Kawasaki Vulcan Forum banner

1 - 20 of 44 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So I'm a newbie and I having some questions on braking. Mainly, I think I take too long to slow down.

What I've been doing is mainly engine braking for everything except for hard stops. I'm still not great at it yet (I'll still jolt a bit from blipping the throttle too much). But my slow down routine is generally:

1) Let off throttle
2) Downshift (once deceleration from letting off throttle stops becoming noticeable)
3) Repeat

If I have to come to a complete stop, I will brake after downshifting from second. I never really touch the brakes unless I am intending to stop.

My question is: Is this good practice? Will I eventually be able to do this fast enough (with enough practice) or should I switch to a different "slowing down" technique.

Like I said, my concern is that this isn't fast enough in certain situations. For example, to go from 40 mph to 20 mph (to make a left turn), I usually need about 200 feet of "prep" beforehand and I feel this is too much. And I don't if it is because of bad technique or just inexperience.

Luckily, I've never really been in a situation where I had to do something fast but it leaves me a bit paranoid that I might not be able to if the situation occurs. What if 50 mph traffic drops quickly to 30 mph traffic? Or should I not be in that situation because I should have been paying attention?

If any of you disagree with my technique, please share how you slow down. And I know its second nature to you, but please be specific about what you do (I'm still new so it is not second nature to me!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,068 Posts
there's a school of thought that advises against engine braking in general. The logic is that brake pads are cheaper than a clutch and easier to replace. Personally I'm not against engine braking when you're idling down to a long slow stop.

But really, you should practice braking and downshifting together. There are two techniques here, and I use them both.

The first combines braking AND engine braking:
1. Throttle off
2. apply brakes (front AND rear)
3. as you approach an appropriate downshift speed, clutch in and bang down a gear.
4. clutch out, rinse and repeat

The idea is you're always in gear and able to accelerate again. This is best used for cornering, and my approach is to be in the gear you need before you turn in.

Also, you can STAY clutched in, and just shift down at the appropriate times as you brake to a stop. Then you can release the clutch and accelerate away. This, of course, eliminates the engine braking aspect altogether.

I'm sure others will chime in and potentially think I'm crazy. We all kinda have our own ways of doing stuff.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
918 Posts
I have always used engine braking with normal braking. I like knowing that I can get on the throttle if a danger arises while I'm slowing down. Plus, if you're one of these types that likes to coast to a stop and have the bike in 1st gear before you stop and an emergency situation arises, you're gonna spend more time trying to figure out which gear to be in versus being in gear already. I'm also a non-believer in having the bike in neutral at a stop for the same reason.

Personally, I don't think engine braking causes as much wear on the clutch as accelerating since all components are slowing down and not transferring as much energy around. I could be wrong, though. Although, if engine braking was bad for the bike, I think Kaw would have mentioned it in the manual.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,221 Posts
Riding around other traffic will, at some point, require you to slow down faster than engine braking. You may as well get experience before you need it.
There is a lot of info out there for proper braking; all you gotta do is search.

Two things worth noting though are:
1. Don't use your front brake at slow speed with your bars turned.
It can make you lowside your bike.

2. Apply pressure in a linear manner and don't 'stab and grab'.
In other words, even if you need to stop very fast; apply a moderate amount of pressure to allow your suspension and tires to react then keep adding pressure.

The only serious concern I have about engine braking is that it doesn't illuminate your brake light; letting cars behind you know that you're slowing down.

Scott
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
814 Posts
So I'm a newbie and I having some questions on braking. Mainly, I think I take too long to slow down.

What I've been doing is mainly engine braking for everything except for hard stops.

My question is: Is this good practice? Will I eventually be able to do this fast enough (with enough practice) or should I switch to a different "slowing down" technique.

If any of you disagree with my technique, please share how you slow down. And I know its second nature to you, but please be specific about what you do (I'm still new so it is not second nature to me!)
Ed, I believe that's a common issue with many new riders. I used to slow down much the same way when first getting acquainted with motorcycles. As you ride more and become more comfortable on a motorcycle, your braking technique will change, believe me. When the vehicles behind you start to stack up because you're slowing down too slowly, and it happens repeatedly, you'll start downshifting using your engine AND your brakes for a little quicker slowdown.

As for technique, like the previous posters have already stated, it's best to always be in the gear that is normally used for the speed you're traveling. I always use engine braking with or without my brakes, at least down to 2nd gear. It's simpler that way.

