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Feb 12

Posts: 5

Mike299 says:

new biker needs some advice on braking!


I'm a very new biker, having done my CBT about 6 months ago and hoping to take my full test later this year. In my CBT the instructor told us all never to use the front brake unless you were doing an emergency stop...but in the user manual for my bike (Suzuki GN125...don't laugh, I've got to start somewhere) it says use an even combination of front and rear. I'm mostly using the rear to reduce the speed, then applying some front brake too when I want to bring the bike to a stop...can anyone tell me if I'm doing it right or wrong? If I'm getting it wrong, I'd really like to get in the habit of doing it properly before I sign up for a course to do the full test. people think I'm waiting the right amount of time between CBT and full test? I'm a fairly new biker but I've been driving cars for about 12 years, so my road experience/highway code knowledge is a little better than your average 17 year old.
Finally - I'd like to say you bikers are a lovely bunch. Before the suzuki I briefly had an AJS which broke down 4 times in 2 weeks (I made the dealer swap it for the suzuki after that!) but each time it conked out and I had to pull over a fellow biker stopped to offer assistance. Awesome, and I can't imagine that happening with car drivers.

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  • Posted 3 years ago (26 February 2012 16:37)

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Mar 11

Posts: 574

teamwindsor says:


The majority of braking is uaually done with the front brake. Sudden braking with the rear alone would usually cause it to lock up...thats when bad things happen if unexperienced.

The front brake does the majority of braking. Just don't pull on it too hard or you will be over the bars. Gradually and progressively apply the front with a little rear for a controlled stop. For an emergency use a bit of front and you will feel the bike tip forwards a bit. Now apply the front and rear progressively and firmly untill you come to a controlled stop (how hard you pull the brakes will depend on the level of emergency). If you feel a wheel skid release the brake then apply again (ABS does this for you). For controlled slow movements use the rear brake alone with a little throttle. This is the slow riding skill you will need for your tests.

Time between tests and CBT is a personal thing. I used the bike every day and only did the test coming up to the 2 years. Not because it took that long to learn, but because I just used it for work and didn't need to do any long journeys. After going through the test and getting a bigger bike you realise what you were missing.

Find a car park (empty) and practice slow movements and braking and emergency stops to get comfortable. Better to do it in safety before you need to use it on the road. Youtube has lots of informative videos.

...and welcome to the site.

[This Reply has been modified by the Author]

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Aug 11

Posts: 317

mk1rob says:


Hi and welcome! 

As teamwindsor explains well, the front brake is most effective at braking. Look at the size of the front brake disc(s) compared to the back for example. Id say get a different instructor if he's saying never use the front brake!

Heres a video of the difference between using front and back brakes

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Nov 08

Posts: 884

What was that instructor on?

Rear-only braking is a common beginner downfall.  It's why some folk think Combined Braking Systems are a good thing - these systems apply front and rear for you regardless which you try to apply  - but learning to brake properly is more effective.

Your bike's manual is right, it should be a combination, but how much of each depends on the conditions and how hard you're stopping.

For dry tarmac it's something like 80% front, 20% rear.  Depending on the bike this might feel like a similar effort at each control, it's just that the front is more powerful.  Therefore it's useful to practice using them one at a time to be able to judge the efforts required.

Theoretically, the harder you need to stop the more you need to use the front, because in the limit the rear wheel would be skipping the tarmac and would lock up without helping to slow you down.  Using a little bit of rear helps keep the bike a more settled, and means when you do come to a halt it's easier to be smooth, fading off the front brake and increasing the rear, so the bike doesn't bounce back up when you stop, left foot down as per DSA recommendation.

Lower grip surfaces, like wet cold tarmac, might warrant 50:50 front:rear.  You can't stop as quickly so there'll be less weight transfer, meaning the rear brake takes on a bit more importance.  Locking the front is scarier and more dangerous, but with the correct balance between front and rear locking either becomes less likely.

Like above, 100% rear best for low speed trickling around in car parks, or doing module 1 exercises, etc, but it's also useful if really slippery surfaces, if you have to brake on them, e.g. gravel, or grass.

