When to use the front brake?

Related:
Create New Tag

2/1/2021 6:53 PM

Last harescramble I wound up boiling my rear brakes shortly after I passed for the lead. I wanted to get my moneys worth out of my entry fee so I kept chugging for another hour without my crutch (the rear brake).

First 20 minutes or so I really struggled with tucking the front, locking the front wheel up on accident, and not trusting the fronts enough. I hate to admit it but I rarely ever touch the front brake unless I absolutely need help stopping. I went riding last weekend and tried to utilize my front brake in conjunction with the rear this time. I found myself losing all my corner speed when trying to use the front. When I went into corners I applied the rear to slow me down and had my elbows up with more of my weight towards the rear, My front slowed me down more and made me take the corner a lot less smooth.

I did notice during the race where I lost my brakes the front definitely aided in some of the flowing stuff, to where I could slightly drag the front rolling into a corner, rather than locking up the rear making braking bumps and small whoops a lot more hard to navigate.

I’m still trying to get better with the front to make myself a better rider and avoid overheating my rears again, when is the time to use the front and rear in conjunction, the fronts by themselves, and when to let the rears do the work?

|

Unleaded tastes a little tangy. Supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

2/1/2021 7:04 PM

I am in the same boat as you, albeit nowhere near as fast. When I was younger I would tuck the front a lot via the front brake. Now at 36 I still am insanely cautious when using the front brake, in the semi-rare time I do use it.

|

2/1/2021 7:06 PM

Corner speed in a hare scramble? Drop a tooth or two and make it up with the speed.

|

2/1/2021 7:07 PM

I hate for the way this will sound, but I have to wonder, what class are you riding that you were passing into the lead, but rarely use the front brake.

|

2/1/2021 7:10 PM

JB 19 wrote:

I hate for the way this will sound, but I have to wonder, what class are you riding that you were passing into the lead, but rarely use the front brake.

B200. Though I will say our series would be “easier” compared to other areas I’ve raced. Since I’m in FL a lot of it is quad wide sandy trail or wide open fields, with maybe 2-5 miles of actual “single track” per lap, so the front brake is probably not nearly as useful here as it is in somewhere like up north where the woods are tighter and have more elevation changes.

|

Unleaded tastes a little tangy. Supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

2/1/2021 7:12 PM

I use the front brake everywhere. Most corners (I’ll drag it in ruts to keep the front tracking) I use the front brake.

If you’re tucking the front end because of using the front brake, it sounds like you are almost braking too late and grabbing too much front, putting all of your weight on the front end, instead of getting off your brakes a little earlier and using momentum to role through the corner (especially in Florida with the sand we race in).

|

2/1/2021 7:13 PM

I don’t know how you could race Hare Scrambles without the front brake, down hills must be scary! The front brake will give you most of the stopping power. When to use both? all the time. Yeah there may need to be times when you use more rear to steering the bike into corners, but that’s about it. Pretty much use both all the time. When done properly you’ll be able to brake much later into turns.

|

2/1/2021 7:28 PM

ccullins wrote:

I don’t know how you could race Hare Scrambles without the front brake, down hills must be scary! The front brake will give you most of the stopping power. When to use both? all the time. Yeah there may need to be times when you use more rear to steering the bike into corners, but that’s about it. Pretty much use both all the time. When done properly you’ll be able to brake much later into turns.

Very rare occasion for downhills here in FL.

|

Unleaded tastes a little tangy. Supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

2/1/2021 7:38 PM

I will always remember a story Jeff Smith, (the 1964 & 1965 500cc World Motocross Champion), told at an AHRMA Vintage Motocross one time. It was about the first time he had ever taken a spin on a "modern" motocross bike with a disc front brake. It was a Suzuki 250F bike as I recall, and Jeff said the first time he applied the front brake he promptly endo'ed flying over the bars. Luckily he was not hurt.

|

“Adhering to 1970’s Standards of Political Correctness”

2/1/2021 7:48 PM

Not in the air

|

Alright Lunger, Let's Do It

2/1/2021 7:49 PM

JB 19 wrote:

I hate for the way this will sound, but I have to wonder, what class are you riding that you were passing into the lead, but rarely use the front brake.

Rickyisms wrote:

B200. Though I will say our series would be “easier” compared to other areas I’ve raced. Since I’m in FL a lot of it is quad wide sandy trail or wide open fields, with maybe 2-5 miles of actual “single track” per lap, so the front brake is probably not nearly as useful here as it is in somewhere like up north where the woods are tighter and have more elevation changes.

With the exception of sand...you should be using the front brake almost everywhere...

Take your rear brake pedal off and ride for a few months...then you’ll be good to go.

Really though You should take a good riding school...some in person, one on one training will be a huge help to you.

|

2/1/2021 8:08 PM

This thread just confuses me. I should have guessed Florida would be the culprit.

|

2/1/2021 8:09 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/1/2021 8:09 PM

FTR?

I have no idea how you can ride in sand without it. The back in sand drags too much, creating that skip

Learn to be gentle and learn some basic drills on flat ground. Two cones or cans/rocks 20 yards apart and make a circle track, front brake only.

|

Make sure you downvote!

2/1/2021 8:16 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/1/2021 8:17 PM

I use the front almost exclusively. I’ve owned dozens of bikes and the only back brake pads I have changed were on my 2007 Honda 450. Seriously.

|

2/1/2021 8:27 PM

EngIceDave wrote:

FTR?

