Braking Question - Kawasaki Vulcan Forum : Vulcan Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-06-2014, 09:07 PM Thread Starter
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Braking Question

Hello, I've been riding my 900 almost every day since I got it about 9 months ago. A couple of times I've had to do emergency stops, once while traveling at about 50 mph along a straight road and once while traveling pretty slow after turning a corner. In both cases my rear tire slid out to the side, not enough to cause me to lose control but enough to make me think I'm doing something wrong.

My initial thought was that I'm not hitting the back brake hard enough, i.e., if the back wheel keeps spinning when the front stops maybe it's likely to go off to the side. However, after looking at other explanations it seems like maybe the issue could be caused by the opposite problem, i.e. too much brake at the rear tire causing it to skid. Both times the rear tire (but not the front) did skid. Any thoughts?
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-06-2014, 09:29 PM
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Too on much brake on the back tire will cause you to have it slide out, especially if you lock the tire up. Try reading Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well by David Hough. It explains so much about the dynamics/balance of motorcycles. Alot of it seems like common sense, but it's the kind of common sense where you think "oh ya, that makes sense, but I never would have thought of that" haha. I am on page 200...

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-06-2014, 09:42 PM
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The back tire won't skid unless it loses traction, which can be caused by too much rear brake (or too much throttle at the wrong time, but your question is about braking). It just comes with practice, knowing how hard you can mash the rear brake without locking it.

A common result of locking/skidding the rear tire is a highside crash. If the back tire skids, when it regains traction, if it isn't aligned with the front tire and moving straight forward, off you go, over the "high side" of the bars. Granted, if it's just a momentary thing and you can keep the bike under control with the wheels aligned, that probably won't happen, but a highside is pretty gruesome.

Here's a nasty example of a highside.

Have you taken an MSF course?

Last edited by Graybush; 05-06-2014 at 11:36 PM.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 10:23 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks guys. Yes, I took the safety course when I first started, but apparently I need a "refresher" on braking. I'll check out that book if I can find a copy. Is it available online?
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 10:33 AM
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When you start to slow down you have the weight of the bike shift to the front wheel which takes some pressure off the rear wheel. It just takes some practice. Squeeze (not grab) the front brake steady and push the rear brake steady, when you feel the rear wheel start to skid ease off the brake until you get traction again.

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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 01:24 PM
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IDK if you can find the book for free to read online. Maybe your local public library can get it?

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-07-2014, 05:47 PM
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It is recommended in the Safety Course and the book "Proficient Motorcycling" that if the rear tire has lost traction and is skidding while breaking that you DO NOT release the brake.. (FYI, a sliding tires always wants to lead, be it Car, Semi or Motorcycle)

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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-14-2014, 11:23 AM
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A couple of thoughts.

One, there are times lack of available stopping "room" might make you want to get the rear "loose", in part to slow, in part to steer around an object.

Two, be wary of this, as there is a good chance the engine will stall, as timing of down shift/clutch might not perfectly match in this panic situation.

I've done this, wasn't a planned thing. Nomads's don't stop really quick.....

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-17-2014, 07:29 AM
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I had that exact same bike and the exact same situation about a month ago. A hard stop on the interstate with almost not enough room in front of me. I thought the same things. I came to the same conclusion as you and the others here: too much rear brake and possibly not enough front. My back tire fishtailed. I stayed on the rear brake til I got down to about 25 mph and then let both brakes go. I was then able to re-apply both brakes with traction and come to a safe stop. SCARY AS SHIT.

What I can tell you as a former vulcan 900 owner is that the rear brakes on those bikes are weak. And you need to know that so you can adjust your riding style. I have test driven other bikes and just traded in on a Road Star. Every other single bike I've ridden has rear brake performance that GREATLY outperforms the vulcan 900.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 05-17-2014, 08:23 AM
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Knowing the limitations of your brakes is a good thing. Most riders don't, and therefore can never achieve maximum braking efficiency in an emergency situation.
The advent of ABS has helped the average rider stop a lot more safely in an emergency situation, but there is still no substitute for knowing your bike, and its limits.
One of the things I used to demonstrate was the stopping distances using rear brake only, then front brake only then both brakes together, braking as hard as possible each time, from a brake marker, at the same speed, just on the limit of traction. (This was in the days before ABS and Linked brakes).
Braking with both brakes together always gives the shortest distance.

The reason I mention this is to go on to say that most riders I have had the pleasure of helping don't realise just how hard you can squeeze the front brake lever before anything bad happens, and just how easy it is to lock up the rear.

Before I was qualified to teach one of the things on the course was to find the limits of braking, individually front and rear, and to recover from that to bring the bike to a controlled stop. Now I don't advocate trying that on a heavy machine like a Voyager or similar, but it was a valuable learning experience for me, if a little nerve jarring the first few times.

If the rear is stepping out sideways under emergency braking, sounds like you already know the limits there. I would think that a little more front brake and a little less rear would be better. However, remember it is more unlikely that you will cause the front to lock, but a much harder situation to recover from, especially if the bike is leant over even a little, which brings me to my final point (sorry for rambling on) only brake really firm when travelling in a straight line, even with ABS.

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