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When to Use Rear Brake Only?

49190 Views 196 Replies 49 Participants Last post by  The_AirHawk
The heavier the bike and the lower teh center of gravity, the more rear brake can be used. Also, with a passenger, more rear brakes can be used for smoother stopping and less front end dive.

A good rule... the engineers aren't stupid, the size fo the brake is a good indicator of how hard it should be used. I beleive the rear brake surface area is less than 20% of the total braking surface.

When do I use only rear brake. At low speeds when trying to reduce the effects drivetrash lash at small throttle positions. I also mostly rear brake at low speed turns where the front brake can be grabby causing a loss of balance. Finally on loose surfaces I will favor the rear. For one reason, the rear tire is wider and therefore easier to control when sliding that the narrower front wheel.

For emergency stopping (I hate the term "panic stop". You never, ever panic on 2 wheels.) ... it's ALL front brake. Engine braking provides plenty of rear braking force... especailly on my BMW twin.
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"The heavier the bike and the lower teh center of gravity" wrong. The center of gravity refers to the way the weight is distributed. A bike could be top heavy thus have a higher center of gravity. In a emergency stop use both brakes.
And as socko here is an expert, all should listen to IT
Re: Wrong

Socko, re-read the first sentence. Then STFU on things you know nothing about.
kpaul crack pot braking theories.

Great Topic.

Yes I find that I can use the rear in a down hill curve (my favorite corkscrew) to settle the bike. MSF guys are right, you should use both brakes in an emergency stop. I am sure we are going to hear a lot old wives' tales from the GPTB now. I would love to have Matt Mladin comment on this topic. I saw an interview where he said the whole lean off the bike thing was not needed as much as in the old Kenny Robert days when the bikes and tires were crap. After that I started watching him after that. I noticed that him and Jamie Hacking didn't hang off as much as the backmarkers. It allowed them to get the back upright faster and get the gas back on...In addition the whole trailbraking front brake thing may be more of style rather than necessity. Troy Corser doesn't use it..He brakes then turns.. Sometimes I think motorcyclist are the most illogical folks in way. Sometimes I even use the back brake when I down shift and blip the throttle. Rather than to muck with the front brake.

I think I need to go to Freddy's or Keith Code school though ... Since I have developed my own style...
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Re: Wrong

OK good point but weight by itself has nothing to do if I should use the back brake or not It's the distribution of weight of the bike. Also the heaver the bike the more stopping power is needed and in general heaver bikes and cars stop at longer distances than lighter bikes and cars. Please practice using both brakes. MSF says it's the fastest way to stop
Re: Wrong

The MSF is never wrong; never has been, never will be.


Not even a little bit.
Re: Wrong

Re: Wrong

I give you are right (kpaul rolls eyes)...Go do an experiment in a parking lot. Try both techniques..
In loose relatively deep gravel, getting on the front has always met with less than ideal results for me. the back alone is better in that bad situation in my experience. the back brake can be used to stabilize the bike a tad starting a wheelie. and i use it on hills at stop lights. otherwise i could do without a rear brake. i've never ridden or owned a cruiser but it seems to me with so much more weight on the rear, the rear brake might be more effective. but i don't know and i have no current plans to find out, unless a goldwing qualifies as a cruiser.

oh and if your fronts don't work because your pads dropped out because when you changed the pads you forgot to put the retainer in like an idiot, or if a tankslapper backs the pads into the caliper and your so freaked you forget to pump them back up, the back brake might keep you from dying. or at least give you something to stand on while you're having a bad time of it.

Re: kpaul crack pot braking theories.


Code and company will tell you to lay off the rear brake, in track situations. the reasons being

you don't have nearly as much feel with your foot as your hand

you have a minimum of 80% of the stopping power in the front brake

you probably want to transfer more weight to the front for cornerning

If you're stopping hard the rear tire will have little to no weight on it, locking it up becomes easy, unlocking without crashing is difficult

All that being said, in most street situations both brakes are fine. Cruisers (re long bikes with lots of rake) don't change weight bias as much during braking so the rear brake is more useful there also.But again, you have roughly 80% of your brakes in the front, I'd use those first.

The only time I favor the rear brake is when its raining and I'm crossing painted lines or some other slippery goo.

As to leaning off, it allows higher corner speed with less lean angle meaning more traction for accelerating/braking. I'd agree that modern suspension and tires take a lot of it out of the game, but those MotoGP boys tend to hang off, and they're the fastest out there.
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Re: Wrong

Dang it Hawk, there you go. Not reading between the lines again.

How could you have missed the part about the dynamic instability of sub-sonic ash trays and the subsequent relevant application for the interpretations of COG moments of force in at least one hypothetical conveyence?

Publish or perish: the kook philosophy that M O engenders.

Nothing to do with facts or knowledge.
Re: kpaul crack pot braking theories.

Thanks Great Response. Makes sense. Like I said I probably need to go to a track school because I am developing some bad habits. Thanks again
Re: Wrong

LOL good one. Yep I thought I had a live one till kchicken told me to reread the first sentence. Oh will I think I all the fish have been fished out of the barrel.
Re: kpaul crack pot braking theories.

like your grammar skills...

"After that I started watching him after that."

Re: Wrong

"Yep I thought I had a live one"

That makes you about 0-for-30 on "gotchas."

"Oh will I think I all the fish have been fished out of the barrel."

kpaul dodge #6. And it's hilarious when you read it out loud word-by-word.
Re: Wrong

"This is a motorcycle site dude.. We are talking about motorcycles you know they have 2 wheels, ..."

ksushi, the above quote was posted on a previous thread and I wanted to bring it to your attention. I noticed you referenced 'cars' above and didn't want you to come under attack from the person who thinks we should not ever talk about anything but 2-wheeled vehicles here. Just an FYI. You are welcome.
This thread's going to be a hoot when Buz, seru and longride wake up. Even better if Sean makes an appearance.

Who wants popcorn?

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