CMA HeartBeat April 2022 - Page 25

SAFETY TIPS

SAFETY TIPS

By MIKE Phillips
FRONT BRAKE

BEGINNERS and

experienced riders make the same mistakes when using the front brake . Tip overs and crashes in basic rider courses , advanced courses , and Ride Like a Pro classes that I work with are all primarily caused by the rider ' s improper use of the front brake . Basic courses are mostly made up of people who have never ridden or have minimal riding experience . Advanced courses may have riders with one year up to thirty years or more experience . Unfortunately , experience is not always a good teacher . Both groups of riders make the same mistakes when using the front brake . Stay safe . Give yourself a proper break and use the brake properly .
The three most common issues with the front brake are grabbing the brake lever too hard , causing the front tire to lock up , braking in a curve when the bike is leaned over , and using the front brake at slow speeds with the front tire turned . All three of these conditions can cause a bike to tip over or crash .
The most serious of these is grabbing the front brake and locking the front tire . This will cause the front tire to skid and the bike to fall . The front brake should be used with a smooth , progressively stronger squeeze of the brake lever . Think of squeezing the juice out of an orange . Squeeze the orange slightly , then squeeze harder and harder until the juice is all out . A
hard quick squeeze at the start will cause the juice to squirt out in all directions , making a sticky mess . A smooth and easy squeeze that gets progressively stronger works on the orange and works on the front brake lever .
Front brake pressure in a curve , while the bike is leaned over , can cause the bike to fall to the inside of the curve . Riders brake in a curve because they are going too fast to complete it . Riders can avoid this problem by starting every curve slower than they need to go . Look all the way through the curve . Lean your body into the curve or stay straight with the bike .
Riders should not lean their body to the outside of a curve . They can countersteer by pushing left on the handlebar for a left curve or pushing right for a right curve . If you think you are going too fast , countersteer more , look farther ahead , and lean more into the curve . If you must brake in a curve , the best way is to stand the bike up straight then use both brakes , stopping in a straight line . Riders can very lightly apply both brakes as the bike stands up with a bit of practice . When the bike is straight , stop as quickly and safely as you can .
The most common tip over by beginners and experienced riders is applying the front brake at slow speed while the front tire is turned . This happens mostly in parking lots when the bike is turning at walking speed or less . Riders tend to dangle both feet off the footrests , giving up the rear brake when they go slow . The rear brake is the most
important control at slow speed . Applying the rear brake lightly at slow speed helps the bike stay upright .
The rear brake can ' t be used when the feet are hanging down . The bike tips over when the handlebars are turned and the front brake is applied . Keep your feet on the pegs so you can use the rear brake .
Riders in a basic class are taught to power walk the bike if needed . The rider ' s feet are on the ground walking with the bike , not pushing it . The motor powers the bike very slowly by using the clutch and throttle in the friction zone . Riders should never drag their feet along the ground with the bike moving . Shoes get caught on rocks and cracks , and if the bike starts to tip over , the rider has a tough time holding the bike upright . This becomes more of a problem the older we get .
One other problem occurs when the front brake lever is pulled toward the throttle . The rider ' s hand rolls slightly backward , causing the throttle to roll on and the engine to roar . Riders are surprised by the roar of the engine and many will release the clutch at this point , causing the bike to lurch forward . Riders can prevent this by using their grip like a crab uses a claw . Squeeze the brake with your fingers while squeezing the throttle with your thumb . This lets the hand close together like a crab claw , keeping the throttle rolled forward . If the throttle rolls at this time , it does not matter as long as the clutch is pulled in .
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