '84 GL models, they stated that the system was most effective when used in conjunction with the front brake lever to attain maximum stopping power. The same still applies with today's systems. We all know (at least we should) that nearly 90% of our whoa comes from the front binder and that the rear is supplemental braking. 

I had a hair raiser on my '84 GL in BC about 20 years ago. I crested a hill at night on hwy 93 and all I saw was pairs of yellow everywhere...a whole herd of deer on the road. I was two-up pulling our Tiny Mite trailer. As fast as my reaction time allowed I hammered hard on both brakes (hard enough that the deceleration caused my wife's helmet to take a paint chip out of the back of mine) and the whole machine hunkered down and came to a complete halt before striking any of the beasts. No lock-up, no fishtailing of the trailer, nothing. Naturally I got a loud WTF from my significant other, but when she saw about 20 deer running for the trees she quickly apologized. Other than a highly increased heart rate, there was no drama at all.  

I have repeated the exercise many times after that as practice only to have the same predictable result, and have done that every spring since as a tune-up along with my other skills practice. The only bikes I've had that were too easy to lock the rear wheel with were my Dyna, Virago, and Vulcan. Interestingly just my cruisers were hard to modulate the rear end. My '85 Interceptor and my '07 non-ABS ST1300 (both had remarkable brakes) were never a lock-up issue. Now that I'm on the '09 GL with linked ABS I find it stops even better than the '84 thanks to today's technology.  


Same road, same wind in your face!

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 8/13/2009 8:17 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thanks for the input Budoka, especially for the comment about how your bikes with the car style brake pedal and floorboards where more difficult to modulate the rear brake. Exactly the point I was trying to make.

Good on you too, that you practice your high effort braking skills. When the moment occurs, is not the time to realize you don't know how to control close to a 1,000 pounds of machine that can fall over very easily if not done right!


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
Get MSF trained, check out: http://www.msf-usa.org

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freezeradio
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   Posted 9/2/2009 3:09 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
My Vulcan 900 has a pedal .I use the front way more than the rear . I use them at the same time. I will see how I am useing rear as of the way you discribed .I think I use the toes with the heal on floarboard. It seams natural.
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mjdart
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   Posted 10/31/2009 4:53 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
That's really helpful advice. I'm making a real concious effort to evenly brake and I was lifting my foot off the floorboard and with the  potent Brembo Brakes I was experiencing some lock-up. I'll cange my technique to match your recommendation.


2009 Indian Chief Vintage #31

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 10/31/2009 6:15 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Thanks for your input, I hope it helps you improve one of THE most important cycle riding skills, which is very accurate and skilled brake control.

I really do think that in crashes involving Harleys, and any cruiser style bikes with floorboards and car-like brake pedals for that matter, that improper (and very common) use of the rear brake is a huge contributor.

I see it this way. HDs and cruisers are VERY popular. But of the many bike styles, I'd guess they are largely the style of bike with fewest average miles per year. Also, again because they are very popular, means that more riders with little real experience ride them. And most of those riders are those that don't regularly practice good braking skills. Those factors, along with the setup of floorboards and car-like rear brake, make for a LOT of lost control because the rear tire locks up and the rider looses control and stability. Then we hear BS like "I hadda lay er down!"


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Harley Davidson
98 Harley Davidson Dyna Wide Glide, 2004 Roadking



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   Posted 11/6/2009 9:11 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
The car type brake pedal on the Harleys with floorboards can definately get one in trouble. What I have noticed on my roadking when I still had that setup, was in a quick breaking siduation, even with my heel still on the floorboard, my weight would shift, and I would end up pushing on the break harder then I wanted to. This is another reason I got rid off that set up and went with my own version of brake pedal and footpeg. 



 
     


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Larry Huston
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   Posted 7/14/2010 5:44 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
Rear braking on a Suzuki C-50, 2009 with floor boards, 1500 miles. I have been a rider for 40 years, I've never wrecked a road bike. I almost did today, riding my wife's Suzuki C-50 while entering a tight right corner on dry pavement, rural road. I was riding about 25 mph and the corner just appeared from the shadows. Had I been riding my VTX-1800 I would have had no trouble with braking. But the 800 has biased tires and an elevated foot rear brake pad. I applied pressure to the rear brake and slowed with front brake in hand. Suddenly the rear tire locked while I was deep into the corner, causing a side spin that about dumped me. I released the rear brake and almost went to the high side, before leaving the road ending up in a plowed field up right. Mind you my speed just before leaving the road was under ten mph (estimated)

