Riding techniques: emergency braking

It’s time again for our regular feature on riding techniques theory, an essential topic that for all us “kilometre munching” members of Proud Owners, so we have once again approached our technical partners at the GSSS, or “Scuola di Guida Dinamica Sicura su Strada” (School of safe dynamic driving on the road) to hear their expert advice.

Together with them we have previously addressed the topic of braking in a previous article entitled “On-road braking technique”, but this issue certainly doesn’t end there. 
Braking is by far the most important aspect of riding that we all need to master, but the most critical aspect of all is emergency braking: knowing how to properly execute an emergency braking manoeuvre can, in fact, make the difference between a simple unexpected event and a really dangerous one.

Safety first
Together we learned that the brakes are actually one of the bike’s active controls that can be used to alter the bike’s dynamic balance at any time, however, their main function remains that of a safety device that we need to know how to manage and control when executing an emergency braking manoeuvre.

First of all, what exactly do we mean by “emergency braking”? Well, any situation in which we have to bring the vehicle to a full stop as quickly as possible without causing any loss of tyre contact with the road or other type of hazardous situation.

Front first, then rear 
First of all let’s recap the little “braking theory” that we covered in our previous article entitled On-road braking techniqueit’s safe to say that the maximum deceleration obtainable during a braking manoeuvre is proportional to the amount of friction that develops between the tyre and the tar. This friction force is the product of the tyre/tar friction coefficient and the load pressing down on the tyre itself”.

Therein lies the perfect recipe for maximum deceleration, i.e. increase the load on the braking wheels as much as possible while avoiding any loss of grip or locking the wheels. Easier said than done … 
But that’s where a variety of different braking techniques come into play, depending on the specific configuration of different bikes and the kind of braking system fitted.

Emergency braking without the aid of ABS or an integrated braking system
With effect from January 2017, all new 125cc or greater bikes registered in Europe must be equipped with an ABS braking system. However, there are still many bikes out there fitted with “traditional” braking systems, in other words bikes without ABS support or with separate front and rear wheel braking circuits.

So here are the steps involved in properly executing an emergency braking manoeuvre on bikes fitted with a traditional braking system:

  1. start by applying the rear brakes,
  2. then apply the front brakes, never all at once, but rather by applying robust pressure on the brake lever and then increasing the pressure gradually,
  3. allow the bike sufficient time to transfer the load onto the front wheel,
  4. as the load on the front wheel increases, exert more pressure on the brake lever, but being careful not to cause the wheel to lock or the bike to flip over forwards,
  5. maintain pressure on both the front brake lever and the rear brake pedal until such time as the bike comes to a complete stop.