Breaking - Locking up

MAJikMARCer

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OK guys. I'm fairly new, only been on motorcycles now for two seasons. I've taken the MSF class and try to be a good safe rider, but I've locked up the brakes on the NC a couple times and I'm trying to figure out if I'm doing something wrong or what.

I also ride an 81 Suzuki GS 650 and I've never locked up the brakes on it.

I've had the rear wheel lock on me a few times now. The first time I just used too much rear petal coming to a stop. Nice straight 3 foot long skid. Nothing scary or out of control.

The other times it seems to happen while downshifting and braking at the same time. I can feel and hear the rear wheel slide/skip. I know I'm doing something wrong there.

The other lockup was on the FRONT wheel. That was a bit scary. Gentle curve and the car in front of me did a "Oh! THAT is my turn!" so I had to brake hard. I think I was in the middle of the lane and there might have been some oil, but that freaked me out. I maintained control and was able to keep going but my nerves were definitely rattled and I know that could have been bad.

So couple questions:
1) What is the best thing to do after you've locked up? If I remember it's best to keep the lock and slide to a stop. In a straight line that makes sense, what about if the tire is sliding out to the left or right?

2) Short of getting ABS, what can I do to make the NCs brakes not so touchy? Or do I just need to get used to being more gentle with them? Maybe my GSs brakes are soft so I use more strength to stop on it and it's too much on the NC?

Just trying to learn so I don't end up on the ground (again) because of ignorance/stupidity.
 

Chestnut

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If you lock the rear wheel, hold the brake, especially if it's getting squirrely. If the rear wheel regains traction while you're sideways, it will throw you. Hard. If you lock the front, let up on the brake. You might try adjusting the rear brake pedal so it engages later, I had to do that after I changed out my seat because the angle was different.
 

wickerman

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If the rear wheel "skids" while downshifting, you may have shifted into too low a gear for the speed you are going.
 

Old Can Ride

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The answer is that this could be caused by a few different things. Being your bike is still under warranty, I would take the bike to the dealership and have it looked at. Sure don't want to get hurt trying to figure out what is wrong or do damage to your new bike.
 

MAJikMARCer

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If the rear wheel "skids" while downshifting, you may have shifted into too low a gear for the speed you are going.
Yea, it's been making me brake, then downshift, though at times that makes me scramble to get in the right gear if the light turns before I completely stop. Need to practice more there, down shifting into the right gear, even if I don't let the clutch out.

Guess what I'm surprised at is how unforgiving the NC is compared to my old GS, though I still think the NC is easier to ride. It's just forcing me to become a better rider. (the gall!)
 

MAJikMARCer

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The answer is that this could be caused by a few different things. Being your bike is still under warranty, I would take the bike to the dealership and have it looked at. Sure don't want to get hurt trying to figure out what is wrong or do damage to your new bike.
Well I have to take it in to replace some parts that I HAVE already damaged due to other noobie mistakes, so I'll have them take a look at the brakes, just to be sure.
 

happy

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When the rear wheel locks up unintentionally, best thing is to let go the brakes to regain control/ traction.
I don't think it should be the NCX being set up wrongly. It could be the rider stomping too hard on the rear brakes.
I recommend "tap tap". Not chomp chomp!
:p
 

Josh H

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I'm not sure how long you have had the NCX or how many miles you have put on it, but learning the pressure points of the brake is very important. If you are used to another bike's brakes it might be a little more difficult to gain the muscle memory for the right pressure to squeeze the brakes. I'm basically a novice as well but I have learned 2 very important things concerning this topic.

1) I would suggest not following too close to vehicles in front of you...especially at higher rates of speed. I know this isn't always possible but I have had all kinds of things thrown at me from under car tires that I didn't see before and have learned to stay back or pass. This will also help you avoid the sudden "wait, is this my turn?"

2) It's way easier to be prepared for the crash than to be prepared for the braking. WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING!! I made this mistake once and will never make it again. "ATGATT" is the acronym for "All The Gear, All The Time" Wear boots and pants along with the jacket and gloves (helmet is a no-brainer - excuse the pun;)) You can't always avoid emergency braking, but you can avoid the weeks and weeks of the intense, torturous, fiery pain that road rash can cause.

