Friday, September 28, 2007

The front; the rear (Part 2)

This is how I brake in my Apache. The technique holds good for both slow speed city rides and high speed jaunts (above 90 kph).

Step 1: FEEL THE FRONT END - When any vehicle is hauled down, weight transfer pushes the front suspension down. In a two-wheeler they (the front forks) get compressed. Hence, I divide my initial stage of braking in two stages. The first stage, I just feather the front brake lever just to allow the suspension to soak up the initial weight transfer. The bike will not slow down drastically at this stage and this (the feathering action) will be there for a second or two only. Once it stops getting compressed further (after those 1 or 2 seconds), I start squeezing the brake lever even more. The actual pressure with which I grip the front brake depends on the speed at which I travel, whether the surface is smooth or it has bumps/undulations and the grip levels of the tarmac (which is easy to find. I will talk more about it some time later). Dividing my braking into two stages is crucial to my style of riding. If I don't allow the front forks to soak up the initial weight transfer and instead I brake with the actual pressure right from the word go, chances are there that the front wheels will lock up which is not what any one would want!

Step 2: FEEL THE BACK END - As I keep increasing the pressure on the front brakes, the rear end will keep getting lightening up thereby making the rear tyres to lose their contact bit by bit. That's when I will feel the rears starting to slide more and more. That's also the moment when I start to press the rear brake lever too. This helps reduce the rpm of the rear tyres and consequently its sliding action. This gets my rears in line with the fronts keeping the bike deliciously stable under heavy braking action.

Step 3: DON'T FORGET THE ENGINE - I also use engine braking to the max since, it gives me immense control over my bike throughout the braking process. Soon after I've started braking with my rear brakes, I depress the clutch, shift down a gear (say from 5th to 4th), immediately release the clutch lever, then depress it again, shift down a gear again (this time from 4th to 3rd), immediately release the clutch lever all the while keeping the pressure on both the brakes. If necessary, I will keep using this technique until I go down to the 1st gear if the conditions so demand. It was initially very difficult to follow this technique. But, since I firmly believed that engine braking should be used to as much an extent as possible, I kept on trying and finally got the hang of it. You might think that I am making the whole process of braking so complex by introducing engine braking into the context. Believe me, your engine is a very powerful brake when you want it to be. Just try it out and I bet that when you've mastered it, you won't then use your engine to just accelerate.

Happy riding!

1 comment:

Chandrasekharan said...

really useful da. keep writin such articles...good job