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braking power

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    braking power

    hi. i'm new to this forum, my hawk, and motorcycling in general. i have a fairly basic question, something i can't seem to figure out. how much of my braking power (especially in unexpected situations) should come from me downshifting, and how much should come from applying the brakes? can downshifting slow me down as fast as applying the brakes, or do i use them in conjunction, or is it mostly the brakes?

    i guess braking confuses me because it involves both hands and both feet, which is quite a bit more than my automatic transmission corolla demanded.

    when something bad happens, you dont engine brake at all, just pull the clutch in, and concentrate on using the front brake to the best of its ability..

    there is a slight debate between using only the front brake, or using both brakes... really it depends on the bike, cruisers are obviously on the two brake side.. modern sportbikes on the front only side... hawks balance in the middle...
    if you have good front brakes, and a sticky tire on dry pavement.. dont even bother with the rear brake, because the rear wheel wont have any weight on it... just pull the clutch in, and stop using the front brake... dont lock it up obviously.. but concentrate on getting it close to lockup WITHOUT locking it up...

    for rolling up to a stoplight, in a normal stop... its just a matter of what you want.. a very important thing to do is flick the brake lever, even if you're not using it... this is to flash the rear brake light.. cars dont realize you can almost stop, very quickly, without using the brakes.. they need that brakelight warning... well. YOU need it.. lol.

    if you want to try something fun, try using some front brake with engine braking.. then pull the clutch in, and at the same time, blip the throttle, while holding the brake... downshift and let it out smoothly... doing this you can rev match on the downshift.. and its fun. and it sounds cool... but the main thing is try to be smoooth about it... idea being to smoothly come to a stop while downshifting.

    btw, take everything i just said with a grain of salt... i just got home from a friends 21st birthday party.. LOL i probably shouldnt be giving brake advice at the moment..


      More or less, what he said. :yeahthat:

      It's a mix really, depending on how quickly you need to slow down. Just shutting the throttle will drop quite a bit of speed, downshifting will take quite a lot of speed off, and braking will just do more, more quickly. And for the time being, you can ignore the back brake when you're above a walking pace. If your brakes are in good condition, the front brake should be sufficient for the majority of your braking needs. At very slow speeds, the back brake is more useful than the front as it lends some balance. You can use the engine to 'pull' the bike against the back brake. It's also better to hold the bike when stopped with the back brake.

      You'll be surprised how much engine braking a bike has compared to a car, especially an automatic car. To me, Hawks have just the right amount of engine braking, quite strong, but not vicious. It's actually good practise to ride a quiet section of curvy road without using your brakes. It forces you to read the road and plan ahead. If you're brave and strict with not using the brakes, you'll find you can carry more corner speed than you might have thought. Of course if you come across a hazard/obstacle/car, by all means use your brakes, but use the engine to slow the bike for the corners.



        Like wise.. :yeahthat:
        I turn of experience
        My braking usually tends to float the rear off the ground from about 110mph to 70ish and then I down shift not letting the clutch out just yet. At this point I ease up on the brake to get the rear back down, slowly let out the clutch (Engine Brake) to compensate for the reduction in braking to get the bike settled in for the turn at about 45mph. No rear brake is needed with a V twin.

        While racing

        What do you do on the street? I find I use both brakes. I don't know why. Maybe I do. I am not putting myself into any situation where I need to get that much braking on the street. It is a little more relaxing I find.
        Chain Roller


        2012 CCS LRRS ULSB Champion
        2012 CCS LRRS P89 Champion
        2008 CCS ULSB National Champion
        LRRS HAWK GT Racer CCS Expert #929
        ECK RACING


          Originally Posted by nt650hawk
          What do you do on the street? I find I use both brakes. I don't know why. Maybe I do. I am not putting myself into any situation where I need to get that much braking on the street. It is a little more relaxing I find.
          the only time i really use the rear brake on the street:

          when its raining or other low traction situations.
          when im offroad, in loose ground. (dont ask.)
          when im stopped on a hill.

          other then that, i pretty much ignore the thing.. lol.


            Thread jack... New members area...

            Welcome to the Nation.

            What about Trail braking? The rear can slow you a little without such a "want to stand up" feeling. I use my rear in slow speed stuff, parking lots and such. NT640Hawk has a point on the fast stuff, use it there and it has no grip, breaks loose and starts to slide... not always a wanted situation but it is cool to back it in that way.

            Not that I would try that.
            BIKES: Honda: RC31 Racebike/ NT650 Streetbike, DUCATI: None at the moment.
            Former MSF Rider Coach / Trackday Instructor/ Expert Roadracer #116
            "I'd rather ride a slow bike fast than a fast bike slow."


