Twist Grip – June 2016

Comfort Braking

What OTHER People think and the use of certain words.

As a rule, the ideal gear for a corner is one that provides enough power to drive the bike out of it in the manner in which you desire, while providing a certain amount of flexibility in the corner; one that’s responsive to throttle changes but not overly so.

The regular expression used by some advanced bike instructors of ‘comfort braking,’ which dissuades the rider from using brakes despite the fact that the rider feels the need to do so.

In the eyes of some, the brakes were unnecessary; this is fine for them of course, they may well be more skilful or know the road like the back of their hand. What advice are they giving though? When do they use the brakes? When the discomfort in the situation turns to fear, or maybe blind terror? My advice is to be willing to use the brakes, fairly obviously they are the most efficient way to slow a bike down, but does this mean that you should use the brakes all the time then? No, not necessarily, although of course it depends on how much and how quickly the speed needs to be reduced. If you spot a potential hazard, then certainly use them as hard as possible!

When braking as you approach a bend, it’s back to the thirds principle. As you pass the first third you should start to begin to roll off the throttle for the corner. If there is not much speed to lose and the engine’s not working hard at high rpm then by all means change down gear to make small adjustments. If, however, you judge that significant speed loss is required, the first option should always be brakes. And start braking early, particularly if the engine is already working moderately hard. As the speed decreases, change down gears when the engine is into the range of next lower gear, to avoid the motor over-revving.

Where should I aim to finish my braking?

This depends on a number of factors, but generally you should not stop until you are absolutely sure you have the precise entry speed. A significant advantage of using the brakes over gears to slow down is that they’re infinitely variable between barely perceptible, to fully applied, so pressure on them can be varied immediately as the information to judge the bend becomes available. For an unfamiliar corner, all the information to read it correctly doesn’t occur until you are almost in it, so you might find you take the brakes right up to this point. If the brakes are still applied, a recovery from an initial misjudgement or the realisation that the bends has a tightening radius can be rectified easier because the bike is already configured for braking. The weight is already distributed forward so there is no delay or unnerving pitching as the brakes are hastily re-applied; pressure on the brakes is just increased to lose the extra speed.

The system of motorcycle control and principles for safe cornering


Five key principles for safe cornering

You should:

  1. Be in the right position on the approach
  2. Be travelling at the right speed for the corner or bend
  3. Have the right gear for that speed
  4. Be able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear on your own side of the road
  5. Open the throttle enough to maintain a constant speed round the bend – maintain positive throttle.

Applying these principles to the variations in bend, traffic conditions, road surface conditions, visibility and other factors calls for judgement and planning. But before looking in more detail at using the system of motorcycle control for cornering, let’s look at the other factors that affect a bike’s ability to corner safely.


On the approach to a corner or bend you should be constantly scanning the road for information, especially about:

  • the traffic in front and behind
  • the road surface
  • the effect of weather conditions on the road surface
  • the severity of the bend and the limit point
  • hazards – what you can see, what you can’t see and what you can reasonably expect to happen.

Always keep your vision up. Remember, look where you want to go – don’t focus only the bend. Whenever you can, look across the bend through gaps in hedges or between buildings for more information. Use the curved line of hedgerows and lamp posts to give you information about the severity of the bend. Look for early warning of other hazards as well. If you intend to alter your position to get a better view remember to take rear observation first.

Getting the best view

Your position will determine how much you can see when you enter a bend. Put the bike in the best position for you to see, with due regard to safety. The position that gives you the clearest view is different for a left-hand bend and a right-hand bend.

Thoughts. Add your comments below please.

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