This is the second or third time I have had rear wheel tire skid on this bike. The rear brake appears to work fine, then suddenly locks the rear wheel up causing the tire to skid and jump off the ground. Mechanically the bike is brand new in every way and has never been ridden hard. I read with interest what Andy wrote and totally agree with his comments about floor boards, elevated brake pedal and pressure applied evenly. I wonder however if this particular motorcycle i.e. Suzuki C-50 has a faulty brake system and asking for comments from anyone familiar with this particular motorcycle in regards to rear wheel lock up. Under very normal riding conditions with anticipated stops, there has never been a problem with lockup and I have inspected the linkage, brake assembly and all appears to be in super shape. My VTX has been tested several times for hard stops and I've never had an issue with wheel hop or locking brakes. Is it me? The tires, the brakes, or a combination of me, tires, brakes and machine?
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PowerG
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   Posted 7/14/2010 6:34 PM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
It could be locking up under constant pedal pressure due to weight transfer, as more weight gets on the front the rear will try to lock up if you don't let off a little. Could have also been something with the road surface itself.

I switch bikes quite a bit, and it takes me a little bit to get back into the groove on each particular bike. Both of my bikes have floorboards. For me, it works better to back off the adjustment a little, I have to really bear down to lock up the rear tire on either bike.


2007 V-Star 1300 

Post Edited (PowerG) : 7/15/2010 1:37:07 AM GMT

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Andy VH
Where is the earth shattering kaboom!?



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   Posted 7/15/2010 6:17 AM (GMT -7)    Quote This PostAlert An Admin About This Post.
What PowerG says is very true, as does Harley Davidson. During braking, especially hard braking, weight transfer forward can cause the rider to move forward too. Or, at least the feet and leg wieght of the rider moves forward, adding force onto the brake pedal. If the bike has a fairly flat seat, the rider will slide forward during braking, or even just the lower portion of the body, from the hips down, and this could easily apply more braking pedal force even when the rider tries to minimize that action. If the rider is good at using the front brake (and with many cruiser style bikes the front suspension is fairly soft), a lot of front end dive will cause the rider weight to shift forward more, again applying more rear brake action. This is an example why it is critical to practice braking, and get very efficient with BOTH brakes. Using the right amount of rear brake in balance with the front minimizes front end dive. When a rider claims "I only use the front brake!" you also have to consider what he/she is riding to determine why that claim is made.

On a bike with footpegs, especially forward pegs like HD shows on his bike, that action is limited because the boot on the peg cannot continue to move forward during braking. I have seen a LOT of cruisers with floorboards set up so the boards are very slightly angled up. So during braking, it would be very difficult to hold your boot in position while applying the brakes, just because the boots would naturally want to slide forward on the boards. So the setup of the boards to the controls is also critical for good control. The board position should allow for easy operation of the brake without ever having to lift your heel off the board. But the angle of the board should also be such that your foot doesn't slide up during heavy braking. Have to be careful here too, because too much angle on the boards means your boots will slide down on them all the time, or they'll ahng down so low that they'll drag too easily in corners.

These are some of the reasons I don't like floorboards on bikes, too many compromises of good control. But to each their own. Just make sure the setup of your floorboards are optimized for good control and not just good comfort. Get the right angle on the floorboard, get the right height of the brake pedal above the floorboard, because both of these factors determine the leverage control on the brake pedal and the resultant force applied.

As far as what Larry describes, it could also be the whole rear brake system itself, and how the brake system is operated. Some bikes have very linear brake systems, meaning the brake feel/response is very consistent as more pedal pressure is applied. On some bikes, due to lever angles and linkage setups, the "gain" on feel/response is not linear and the brake force achieved per application force goes up too quickly. Again, this may relate to how the floorboards are set up relative to the actual brake lever action, which is the first place I'd look. May need to have a rider on the bike operating the brake, and then also look at the mechanical action of the leg, foot, pedal, lever as the brake is applied to see where the "over braking" action starts. Then adjust the floorboard position/angle as needed to get the result needed.

As simple as floorboards are, there is a LOT to consider in setting them up right.


Training, the best safety and performance "equipment" you can get!
Get MSF trained, check out: http://www.msf-usa.org
 

Post Edited (Andy VH) : 7/15/2010 1:34:32 PM GMT

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