One Finger On the Front Brake? Wait: all the time?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by CaliKarl, Feb 1, 2014.

  1. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    #41
  2. Drstimpy

    Drstimpy Been here awhile

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    Wish my street riding looked like a track. Then yes I'd only cover the brake when using it...in fact that's what I do. Im sure my hands look just like Rossi's in the close ups...and that is about it for how close I get to looking like him;)


    Some must watch while others must sleep
    #42
  3. ride4fun562

    ride4fun562 Been here awhile

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    I keep my finger on the front brake all the time, so much so that it feels really strange if i try to ride with all my fingers around the throttle.
    #43
  4. redog1

    redog1 KLR650-2009

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    Do what works for you.

    My fingers are where ever they need to be at any given time, circumstances and situations are always changing, sometimes they're needed on the levers, sometimes not. Whatever works.
    #44
  5. Velocibiker

    Velocibiker Adventure Antagonist

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    Me too. Since it's all push to turn I don't see the need to 'grip' either the left grip or throttle. My pinkies don't reach the levers, but I usually have 3-4 fingers over both levers at all times except when going very slow. For me, it takes more effort to grip than to relax and cover. Not to mention it just feels funny to be 'grabbing' the bars.

    Got to stay relaxed. Having a 'death grip' screws up everything.
    #45
  6. Black09JK

    Black09JK Adventurer

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    When riding off pavement as the OP asked I usually try to do most braking with my rear brake. Even if that means mashing it into a skid. I certainly don't want to "reflex" brake on the front lever. If something comes up that quickly off road that forces an emergency stop my first reaction is clutch in, Rear brake stomp. I've been over the bars more times than I'd like already.
    #46
  7. jmq3rd

    jmq3rd .

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    Actually, I've recently come to think that the reason a lot of people panic grab the front is that they don't use it often enough. On a recent ride we had a guy go down because he was using the back brake only, and then when the back end started to come around he grabbed the front too hard and locked it up. If he had been dragging the front the whole time in addition to the rear, he probably would've just increased pressure more gradually instead of "grabbing" it.

    Just my opinion - I cover mine when I'm riding all out or when I think there could be a surprise. I don't usually cover it if just cruising.
    #47
  8. BCKRider

    BCKRider Been here awhile

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    1. I think racers on tracks use only one finger because their front brakes are so powerful and they don't need to stop - no personal experience.

    2. Off road riders use differing technics and bikes. Since I don't do that, have again no experience or advice.

    For road riders, had this discussion some time ago about number of fingers on the front brake lever on another forum. (MSF directive was to use all four fingers always.)

    What I took away from that thread was 'use the least fingers you need to get maximum braking from your bike.:" For me, on my bike, that is the first two fingers. Confess they are not always over the lever - but they migrate there with no thought at the slightest perceived threat or possible threat. I can roll off throttle and add brake at the same time, or vice versa, which also contributes to smooth riding. I also like having the progressive brake control rather than a stab at the brakes from my hand off the brake.

    Another poster suggested twice his hand reaching the front brake lever was faster than his brain. Can we all agree that the brain has to perceive a threat BEFORE the body can take any action? Can we also agree a four finger stab on the brake lever might not end well?
    #48
  9. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

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    Nope. That's how martial arts like Karate works, your brain actually reacts and does the right thing before it's concious of acting. "Muscle memory".

    I'll admit, I don't cover the front brake all the time, but when things get interesting, a couple of fingers are there hovering before a real threat appears.

    I also still bounce rather than break - my thanks to those Judo lessons I had in my twenties - I may have been bloody awful at Judo :lol3 , ( anyone who knew me back then would agree with that) but it's saved me from broken bones many times since.

    The four finger stab at the brakes, yes and no. I have an ABS bike now, that's the 'correct' thing to do, but covering with one finger is what was discussed, that works, and unless you are superman, that's enough to get SOME brake without a front wheel lock.

    Pete
    #49
  10. DualSportPirate

    DualSportPirate Adventurer

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    It depends on the pace and terrain offroad for me. If I'm moving at a pretty good clip or in some pretty gnarly stuff, I'll cover the clutch and brake, but if I am out cruising around dirt roads I will only cover the clutch.

    I am a lazy rider on road and usually dont cover either unless I am in traffic.
    #50
  11. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    You guys are misunderstanding what I said. Most times when braking is required, it's not a "BAM slam on the brakes right now" situation. If you get surprised that often you shouldn't be riding, or even driving. Usually someone changes lanes, someone else slows, or a car is rolling through an intersection, you see sand in a curve ahead, something happens where you decide for a short time whether to slow, or to speed up and steer around it, whatever. You think through the options, if and when you decide braking is neccesary you finger is there already. Other than a car, child or a deer darting out in the road from a hiding place ahead things don't happen all that quickly. Even then a better option may be to steer around, by the time you decide which to do your finger is where you need it to be. We're talking what, a tenth of a second to move your finger?

    If your normal ride is to be spring loaded and hair triggered to slam on the brakes, that's a lot worse than being a split second slower to start braking.
    Especially on a motorcycle.

    I can count the times I've had to do an instantaneous hard stop on one hand, and it was always when I didn't see something coming correctly. Even then, getting the finger to the lever doesn't take but a tenth of the time it takes to get the weight shifted completely forward and to get the full amount of front brake on.


    Do you guys all drive around in a car with your foot on the brake at all times?

    Open highway, across town, or cruising through the mountains on a dirt road with your left foot hovering over the brake pedal always?

