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Thread: So how good are you, braking?

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  1. #1
    Registered User ANDYVH's Avatar
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    Jun 2005
    Green Bay, WI

    So how good are YOU, braking?

    I found a braking distance chart for motorcycles (on a law firm website). The chart listed a ?standard? of 134 feet to stop from a speed of 60 mph for all bikes and riders. 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. Below are 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 off the start, and 150? mark 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:

    1 East 165.5 60 1st test and helped 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. I adjusted my noted stop distance by adding the early stop 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. 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!

    So, going back to the chart I found on the web, I feel the distance of 134 feet as an overall average for motorcycles (regardless of bike style, CG, wheelbase, braking system, ABS or no, training, practice) in general is unrealistic. I have been riding for 42 years, and been teaching the MSF programs for over 20 years. So my focus on riding skills is perhaps a bit stronger than the average rider. Perhaps if I went out and repeated this exercise to hone my skills further, or included an assistant to evaluate my technique and more accurately measure my braking distance I could get closer to that 134? average. But more telling, is that in this test instance, with repeated attempts, under conditions I controlled, I was not easily able to match the supposed average. I controlled many of the variables in this test. But in the real world the variables are far greater. That to me says the chart I found is speculative at best, and can be argued in a legal sense for inaccuracies. But I wonder how many riders or lawyers would simply apply the chart data in a court setting, as representative of an average Joe rider.

    My point here is not in any way to say "Hey, look at me and what I did!" In fact I'd like to know how others do at testing their braking ability. The point is to evaluate what you yourself can really do on your bike, practice it and find out before you put yourself in situation calling for more than you may be capable of. I see SO many riders following other vehciles WAY more close than thier real braking ability could ever save their ass.
    Last edited by ANDYVH; 06-19-2013 at 06:49 PM.
    Get trained! The best "performance" upgrade you can get is YOU. Visit for training info.

  2. #2
    MOA #24991 Pauls1150's Avatar
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    Apr 2008
    south of Los Angeles
    Tailgating has become a way of life... too many drones. Thus my license plate frame (unsuitable for a public forum).
    140 to 160 feet is probably quite realistic. The newest Cycle World has braking figures for several bikes; bear in mind that these tests were done by veteran racers with tons of experience, on new bikes with fresh sticky tires, with the latest in electronic aids.
    BMW HP4: 118 feet
    Ducati 1199 Panigale R: 116 feet
    Ducati 848 Evo Corse SE: 120 feet
    Kawasaki ZX-6R: 128 feet
    Suzuki GSX-R750: 123 feet
    Triumph Daytona 675R: 129 feet
    Last edited by Pauls1150; 06-19-2013 at 09:42 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User ANDYVH's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    Green Bay, WI
    Good points to add to that list of bikes, as all of them have brakes that are probably quite improved over the Brembos on my 94 RS. Also, everyone of those bikes have sport-bike tires, or even high end tires which give up a lot of mileage for high grip, versus the Avon Storms, Conti Road Attack and Metzler Z6 tires I have used on my RS.

    But again to the comparison. I VERY few riders would ever actually go out, set up a braking course, and test themselves to see how good, more likely bad, their braking performance is. Yet, in case of a crash, their representative would certainly use the braking distance data found on the web and in other sources as to claim what their skill level "may" be.

    Always best to find out what you can and can't do, before you have to, and then adjust your riding to your real abilities.

    Yeah, tailgating and following WAY too close is so common around here for all brands, styles, age groups, and traffic conditions that I see bikes in. Yet I'd bet those are the same riders claiming good riding skills, or experience, but also complaining about cars not respecting their right of way. I found years ago that actively, aggressively working at keeping a clear, open following distance did TONS to improve my traffic situations and dramatically reduce my instances with other road users.
    Get trained! The best "performance" upgrade you can get is YOU. Visit for training info.

  4. #4
    Pusser's Pyrate Society Zygmund's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    State of Hockey
    Started racing MX back in the 70's and learned how to use the brakes and what running a line meant.
    Once I started riding street machines I wanted to convert my dirt skills to the street!
    What I discovered is that the braking power on good equipment (BMW) was such a key element of smart and safe riding.
    Last October the president of our company wanted to reward his employees for a great 2012 so he signed us up for a track day at Brainerd International Raceway and the Performance Driving School!
    We had the track for the day and SCCA spec racers, fire suits,helmets, etc.
    it took me a few sessions but I figured out the line and braking points and man you could really stand on those brakes and make those race cars perform!
    I came away with a greater appreciation of braking power and how it effects the machine and I apply that feeling everyday I throw a leg over the RT and work on my braking skills!
    Great topic Andy!!

