Motorcycle Forum

Motorcycle Forum (
-   Help! (
-   -   To Cover or Not To Cover? (

seruzawa 10-21-2003 03:46 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
MSF instructors are not infallible. An instructor told us at an MSF class that cars can brake faster than motorcycles and that you cannot use your brakes at all while in a turn. Both are patently false. The class was otherwise excellent and I learned some good things even though I'd been riding some 30 years before I took it.

When taking instruction you must always remember to use your own judgement. Not everything taught is necessarily true. Some courses of study are mostly crap. Anyone who has taken Economics or Psychology should know this.

longride 10-21-2003 03:52 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Just like in any sport, people are more efficient and more comfortable deviating from the norm at times. There is a "textbook" way to do everything, but I'd say do what you feel the most comfortable doing. Maybe for the MSF guy, covering the break wouldn't work, but for you it might. I wonder why he wouldn't suggest doing what you personally feel most comfortable with in the first place. We are not robots. Practice what comes naturally and dont' worry about it.

blitz 10-21-2003 04:08 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I'd be leary of taking advice from someone who thinks viscosity will affect the travel of your brake lever from off to full on. Where did this guy get this from? There is no engineering basis for

this comment.

The viscosity *could* change, but it is highly unlikely that the change would be measurable, and if it did, it is most likely due to water or corrosion particles mixed with the brake fluid.

A change in viscosity will affect the rate at which one could squeeze the brake, but not how far one could squeeze the brake.

What will affect lever travel is the compressibility of the fluid, which is only going to happen should air be introduced into the system or if you're braking hard enough to boil the brake fluid (or the moisture absorbed by the brake fluid). But, in a "covering" situation, the brakes won't be that hot.

In nutty urban environments, I cover 'cause I know somenoe's going to do something stupid. It happens all the time. If you're comfortable covering, I'd do it.

pushrod 10-21-2003 04:21 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Not knowing the types of bike involved, I'd think if the instructor was familiar only with bikes equipped with crappy brakes, he may opine that a two finger cover is pretty useless.

Between my FXR and my Sprint(s); the two finger cover on the FXR (one disc) was good for response only. It took all four fingers to get a good braking effort. Two fingers on the Sprint's brake is plenty effective.

A somewhat related topic I've not seen in this forum is the adjustment of the brake and clutch levers for the particular rider. The levers should be rotated on the handles so they fall naturally to hand. That is, the rider should not need to lift fingers or twist wrists to reach the levers. My Sprint doesn't allow much adjustment, but the Harley had quite a bit. If your levers are too high, it is very tiring on the wrists and hands.

bigjames 10-21-2003 04:39 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Hmmm, I wonder if this is the same MSF instructor who advised another MOron that ABS for bikes was All Bull *****?

Actually, I know their logic behind not covering the front brake. It gives you another half second not to F up in a panic situation! Conversly, it also gets you one half second closer to someone else who just F'ed up causing the situation.

Saying that, I cover the front brake on the Harley quite often, due to the nature of Harley brakes and the weight of the bikes, on the Beemer, I don't because it has ABS and the way you apply brakes on a bike with ABS is diametrically opposed to everything you have ever been tought about braking on a bike....

Changing viscosity making changes in brake lever travel, now that IS All Bull *****.....poor maintenance and excessive brake pad wear (ok, that is redundant) will make that change but not a change in viscosity. Methinks this particular MSF instructor needs to learn a little more about fluid dynamics in a closed space....

Unfortunatly I have lost a lot of faith in the MSF program since a lot of states (including mine) have gone commercial with it. I tend to trust dedicated volunteers a lot better than corporations, but that is just me. If any of the Evergreen folks are MOrons, please don't take that too personally...


donaldbroc 10-21-2003 05:01 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Hello, interesting concept from a msf instructor. I can't imagine what was going on in his mind, let alone his facial expressions when he was unloading this B.O.C. on you.

