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Old 10-21-2003, 03:46 AM   #1
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Default 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.
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Old 10-21-2003, 03:52 AM   #2
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Default 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.
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Old 10-21-2003, 04:08 AM   #3
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Default 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.

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Old 10-21-2003, 04:21 AM   #4
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Default 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.
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Old 10-21-2003, 04:39 AM   #5
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Default 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...

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Old 10-21-2003, 05:01 AM   #6
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Default 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.
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Old 10-21-2003, 05:02 AM   #7
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Default 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?
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Old 10-21-2003, 05:06 AM   #8
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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....
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Old 10-21-2003, 05:11 AM   #9
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Default 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.
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Old 10-21-2003, 05:18 AM   #10
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Default 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.
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