How to Brake on a Motorcycle

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Tips On How To Apply Brakes On A Motorcycle For A Smooth Deceleration

Experts suggest that smoothly applying brakes on a motorcycle is all about muscle memory and practice. You get to know about the right amount of braking force required, only when you ride often. Some people find it difficult to use the front and rear brakes together. Others are too scared to apply force, fearing that the wheels will get locked, resulting in skidding. We shall address all these issues in this article to help you learn how to brake on a motorcycle.

Physics Involved In Braking

Inertia plays an important role in applying brakes on a motorcycle. The motorcycle continues to be in motion unless the rider applies an unbalanced force on it. The unbalanced force comes from the pressure that the rider applies on the brake lever, by altering the weight distribution and the center of gravity’s position. Moreover, the friction force existing between the tires and the road, and the direction in which both tires are moving, also contribute to the unbalanced force. In different types of breaks, this unbalanced force is applied in various ways.

Types Of Breaks

The type of brakes installed in the motorcycle influence the braking mechanism greatly. There are three types of breaks commonly found in motorcycles:

1. Drum Brakes

Drum brakes are the conventional brakes found in old dirt bikes. These brakes make use of obsolete technology to stop the motorcycle. The only benefit of these brakes is that one does not need to change the fluid to keep them in good condition. However, drum brakes do not have any outlet for heat. Motorcycle brakes work efficiently, only when they have a good mechanism to disperse heat.

The increasing friction between the tires and the road surface produces a lot of heat when you apply brakes. If this heat does escape properly, the braking power starts to decline. Thus, it is advisable to get it repaired very frequently.

2. Disc Brakes

The disc brakes are better than conventional drum brakes in two ways. Firstly, the discs are present in the open and have special holes called the petals, to let the heat disperse out.

Moreover, the disc brakes have a higher number of pistons attached to the calipers, so that a larger braking force can be applied.

The rotor disc rotates with the wheels and is attached to the calipers through brake pads. Earlier, there were only mechanical disc brakes, which worked with the help of cables. Now touring bikes have a different type of disc brake that uses hydraulic valves.

3. Combined And Anti-lock Braking Systems

As disc brakes have a higher number of pistons, sometimes it becomes difficult to control the braking force. It leads to the locking of the wheels. Even the best motorcycle tires can skid in this situation. An anti-lock braking system is useful to control the force transferred through the calipers. The anti-lock braking system uses an electronic control unit to regulate the braking force. These braking systems can be installed additionally to the conventional motorcycle braking circuits.

Some motorcycles have a new type of braking circuit called the combined braking system. In a combined braking system, the brakes applied on the front tires stop the back tires, as well.

What To Remember While Braking

When you press the brake lever and the motorcycle starts slowing down, there are two things that you should always do.

First, you should always pull the clutch in, so that the power supply to the tires gets cut while the engine remains working. It is crucial to prevent the breaking circuit from stopping suddenly.

Secondly, you should always tap on the shifter of the motorcycle. It helps in braking on the motorcycle without worrying about the gear in which you are riding the bike. However, if you want to start the motorcycle instantly after coming to a halt, it should be in the first gear.

Applying the Front Brakes

Ideally, the overall braking mechanism derives 70% of its power from the front brakes. It can be higher in some instances. Generally, people use the front brakes to stop the motorcycle. You can also use it for emergency braking. Moreover, to apply the front brakes, you must squeeze the brake very gently and gradually. If you suddenly apply too much force, the tire will get locked up, and the bike will start skidding.

To avoid this, many people prefer using the rear brakes only. However, if you only use the rear brakes, you will utilize only a tiny fraction of the braking force, which may not be sufficient to stop the bike in all cases.

If you squeeze the front brake with the right amount of force, you won’t even need to transfer your body weight, and the bike will stop smoothly.

Applying the Rear Brakes

The function of the rear brakes is to decelerate the bike, and not to stop it completely. While there are other applications of the rear brakes, beginners should not rely on these brakes too much, as it is difficult to control them.

Moreover, in an emergency, do not use the rear brakes to halt. The front brakes are strong enough to stop the motorcycle. If you apply sudden force on the rear brakes, the chances of the rear wheel skidding are higher than the front wheel.

If the rear wheel locks up after abruptly applying the brakes, you should try to gradually release them. This is because the bike will go from zero momentum to a very high momentum within seconds if you do so.


It isn’t easy to apply brakes on a motorcycle without understanding them and how they work. There are different techniques to apply force on the brakes. To understand when to use more power, and when extra force becomes a contraindication is, crucial. Thus, in this article, we have taught you how to break on a motorcycle.

Applying brakes most efficiently is important for the rider’s safety, and it keeps the motorcycle batteries healthy. It is also essential to be aware of your riding habits to apply brakes smoothly. All in all, if you practice enough, you can master the art of using brakes forever.

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Nathan Olvera

Nathan Olvera

Nathan was born and raised in Nevada where he spent some of his earliest days cycling around the neighborhood and gradually developed a great deal of love for motorbikes.
Nathan Olvera

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