Driving safely on my morning commute, 5 days a week, I still have to brake very suddenly at least once a day (LA traffic/drivers...) so it's unavoidable. Just be prepared to go down.

Good luck man!
 

MAJikMARCer

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I'm not sure how long you have had the NCX or how many miles you have put on it, but learning the pressure points of the brake is very important. If you are used to another bike's brakes it might be a little more difficult to gain the muscle memory for the right pressure to squeeze the brakes. I'm basically a novice as well but I have learned 2 very important things concerning this topic.

1) I would suggest not following too close to vehicles in front of you...especially at higher rates of speed. I know this isn't always possible but I have had all kinds of things thrown at me from under car tires that I didn't see before and have learned to stay back or pass. This will also help you avoid the sudden "wait, is this my turn?"

2) It's way easier to be prepared for the crash than to be prepared for the braking. WEAR PROTECTIVE CLOTHING!! I made this mistake once and will never make it again. "ATGATT" is the acronym for "All The Gear, All The Time" Wear boots and pants along with the jacket and gloves (helmet is a no-brainer - excuse the pun;)) You can't always avoid emergency braking, but you can avoid the weeks and weeks of the intense, torturous, fiery pain that road rash can cause.

Driving safely on my morning commute, 5 days a week, I still have to brake very suddenly at least once a day (LA traffic/drivers...) so it's unavoidable. Just be prepared to go down.

Good luck man!
I've put about 1100 miles on the NC. Many of those are highway miles. My lockup issues have been from riding in town. Clearly I need more in town miles. ;)

I wasn't really following too close on the front brake lockup but I wasn't paying as close attention as I should have been. My fault completely and something I've actively working on.

ATGATT is something I picked up right away. My old GS is ... well old. I've been maintenance the important parts, but early on I didn't know the bike well enough to trust it not to toss me, so I got gear right away. I still adhere to ATGATT...mostly.
 

MAJikMARCer

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When the rear wheel locks up unintentionally, best thing is to let go the brakes to regain control/ traction.
I don't think it should be the NCX being set up wrongly. It could be the rider stomping too hard on the rear brakes.
I recommend "tap tap". Not chomp chomp!
:p
Do you recommend taps versus a constant increasing pressure?
 

Beemerphile

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If you lock the rear wheel, hold the brake, especially if it's getting squirrely. If the rear wheel regains traction while you're sideways, it will throw you. Hard. If you lock the front, let up on the brake.
I think this advise is spot on.

If you lock the front, get off the brake. I find you have about one second with the front brake locked before the front end turns under. With the rear, if the rear end is wagging back and forth, you can get off the brake as it swings back close to the neutral position. Front brake will only make matters worse if the rear is locked. On some bikes the back end swings out the same way every time - and stays there. When I get a new bike I practice lockups (front and rear) in a wet parking lot just to know what it is going to do. In a rear lockup, keep your weight as far forward as possible. The technique that works best or me is to stand and lean over the handlebars. Now, after all that, what usually governs the correct reaction is the thing that caused you to stomp the brakes in the first place. All these suggestions assume you have time to stop. If this happens to you a bunch, shop for a bike with ABS. Modulating brakes to the point of lock-up and dealing with it when it happens takes a bit of finesse and experience. Eventually, if you get good at it, your underwear stays dry.

Here is a thread of a guy who rode a locked wheel for 520 feet starting at 93 mph. He had no choice but to ride it out because the transmission had locked up.

http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=921730&highlight=locked+rear+wheel
 
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happy

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Do you recommend taps versus a constant increasing pressure?
I seldom apply rear brakes while riding.
When I do, it is for moving upslope from a stationary position.
Rear brakes are useful for offroad riding though.

For road riding, try the 80/20 rule. 80 front brakes and 20 rear brakes.
I said tap tap because that is what I do with my rear brakes.
Front brakes provide anyway 80% of the stopping force.
ABS is a godsend for people like me, where I will never lock up.

