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This A.M. on the way to work on my 2006 V-Strom 1000 along perfectly dry blacktop, I was faced with a yellow traffic light. Travelling about 50 mph, I started to slow but realized I was going a little too fast and should probable just go on through the yellow light. I was unpleasantly surprised when the car in front of me slammed on her brakes. I was far enough back to not run into her, but when I stepped on the rear brake the back end got real loose. I felt like one of those circle track dirt racers. I had three options, continue braking and lay the bike down, smack into the rear of her SUV or evade around to the left of her via an empty turning lane. I chose to go around her. Luckily, due to the length of the yellow light, no one was in the intersection but a car was in the opposing turning lane. I went on out further left into oncoming lanes (thankfully no one was coming) and travelled past all danger and back into the appropriate lane of travel. I have had a couple of slow speed close calls in my three years of experience but this was the first high speed incident I've had.

My last bike, a Royal Enfield Bullet 500, never got very loose in the rear. Any thoughts other than I should be more careful? I didn't touch my front brake. Would I have had as much steering control if I had used the front brake? Tires?
 

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... I didn't touch my front brake....
You gave up about 80% of your stopping power right there. You best brush up on your skills. Your Strom should be able to outbrake any SUV without trouble.

http://www.webbikeworld.com/Motorcycle-Safety/braking-tips.htm

1. Which brake is the most effective?
The front brake is the most effective, giving between 60 & 80% of the bike's stopping power in hard stops, depending upon surface conditions. This is because most of the weight of the bike and rider transfers forward onto the front wheel when the brakes are applied.
A common example of weight transfer is when you trip on a gutter - your feet stop but momentum keeps the top of you going and you fall flat on your face. The weight transfer that takes place under braking on a motorcycle pushes the front wheel onto the ground and makes it grip very well.

2. Is the front wheel likely to skid if you apply the front brake hard?
No. The front wheel is likely to skid uncontrollably and bring you down only if you jam the front brake on hard. If you apply the front brake in a staged (progressive) process, the front wheel may skid but that skid is normally quite controllable.

3. Is the rear wheel likely to skid if you apply the brakes hard?
With most of the weight being on the front wheel, the rear wheel tends to be light under braking and will therefore lock up and skid very easily.

4. How do you control a rear wheel skid? Control of a rear wheel skid is easy. Just keep your eyes up to the horizon and look where you WANT to go (not necessarily where you are actually going) and the bike will skid in a controllable manner with a minimum of fishtailing.
Basic and advanced braking techniques are best learnt under controlled conditions rather than when a truck pulls out on you! Your local motorcycle school will run a fun braking exercise session for you and some mates if you care to call the school and arrange it.

5. Is braking a natural skill?
Braking, as with any riding skill, is a learned skill, not a natural one. This means you must practice the correct braking skills enough to make them an instinctive reaction before you can be sure that you will do the right things in an emergency. Overseas research has shown that, because of panic overpowering the rider's conscious reactions, nearly a third of all riders do absolutely nothing in an accident situation: they don't even apply the brakes!
If, however, your high level braking skills are so well learnt that they are instinctive, you will do it right, no matter what the situation. However, this requires you to do a lot of high level braking skill practice, the skills will not come with normal everyday riding.
 

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You gave up about 80% of your stopping power right there. You best brush up on your skills. Your Strom should be able to outbrake any SUV without trouble.
Dittos. Learn to ride, please.
 

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I'm glad you didn't crash. Use this as a learning experience. The good news is you should be able to get a lot better a braking quickly.

You should be using either all front brake or primarily front brake depending who you ask. Don't try to turn while you are braking. If you need to turn ease off the brakes, make your turn and then get back on the brakes.

Most of your stopping power comes from the front. There is a reason there are two big rotors in the front and one small one in the back. When you are stopping hard you have very little weight on the rear tire. The weight is directly related to have much traction you have available to stop with. So, if you use the rear brake, use it gently. You can apply the front brakes pretty hard but you want to start out easy and squeeze harder as the weight transfers to the front. Remember, as you get more weight on the front tire your front brake has more traction to work with and the rear has less.

Practice, practice, practice. Put on your gear, find an empty parking lot and practice emergency braking.
 

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My first thought is "tire pressure?"