Take it with a grain of thought for that's what it was. I use my two fingers to cover the front brake when I feel I need to. Braked in a corner a time or two over the last 30 years and still here to talk about it. I think that you need to pay attention to your surroundings while propelling your flesh and bones at 70 mph (or faster) over asphalt with a line of paint to seperate you and that 2500 kg cage coming at you on the phone, combing the hair, reading the newspaper, eating a whopper, spanking a kid, and having sex while behind the wheel of their reinforced volvo.

nickrab 10-21-2003 05:02 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
As my riding is 90% urban commuting I could not imagine not covering the brake. I don't care how well you are scanning/percieving/reacting, cagers are only a couple feet away and will take you out. I feel really wierd and vulnerable when I don't cover it.

Maybe in suburbia?

nosajwols 10-21-2003 05:06 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Well do you drive with your left foot on the brake pedal, seems like a similar argument to me?? IMHO you should be covering your brakes only when it looks like you may need them (scanning the impending action).

Brake fluid gets old, but it is the fact that it absorbes water that makes it less effective, he probaly meant this but is not mechanically inclined enough to put his thoughts to words....

captainwhoopass 10-21-2003 05:11 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Mine said the same thing about not braking in a turn.

However, mine actually recommended covering the brake at all times, because it would slightly reduce reaction time. Strange that the author's teacher recommended the exact opposite.

fujinator 10-21-2003 05:18 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I am an MSF instructor and we "encourage" new riders to not cover their front brake when practicing on the range. Most new riders have a tendency to "when in doubt brake" even when leaning in a turn, and the method we try and instill in them is to slow to an appropriate entry speed *before* the turn, so they can throttle through the turn.

However, once beyond the basics (day 1), we also talk about strategies one can use when riding out on the street. One of these strategies is "to shorten reaction time when approaching a high risk area (i.e. an intersection), one may decide to cover the brakes and shift down for better throttle response".

Since you were taking the class for "experienced" riders, I'm surprised that you had the debate at all, as the same "street strategies" are taught in both classes (basic & experienced).

As for the 2 vs. 4 finger debate, we stress that to survive out on the streets, it's critical that a rider "know" their own bike. If this means that it takes only 1 finger on the front brake to get sufficient stopping power (or all 4 fingers), that's fine.

In the end, there are facts, stats, and methods that I am REQUIRED to relay to students when conducting an MSF course. My riding experience also comes into play when questions or discussions turn to "personal preferences". I try and relay things that have worked for me in the past, as well as those things that are recommended by the MSF and supported by studies and/or statistics. If someone is resistant, I just say, "Try it, it might work better for you and keep you out of an accident someday."

At the end of all of my classes, however, I do stress that any rider (from the newbie to the 30-year veteran) needs to continually practice and learn, and that you can never know it all or be too proficient.

Ride safe.

SmokeU 10-21-2003 05:28 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Nothing wrong with a little road head.

nbyers 10-21-2003 05:42 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Absolutely--it feels weird not to cover the brake. I always cover (two fingers is plenty on modern bikes) and it's become ingrained.

If I'm on a long freeway trip and don't cover the brake for a couple of miles to give my right hand a change of position, I find myself automatically going back to two fingers as soon as I stop thinking about it.

In CLASS, Reg Pridmore told us to cover the brake, and told us that two fingers was his preferred way to go. Two fingers means that you still have a grip on the throttle, and can roll right onto the brake with a minimum reaction time. No well-maintained modern bike is going to pinch your fingers with the lever.

It's worth noting that there was also a session at CLASS where we were practicing smooth, hard, application of the brakes. Slamming 'em on is never a good idea unless you've got ABS.

obandoj 10-21-2003 05:45 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
First of all, it sounds as if the instructor is not into maintainance of the motorcycle, as a first line of defence against accidents and problems on the road, that in my opinion is a very big mistake, second, yes, you should be scanning, perceiving and alert, and when the situation arises or when in heavy traffic, lots of driveways etc, you should cover the brake. That technique will save you precious seconds in an emergency, and might be the difference between making it home or to the hospital or worse! As far as not being able to exercise good throtle control while covering the brake, that boils down to practice, it is very doable if you include that in your list of things to practice over and over again.

That statement he made to you about using that technique only on race tracks, I don't buy it, I have never raced a motorcycle, but I have done many performance and racing schools, and done many track days at different tracks all over the country, and have never had an instructor mention that to the class, ever.

