Monday, January 14, 2008

Brake Test

The other day I was thinking of learning more about my bike's braking ability--which includes tyre grip levels, feedback from the front brake lever and the handlebar and the bike's overall behaviour under hard braking. I always consider the knowledge of the behaviour of a bike in emergency braking situations to be very important to any rider because, in such demanding situations, when we brake very very hard, we won't be stress-free enough to think about keeping the bike under safe control. Consciously. The control has to come unconsciously. For us to do that unconsciously, we've to simulate the situations and gauge how the bike behaves and how we behave.

I found a nice stretch of tarmac, which was totally fine-sand free and perfectly smooth. I limited myself to 40 kph and made it a point to use the front brake alone. It was a simple test of both my bike's and my ability. I would reach 40 kph, made sure I had no one behind me, and squeeze the front brake lever as hard as I've never done before. Well, what happened then was not too good a feeling. After all, it was trying to spit me into the moon.

I did this several times and learnt a lot of things. The test also taught me that my previous way of braking (read that as the amount of pressure given to the rear brake) wasn't too ideal. I learnt I could use more of the front brake than I thought was safely possible. Until the lessons from this test, my concern with the bike used to be that under very hard braking, the tail used to swing almost 90 degrees to one side (whether left or right depends on the handlebar position). It has happened quite a number of times. I knew the problem was due to the combined effects of relatively low (rear) tyre grip, soft front suspension and a touch too much brake pressure to the rear wheel. I'd been wanting to find a solution for this problem. That's how this test came about.

Since this test, I've been giving more pressure to the front brake than before and it seems to be an improvement. To gauge the full effectiveness of the new find, however, there has to come an emergency situation! I'm not sure I'm looking forward to it!

Links of interest:

> p-force > Chassis? Engine? Brakes? What's the Pick? > The Limit - Found

> Making it "Hush-Hush" > Riding in the Slush > Fuel Efficient Riding

> The Front; the Rear (Part 2) > Brake+Clutch or Brake and then Clutch

> The Front; the Rear > First (long) Ride in Apache 150

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3 comments:

Chandrasekharan said...

i suggest, u open a automobile research lab da... i am sure u ll forget everythin reg the outside world and spend months together!!!

JS said...

cool testing...

S R I R A M said...

Interesting idea, Chandru! :)