It sounds a lot like what happened to me this a.m. on the way to work: DL650, wet pavement, also about 50 mph, temp 37F (so I don't think I slid on ice or frost) when the light turned yellow right at that moment when there isn't really room to stop, but it's a little too far to proceed through the intersection. My back end started to slide, I eased up on the brake (I know, I know - good way to high side), got the bike back under control, lather, rinse, and repeat. I finally got stopped with my rear tire just touching the wrong side of the crosswalk stripe painted on the intersection.

I had to plug the rear tire after picking up a nail the other day, and I don't think it's holding air as well as I'd like. I'd double check your tire pressure, just to be sure. I'll be checking mine tonight, too.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Heavy, Timbo813, The Wall: thanks for the good advice. I will do a little practicing this weekend. BWRinger: that's what I'm trying to do. Thanks for the ditto, I guess. lol.
 

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Heavy, Timbo813, The Wall: thanks for the good advice. I will do a little practicing this weekend. BWRinger: that's what I'm trying to do. Thanks for the ditto, I guess. lol.
No problem. I read your first post and was actually scared for you.

Riding a bike can be a wonderful thing, but learning the basics, at speed, on public roads is not ideal. You don't mention your current level of experience but I would strongly suggest you get some training or, at least, do some reading and get some practice.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Not much experience. 4 or 5 years on dirtbikes as a kid and 3 years on a much slower, lighter street bike - a royal enfield bullet 500. I have a bad habit of forgetting about the front brake. I never used it much as a kid on the dirtbikes. I did mostly hill climbing at abandoned strip mines. Not much dynamic breaking necessary and not very many consequences for mishaps.

My street bike experience 25 years after the yz-80 and kx-80 is much slower than this v-strom. Usually I putted about at 35 to 40 mph with very short stretches at 50. The motorcycle wouldn't go faster than 55. I still travel the same route to work and back so I rarely get up over 50-55, I just am able to get up to speed so much quicker with this v-strom. I really am conscoius of the power of this bike. It is so hard to keep the thing putt-putting behind slow moving traffic but that is what I almost always do.

I do have a little fun during the last 3 or 4 miles of my commute on the way home, though. I live on top of a ridge and ascend about 1000 curvy feet in about two miles. It is most fun when I am not behind a pack of really slow movers. I never get up much past 45, but 45 is much more fun than 35.
 

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Yikes!

Steve.smith,

Sorry to hear about your close call, we've all had them for one reason or another (ignore bwringer's pissy comment, even he's almost done it...GUARANTEED).
I wholeheartedly agree with some of the other guys about finding an empty parking lot and checking it out. I recently did just that while it was raining to see how my tires fared when wet. I was impressed with how hard I had to brake to lock up my rear wheel, and when using an 80/20 rule on front/rear braking was still able to stop on a dime. Very impressive once you master it.

Be safe, and have fun!

jim
 

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I'm going to mention this one more time. The last time (recently) I brought this point up I think it fell on deaf ears. Same situation, panic stop, locked rear wheel. The Vstrom will lock up the rear tire more easily than any other bike I have ridden. To a fault. I think that much of the problem arises from the fact that the engine breaking is so high. Once again I have never ridden a bike that breaks so well just by letting off of the throttle. The point then is, that most of the traction that is available at the rear wheel is used up as soon as you let off of the throttle. Don't use the rear brake (the engine is taking care of it) for a panic stop until you have exhausted the front.:fineprint: End of rant:hurray:
 

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Just keep in mind that it'll probably take 2 to 3 times the distance to stop using only the rear brake compared to using only the front brake.

Oh yeah forgot to add, my theory on why the strom locks the rear so easily is because of its higher center of mass combined with longer and softer suspension. More weight is transfered to the front than most street bikes under normal deceleration. This of course results in less weight on the rear tire = less traction.
 

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happy you made it through this one. and will learn from it.

here in mexico the green light flashes a few times, then comes the yellow light. i have always thought that this is a great idea. i have never seen this type of light in the usa.
 

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(ignore bwringer's pissy comment, even he's almost done it...GUARANTEED).
i've known brian a long time.. it's not pissy.. riding with only the rear brake in a panic stop situation is a one way ticket to the hopsital or morgue. i'm really glad that steve is fine, but if he had not had the presense of mind to swerve he would have had "to lay it down" and it all goes down hill from there.

use BOTH brakes. As others have mentioned, the rear brake on the vstom does seem to break lose easily... be prepared for it, all you need to do is ease off until it stops skidding and them gently re-apply it.
 

