The NUMBER ONE motorcycle survival skill is HARD BRAKING – also known as “panic” braking, or “emergency” braking.
HARD BRAKING is applied during those infrequent times when you need to INSTANTLY exert FULL BRAKING FORCE – without losing traction and/or losing control of your bike.
Typically, this is because something or someone just became positioned right in your path at the last second.
HARD BRAKING is the strongest possible braking force you can apply to avoid a collision – with the vital and additional point of “not” losing traction or losing control of your bike.
When such an occasion occurs that your very survival is at stake, will you be able to immediately apply full-force braking pressure, without hitting your brakes so hard that you lose control of your bike?
If you cannot confidently answer “Yes” to that question, the remedy is simple: you need to PRACTICE HARD BRAKING right away! (And then practice again and again).
When faced with a sudden potential motorcycle mishap, a common rider reaction is to slam so hard on the brakes, that one, or both tires lock up and skid.
Locked up tires result in lost traction – and a longer stopping distance – presuming, of course, that the rider is still in control of the bike while the tires are locked! (That’s actually “not” a likely presumption, since many riders “will” lose control of their bike when they lock up a tire and lose traction).
YOU should practice emergency braking from time to time in an empty parking lot or some other location without traffic. And keep practicing!!
Another point to consider for those riders who are not always solo: You should also practice hard braking with a passenger! Not only does the increased weight cause the bike to handle differently, but how will you react during an emergency with a passenger slamming into your back during a hard braking situation?
PRACTICE emergency braking with and without a passenger to develop your rider survival skills!
If you are a sport-touring rider, an adventure-touring rider, a cruiser-tourer, luxury tourer, or any rider who loads your bike for a long-distance ride, you should also PRACTICE HARD BRAKING with your bike fully loaded. Not only is this a good way to develop your braking skill with the exact load you are riding with, such practice braking is a good way to test your load security. Better to learn that your improperly secured sleeping bag will come flying forward in a panic stop, while you are practicing, then under the duress of a real road threat.
Keep in mind that if you are continually in the habit of applying “normal” braking pressure under “normal” riding circumstances, how do you think YOU will react in an emergency?
Oh! And if you happen to have an Anti-Lock Braking System (ABS) integrated on your bike does that mean all of this is unnecessary? In brief, there is no substitute for improving your rider experience, but ABS does have some compelling advantages.
Only by PRACTICING HARD BRAKING, over and over and over again, will you create the proper reaction habit for the time when you may most need it….