FRONT BRAKES?

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@thesighbored
Jan 18, 2015
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I ride a
2012 Kawasaki ZX-6R
I definitely feel where you are coming from, I guess I was just being extra cautious on the few rides I took it out on when only using rear brakes, I would just let off well before the stop signs and what not. Also it’s a pretty light weight bike, pretty much a street legal dirt bike so maybe that helped my case idk.
I have been practicing now a little bit yesterday and today and feel a lot more comfortable using the front brakes, I definitely still need to do more practice in an open lot though.
I typically use 3 fingers on the clutch and front brakes I’ve noticed. It feels comfortable enough, I’ma smaller guy so I think it'd feel awkward with only 2.
But I definitely appreciate the advice!
Your size doesn't really effect the number of fingers you use for the brake, for the clutch some bikes may have a heavier clutch and need more fingers, but generally the front brake, just 2 would be more than enough get the bike to stop hard, you can try 2 finger squeezing hard on the front (while you practice) and you should be able to see just how hard you can stop with just 2 fingers.

Having a light bike, and light rider (since you mention you are small) means you need less force to get that bike to stop using the front brake.

With more practice you'll sure to get the hang of it.

Ride safe safe ride!
 

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@thesighbored
Jan 18, 2015
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I kinda disagree with that. A lot of this would vary based on hand size/brake lever. For a street bike I believe you have more control if you grip it with all four fingers. It might take more self control, but it gives you more control. In my experience on my bike I've panic emergency stopped using four fingers multiples times and never grabbed the front brake too hard. I have however failed to brake hard enough when using 1 or 2 fingers multiple times, either because my other fingers got in the way of the brake or just not getting a good enough grip on it. I don't have much experience on dirt, but from BMXing I know that the two finger rule applies more since you need to always maintain grip on the bar when jumping and such and if you have your whole hand on the brake your body weight coming down on it may make you accidentally squeeze the brake. So, it just depends on what you're doing and how the bike fits you IMO.
May I know what type of motorcycle you ride? If you use 4 fingers for a performance/sports motorcycle the chances to lock/flip it would be quite high. I guess it comes down to the braking power of the motorcycle. More motorcycles have adjustable levers, you can adjust it so that they start working at the initial pull, and lever will never need to reach your other fingers on the bar even on hard braking (the bike would have probably lock/flip before the lever touches those fingers). I am curious as to how to perform rev-matching down-shifts while applying the brake if using the four fingers braking.

But anyway I guess it also comes down to each person's preference on how they feel the most comfortable using the brakes.
 
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ebiter76

Wannabie Member
May 3, 2020
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Your size doesn't really effect the number of fingers you use for the brake, for the clutch some bikes may have a heavier clutch and need more fingers, but generally the front brake, just 2 would be more than enough get the bike to stop hard, you can try 2 finger squeezing hard on the front (while you practice) and you should be able to see just how hard you can stop with just 2 fingers.

Having a light bike, and light rider (since you mention you are small) means you need less force to get that bike to stop using the front brake.

With more practice you'll sure to get the hang of it.

Ride safe safe ride!
I actually noticed the next day after I posted last, for the front brakes I actually do use just 2 fingers! It is actually really comfortable for me still.
 

motosera

Weirdo, mosher, freak
Jun 4, 2020
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If you don't think you need to use the front brake, or are scared to then I politely suggest you get some more training.... I'm not trying to be rude, but please seek out some additional training - either formal or with an experienced friend who rides. Not only will it improve your confidence but also make you a safer rider.

As others have rightly pointed out, the front brake has 70% (or more) of the actual stopping power on the bike. It takes quite a lot of abuse to get the front wheel of a bike to lock up on dry asphalt, most will lift the rear wheel off the ground quite easily before the wheel locks.
 

LandyVlad

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Jun 8, 2020
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OP may I highly recommend a YouTube channel called MC Rider - he has many excellent videos on riding techniques including excellent ones on braking etc.

I've been riding since, umm, 1987 and I still watch instructional videos - there always something more to learn.

If you use 4 fingers for a performance/sports motorcycle the chances to lock/flip it would be quite high. I guess it comes down to the braking power of the motorcycle.
Umm, no. It's entirely to do with how hard / quickly you pull the brake lever and nothing whatsoever to do with how many fingers you do it with. You know his to be true, young Jedi :)
 

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@thesighbored
Jan 18, 2015
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....
Umm, no. It's entirely to do with how hard / quickly you pull the brake lever and nothing whatsoever to do with how many fingers you do it with. You know his to be true, young Jedi :)
When you are in an emergency and panic braking, you won't have time to regulate and just grab hard instinctively because you don't want to crash, so if you are used to using 4 fingers, you will grab hard with 4 fingers in an emergency as a natural emergency reaction.
 