    If you actually feel safer then go for it, but sure seems stupid and dangerous to me.
    #51
  12. Vulfy

    Vulfy Been here awhile

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    Always two fingers on the brake lever. I've had numerous situations on the highway as well as on larger streets, where someone would suddenly pull in front of me, and instead of a panic braking situation if I had my fingers off, and had to spend precious milliseconds and feet traveled, reaching for that lever, it was more of a "meh" situation where an instant gentle squeeze would slow me down enough to avoid the car, and then quickly pass them.

    Front brakes are not an ON/OFF switch as most of these scary stories of going over the bars or locking the front, would suggest.

    P.S. Ergonomics of it just need time to get used to. There is absolutely no strain or discomfort, as well as no loss of throttle fidelity in my palm and wrist, from having two fingers resting on the brake lever. Having them there, doesn't mean I'm tense and ready to pull the trigger. I'm just not wasting time by reaching for the lever, ESPECIALLY in a panic situation where every foot counts. Comparing this to having a left foot on the brake pedal in a car, is pretty stupid imo.
    #52
  13. snarf

    snarf WFO and clueless

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    One on the clutch, one on the front brake at all times. its something I learned in dirt.. It helps me to 'point' the bike where i want it to go, lets me have better throttle control, easier.... just personal preference.

    Not everyone likes it, and thats OK... I'm pretty sure a guy whos covering the brake will start braking before the guy who isn't covering.. just seems like common sense.
    #53
  14. tkent02

    tkent02 Long timer

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    Even when braking isn't the best thing to do.
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  15. Thumperski

    Thumperski n00b

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    With triple X glove size it sounds like your fingers should be long enough. Originally I thought covering the lever was difficult because your fingers were too short :D

    I too have big hands and find it more comfortable to lay two fingers on both the brake and clutch levers - habit learned from my early dirt bike riding days decades ago. Keeps your grip loose and relaxed for better control (ie: not a "death grip") and smooth, modulated front braking instead of a "grab".

    Maybe try loosening the lever perches and rotating them to a position where you can comfortably lay your first two fingers on them while in the "attack" position and they will be usable from sitting to full standing. It's the first thing I do when I get a new (to me) bike.

    PS - don't forget to tighten those perches back up after adjusting :eek1
    #55
  16. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    You need to learn more. Pretty simple. Any braking you don't do with the front is lost braking. You have to learn to read surfaces and how to use the front brake. I use it most of the time to some extent riding both dirt/gravel roads and on trails. I seldom have to mash the rear brake into a skid. Usually if I do have to skid the rear it is controlled,not "mashed". I'm acting, not reacting.

    I learned how useful the front brake is early on when starting with a trials bike. Used to play the "lock up" game going down loose hills, watching the front tire lock, then unlock it. I used the front brake when harescrambling too. It is about learning and "cataloging" actions in your brain. Don't do it and you never have it. Learn to do so and you develop usable skills. You don't go over the bars when you learn how to do it. There are times when you don't use it, but most of the time the front brake can be used to an extent when off road. Clearly when on hard pack without a loose surface, but even when it is loose, just less braking... two fingers, no grab.
    #56
  17. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    "muscle memory"=conditioned response based on past experience and practice.

    For the one post - the brain has to act first to make the muscles work. Conditioned response based on practice takes less time than a response requiring in depth thought processing. That is part of the thing, when you have conditioned responses frequently you actually end up with time (even a fraction of a second can seem like a lot of tiem) to consider responses, since there is no actual panic. You are already responding. That is the old "seems like things slow down" comment that some riders mention. I've experienced that a number of times.
    #57
  18. markk53

    markk53 jack of all trades...

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    I'm missing the "dangerous" part... I've been riding for about 45 years, starting with trials riding. Covering the front brake a lot of the time has always been near second nature. I just don't see the "danger" in having fingers on the brake to shorten braking action time. Can you explain the "danger"?

    It's easy/easier to cover the front brake with two fingers than doing a similar thing in a car, so many do it. I do a lot. One reason on open winding roads in casual riding is that it just works for smooth riding, no excess movement going into and out of a corner since I can throttle with the thumb and other two fingers. Especially in switch backs where there is throttle/brake/throttle/brake. It becomes a bit of a habit that spills over into general riding. Don't always do it, but a lot. Of course there are those times when I spot that idiot squirrel or chipmunk, dog or whatever, that is ready to run into my path too. I'm already set to brake if needed, no reach to lever... I'm there. And I'm betting faster than you are with your "have to reach brake and start weight shift". I'm there and if I brake the automatic conditioned response is the weight shift happening simultaneously. Lots of that in trials and trails.

    It also just makes sense for urban/suburban riding. You never know when a door may open or a car nose stick out. So why not cover the brake to be ready to act rather than have to reach, get set, and brake. I'm already set to brake. Sure, I'm watching the kid between cars, or adult for that matter, or the car at the alley. I'm already acting because I see them and already have my fingers on the brake lever. It's not about feeling safe, it's about action when needed. Second nature at this point.

    I have another reason though, it helps keep from cramping up that I seem to have happen at times. Extending the fingers on either/both hads helps. Late in the day after several hours I start getting hand cramping.
    #58
  19. joexr

    joexr Banned

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    Stupidest post EVER !!!:eek1 EVER !!!
    #59
  20. orangebear

    orangebear Long timer

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    what you have said is bullshit


    i had to do an emergency stop on the road and i was hard on the front brake and clutch in did not even think about my rear brake til after wards.
    #60