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Acceleration And Breaking - First And Most Important Element In Riding

Aug 18, 2007
There's nothing like the feeling you get when you're on your favorite road with a familiar bike. You flow through corners as if on a rail, senses peaked, adrenaline raging uncontrollably throughout your body. When it's done right, it's almost as though everything is moving in slow motion.

You've done it dozens of times before; coming into the corner hard on the brakes. You feel the rear tire slide and skip slightly to the side as you approach the corner. You ease off the brake as you push the opposite grip, forcing the bike to lean into the turn, with your knee sticking out as if it were a wing. You continue to slow until you reach full lean and approach the apex, covering the brake and looking deep into the turn.

Then you see it. From the corner of your eye you see what appears to be a rabbit running towards the road. In an instant your mind calculates paths between you and the rabbit, and you realize they will intersect. You've already committed to the corner, and you know if you remain on your present line you'll hit the rabbit. You also know that at that speed and lean angle, hitting even the smallest of animals will greatly upset the bike and likely result in a crash for you.

What happens next has many variables. Some were determined before you ever entered the corner; others will be determined by what you do next. Motorcycling can be an absolutely great sport, but it can also be frighteningly dangerous if you get into a situation like the one described above without the proper skills or preparation.

Your riding skills are something to be mastered through practice, patience, and as you will (hopefully) soon find out, common sense and natural reaction. These skills should be honed into a natural reaction by those of us who weren't born with them.

The first and most important element of riding is acceleration and braking. They involve (and are largely dependant on) several other elements including dynamics and physics, grip, and sudden inputs. These elements are mastered only with practice and are the foundation for nearly every other element.

Braking is probably the single most important element used in controlling your bike in an emergency. When done correctly, it can produce several Gs of stopping power, easily lifting the rear wheel completely off the ground and flipping the bike over completely if you have the grip. The front tire of a street bike is responsible for 70% to 90% of braking power under normal or semi-hard braking, and up to 100% in emergency or stunting situations. The only exceptions to this are in low traction conditions such as wet, dirty or oily roads, or while at high lean angles.

Under low traction conditions, the front brake can be extremely dangerous and should be used with extreme care, or not at all. When the brakes are applied (either front or rear), weight is transferred to the front of the bike. If traction conditions are less than favorable, front braking will load the front tire which will result in a skid and likely a crash.

Braking while leaning over in a corner will cause the bike to either stand up, changing your line drastically, or a loss of traction causing the bike to wash out from under you. Which is often called a low-side. Be sure to allow yourself enough extra grip and lean angle reserved (not used) in case you need to get hard on the brakes in a turn. It's not a good idea to EVER go into a corner at max speed unless you're on a race track. You need to have an out in case of emergency, like a rabbit running into your path. Changing course mid corner in a split second requires at least a small amount of reserve lean angle and/or braking ability. Going in at 100% doesn't leave you any wiggle room.

Get to know your brakes and your accelerator. They can be your best friend if you get to know them well or your worst enemy if you don't understand them.
About the Author
The author writes about Yamaha Raptor 700 Review and blogs at http://www.undermyhelmet.com/.
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