LandyVlad

Wannabie Member
Jun 8, 2020
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When you are in an emergency and panic braking, you won't have time to regulate and just grab hard instinctively because you don't want to crash, so if you are used to using 4 fingers, you will grab hard with 4 fingers in an emergency as a natural emergency reaction.
Well that's a valid point. If you have a bike with super sensitive and very powerful brakes that'd probably be an issue.

I know my own bike and 4 works for me.

In any event one thing it highlights is the need to practice emergency braking and get it right.
A practiced rider is a better rider.
 

TMackie

Wannabie Member
Jun 12, 2020
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So. Front brakes pretty much terrify me. How necessary is it to use front brakes on a day to day basis for you guys? I've just started riding recently and as of now I really just make like a 5 minute ride back and forth to work, and I literally never touch them. I pretty much just always imagine myself going over the bars. lol Any advice or pointers would definitely be much appreciated. I've read to kinda start with the back brake then slightly use the front, like go 10% to 20% and so forth until you're at a full stop, but I still can't bring myself to decide when to use the front brake or if it's even necessary most of the time.
I only use my front brake in an emergency stop, but in an emergency stop the front brake is the most important . The minute I see and emergency I pull the clutch, front brake, rear brake and rapidly tap the shifter to 1st gear. Immediately upon stopping I shoulder check to ensure that the vehicle behind me got stopped, if not I am already in 1st gear and ready to lurch ahead to avoid a rearend collision.
 

HippoDrone

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Jan 2, 2017
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I'd suggest not holding the clutch in, in an emergency either leave it in the gear you are in with the clutch out so you get some engine braking and can fully concentrate on braking, or use the gears to slow the rear down by changing down as you slow, but you need to let the clutch out each gear change else it will not help you slow down. Just remaining in the gear you started out in is easier. It is an emergency after all so stopping is more important than the inconvenience of being in top gear at a standstill. Def a good plan to do a life saver after having stopped though.
I'd also advise you to use your front brake as much as, if not more than the rear in every day riding, but how you ride is your business at the end of the day! :)
 

motosera

Weirdo, mosher, freak
Jun 4, 2020
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I'd suggest not holding the clutch in, in an emergency either leave it in the gear you are in with the clutch out so you get some engine braking and can fully concentrate on braking, or use the gears to slow the rear down by changing down as you slow, but you need to let the clutch out each gear change else it will not help you slow down. Just remaining in the gear you started out in is easier. It is an emergency after all so stopping is more important than the inconvenience of being in top gear at a standstill. Def a good plan to do a life saver after having stopped though.
I'd also advise you to use your front brake as much as, if not more than the rear in every day riding, but how you ride is your business at the end of the day! :)
Absolutely right. In fact, when I did my test 10 years ago (UK) the emergency stop procedure taught at the time was to leave the clutch engaged and only pull it in right at the last minute. It wasn't even a test fail if you stalled it during the emergency stop part of the test, because, as you rightly point out it's the stopping quickly part that matters. We must have done 20 or 30 emergency stops in both wet and dry in prep for my test. And it's come in handy once or twice on the road since.

As for other comments on 2 or 4 fingers... I'm a 4 finger girl :oops:. Yes it affords you more leverage, but also more control. If you are worried about applying too much braking force in an emergency due to having all 4 fingers on the lever then again it's riding style/skill/practice that needs work IMO. It really is amazing how hard you can pull on the front brake lever of most bikes before that wheel locks up. The only time I would recommend 2 fingers is off road or if you know the surface is bad.

Almost all bikes, on dry surface will allow enough front braking force to either lift or almost lift the rear wheel off the road, or reduce contact to the point where any application of rear brake will lock that wheel up unless you shift your weight on the bike.

Like I said before, practice and experiment (safely).

YMMV, ride how you please and feel free to ignore me, at the end of the day it's your bike, your riding style.
 

WEB

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Feb 14, 2020
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Every single motorcycle instructor has told me to use 4 fingers so you don’t get fingers jammed between the bar and the lever when you’re pulling the lever at the amount of pull that an emergency brake requires.

I only use the rear brake in car parks or tap them when entering a corner quickly to stabilise the bike
 
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Pooley

Wannabe tractor enthusiast
Nov 19, 2019
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@motosera hit the nail on the head. Done my uk test twice now (due to age) and both times the instructor gave those exact instructions.
 
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RideOnTwo

Smart Ass
Jun 14, 2019
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As for other comments on 2 or 4 fingers... I'm a 4 finger girl :oops:. Yes it affords you more leverage, but also more control. If you are worried about applying too much braking force in an emergency due to having all 4 fingers on the lever then again it's riding style/skill/practice that needs work IMO. It really is amazing how hard you can pull on the front brake lever of most bikes before that wheel locks up. The only time I would recommend 2 fingers is off road or if you know the surface is bad.
Four fingers is not proper technique. Preference or not, off road or on road. Your choice, but would you use both feet to apply brake in car?

more control? I have to disagree as you are removing your grip from the handlebars thus losing some control of your steering.

