Any biker who has ever swerved to avoid a driver running a red light on Vivion Road knows how difficult it is to stop a motorcycle quickly. While cars only need to slam on their brakes to stop, coming to a halt on a motorcycle involves a complex rhythm of braking, leaning, and shifting. Here are a few things to practice so that you can always be prepared to stop speedily and safely when another driver is being reckless:
- Use both brakes. While there are separate brake controls for the front and rear wheels, you should use both brakes for each stop. Many bikers are warned against “jackknifing” if they only use the front brakes, causing them to flip forward on the bike; however, the front brake is perfectly safe when it is used properly.
- Brake slowly. It’s important to use the brakes gently, but firmly, when you see an oncoming obstacle. Grabbing the front brake or jamming down on the rear brake can cause the brakes to lock and the tires to skid out from beneath you.
- Come to a full stop. Some motorcyclists don’t want to come to a full stop as they wait for slowed traffic or arrive at an intersection. If you do not stop fully, you increase the odds that you will have to make a sudden maneuver in the intersection—and you will then have to do it at a higher speed.
- Downhill stops. It is best to reduce speed and downshift into first gear if you need to stop on a downward slope.
- Tricky turns. Try to shift gears before entering a turn, rather than shifting as you turn. Practice until shifts are smooth and the rear wheel doesn’t skid.
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