When I was a starting out I used to practice as often as possible, getting up to 10-20mph or so and getting used to breaking heavily, and releasing whichever brake locks up.  It soon becomes fairly instinctive.

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Jun 11

Posts: 221

meatbaws says:


Listen to what the guys have told you on here as it sounds like you've either picked it up wrong or your instructors a tit! My opinion CBT then straight on to full bike test, if you spend time on a 125 then you will gain some experience but will also be practicing bad habits, go do some lessons and you'll get into the habit of doing what your meant too ....then straight to test.

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Aug 09

Posts: 2726

MarcusMarsh says:


I can't believe the utter twaddle some instructors come out with.  A lot of the stuff I hear I often don't correct as it would not be fair to the student.  I have a couple of mates that learnt to ride late in life and they have been given some appauling advice.  I waited until after they passed their tests and then put them right.   

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Mar 10

Posts: 1049

bmwgs says:

front for high speed braking

on my bike i use the front for high speed braking and my rear for slow speed stuff in traffic like i was told when i did my test..

if you use the rear brake at speed then you will crash. as the moto gp bikes use there fronts brakes at very high speed.  best ask you instructor  as he is told rubbish. but best to phone and ask other trainning school to get the right info.

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Mar 11

Posts: 464

johnlad1 says:

im a fellow learner

my advice use mostly front brake and rember to use a little bit of back when coming to a stop at lights ect just to keep you that bit more stable as your slowing to a stop

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Feb 10

Posts: 1953

SlowLearner says:

Your instructor is an idiot

Telling you not to use the front brake (unless it's an emergency, of course!) is training you out of understanding what happens when you use the front brake, which just happens to provide 75% -plus of your braking capacity. 

Using the rear brake only is fine at a slow speed,  and particularly when coming to a complete halt, which is what your lazy idiotic instructor didn't bother making clear.  The front brake is your primary brake at all other times, and you need to learn how it dips the front end, throws the weight forward, and that you need to brace yourself for it.

Practice is the way to understand this, but your idiotic instructor has tried to ensure you never get to know about it until it's too late!  


As has been mentioned in replies to you, braking is done with a combination of front and rear.   Don't worry about flying over the handlebars, that's not going to happen unless you grip the brake with everything you've got, and are really badly positioned beforehand - use it with just the index and forefinger on the lever to start with.

No laughing matter reading the owners' manual - you are rightly suspicious that your instructor is a complete idiot giving you bad information, and you are trying to get information elsewhere.   Hope getting it from here helps.

You might ask your instructor... why all this emphasis on front brakes on bikes, why twin disks are so much better, these vented  disks,  Brembos on top end models, and so on - (be vague while asking him) - are people really so keen on the front brake technology on a given bike, making them a major selling point, just because an emergency stop may be needed at some point?

If I've waffled, sorry - what I'm trying to say is, your instructor is an idiot.  Get a better one, who doesn't tell you to ignore at least 75% of your braking capacity.

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Oct 05

Posts: 3339

i never use the

back brake .....unless i really need to stop in an emergency situation but always the front first...or to pull up to some one real cool and lock it up and skid to their feet like you would do on a bmx  or trying to get the front end down when hoikin a big wheelie ....your instructor is a retard .....find a new one   ....o.t.g..

p.s. don't try the whole skidding on the back wheel thing  just yet .....that takes years of perfection and accident...s

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Feb 12

Posts: 5

Mike299 says:

thanks everyone!

thanks for all the advice - looks like it's about 10:1 against the instructor! I definitely wasn't misunderstanding him - I remember get told off quite a few times on the CBT for riding around with my handing covering the front brake ready to apply it - seemed quite natural to me but he wasn't keen! Only thing I can think of was if he knew on that particular bike (Suzuki GN125, same one I ended up buying) that the back brake was significantly better than the rear? Dunno. Maybe it was a long day for him (got my CBT certificate at 9pm!) - he also passed someone who fell off the bike on the road riding section and didn't know what to do at roundabouts...think I'll definitely go for a different instructor for the full test. When I first started, and was using his back brake advice, I did have a few rear wheel lock ups on wet roads, which is what made me change to using both brakes but I'll try your advice and concentrate on the front one from now one. Cheers for all the help guys.:smile

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