Stopping at Junctions Using The Rear Brake
Early preparation on approach to junctions and hazards is vital. With regards to braking and gear changes, riders should aim to be riding in the correct position, at the correct speed, and in the correct gear at all times.
This takes time to learn and riders of all levels are encouraged to practice to perfect this skill. You are advised to compensate for likely mistakes by keeping the speed down and not rushing into the junction.
This allows more time to think, plan and react, resulting in safer decisions, greater enjoyment and less rider anxiety. Especially if you do not like stopping (many riders try to avoid stopping for this reason).
How to Approach Stopping at Junctions using the rear brake
On approach close the power to take advantage of engine braking. From higher speeds (above 20 mph), apply both brakes to both slow down and to show a brake light to the vehicles behind.
During this phase, change down gears one at a time to help reduce speed with further engine braking in each gear (you can rev the throttle slightly to select the lower gear).
At around 10-15 mph the motorcycle should be in second gear. When around 2-3 car lengths from the junction/hazard, transfer to the rear brake only.
This method of approach keeps the motorcycle stable, with maximum control, whilst ensuring you are at the correct speed to make a good decision. That is to either stop or go at the junction.
Using engine braking
At the start of every slowing down, manoeuvre braking is initiated by rolling off the throttle which starts the engine braking immediately. Unfortunately using this method alone does not illuminate the rear brake light which indicates the bike is slowing down.
As the throttle is turned off, the weight is transferred to the front wheel, resulting in the bike slowing down. This method can be used if time and distance allow and there aren’t any vehicles following you that need to be informed of the speed reduction.
A good practice is to show vehicles behind you that you are slowing down, by applying the brakes gently to show a brake light. If you only wish to lose a few miles per hour, or if it is necessary to reduce speed in a corner, this method is a good way to start the slowing down process.
Using the front brake
Generally, the front and rear brakes are used together to slow the motorcycle down. You should use the brakes correctly to ensure good stability and control.
Once the bike has reduced enough speed to be classed as slow control, you should release the front brake and use the rear brake only.
The rear brake is less effective at higher speeds. At speed, it is generally used in conjunction with the front brake.
However, if you need to slow down in a bend, the rear brake could be better used on its own with engine braking.
As a general rule, use the rear brake on its own when riding slowly, during slow control manoeuvres, at junctions or when there is steering input to the handlebars.
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Approaching a junction
Always turn the throttle off when slowing down, this starts the weight transfer to the front wheel, aiding the slowing down process.
Use engine braking to help reduce speed, this can be done in each gear as you change down through the gearbox to match road and engine speed.
Always use both brakes when slowing down from high speed to slow speed when the bike is travelling in a straight line. If there are vehicles following closely behind, show a brake light and do not just use engine braking.
Transfer to the rear brake only
Release the front brake and transfer to the rear brake only for slow speed control. This is especially important when close to the junction or when making steering adjustments when turning.
If you wish to continue because the junction is clear, simply release the rear brake, look forward and continue riding where you are looking. This will allow the bike to have maximum stability and you will be able to guide the bike onto the correct path and aim into the correct road position.
If you are not happy with the view, especially if it is a closed junction. Look forward and choose where you want to stop.
Continue to look forward, this will aid in balance and stability. Do not be tempted to continue to look to the right or use the front brake. This will cause balance issues and as a result, you may end up dropping the bike at the junction.
If you have ever felt unstable at a junction, it is because you are doing something wrong that must be corrected. Concentrate on making a decision and then looking forward to either going or stopping. But use the rear brake only to avoid unbalancing the motorcycle.
Avoid using the front brake in a bend or if steering with the handlebars, braking should be done prior to reaching the junction so that the bike is traveling at an appropriate speed for your ability.
Written by Simon Hayes