Braking wise I mean.
I recently found a braking distance chart for motorcycles, on a lawyer website no less. That listed a “standard” of 134 feet to stop from a speed of 60 mph for all bikes and riders. I thought that seemed to be a very optimistic, unreal short distance so I decided to test it myself. I mean, a 60 mph stop in 134 feet calculates to an .89 G-force stopping effort, as an “average” value for motorcyclists. I thought, maybe, so lets see.
Here are my results from my somewhat accurate braking test session. I set up a 150 foot braking lane out on a rural road, running east/west, and measured with a long tape, I marked it off with paver bricks. The road was smooth, clean, grippy aged asphalt. After setting up my markers 150' apart, I paced off the distance to use as a reference from the bike to the marker when I stopped. The 150' distance took 53 strides (I have a 30” inseam), so that equaled 2.85' per stride. After each stop, I'd dismount and walk the number of strides from the leading edge of the front tire to the ending brake marker. Only two of the 12 stops were slightly longer than the 150' braking lane.
I got my bike up to an indicated 65 mph, which I know on my bike is just slightly over 60 mph, and made sure the speed was steady before I got to the braking marker. At the marker I applied both brakes as best I could. I noted when the ABS activated, which was probably 75% of the 12 stops. Each stop left a very definite stripe from the front tire on the road for the entire stopping length. But no lockup and sliding. I also felt the bike definitely squirmed around a bit but also self corrected. Here we go:
TEST DIRECTION DISTANCE SPEED (approx) NOTES
1 East 165.5 60 1st test,establish my marker start point
2 West 140.0 60
3 East 142.9 60
4 West 151.4 60
5 East 152.1 60 ABS cycling of the rear brake, over braking on rear
6 West 134.4 55 Speed was definitely lower at start of braking zone
7 East 154.2 60
8 West 150.0 60
9 East 141.5 60
10 West 141.5 60
11 East 157.7 60 Attempted stop with no ABS actuation
12 West 137.0 60
AVG 147.3 My speed was only estimated as read on speedometer
The tire marks on the pavement also helped me determine I was applying the brakes 12' to 21' before the brake start marker. My initial reaction after stopping the bike well short of the 150' marker was I thought I was doing a great job of beating the average. Ha! I adjusted my noted stop distance by adding the early application distance to the ending position. So even though this was all estimated, the repeated efforts and variables are minimal enough to determine some consistency. Some other notes, my 94 R1100RS has ABS, and the Telelever front suspension with designed in limited squat during braking. No matter how hard I apply the brakes the steering geometry remains consistent which helps to control the bike. This minimizes tracking errors by the rider and bike because the steering geometry does not get "steeper" during braking liek with a normal front fork and excessive fornt end dive. I ride my old 76 BMW to get a sense of front end dive! By the end of the testing I could sense a slight headache due to the G-loading of the stops.
The final points are unless you test and practice your braking, you'll never know what you can safely achieve. So, for my average of 147' at 60 mph, if I add one second reaction/application time (88' for 60 mph) to a real world stop, my best average TOTAL stopping distance for 60 mph stops would be 235 feet!! Eye opening to say the least! That also means that at night my headlight had better reach out at least 235' or I should slow down.