New rider: Braking in the wet

Published: 30 November 2009

Like most other things in life, braking in the wet is straightforward if you plan ahead.

The first part of the plan is to practice applying the brakes on a traffic-free stretch of road with a consistent road surface.

Start out slowly, focussing on the front brake and building up the lever pressure gradually so that you get more and more of a feel for the power of your brakes and the feel of the tyre on the road.

When a tyre is getting close to skidding it loses speed rapidly before lock up.

If you are focussed on your braking you'll feel it in your hands and all you've got to do is release lever pressure and the tyre will speed up and you'll continue to slow down in control.

And the great thing about the wet is that although the ultimate limit is earlier, the zone when it starts to break away is wider so you've got more time to react.

But that doesn't mean you can ride up close to other vehicles because the fact is they can stop harder than you can and if you don't leave plenty of room ahead you could be picking your bike up off the floor, so make sure you plan to have plenty of distance between you and other vehicles.

Be smoother too, as sudden changes of input will unsettle your bike and make it harder for you to keep that vital feel for what's happening under your backside.

When you are braking more smoothly and gently in the wet that will bring your rear brake into play more as there’s less weight transfer, so get a feel for that too, making sure the pedal is positioned just under the sole of your boot. 

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