Having said that, please practise yourself.
If you ask 10 people, 10 people will give your their opinions and expert judgement.
In the end, it's YOUR skin.
:p
 

Mike Cash

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Stay farther away from the vehicles in front of you. If you had to panic brake in a following situation, you were too close.....regardless of what the vehicle ahead of you did.
 

Harald

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My first bike was a 78 GS750 and the brakes were horrible compared to modern bikes. Very wooden feeling with lots of force required for relatively quick stopping.

I really like the more precise and powerful brakes on modern bikes. And despite having multiple 100's of thousands of miles of riding experience, I'm a big fan of ABS also. Too bad it's not an option on the standard shift NC700 because it's a huge safety feature for most riding situations (off road excepted).

Locking the front brake is usually caused by to rapid brake application in a panic situation. When you stab the brake before weight has transfered to the front tire, it's easier to lock the brake. Correct technique has you apply some front brake to shift weight to the front tire and then apply more braking force. It's amazing how much power is in that front brake once you load the front tire. Of course, things like oil/ice/sand/etc will limit the amount of braking force available. The cool thing about ABS is that you can't lock the front tire - and I know this from personal experience because I practice extreme braking and occasionally get into ABS activation on the front brake. It's a great training tool because you learn how much braking is available. On a non ABS bike you want to ease off the front brake quickly in a lock up situation because you can lose the front end very quickly and go down.

Like others have mentioned, you don't want to abruptly release the back brake if it's locked up and the back of the bike is sideways. If you do the back tire will regain traction and force the bike to violently jerk and possibly throw you off (called a high side). Best to slowly ease off the rear brake or keep it applied and ride the smoking tire to a stop depending on the situation.
 

wickerman

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Also the brakes on a 2012 NC700X are like much better than your 1981 Suzuki GS 650 and may require less "power" on your part to achieve the same result.If I were you, I would find an empty parking lot and do some practice to get the brake "feel" down, as well as emergency stops so you will have a good idea of how the bike will handle and what to expect.
 

Chris

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It's amazing how many different techniques and opinions there are - but the most important advice comes from the give yourself more room and practice until braking is second nature. It'll definitely be worth getting your brakes looked at by the dealer - but the practice and riding style advice I've seen here is also very good.

One of the hardest things to learn is to not just grab the brakes in an emergency stop - you need to consciously shut the throttle then apply the front brake progressively. Shutting the throttle starts to transfer the weight onto the front wheel, applying the brake progressively continues the weight transfer. If you just snatch the front brake then you're hitting maximum braking force before the front has built up traction - this can be very hard to recover from, especially in the wet.

Some people even suggest applying the rear brake first to start the weight transfer more forcefully but I find that unnecessary and takes more time, probably because I never programmed my brain to work like that.

It's hard to learn not to grab the brakes because your most natural reaction when faced with an emergency is to stomp as hard as possible - that's where practice and riding with as much space s possible come in.

Once braking well with the front the back brake is really mostly a supplementary brake - but it does give an extra 20 to 30% that will shave a bit of distance off the stopping distance.

The rear brake on my NC is great - it's very soft and applies very gradual power. It's the first bike I've ridden where I didn't tend to lock the rear up occasionally. Like all European NC's mine's got ABS - but I've never actuated it yet, despite some heavy braking from time to time. It's good to know it's there but a very bad habit to rely on it getting you out of trouble. (I hope I'm not tempting fate with that last comment - after saying something like that I'm liable to come a cropper the very next ride out!!)
 

watrboyjon

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Practice?

Do you recommend taps versus a constant increasing pressure?
You may try to practice in the dirt a little bit. I would say that learning the limits of the brakes and tires playing in the dirt is good practice. Then a parking lot or deserted road will also allow you to push the limits and feel your way around the bike. I have locked up both front and rear at speed on my X and felt it was very stable and gave me plenty of warning.
Nothing beats riding and practice for confidence building.
 

MAJikMARCer

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Thanks for all the input. I know I have a lot of learning to do. Wish I had started as a kid instead of in my late 30s but I'm loving it and will just have to keep working at it.
 
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