Now, I'm sure that you learned many good things in that MSF class, but I suggest that you should take a Reg Pridmore school (CLASS) to complement what you learned there, and to learn the concept of, awareness, concentration, smoothness and consistency that is so important both on the track and the street, good luck!

shaneking 10-21-2003 05:48 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I second what fujinator has to say. I'm also and instructor and I don't recall there being a set rule about covering but we do stress 4 fingers, at least while they are learning.

This instructor was injecting their own opinion (or experience) into the debate but probably should have been more clear in elucidating it as such. I have no problems giving my two cents to the students but I try to make it very clear that I'm speaking as a motorcyclist and not as an instructor. Some of us don't always make that distinction.

I have to disagree that going to a more commercial system instead of volunteers has a negative effect. It is hard enough to find instructors willing to give up their weekends (also known as prime riding time) to teach. We don't get paid that much by the state and more and more states are getting rid of their programs as a way to save money. If we don't see more private companies picking up the slack then we will have an even greater shortage of training out there that we do now.

unpaved313 10-21-2003 05:56 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Where has this MSF Instructor been doing his updates?

Here in New England, we actually teach covering your brakes as a safety method for dealing with the highly congested roadways our students regularly find themselves on.

Admittedly, covering your brakes can have a nasty consequence to new riders. That said, experienced riders can, as our MOaning correspondent said, reduce reaction time with this same technique.

I suspect that the Instructor in question has taught a bunch of beginning rider courses, but hasn't commited to the difference between beginning and experienced. His mistake, but don't make it yours.

As always, common sense prevails, so ride within the limits of your self, your motorcycle, and your environment.

johnnyb 10-21-2003 06:00 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I like to go a step beyond "covering" the front brake in heavily trafficked areas myself. That is, I will actually keep the front brake somewhat clamped on at all times, sometimes only lightly dragging, other times with more pressure. The key to this is to use a lot of throttle; the more brake, the more throttle. The idea is to keep the rear tire spinning at all times, and therefore the engine in the meat of its powerband should evasive action be required. It's a rather difficult method to master and hard on tires and brake pads. When you smell tire smoke most of the time, you'll know you've got it right. At red lights in particular, keep that rear spinning and an eye on your mirrors, just in case. Safety first, i say.

SmokeU 10-21-2003 06:08 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I like to do those rolling burnouts too JB.

So how's it hangin' since you've left?

Betamax 10-21-2003 06:11 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
my MSF instructors also told me not to cover the front brake, for equally nonsensical reasons.

Taking more time "to assess the situation" is idiotic. When you're traveling at a lowly 30 mph (and who does?) you're still traveling about 40 feet per second. Covering the brake can mean the difference between stopping in time or T-boning that minivan that just pulled out in front of you.

pattonme 10-21-2003 06:12 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I'll be the 3rd instructor to pipe up. We don't see more commercial opportunities (which are a good thing) because:

1) states make it nearly impossible to start a program (I kid you not, in IL for example the 1st school had to rig up an emergency brake, (yup) and dual controls for the *ride-along* instructor. Why? because the regs were written for cars and NOBODY in the beauracracy could conceive that it was utter stupidity to hold a MC to the same rules)

2) insurance is a HUGE killer - since 9/11 the companies are charging lethal amounts for any kind of commercial driving instruction. doesn't make ANY sense but that's what they're doing

3) range space is very hard to come by

4) it's a seasonal job

5) students don't like to pay the $300+/student that is the real cost of the program because they are used to massive subsidies by the state.

Now obviously there are a few ways to make the program have an incentive. Like preventing any and all sales of vehicles, let alone titling them without proof of a MC license. That alone would kill over 50% of current operators and get their butts into a program. another is to distribute to all insurance carriers the identities of unlicensed riders. A graduated licensing scheme where the basic course allows you to own/operate a 50HP bike but an ERC is required for bigger ones. And dealers could go a long way to help, too. Like giving a free class with each bike purchase (or 50% off or something) if that person is not trained. etc.

pattonme 10-21-2003 06:29 AM

why I don't cover any more
yes and no. Others have piped up to the instructor's defense and I will as well, sorta.