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Front Brake only

I have a coworker who refuses to use his front brake and I've told him time and time again that he's going to kill himself. He is so confident that the front is going to slide....I don't invite him on group rides. I've even let him read my copy of Proficient Motorcycling so I didn't have to explain the weight transfer that occurs when a bike is breaking and how important the front brake is. He's an old head on an old BMW and doesn't want to listen.

Heck even your cage needs stronger breaks up front......

To the original poster....proficient motorcycling is worth the money, I've loaned my copy out to 4 riders and it's currently in the hands of a 5th newbie and I hope it will help her and save her some aches and pains.

Also the MSF can change you as a rider.

Ride Safe
 

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I have never ridden a bike that breaks so well just by letting off of the throttle
Oh I have completely agree with this, in fact I think that its a positive for the bike. By time you let off the throttle reaching for the front brake, you are already transferring weight to the front wheel. This only helps the front brake situation even more.

I have said this before, learn to love the front brake and don't be afraid to progressively grip it. The tire will "sing" before it breaks loose, but under proper braking that will be very late in pulling that lever. I always do a little rear brake just to keep the back end down and the suspension settled.

I have had cars pull out in front of me, a car slamming on their brakes in front of me for a squirrel running across the road and each time with out thinking I was able to react. Not saying I'm a braking pro or that I can handle every situation, but I don't have a problem hitting the front brakes when needed and with out thinking about it.
 

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A difference with the V-Strom that they do not have linked brakes as many bikes do. Coming from one of those or an ABS bike is different.

The way I brake is front compress the forks and keep squeezing as I add some rear. Watch MotoGP sometime, they often do not use the rear brake at all, in fact the rear wheel will lift off the ground on occasion. Casey Stoner does it a lot. I think you did one of the most important things, look for an exit path. Sometimes it is a better option even if you can stop. A bike can stop much faster than the car that maybe behind you
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I am going to go out this weekend and play around in a parking lot with front braking. What is the sensation when the front locks up? I assume you just completely lose control. When the rear locks up, it kind of gets loose in the back until you let off the brake a little. I got that feeling. Can anyone describe the feeling of the front grabbing? Can you just let up a little and it starts to roll again? Can you steer or swerve or are you pretty much committed to bringing the thing to a dead stop? I read about progressive breaking on the link provided above. I think I would have the presence of mind to do it if i could get into the habit of relying on the front brake at all. My back brake experience was similarly progressive - about three cycles before I let up completely and swerved to safety. The biggest cause of the closeness of it really was my lack of perception that the car in front of me was stopping. Once I knew it was stopping, I knew immediately I had a problem. It began to stop before I looked up and saw it was stopping. i had briefly looked down to my spedometer to gauge whether I should stop or run the light. I really didn;t think the car in front of me had a choice of whether to stop. I was wrong. While I wouldn't want to have to test whether the front brake would have stopped me in time in my lane, I do want to test out front braking efficiency. I just don't want to lay my bike down during practice unnecessarily. That is the reason for these questions about what to expect when the front tire stops rolling. Thanks for your comments and concerns. I really do appreciate your time.
 

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My worst experience with panic braking was while zipping down a 4 lane city street a bit too fast (50-60). Nothing behind me and all of a sudden all I can hear is sirens. With the FF helmet on, I couldn't exactly tell where they were coming from, but I knew they weren't behind me or in front of me. I was approaching a green light intersection, but I just knew they were going to cross my path. I grabbed the front brake (progressively, but quickly) and stopped that bike like right now! Sure enough, about 5 emergency vehicles went flying through the intersection across my path not even pausing for their red light. I would have been toast. That was the greatest lesson of my life. Keep your head and body up, eyes straight ahead and downrange, progressively apply that front brake and you can stop your bike really really quickly and in a straight line with no ill effect. It may chirp and skid, but it will keep going straight until it stops assuming you are travelling straight to begin with. At least, it worked for me that way. Do not fear the front brake, learn to love it.

Mike
 

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Glad to hear your okay! People on here have given some great advise, don't be afraid once you get used to the power of the front brake to smash on it if you need to. I've had to make an emergency stop and had my rear tire 3' off the ground at 50mph.... Once you see how well that front brake works for you, you should get pretty comfortable with it.
 
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