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SPLIT SECONDS II

by SPEEDSLUG

While engine horsepower, turning, etc still gets the majority of practice time, one thing is still the most important, life saving, bacon sparing exercise-FRONT BRAKES. Go ahead and tattoo that across your right hand knuckles. Its that important.

Anyone still slowing down using the rear brakes only, or mostly rear, go get that tattoo now. Anyone that had a close call and ended up locking the rear brakes get that tat on now.

It's simple. The more front brake you apply, the more weight gets heaped upon the front tire, the more friction it creates, the shorter your stopping distance. Since the majority are cruiser riders don't even worry about doing a 'stoppie' with the rear tire coming off the ground. The bike is too low and heavy for that to happen. With the single front disc on most models it is even less likely.

So. How to start learning how it 'feels' to brake harder and harder?

Got a zip tie? One of those plastic, hold the wires together behind the VCR things. Like the larger handcuff version used, ah I mean, tested, on me and Bob in our younger years. It clicks down to where you want it and wont back out to secure whatever it's holding. Go get one and zip tie it around the front fork near the fork seal. Take ride around the block and come back to see how far the tie slid up the fork in normal riding. Now go out and make a purposeful stop and see how far the zip climbed.

Amazing, eh? Roughly measure it then start practicing. Gradually feed more brake then see what your 'results' measure. For now, forget about measuring actual distances in feet. What you're doing is gradually getting a feel for brake application and computing it into the brain by seeing the zip tie move. You will quickly learn that a lot more brake can be safely applied than you thought possible. Couple of reminders. Keep your eyes up and forward. HUG the tank with your knees to keep your grip on the brake lever relaxed.

Learn to add engine braking, then downshifting, once you feel comfortable with that front brake.
A side note. In your owners manual, setting the suspension is mentioned. The amount of 'drop' when your weight is on the bike.

Static sag. Although it applies to the rear preload on your shock, you can also measure the front sag and adjust it if your suspension has fork adjustments.

If the zip maxes out to the top or near the top, check the amount of 'travel' it's supposed to make according to your owners or shop manual. Bottoming out or thudding, indicates checking your fork oil levels, or front springs fatigued (sacked) on older bikes. All this from a 0.10 cent zip tie.

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SPEEDSLUG is a frequent contributor to the Women Riders International (WRI) Forum and has generously allowed us to post his tips at here at RideMyOwn.com

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