When I was a new rider I too used to cover the brake. I don't any more. By riding around covering the brake you never learn to develop the quick reflexes to transition into controlled maximum braking from the grip.

Granted none of my bikes have braking the likes of the latest track tool and I can't pull out a stoppie with 1 or 2 fingers (let alone 4) but I practice my braking regularly which the great unwashed rarely ever do. When you've got your fingers hanging out there (and you have good brakes) it is easy to overreact.

As to "assess the situation", if the 1/4 second you need to get on the brakes is the difference between hitting or missing something then you're asleep at the handlebar. The distance covered blithly ignorant of the approaching hazard and NOT having already formulated a plan of action before it's needed is what gets motor vehicle operators in trouble. It's called "recognition distance"

Far and away operators (cage and bike) are eggregiously guilty of tailgaiting, failing to maintain sight-distance, failing to position themselves to have an escape route as well as give the other person an out that doesn't conflict, and failing to communicate (horns hardly ever used).

If a situation was "sudden" it was because you weren't paying attention.

If I'm going to cover the brake (and I sometimes do) it's because I fully anticipate using the brakes. And all 4 fingers (well 3.5) are out there ready to swing into action.

pushrod 10-21-2003 06:30 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
JB, good idea!

However, a buddy (with his XB9S) has trouble with this method... he has trouble trying to keep both tires on the ground!

johnnyb 10-21-2003 06:35 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Just like a good fighter aircraft, the best motorcycles are inherently unstable, making emergency direction changes that much easier whether planned or not. Are you religious? Sometimes I think a good bike crash is God's way of saying, pull your ass over and think things out, young man. Here, have some pain too. Aids the concentration, don't you think?

pushrod 10-21-2003 06:46 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
As the pilots here who have survived an ejection say, I now have a second birthday!

Yep, the healing process gives one a long time to reflect. As I pointed out in an earlier string, it's what is important to you. Another buddy (with a Speed Triple- I don't know why I hang around these guys!) is actually the preacher for the Christian Sportbike Association (, and one of his favorite lines is, "Nobody gets out of here alive."

So, ya gotta enjoy your life. It's all risk management.

Number one on my list is to never ride on US129 again.

Vlad 10-21-2003 07:04 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
First off, the MSF instructor is patently wrong, since covering the front brake is a good idea for an experienced rider. I always cover mine during intown riding or when confronting a dangerous or unknown situation. However, there is a downside to covering the front brake for the beginning rider (as my MSF instructor told me). The beginning rider may panic and lock up the front brake, so he said that they had been taught in Georgia to encourage beginning riders not to cover the front brake during course exercises.

So for the experienced, yeah, cover it. You will save significant time in braking.


F451 10-21-2003 07:05 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
It is simply a function of the make and model of motorcycle you own or ride. Some of the older rides require much more than two fingers and some of the newer rides, with ABS, change the game.

Moral: Know thy motorcycle and how it stops best or do not ride it because you'll screw up anyway.

naco_traficante 10-21-2003 08:31 AM

Do whatever makes sense at the moment.
I cover momentarily every time I see a T-bone situation ahead ... left-turning cars facing me, cars on left or right streets planning to enter traffic. Otherwise I don't.

mscuddy 10-21-2003 08:35 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
It all depends on where you are, and what you're riding.

I went to Rolf Tibblin's MX School in the early 70's, and he would go absolutley ape if you didn't have two fingers on the clutch, and two on the front brake lever. If you didn't, he would scream at you in Sweedish, and make you run laps in full MX gear.

Sometimes, if the situation warrants (read that Volvos, soccer moms in mini-vans), I have two fingers on the front brake lever, two on the clutch, and my feet poised over the shifter and brake pedal, ready for anything.

Since I make a daily commute that (seemingly) goes through downtown Mogadishu, it would be nice if I could have two hands on the front brake lever, another two hands on the clutch, one free hand to fold down side view mirrors, and yet another hand to "flip the bird", as it were. This would involve genetic engineering, and I'd have to get all my suits re-tailored. So that's out.