    '02 R1150RT

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2003
    Northern Front Range, CO
    This from MCN in a comparison between the 2006 Trumpet Speed3 and the Buell XB2S Lightning:

    "MCN?s record for 60 mph-zero stopping was set by a previous Speed Triple back in 1999 at 106.7'. We honestly never expected to see a shorter stop as repaving had apparently reduced the traction at our test site. However, the 2006 Speed Triple?s very first stop was below the record, a 106.0' result! But, the first practice stop is never the best, so we had to doubt our own equipment. The second stop was even better, 104.75'! The computer trace of the radar?s input was flawless, and no errant data points made an appearance. Although the test rider said he didn?t think it felt that fast, the computer
    technician?s point of view was that it looked that fast. On a third try, deliberately not as great an effort to check the radar?s result, netted an impressive 110'. That was enough for us, with two stops in our Top 10 of All Time, the Speed Triple surpassed?another Speed Triple to take the crown."

    Wow! That's quite a bit better than any of those "newest, hottest, bestest" bikes that AVH listed above. Things that make you go "hmmmm".

    I suspect that the average data posted in that chart came from tests such as this; professional riders under perfect test conditions with brand new equipment. It's a measure more of what the bike can accomplish in the right hands than of what an "average" rider can achieve.
    Like Andy, I've taught numerous advanced riding classes, and typically find that braking performance of students (that would be "most of you") is "somewhat lacking" (to be polite about it) on first attempts, but does usually show legit improvement after multiple practice runs. Getting riders to stay out of their ABS, yet to use their front brake to it's (near) potential are the greatest challenges. Some never rise to the challenge, some shine- but ALL do better after observed/directed practice.
    Ride Safe, Ride Lots

  6. #6
    NC Piedmont Rider ncstephen's Avatar
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    Jan 2009
    Hillsborough NC
    I have been attending Reg Pridmore's CLASS the last few years. On the track at VIR are several places to experience heavy braking. One such place is where speed will be 70-80 mph and drops for a 35-45 mph turn. Another is where speed is 100-115 and drops to a 55 mph turn. Turn 1 is daring for those wanting to do heavy braking as it is from 100-150+ mph down to a 50 mph turn. I tend to leave extra margins there.

    On the BMW K12 RS with linked brakes I was always impressed at how hard I could be stopping. Yes your eyes feel like they are bugging out a bit. Yet even with this hard braking, I never had ABS kick in so I was not at the maximum. In another school I had another student mistake a coaches signal for me to pass as a signal to come over. In that instance I had to move from acceleration to probably my hardest braking ever from about 75. The S1000rr stopped hard. I almost think the rear lifted a bit. Still no ABS kicked in

    Here is a pic of me learning a new bike this year. Again I am having to learn how the bike works. The front suspension of the K RS like other BMWs keeps it very level during braking. Here I am having to learn how to easily roll off the throttle and ease into heavy braking and then ease off so the front never suddenly dives or recovers. It makes a world of difference when done well. I only manage it well to a limited degree. Still even at this level the bike never was unruly or the tire feeling on the verge of slipping. No ABS here. Was this a pic of me truly braking hard or one of the marginal times? Not sure as there is still room for the forks to compress more.

    So in all of this, yes I do practice this but clearly not to the point of having short stops. I have a better picture of what is capable from hwy speeds of 70-90 yet I have not in any sense perfected a short stop. I could apply more. In some reading I ran across a statement that I cannot verify. It was partly mentioning that the higher level of braking of the servo assisted brake of mid 2000 BMW bikes was done so because they wanted the driver/rider to use the brakes harder as the ABS was the safety net. It suggested that most riders really don't use near the potential braking available so they were designed so the brakes would move into harder braking than most might initiate otherwise.

    So I guess in this thread is a challenge for us to improve our hard braking.

    03 K 1200RS (Black is Best)
    03 Honda RC51
    74 Honda CB750 K4

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