Of all the skills used when riding your motorcycle, emergency braking is the most important. You can take curves at lower speeds, you can park a motorcycle anyway you want, you can even split lanes while riding carefully – all items you need to learn, but that requires a lesser skill level than emergency braking. If your cornering skills requires improvement, all you do is take a corner with less speed.
But when you suddenly need to hit the brakes hard, for whatever the reason, you need skills and experience. In other words, a skill you will need to practice regularly to gain and retain the muscle memories. So practice, practice and more practice. Go to some remote parking lot, place a visual mark on the lot, and pretend that it’s a object you are riding towards and you need to brake hard. Start slow and build up speed after each attempt. This way your reflexes will be automatic when you are faced with such a situation.
So here are a few tips for emergency braking:
- Don’t grab the handle and pull with all your strength. That is the “normal” reaction of an untrained biker. If some car driver suddenly opens a car door in your path, your normal reaction is to pull the brake lever as hard and as fast as you can. Big mistake, even if your motorcycle is equipped with ABS. Pull hard, but not fully, and then continue pulling harder progressively. If you pull hard all the way, your tires will lock up and you will no longer be in control of your bike.
- Use both brakes, front and rear. The front should be used at about 80%, the rear at 20%. But both are important. If you use the front more, the rear will lift and be useless. If you use the rear too much, you will stop far less faster.
- Squealing tires mean you are braking too hard. This means you have lost control. Loosen up a tad.
- Weight distribution. The weight, in fact your weight, is going to be distributed since the bike is going to lower in the front and your body will want to get off the bike at the front. To counter the front ejection, keep your arms straight and locked.
- If you can, and this is where ABS comes in very handy, try to avoid the object. Counter-steer as hard as you can. You can do this while still hitting the brakes.
Practice, practice and practice until you got it perfect and then practice some more. And remember to do it often enough.