Just takes more saddle time and it'll come naturally. Ride safe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Thank you for all the replies. I sort of guessed that would be correct, but I wanted to make sure before I started making bad habits. Engine braking =/= brake lights was also a concern I thought of too.

Using the brakes at the higher gears feels so weird though. Just have to practice more I guess...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
This is just what I do. Not necessarily right or wrong; just what I do.

I pretty well know what speeds constitute what gear. So I pull the clutch in, downshift (keeping the clutch in) to keep the bike in the 'correct' gear; and hit the brakes. My thinking is; if I suddenly need to stop quick; I'm already on the brakes. They are already warmed up, etc. etc.

Just don't get in the habit of shifting down to 1st while still cruising at 50! I've seen guys do that and boy does it end badly if they slip off of the clutch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
99 Posts
I do a combination of both, shifting down while still using the brakes. Keep in mind that engine braking only will not light up your brake light, so that transport truck behind you will have no idea you're stopping. Be sure to use a combination of both front and back brakes - you'll get most of your braking from the front due to weight transfer. Also, as mentioned, for slow riding (around gas pumps, parking lots) use your rear brake only, don't even tempt yourself by putting your fingers over the levers.

Joel
 

·
Living The Dream
Joined
·
1,512 Posts
Thank you for all the replies. I sort of guessed that would be correct, but I wanted to make sure before I started making bad habits. Engine braking =/= brake lights was also a concern I thought of too.

Using the brakes at the higher gears feels so weird though. Just have to practice more I guess...
Have you taken an MSF course? Highly recommended if not. It will give you some much needed techniques that may just save your life someday.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
155 Posts
What I do is always use the brakes to signal my intent to the driver behind me, and downshift as needed to be ready to accelerate instantly if I have to. I think that's what some others are saying too.

I learned about braking in a '41 2-ton Chevy, hauling wheat. Loaded, it only had one reliable hard stop, then required a brake job; the rule was stop with the gear shift if at all possible. I probably don't brake hard enough soon enough since I began with nearly useless brakes, and haven't forgotten the experience.

Grandpa
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
39 Posts
It all depends on the riding scenario, but most of the time I use the brake before down shifting. I find it safer and comfortable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Just don't get in the habit of shifting down to 1st while still cruising at 50! I've seen guys do that and boy does it end badly if they slip off of the clutch.
Ouch... this.

The one and only time either of my bikes touched pavement, I was on my first bike (a CBR250R), getting ready to turn left, in what I thought was 3rd gear. I downshifted to what I thought was 2nd, and promptly lost 30+ mph of forward momentum. Well, the bike did anyway.

Thankfully, I dress for the crash, and being my first bike, I'd prepared for this by putting on frame sliders, and insuring the heck out of it. It turned out to be just a minor annoyance, costing me only a pair of pucks and a replacement helmet. Fairings on bike and body on me totally unharmed. It was a bonus that this happened around 11 p.m. on a small road, so no traffic to complicate things, and no witnesses to hurt my pride or tell the woman in my life that I went down.

I still use the engine to brake, but I let it no longer drop 2 gears, and usually let it run down lower than I once did before shifting again.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
21 Posts
When I took the MSC the instructer trained us to use braking and progressive downshifting like the big rigs do. The brake lights help alert others and you can really get to know the limits on your bike / know what gear you are in if trouble should arise.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
213 Posts
I learned last weekend that several of the folks I sometimes ride with admitted they "never" use the front brake. They believed the front brake was dangerous.

That kind of freaked me out. I don't want to ride very close to any of them, and sure don't want them right behind me.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
170 Posts
I use both engine and brakes as well. It works really well and evens out the wear in addition to providing extra stopping power. Just remember to let off the clutch smoothly and don't use too much back brake since the combination of the two can cause the rear to tire to skid. You'll figure out where that threshold is with practice. I highly recommend avoiding that test in wet pavement. :)
 

·
BOTM Winner, October 2013
Joined
·
311 Posts
Practice using the brakes, downshift as the brakes slow you down. The front brake is where the most of the stopping power is. However, don't us the front brake in a turn, rear only. All you need is seat time to get use to the bike and the way it reacts. After a bit it will be 2nd nature and you won't even think about it, you'll just do it. But very important, USE YOUR BRAKES. That's why Kawasaki spent so much money to design them, engine braking is only to ASSIST with slowing down, not for stopping, or more importantly. panic stopping. Engine braking only is good for controlling your speed while going down hill, riding the brakes to keep you speed down will overheat the brakes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
702 Posts
"The only serious concern I have about engine braking is that it doesn't illuminate your brake light; letting cars behind you know that you're slowing down."

