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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
some time ago there was some discussion about what to do if the rear brake was locked. apparently during the safety course people are told to leave it locked until they come to a full stop. i disagreed then and still do. i teach telemark skiing and when i take a total beginner, first timer up the beginner lift i will tell them if they start down and feel like they are going too fast, out of control, just sit down to stop. this is about as sophisticated in skiing as locking up the rear brake and holding it on a bike and there are alternatives. maybe this is taught to total beginners as it is better than to high side in a panic. for 30 years the only way to panic stop my harley was to lock up the rear brake and do a series of skids, so i got pretty good at it (since replaced the brakes). it is a really excellent idea to practice locking and releasing the rear in dirt before it happens on the street. you shouldn't lock it up in the first place. don't stomp on the pedal, just press lightly to help the front out with heel on the peg. try to feel when it is about to lock and quickly release enough to keep the wheel turning. the brakes have much more power than the engine so brakes need to be respected, it's a very subtle skill. again, practice in dirt putting your bike in a slide and accelerating out of it or just get the feel of when it is going to lock. i used to race on ice and it was all a controlled skid, just like dirt trackers. i'm not saying i'm a pro gp racer or anything or trying to get an argument going and i'm basically speaking to beginners. it may be true it's safer for beginners to hold the wheel locked once it happens but there are other things you can do. my .02. j
 

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I'm a dirt rider from way back and find the similarities and differences between dirt and street has everything to do with available traction.

In dirt, most of the time you are beyond the limits of adhesion/traction and the bike will respond accordingly. There are high sides in dirt riding, but not to the severity of street bikes... and this is why I think it is... (I may be completely dead ass wrong, but I have spent a lot of time thinking about this in the past)

On the street, if you are riding in a straight line and the rear brake locks (actually, you have exceeded the coefficient of friction between the road surface and tire), your method of "pulsing" the brakes will work well and most likely if you continue in a straight line the results will be that you will stop without incident. The problem is when you brake in a turn or the front and rear wheel are not pointed exactly in the same direction and the rear starts skewing out when the brake is applied. You start to skid because of the lack of friction between the tire and road and if you let the brake go, because there is so much traction between the tire and road, the tire will "catch" and the result, if you are not aligned front and back, will be that the bike will high side.

This is why, I believe, for sport bikes where we are in corners a lot, using the rear brake is discouraged. I do use the rear brake in turns, but most times it's 1-brake/downshift, 2-corner, 3-accelerate/up shift, but there are those rare times when I do brake in turns . When this happens, I always make myself aware to tread lightly on the rear brake to avoid loss of traction and also adjust for road conditions.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
when i was 17 i was riding my 650 triumph in town, light traffic. coming to a light and not paying as much attention as i should have, all of a sudden there was a car stopped in front of me. i hit the brakes locking up the rear and it slid out about 45 degrees to the side like i'd done thousands of times on a bicycle. then i let the brake go and got shot out to the next lane avoiding the car. if i'd stayed locked up i would have hit the car at about 20 mph, enough to get messed up badly. not a move i would recommend but the point is, you don't always high side. now i don't even look at anything that can't hit me and try to stay in the car's mirror to see the driver so they can see me. when it cools down i will take the 250 out and try some moves in the dirt just to see what it does in skids. this bike has great brakes, i'm impressed. j
 

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I agree... locking and unlocking the rear brake doesn't always result in a high side... however, I think with the improvements they have made in tire compounds, the ability for the rear tire to "catch" and fling you over the bars has increased tremendously from even 20 years ago. The stock tires on the 250R is worlds better than anything I ever grew up with... and these are not even cutting edge tires by today's standards.

For cautious advice, I think the adage of staying off the rear brake or leaving it locked if it does lock, is prudent.

If you are a bit more experienced and have spent a lot of time getting to know the feel of the bike's braking capabilities, by all means use it if you think you can control it under varying conditions.

I've always been a firm believer that anyone that rides a street bike should be made to ride a dirt bike before they are allowed on a street bike. Dirt bike riding teaches you a lot on controlling a bike under less than ideal traction conditions and how to react to them and maintain control of the bike. It also teaches you your limits in a more forgiving environment.. ie. crashing your brains out and living to tell about it. :p
 

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I've been riding dirt for 10+ years and I 100% agree with kkim here. The difference in traction between the street and dirt makes it a completely different reaction.

Yes, there are always exceptions to things. For example, jerellos close call at the redlight. He was going slow enough that when the tire caught he was able to keep control of the bike and guide it straight and not highside, BUT that may not have been the same situation if you had been going 10 mph faster or had stickier tires.

I learned my first few weeks on the street. I was so used to riding dirt that the rear brake was a hard habit to break, so I locked the tire up quite a few times. I was able to control the bike, and I think that comes down to my experience in the dirt, but I think it's a LOT safer on the street to stick with your fronts primarily.
 

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You guys are my heros. I'll explain at a later date since I just got in from the pub after watching ******* roundabout.

Hint: I too enjoy riding in the dirt (and Harleys with only rear brakes).
 
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