On my Cushman, this means keeping my left hand hovering over the shift knob, with my left foot ready, to disengage the clutch. My throttle hand has got two (2) fingers on the front brake lever, and my right foot has taken up the slack, so to speak, on the rear brake.

Now on the BSA, it's all reversed. This means my right foot is at the ready, to shift. My throttle hand's busy, trying to keep the engine from stalling, and, at the same time, clamping down on those horrible steel Lucas blades. Also, it's one-up, three down, so that adds to the fun.

Since the Kawasaki can't stop, I go real slow, and try to keep all my limbs and digits firmly on devices that aid deceleration. I've even used the "Fred Flintstone" method a few times.

Whatever works.

KPaulCook 10-21-2003 09:37 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
When I took the MSF experienced rider class they introduced trail braking using the 2 finger approach. Because I have small hands for my size (6' 200 lbs.), I prefer to keep all fingers off. My throttle control is much better. Everyone says that the all racers do the 2 finger trail braking thing but I heard Troy Corser uses the convential approach, complete all braking before the turn i.e. he never covers the brake. He is also really smooth. I agree with you though veepster. Both methods should be OK for an experienced rider. If my hands were bigger or could adjust my lever more than I can now I would probably use the 2 finger approach and trail brake.

irondad 10-21-2003 09:38 AM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I know these things can take on a life of their own but I would like to offer one more comment on two finger braking versus four from the viewpoint of an instructor. I ride sport bikes that will brake with one finger. I advocate covering the brake in high risk situations such as busy streets with multiple intersections. However, I also advocate riding with the same habits you will fall back on in stressful situations. If you can absolutely guarantee that you will ALWAYS!!! use two fingers on the brake even when your rear end is clamped tight enough to crack walnuts, more power to you. My experience is that under stress ALL FOUR FINGERS GO FOR THE BRAKE. If you are not used to that then it is a surprise you don't need at that time. Always ride with consistently good habits and they will work to your advantage and not disadvantage in touchy situations.

nokneedragin 10-21-2003 10:47 AM

Re: why I don't cover any more
I have to disagree with the idea of grabbing the brakes with four fingers. The few people I helped get into motorcycles I taught to cover (I'm not an MSF instructor just "helped afew people learn to ride, don't do it any more)

IMO, a newbie rider is more likley to grab too much front brake (by transitioning from throttle to lever), than with the cover method. Which can be dangerous considering the varied road surfaces (wet, oily etc.), and you can add the additional fingers as required by the situation (as fast as grabing with all four), and get the benifit of an earlier brake application.

cyclesteve 10-21-2003 12:54 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Understand that MSF instructors are required to give the info from the MSF manual. Many even know the info is incorrect, but they must tow the company line. Some unfortunatly are there, because there is a real shortage of those willing to give up riding weekends to work and don't know better. I would suggest going to Reg Pridemore's Class or another reputable track school if you want stright answers and real practice outside a parking lot.

maccasmark 10-21-2003 12:58 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
At street legal speeds, the latest top performance cars (the really expensive ones) can actually outbrake a bike. This is due to having more rubber touching the tarmac.

But the average car takes far longer to brake compared to a bike.

maccasmark 10-21-2003 12:59 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Going by that logic, I learner would continue to use only the rear brake.

Flickmeister 10-21-2003 01:07 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
Being a former MSF instructor with considerable ractrack experience and 40+ years of riding taught me to spend some serious time getting my grubby little mitts on everything I could read, go to several track schools, and spend the time to figure out what worked best for me then practice it so it would be instinctive and reactive when the inevitable idiot rears his ugly head.

While there are a few hard and fast rules of physics when it comes to motorcycle riding, whether or not you cover your front brake is not one of them. If you are an experienced rider and that works well for you, I wouldn't change no matter what anyone said. Personally, I cover my front brake and clutch only in heavier traffic and intersections. I feel I get more precise throttle control not covering the front brake in other situations.

