Brakes

How to use your motorcycle’s brakes

On a modern motorcycle squeezing the front brake lever pushes a hydraulic piston into a cylinder which forces fluid out and through a tube that’s connected to a caliper.

In terms of mechanical activity, it’s a pretty simple process. There are no computers involved; the caliper’s pistons are forced outward by the pressure of the fluid and they squish brake pads into a rotor that’s connected to the front wheel.

So, squeeze the lever, and the force you apply is proportional to the force applied to the front wheel.

Just because the wheel stops, doesn’t mean you and the bike stop too.

Catch that part? Squeeze the lever, and the force you apply is proportional to the force applied to the front wheel.

Grab the lever hard and fast, and what is going to happen? The immediate force squeezes the brake pads into the disk that’s attached to your front wheel. Endowed only with its usual amount of grip, the front wheel stops.

Unfortunately, just because the wheel stops, doesn’t mean you and the bike stop too.

You and your bike have a lot of momentum and something trivial like a stopped front wheel dragging some rubber on the ground is not going to get in the way of physics. Squeeze the lever over a longer period of time (we’re talking milliseconds here) and your suspension will help you stop without crashing.

Now is also a good time to mention maintenance. If you can’t remember the last time you change brake fluid, then you’re almost certainly overdue.

In addition, if you have a bike with rubber brake lines and it’s more than three years old, you need new brake lines. After that, pony up the extra bucks for stainless braided lines – they’re dirt cheap. Check it out in our store and the added feel and performance make them more than worth it. Riding with spongy brakes that only sorta work is a recipe for disaster.

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