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Discussion Starter #1
When I raced M/X, I developed the good habit of having my index finger resting on top of the front brake lever so that I could apply the brake in an instant. That good habit saved me yesterday as I was crossing two lanes of traffic with my view of traffic coming from my right was obscured by traffic backed up at a red light. As I eased forward looking for traffic coming from my right, I was at the point where I thought it was clear only to suddenly see a speeding sub-compact coming from my right. I couldn't see it because of a large pickup truck blocking my view. If I hadn't had that finger at the ready, I most likely would have hit, or been hit. It was also a good thing that I was being so cautious and was totally aware of the blind area. It DID cause my heart rate to soar quickly because this was a near miss. My finger now naturally goes to the lever anytime I straddle the the bike without me having to think about it. I have my brake lever rotated about 15 degrees down from level so that this angle is comfortable for my hand. Anyone else do this?
 

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I keep my index fingers resting on top of my clutch and brake levers. I picked up the habit years ago while riding mountain bikes. I've always done it unconsciously when riding my motorcycle. I've rotated my controls so that my wrists are straight when using the brake and clutch controls.
 

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I actually cover the brake with 2 fingers (middle and ring), which I find more comfortable than the pointer. Also a holdover from mountain biking. The only time i don't is on rough terrain or other cases where I'm likely to grip inadvertently.

I've had similar experiences where that half second of getting my hand in position would have been the difference between a near miss and a bad day. Glad to hear your story was the former.
 

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I do like yocto does, most of the time.
This is awesome! Thank you for starting this thread!
Doug
 

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I've always adjusted the grips so that the fingers fell comfortably on the controls, doesn't every one do dat? It's part of setting the bike up for the individual. The MSF has taught fingers on the controls forever.
Paying as much attention as you can to all the traffic helps, Bugger the earbuds and entertainment!
 

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I've always adjusted the grips so that the fingers fell comfortably on the controls, doesn't every one do dat? It's part of setting the bike up for the individual. The MSF has taught fingers on the controls forever.
Paying as much attention as you can to all the traffic helps, Bugger the earbuds and entertainment!
Very good point. Something that some riders, especially beginners, don't think of or may forget....I slide my control levers in about as far as I can so that I can operate both levers with one finger and that one finger is at or near the end of the lever. The leverage at the end of the lever makes the pull much lighter. The first time you do this with your front brake lever you might be surprised at how much more sensitive the front brake becomes just from the leverage. It took me quite a few stops to get used to it, but I love it. For me, when it comes to brakes, more is better.

If you use the stock levers, the clutch lever can't be moved in as far as the front brake due to the large diameter of the control assembly on the left handlebar. The clutch lever will hit the plastic housing. Make sure you have enough pull on the clutch lever to engage the safety switch.

Try it and then comment here on your experience.
 

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I habitually ride with my little fingers around the bar weights and my first 2 fingers on the brake lever, from there I find you can give it a good tug in an instant.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks for the replies. Just today, as I sat outside at my local coffee cafe', I began watching the bikers ride by and see if they rode with a finger or two on the lever(s). Out of 28 riders that went by, only 2 had a finger or two on the brake lever. The clutch lever observation didn't mean much as my table is a short distance from a traffic light so most were accelerating and shifting anyway. Of the 28 bikes, 22 were H-D's. The other 6 were mostly Asian bikes. It's possible that more had a finger on the lever than what I could clearly see. I expected to see more riders using this simple technique.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
As an addendum, I've been watching closely the motorcyclists as I drive by. SaDLY, I've seen only 1 rider with a finger on the brake lever,.
 

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I believe Hough recommends this in his book Proficient Motorcycling.

In Ontario, however, it seems the safety courses do not teach this technique. I was lectured on my unsafe riding when I took a refresher course last month. It seems you are supposed to have the controls free so that you don't panic, grab the brake and flip over. This is a good idea (in my opinion) if you are new to riding or panic easily. For riders with some kilometers under their belt, I am sure they are able to control their braking hand in hairy situations.

Personally, I love saving that second reaching for the brake. It has prevented a crash before.
 