There are two other areas I take issue with the MSF. First, I strongly disagree with the keep your brake locked if you lock it while maximum braking. I have found there are many times when you maximum brake then have to swerve around an object to avoid a collision. If your rear brake is locked, at the most critical moment in this scenario, you have to remember to release the rear brake and allow it to regain traction before you swerve. This takes valuable time and distance. If you attempt to swerve with your rear brake locked, you are instantly on your ass. Because of this, if your are stopping in a straight line, concentrate on using your front and rear brakes just short of lock-up. If you lock your rear brake, release it and reapply with less pressure. If you are leaned over in a corner and you lock your rear brake, keep it locked. You're goin' down, but lowsiding and sliding along the tarmac beats releasing the rear brake, allowing the rear tire to regrip and throw you over the top of a wildy bucking, pissed-off motorcycle. This is defined as a "highside" and is # 3 on my list of collisions to avoid at all costs. # 1 is hitting another vehicle head-on and # 2 is hitting a solid object head-on.

The last issue I disagree with has to do with a sentence we taught in the ERC when I was an instructor. It involved a discussion of how much riding is mental versus physical. The phrase we read out of the ERC instructor's guide went some like this: "How much riding is mental and how much is physical?" "Some say it's as much as 90% mental and 10% physical." This phrase makes me crazy. I view it as the worst wording in the whole MSF curriculum. It is truly SAD (Stupid And Dangerous) and a blatant lie. Sure, if you are on a quiet country backroad with no side streets, the cruise control is on, etc., that 90%-10% ratio may be about right. But when that idiot makes his left-hand turn in front of you, it is 100% physical and reactive. If you have to spend any time thinking before reacting, you are an accident statistic. My point is that those mental-physical percentages are changing constantly as you ride and you damn sure better be aware of it and prepared for it or else.....

The only way I know to be able to react when that 100% situation arises is to practice your defensive maneuvers until they become instinctive and reactive. That means practice your ass off, and get thee to a track school if you are so inclined.

My last suggestion is that every rider, newbie or fossilized like me, buy Nick Ienatsch's "Sport Riding Techniques" (ISBN # 1-893618-07-2). Guaranteed the best book ever written on the topic. It's available dirt cheap ($17.47 + S&H) from Or, better yet buy it and David Hough's "MORE Proficient Motorcycling" (ISBN # 1-931993-03-3) for another measly $17.47. If you order both, shipping and handling is free. I promise it'll be the best thirty-five bucks you'll ever spend.

Jeez.....the old fart got on his high horse again. Thanks for letting me vent. Time to wake up MOrons and if anyone has any comments or suggestions on the novel above, I'd be interested in hearing them either here or off-list. Enjoy the ride. Cheers, Jack

giuliom 10-21-2003 01:58 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I ride in heavy traffic a lot and I do cover. I use my thumb and index to control the throttle and the other three fingers on the brake. I can control the throttle very well (practice) and I get enough stopping power that way. If the braking needs increasing, it takes an extra fraction of a second before the index finger also closes on the brake. I am not a newbie, so I doubt I would panic and lock up when I don't mean to brake. The extra time has saved my butt a couple of times (lane splitting, city traffic), so I am not changing, no matter what everyone says.

oldedogg 10-21-2003 02:00 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
As a recent returnee to the sport after a break of some thirty years, I took advantage of the law here in Wisconsin. Not only do they offer one the option of successfully completing the Basic MSF Course in lieu of the DMV road test to earn the "M" endorsement on a driving license (saving me a 100 mile comute to the nearest DMV office conducting the road test), but the state also subsidizes the MSF Course ($56.50 is all I paid).

My previous experience of flogging the twisties in Monterey County, CA between Carmel and San Simeon taught me the value of effective front brakes. I totally faded the drum brake on my '69 CB360 Honda many times. Initially, I was curious that my highly professional MSF instructor was putting so much emphasis on covering the front brake lever, but I quickly realized he was getting the beginning riders to focus on the importance front wheel braking. I firmly believe ALL beginning riders, when faced with their first emergency stop, will instinctively stab their foot down, and lock the REAR brake and wheel, guaranteeing a low-side "step-off", to include an unsolicited embrace with the pavement.

Returning to the true spirit of a MOFO upchuck, I am obgliged to reveal my passion is riding my neighboring superbly maintained state and county roads on the most sporting lightweight motorcycle I am permitted to own in the US--a Kawasaki EX250 Ninja. (Shame on the Feds I cannot buy a street legal Aprilia 125!) I can map out a route of 200 miles of hills and twisties hardly ever leaving Vernon County.