              I'm a new rider so I'm still not sure about the best strategies. I have a couple of offers from experienced riders to ride behind me and critique (just a matter of syncing schedules) so this will help.

              In stop-and-go traffic--which in NYC is everywhere, lol--and where max speed tops out at 40mph and rarely higher, when coming to an anticipated slow or stop it seems much smoother pull in the clutch and downshift without rolling off, and then using a bit of brake. If I'm not already in 2nd I'll just ease out and then downshift again.

              My impression is that rolling too much off the throttle to slow down makes the bike feel jerky. I don't know if it's the V-twin engine that is a factor. Rolling off slightly, downshifting while *not* rolling off, and then slightly rolling off or braking to a stop is smoother.

              For unexpected situations, I pull in the clutch and downshift while squeezing the brake. I don't know if you have SS lines -- I do and they work pretty well in combo with a lightweight bike.

              I'm a bit lazy with the rear brake in regular traffic, since the front is so effective. But I'm making a concerted effort to practice more because the rear is so essential for terrain where a front brake only will bring you down fast. Practicing emergency braking really begs for a parking lot or quiet street with no traffic, where you can do stops from gradually increasing speeds (20, 30, etc). Being able to use both brakes without skidding for a hard stop is a very useful technique.

              There's a good online forum called with a lot of helpful feedback on technique. I found it useful as a new rider.
              '89 Hawk GT


                I am very used to using both of my brakes. More habit than anything. Lots of practice with them both has gotten me out of hairy situations when I needed to stop very quickly (deer in road usually, once a big bear). On my driveway (which is very long) I only use the rear due to it being dirt. Last thing I want is to use the front and have it go from under me. I took alot from the safety class and often practice my emergency stopping.
                I have practiced enough that I usually use both brakes and downshift at the same time to slow down. If I have nobody behind me I might just downshift to slow down but I always make sure that I use one of the brakes in any traffic if I slow down to avoid gettin smucked from behind.
                Even when I'm stopped at a light I keep the brake on just for the light and will even flash it a bit so traffic behind me knows I am there and stopped.
                -God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to hide the bodies of the people I had to kill because they annoyed me.


                  thanks for the help, i'm much more comfortable around intersections now. previously, i was trying to use mostly engine braking, which was confusing, and the car drivers around me did not approve.


                    MrDude, what are you doing in your avatar? i've been riding around and seen some other motorcyclists do it. is that, dare i say it, random solidarity?


                      he's just giving the old hello. from one bikerto another, it usually shows you are cool and not a douchebag. IS actually more than hello- it's hard to explain, but it's a really empowering comradery type thing also.

                      squids never wave back i noticed; and it's not uncommon for cruiser riders to not reciprocate your two finger salute out of some sort of dislike they have for a sportier (read: practical, useful) bike.
                      Hardly any nyc biker thug i've ever seen gives half a shit to wave back- it's the same thing with city people on the highway- they just don't know what driving really is or how to do it.

                      my whole post is off the "braking" topic, sorry. anyone else want to talk about the two fingers downward salute?
                      ride Red.


                        Originally Posted by MrDude_1
                        when im offroad, in loose ground. (dont ask.)
                        i have learned that lesson as well

                        i never use the rear brake on the street
                        i do alot of engine braking, there twins thats part of it
                        if im in trouble and the bikes is strait up and the rear is on the ground im down shifting with the front too.

                        but engine braking needs to be second nature to you you shift throu the gears pretty quik.
                        1988 & 1991 hawkgt, 2005 rc51


                          Originally Posted by StaticShock
                          MrDude, what are you doing in your avatar? i've been riding around and seen some other motorcyclists do it. is that, dare i say it, random solidarity?
                          its just saying hi....


                            Waving at a passing bike is a motorcyclist custom. Some people don't and thats ok. I do it anyway.

                            as for engine braking into intersections- it is a good idea not to get used to this- you want your brake light to come on, especially at night. I pump the brake- a flashing light is more visible.

                            The rear brake comes in handy for making really tight rurns (parking lot type of stuff or u-turns) as dragging the back brake while using the trottle to keep the bike moving foward makes the bike more stable in a tight turn.

                            welcome ot the forum!
                            '88 Hawk GT
                            '89 Harley FXSTC
                            2008 Yamaha V-Star 1300 tourer


                            " performance ain't perfect, but its loud, and its fast..." -Widespread Panic


                              I made such a habit of flashing my brake on the street to keep others alert, that I had to make a conscious effort to stop doing it on the track!