motorbike brakes - why front and rear - CM
I briefly read an advert for a scooter and saw that it had both its front and rear brakes connected (not sure whether to the foot or hand operated "pedal"). It got we wondering why motor bikes have separate brakes for front and rear?

(You may guess that I am not a biker!)
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - Garethj
Bikes have separate brakes because the importance of balancing under braking is more important than with 4 wheels! Braking in the dry means you can apply more front brake, whilst in the wet the braking force needs to be more similar front to back.

Also, for low speed manoeuvres the front brake is very harsh, but dragging the back brake and slipping the clutch means you can ride along slower than walking pace without having to put a foot down.

Linked brakes apply a little of the rear brake when you press the front and vice versa. There's also servo assistance and ABS on some bikes!
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - THe Growler
Since you can generate nearly 100% of your stopping power with the front brake on almost any contemporary motorcycle (meaning that you can reduce traction of the rear wheel to zero via load shifting), there is a pretty strong argument that can be made that you should focus your entire braking attention to the task of using it and ignoring the fact that you even have a rear brake. I would not go that far, however.

The use of both brakes together will invariably slow you down more quickly than using just one of them.

The use of both brakes together results in LESS weight transfer than does using just the front one. (Assuming equal total braking force applied.)

Use of both brakes tends to lengthen the life of your front brakes.

If you need to stop or slow down on slippy or gravel surfaces, the rear brake is just the ticket (in combination with a very gentle hand on the front one).

If you are going less than 20 MPH then both brakes are effective (and relatively safe.)

In very slow maneuvers, the use of the rear brake alone often provides added stability and control of your motorcycle.

Sports bikes tend to get more out of the front brake, which when appied throws the weight forward onto the front suspension. Cruisers on the other hand often have longer wheelbases and wider weight distribution so are quite happy with the rear brake a lot of the time without worried about skidding. For example I use my Harley's rear brake almost excklusively, with just a touch of the front to bring it gently to a stop (except of course in a situation where I have to brake hard and fast, then it's both anchors to keep the bike stable and in a straight line.

On my Honda dirt bike the rear has virtually no stopping power but instead it's used to "feather" the bike at slow speeds so I can negotiate tight turns or avoid having to dab a foot on the ground.

The rest is exactly as Garethj has said.

motorbike brakes - why front and rear - DenisO
I tend to use mostly front brake on my VS800. The rear tends to lock up easily, probably the weight tranferrence, and it feels safer with just the front. I do only ride on high days and holidays so it's always dry.

When doing my part 1, I was always using the back brake and the instructors insisted most braking should be done on the front. The back brake usage was a throw back to my trials riding days when if you touched the front bake on slippery mud you would definitely lose the front wheel. Old habits die hard and it's not terribly comfortable standing on the pegs of a heavy custom bike for 80 miles.........
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - SjB {P}
I was taught to use the rear brake when performing tight manoeuvres such as U-turns: Keep both the throttle and a slipping clutch constant, and control speed with the back brake. It works, too. Very well.

I was also taught to use the back brake when coming to a halt in the dry, especially when two-up: Just above zero speed, bleed off front brake pressure, and apply increasing rear brake pressure. This brings the bike to a controlled halt, without the nosedive that other wise happens on stopping. Looks far more 'professional' to an observer, as well as being more comfortable.
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - apm
Honda pioneered the linked brake thing a little while ago, I believe on the VFR800 and the Blackbird. I suppose you could equate it with traction control or EBD- idea being to help the rider to maintain control through trickery. Trouble was, alot of, shall we say, enthusiastic riders hated it, as it took away some of their control, which if you're riding to the limits of the machine means you aren't in complete control (which you need to be). I seem also to recall that some dealers offered to de-link the brakes for a small consideration!

My feeling is that for a big tourer, or a scooter, linking the brakes would be fine,a s they're unlikely to be involved in too many 'heroics'. For sports, or semi-sports bikes (like the VFR), leave it as an option.
Dr Alex Mears
Seat Leon Cupra
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motorbike brakes - why front and rear - doug_523i
I think you'll find Moto Guzzi beat Honda to it by a couple of decades. My Le Mans Mk1 had linked brakes in the 1970s, if I can remember that far back:-)
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - X5
Yeah - you're right. My late 1970s Spada had them too.
An agricultural piece of kit, but nice to have all the same.
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - J Bonington Jagworth
The Guzzi system had one front disc and the rear brake working together (with the foot) and the second front disc operated as normal with the right hand, for when more deceleration was required.

An excellent arrangement, as I recall, but not terribly popular with some die-hard bikers, who didn't like the idea of the machine doing something for them...
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - Daedalus
The linked brakes on my Blackbird are the best brakes I have ever had on a bike. They sometimes can be a problem though, especially in snow as putting the back brake on also applys some pressure to the front pads as well which you don't want. Otherwise stopping from very silly speeds is a doddle and very controllable. However if they were not linked I feel that I would be a little happier overall. I would prefer that bit of extra control you can get by applying the rear brake on its own just to tighten some manouvers up a bit. I wouldn't buy a bike on the basis of them being linked anyway.

motorbike brakes - why front and rear - THe Growler
I would not be comfortable with linked brakes. I need to know what's going on and I need to be in control.
motorbike brakes - why front and rear - Reggie
I have linked brakes on my Honda STX 1300,and like Bill they are undoubtably the best brakes that I've ever had on a bike. Apart from their stopping power, the fact that some back brake effort is applied when applying the front brake, the bike squats rather than dives (at the front end). But as it also has ABS and I think that this is the saviour of the system when braking on frosty/snowy roads. It certainly worked for me earlier this year on frost and incidently is a far superior ABS than my BMW 1150 GS.


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