My point here is twofold. Firstly, never take delivery a a new motorcycle or ride hard a used one without fitting braided stainless steel brake lines (I chose Spiegler), filling the system with silicone fluid (I chose Castrol SRF), and installing sintered-metalic pads (I chose EBC). Secondly, I am asking if all you MOFOs are insisting I paint myself into the tiniest corner of the idiot fringe if I believe it is essential to be able to effectively brake with two-finger control while simultaneously blipping the throttle to change down to a gear appropriate to stay in the torque band. (Fat twin cruisers know you need not respond, and 600cc+ sportbike riders should understand, if you respond, are likely pleading guilty to your local authorities to exceeding the posted speed limit by at least 70mph. I cover with two fingers when I cannot see far enough ahead. All other times I concentrate on the line within my lane and road surface conditions. That is not to say I have not had an awkward moment when I had to grab for all the braking I could get with four fingers. The time I crested a blind rise at 8000 rpm in fifth only to confront a tractor towing a manure spreader, traveling at 10 mph, randomly depositing the flotsam of its cargo in my lane was a true learning experience.

In conclusion, while there is no substitute for looking ahead and assuming no one else on the road--motorcyclist or cager--can see you or gives a s*** you have a legal right to the space you occupy on the roadway, please keep safe! Please upgrade your braking system to the best reasonably available for your chosen machine, and please practice emergency stopping before you actually need to do it.

This is my first post since I began reading MO two and half years ago, and I trust you will overlook any spelling and syntax errors, and credit my enthusiasm. Be smooth and quick!

southwindphoto 10-21-2003 04:03 PM

The best answer IÂ’ve read
The best answer

And so very true.

NewbieÂ’s need to keep to the basics, whereas more advanced riders, who can master "multi tasking" can handle the challenge of doing two things at once with the same hand, should cover the break with two fingers.

Flickmeister 10-21-2003 04:16 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I'm not sure how necessary braided lines or sintered iron pads are on a modern sportbike. Silicone fluid (DOT 5) can creat far more problems than DOT 4 fluid since it won't mix with the vapor (water) that works it's way into the brake lines. There have been instances where the brakes have been applied properly, abruptly locked, and when released, remained locked causing the rider to go down (ain't a whole lot of steering or recovery when your front wheel is locked). I strongly advise against silicone fluid. The stainless steel brake lines can be very useful, adding both braking power & feel in most cases. Same with good aftermarket brake pads even though they may cause additional wear on your rotors. Now days, brakes, on modern sportbikes, are so good that the weakest link is definitely the rider. The bottom line is the best way to achieve the shortest stopping distances is to learn the correct maximum braking techniques and practice them until you can stop in the shortest distance keeping both wheels just short of locking up. And the good news is it won't cost you anything except your time and effort. After you've mastered the necessary skills and IF your bike becomes the limiting factor, then invest in brakes lines, pads, rotors, etc. as necessary. Hope this helps. Cheers, Jack

JALacroix 10-21-2003 04:52 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?
I had this exact same debate with both of my instructors at the MSF ExperiencedRider Course that I took this weekend. I ride with my lever covered and also only use 2 fingers to brake.

They argued that the lever will be hindered by the two fingers that I leave on the bar (to help maintain better control of my bike while braking). Mind you, I have my levers adjusted so that hitting my other 2 fingers is physically impossible. I demonstrated this to them. I ride a sportbike (VTR1000F) with aftermarket brakes and have more than enough leverage using only 2 fingers.

I have also never panicked and grabbed a handfull of brake as they argued that I might in an emergency. Whatever.

In any event, I was one of only 2 people in my class of 12 that had a perfect score on the skills test (though I did have the fastest time through the course ;).

I also could have brought up that covering the lever is recommended by many experienced, talented riders (Nick Ienatsch is a proponent of doing so in his book).

Alright, enough venting. From now on I think I'm just going to do track schools.

giuliom 10-21-2003 05:45 PM

Re: To Cover or Not To Cover?

All times are GMT -7. The time now is 08:48 AM.