I agree...that's huge, especially with all the inattentive drivers on the road these days.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
318 Posts
"The only serious concern I have about engine braking is that it doesn't illuminate your brake light; letting cars behind you know that you're slowing down."

I agree...that's huge, especially with all the inattentive drivers on the road these days.
I was going to mention that too, glad someone else already seconded that thought.

OP, I got out in a wide open parking lot and put myself and my bike through a good workout. If anyone would like to check it out, you can look up the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe Louisiana. Very LARGE parking lot. Can easily get up to highway speeds (not that I'd recommend that).

My stepdad did the same with me in his truck. I already knew how to drive. But he put me in his truck, pointed me to a hayfield, and told me to "go play", to get a feel for what the truck was capable of, possible problems I could have, and how to handle it. I ran two tanks of gas through that big 400 4X4, but that was back when gas was 68 cents a gallon.

I use a combo for braking that was outlined in the first couple of posts, a mix of engine braking and braking. How much of either one I use depends on the circumstance, but I ALWAYS cover the front brake lever to make sure the brake light is illuminated.

For long slowdowns, such as when I'm entering a known speed zone, I use just the engine braking. My bike is geared low enough that just letting off the throttle at 60 in fifth gear will slow me down to 40 pretty quickly, while touching the front brake lever...

The faster I stop, the more brake I use. In an emergency stop, it's all manual brake for me.

I've lost traction a few times and skidded. That's something a wide open parking lot would be good for, getting a feel for that situation and how to handle it in a semi controlled environment. Now I don't even flinch if I have to brake hard enough to skid in traffic, because I'm confident in how to work it out and get the best braking and maximum deceleration that I'm personally capable of.

Some day one of these idiots is going to have me laying across the trunk of their car though. Oh well, that's why I try to maintain situational awareness.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
357 Posts
I learned last weekend that several of the folks I sometimes ride with admitted they "never" use the front brake. They believed the front brake was dangerous.

That kind of freaked me out. I don't want to ride very close to any of them, and sure don't want them right behind me.
This was mentioned in one of the MSF classes I took. Instructor (35+ year of riding under his belt) said that he once had someone tell him that they didn't use the front brake because they were afraid of locking the front tire and going over the bars. I feel that that would be very hard to do. Always use the front brake except in tight turns. I also engine brake on both the bike and in my truck along with normal braking.

If you are new to riding, I highly suggest finding an MSF class. The skills they teach can be life saving even to experienced riders.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,620 Posts
This was mentioned in one of the MSF classes I took. Instructor (35+ year of riding under his belt) said that he once had someone tell him that they didn't use the front brake because they were afraid of locking the front tire and going over the bars. I feel that that would be very hard to do. Always use the front brake except in tight turns. I also engine brake on both the bike and in my truck along with normal braking.

If you are new to riding, I highly suggest finding an MSF class. The skills they teach can be life saving even to experienced riders.
One caution, is that the rear brake is good in tight, low speed turns. I've heard here and there that people use the rear brake only in ALL turns. Ideally, you shouldn't be using ANY brakes in a turn (brake before, accelerate after the apex). Brakes kill handling and in a turn your tires are being pushed and there's no reason to push them further. ESPECIALLY the rear. As you go around a corner, the rear wheel has the greatest potential to lock up and low-side the bike. If ANY brakes are needed, front or both should be used; but never just the rear. (Though again, ideally, NONE in a corner).

I run into the 'no front brake' guys all the time. It's simply a complete lack of understanding of how a motorcycle works. Your front brake does most of the work! A light sportbike might go end-over-end but I can tell you I HAVE locked up (for only a split second) my front tire in an emergency, and I've hit it HARD more than once. There was never any risk of going end-over-end on a fat bloated Cruiser. Locking up and lowsiding? Sure! But that risk is HIGHER if you're only using the rear brake (which is easier to lock up.) The biggest danger is, the harder you brake, the more weight shifts forward, and the easier the rear brake is to lock up. When I first started riding and I was practicing hard stops in a parking lot, I chirped the rear tire a few times. I found that my 'car instincts' were resulting in my putting a lot more pressure on the rear brake than the front, and when the bike would slow quickly, the weight of course shifts to the front and the rear tire is easier to lock up.
 
1 - 20 of 44 Posts
Top