Four fingers stronger than two! Not all roads are perfectly flat and dry without some sort of dirt, oil, sand or cracks filled by tar. Four finger grip will apply more force and thus be more dangerous in emergency situations. Plus most four finger nrakers do not leave the fingers on the lever all of the time, split second of braking time lost to reach for it.

Also, check the next time you practice, you start to use two fingers and the others join as the lever comes in because the last 2 fingers can't reach around the lever as it angles away from the bars.

40 years experience on motorcycles, profesional - no, expert - probably not, still alive and no accidents - you bet!

Practice proper procedure for your safety, comfort will come in time from making it a habit. your life may depend on it!
 
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motosera

Weirdo, mosher, freak
Jun 4, 2020
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Four fingers is not proper technique. Preference or not, off road or on road. Your choice, but would you use both feet to apply brake in car?

more control? I have to disagree as you are removing your grip from the handlebars thus losing some control of your steering.

Four fingers stronger than two! Not all roads are perfectly flat and dry without some sort of dirt, oil, sand or cracks filled by tar. Four finger grip will apply more force and thus be more dangerous in emergency situations. Plus most four finger nrakers do not leave the fingers on the lever all of the time, split second of braking time lost to reach for it.

Also, check the next time you practice, you start to use two fingers and the others join as the lever comes in because the last 2 fingers can't reach around the lever as it angles away from the bars.

40 years experience on motorcycles, profesional - no, expert - probably not, still alive and no accidents - you bet!

Practice proper procedure for your safety, comfort will come in time from making it a habit. your life may depend on it!
I'm not going to enter into a debate about it as I don't think its productive I do disagree with most of your points for a multitude of reasons.

However, as long as you are happy, safe and have something that works for you then thats what matters.

As I said YMMV
 

LandyVlad

Wannabie Member
Jun 8, 2020
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Another $0.02 from me.

Four fingers is not proper technique. Preference or not, off road or on road. Your choice, but would you use both feet to apply brake in car?

That's not analogous at all. Braking in a car vs on a motorcycle are entirely different affairs.

more control? I have to disagree as you are removing your grip from the handlebars thus losing some control of your steering.

When are you doing this? You can't move fingers without entirely releasing the bar?
Sorry I just fail to understand what you are getting at here?

Four fingers stronger than two! Not all roads are perfectly flat and dry without some sort of dirt, oil, sand or cracks filled by tar.

Agreed, I'd go as far to say there are NO roads that are perfect.. most a re far from it.

Four finger grip will apply more force and thus be more dangerous in emergency situations. Plus most four finger nrakers do not leave the fingers on the lever all of the time, split second of braking time lost to reach for it.
Four fingers CAN provide more force if lever is grabbed and squeezed as hard as possible. But that's on the rider, in controlling how much force they use.

As I said previously I also very much depends on how good the bikes brakes are.
A modern supersport - yeah 2 finger braking can work really well because the brakes are generally VERY good.
An old Harley, on the other hand, probably requires about 15 fingers to get the job done... :D

I do agree with you regarding the fact that having some fingers on the bar can reduce braking reaction time, that is a good argument for a two finger style.

Practice proper procedure for your safety, comfort will come in time from making it a habit. your life may depend on it!
ABSOLUTELY !
Practice
Practice
Practice !
 
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Pooley

Wannabe tractor enthusiast
Nov 19, 2019
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Me and motosera holding back on the debate with our uk training and then Vlad comes in and just goes for it hahaha :D

At the end of the day its each to their own, but I know how many fingers I'm comfortable using ;)




...just to clarify it's not two
 

WheelyPerd

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May 18, 2017
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Thing we also need to keep in mind is that different types of bikes require different techniques to braking. My HyperMotard (900cc off road looking bike with road tyres) could easily lift the rear off the ground with 1 finger. However my father in laws HD FXDR took 4 fingers to brake properly, same with the clutch.

Try keep in mind that not all motorcycles are the same or even remotely have the same setup.
 
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motosera

Weirdo, mosher, freak
Jun 4, 2020
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Thing we also need to keep in mind is that different types of bikes require different techniques to braking. My HyperMotard (900cc off road looking bike with road tyres) could easily lift the rear off the ground with 1 finger. However my father in laws HD FXDR took 4 fingers to brake properly, same with the clutch.

Try keep in mind that not all motorcycles are the same or even remotely have the same setup.
I've had everything from motocrossers to a huge 2100cc Harley chop I built and everything in between (sports, custom, cruiser etc) and still use 4 fingers unless I am actually riding offroad. For all the aforementioned reasons.
 
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Pooley

Wannabe tractor enthusiast
Nov 19, 2019
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I'm still with sera on this, every bike I have ridden (not all grandad bikes believe it or not :D ) I have used four fingers too.

Never ridden dirt so can't comment on that.
 

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