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It's always a good idea to cover the brakes if your in a situation where you may need to apply them quickly. The 1/2 second you save grabbing the lever may be what saves you.:thumbup:
 

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Riding School Teachings

In May I attended a riding school in Oakville and was lambasted for keeping a few fingers on the front brake and clutch (for quick shifts in succession). They suggested you couldn't be in full control of your bike by doing so. However, I've since read David Hough's books an have concluded that I'd rather keep two fingers over the brake in readiness....especially when driving around the city.
 

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It seems you are supposed to have the controls free so that you don't panic, grab the brake and flip over. This is a good idea (in my opinion) if you are new to riding or panic easily. For riders with some kilometers under their belt, I am sure they are able to control their braking hand in hairy situations.

Personally, I love saving that second reaching for the brake. It has prevented a crash before.
I see HD has been at work in that city. You can certainly skid the front, even lift the rear wheel into the air - done that, with ABS - it'd be a real challenge to 'flip over'.

Cover the sucker :)

Pete
 

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...
In Ontario, however, it seems the safety courses do not teach this technique. I was lectured on my unsafe riding when I took a refresher course last month. It seems you are supposed to have the controls free so that you don't panic, grab the brake and flip over. This is a good idea (in my opinion) if you are new to riding or panic easily. For riders with some kilometers under their belt, I am sure they are able to control their braking hand in hairy situations.
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I am someone that likes to cover the front brake (and clutch) as well, in particular in congested traffic riding.


Back in July of 2010 I had a discussion with a good friend of mine. She was an instructor at a riding school (here in Ontario.) The discussion was about covering the front brake and she said that they were discouraging riders from doing that. The reason was that in a panic situation riders tended to grab the brake and lock up the front wheel and they have foudn that more neew riders crashed from locking up the front wheel than from taking a fraction ofa second longer to grab the brake. I pointed out how I was an experienced rider and it saved me a few times blah blah blah.

A week or so later I made a right turn into a side street behind a van. As soon as the van turned into the side street he was making a left into a strip plaza. I didn't notice him signalling and slowing to make the left. I grabbed the front brake hard. Locked up the front wheel and laid the bike down.

That was on my 2006 DL650 which of course does not have ABS. I still cover my front brake,


Last year I made a left into a side street behind another vehicle. That vehicle decided to make a U-turn as soon as he got on the side street. I grabbed the front brake hard and thankfully the ABS prevented the wheel from locking.

We can all say that riders should do this or that but there isn't any hard rule that applies to everyone in every situation.

And as much as many of us are amazingly good riders in a panic situation in the real world you might find you revert to just hammering the brakes hard; and without ABS that in itself could cause a crash.

..Tom
 

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I grabbed the front brake hard. Locked up the front wheel and laid the bike down.

We can all say that riders should do this or that but there isn't any hard rule that applies to everyone in every situation.

And as much as many of us are amazingly good riders in a panic situation in the real world you might find you revert to just hammering the brakes hard; and without ABS that in itself could cause a crash.

..Tom
I totally agree, because I have been in your situation, caught by surprise and tucked the front (without ABS). That's why all my bikes since have been and will continue to be ABS. I also cover the brake lever with one or two fingers in traffic, but not out on the open road; tires my wrist too quickly.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
What I don't get about advising riders to NOT keep a finger on the front brake lever is the thinking that by keeping a finger off prevents locking the wheel up in a panic. Hmmmm...then why wouldn't making a panic grab at the lever do the same thing...and even add more to causing a loss of control? When I originally had the near miss, I distinctly remember how I used the correct pressure to NOT lose control simply because I was AT THE READY. No doubt that my many years of riding and racing helped with that fine tuning of how to use the front brake. Now, as soon as I throw my leg over the bike, my right index finger automatically goes to the brake lever....and it always will. I am 100% convinced that this is the safest technique for riding a motorcycle. Also, while I didn't mention it, I also ride with my left index finger on the clutch lever with a small difference. That is, my clutch finger is situated such that it applies a slight forward pressure as I'm riding to prevent clutch wear. I'm pushing the lever forward with slight pressure to insure full clutch engagement but is still at the ready.
 
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