I have no idea how you can ride in sand without it. The back in sand drags too much, creating that skip

Learn to be gentle and learn some basic drills on flat ground. Two cones or cans/rocks 20 yards apart and make a circle track, front brake only.

Was never really taught it, I'm pretty good at not really "dragging the rear", rather just slightly apply it upon entry and smooth throttle on the way out.

|

Unleaded tastes a little tangy. Supreme is kinda sour, and diesel tastes pretty good.

2/1/2021 8:33 PM

use it everywhere the front brake is what 70ish percent of your stopping power... focus on modulating the brake after applying increasing pressure on the lever if it starts to lock or tuck and release pressure... it’s like slipping the clutch in reverse!!! Practice makes perfect as said above, cone drills are awesome, turn tracks are good practice as well! keep pushing and trying new things... i’ve been riding for 35 years and just tried the drag the front in a rut this sunday and i’ll be damned it tracked right through... damndest thing, and i need A LOT more practice to be comfortable with it!!!

|

Don’t piss off the old people - the older they get the less “life in prison” is a deterrent for them!

2020.5 KTM 450 SXF FE
2006 KX250

2/1/2021 8:47 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/1/2021 8:52 PM

Don't listen to these guys who are trying to get you killed by telling you to use the front brake. You'll go flying over the handlebars for sure if you pull on that lever.

|

2/1/2021 8:52 PM

I always try to apply most of my braking before I lean the bike over to corner so you can accelerate through the corner rather than trying to slow down and get the bike leaned over at the same time. It also mitigates your chances of the front wheel sliding out on the corner entry.

|

2/1/2021 9:15 PM

IDK, I usually don't use one without the other. Even when I'm sliding the rear, I'm on the front brake and loading the forks. In offroad, such as going down a hill that would require brakes, I'm on the front all the time along with the rear and lock the rear when making corrections. Seriously, I'm never on 1 without the other.

|

2/1/2021 9:18 PM

I try to use a proper balance of front and rear brake together in almost all breaking situations. For me I am using much more front braking power in most situations. If I am just slowing down a bit, the. It’s all front and no rear. Find yourself an area where you can carve a 50-60 foot oval and practice braking/acceleration drills until it’s muscle memory and you have the feel down. Over time you’ll find you can brake later into the corners with practice and build some confidence in that front. Probably my favorite drill to practice.

|

2/1/2021 9:27 PM

As mentioned above go to a riding school, yuo will become a better,faster and more in control rider when you can use the front brake properly.

|

2/1/2021 9:40 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/1/2021 10:20 PM

I do a lot of woods riding in the PNW. Some fast wide open sections and, tight rocky stuff. I rarely use the rear brake. I did notice after getting my suspension sprung for my weight, the front end was way more predictable while using the front brake.
When I was younger, I had a habit of using the rear brake and sliding into corners. My uncle noticed it. He took my rear pedal off and, basically said, this will learn ya. Well, it took some time getting used to because using the rear was a habit. Eventually, I got better and became almost solely reliant on the front. It takes time figuring it out but, the most stopping power is at your fingertips.

|

2/1/2021 9:44 PM
Edited Date/Time: 2/1/2021 9:46 PM

I think I do with the front what you do with the rear.

I basically use the thing constantly - milliseconds away from dragging it at any given time.

Since I am on the front brake constantly, I use it to steer to a degree, too. For example, need to load up the front tire to get it to bite and lean a bit more? Yep - front brake. I think I kind of use it like a slalom waterski where you sort of load it with a tight turn and shoot around a buoy (Connelly Conept fellas - old school, but predictable and MK still loves it!).

I have found ARC's Memlon front brake lever to be perfection (when paired with a 2007+ CRF front master cylinder) and it really opened the doors to this style of riding for me. The lever has a tiny bit of extra flex/spring to it, so I seem to get a less touchy brake that has more modulation. I also dig MotoStuff's 280mm rotors and a CoreMoto stainless line. For me, this combo of components = solid, highly predictable braking that doesn't fade.

|

2/1/2021 9:45 PM

Rider 5280 wrote:

I think I do with the front what you do with the rear.

I basically use the thing constantly - milliseconds away from dragging it at any given time.

Since I am on the front brake constantly, I use it to steer to a degree, too. For example, need to load up the front tire to get it to bite and lean a bit more? Yep - front brake. I think I kind of use it like a slalom waterski where you sort of load it with a tight turn and shoot around a buoy (Connelly Conept fellas - old school, but predictable and MK still loves it!).

I have found ARC's Memlon front brake lever to be perfection (when paired with a 2007+ CRF front master cylinder) and it really opened the doors to this style of riding for me. The lever has a tiny bit of extra flex/spring to it, so I seem to get a less touchy brake that has more modulation. I also dig MotoStuff's 280mm rotors and a CoreMoto stainless line. For me, this combo of components = solid, highly predictable braking that doesn't fade.

+1 on the 280 rotor.

|

2/2/2021 3:56 AM

Front brake in hare scrambles is extremely important. What all these guy's said is helpful and true.

One thing I will add for hare scramble sake..a lot of times I would come up on an entry into the woods after a long open section and really have to bare down on the brakes hard. I don't know how you'd do this or even slow down much at all without front brakes! One other cool thing you can do is (even though you shouldn't be locking up the rear) if you do, you can use the front brake to straighten up the bike when in a slide bringing the bike up or down relative to the ground. [CAREFULLY] w00t

Get you some cones and practice..you need to learn to use that thing. There is never a time that I'm riding that my pointer finger isn't covering the front brake lever and I use it all the time.

|

Motorcycles have been keeping me smiling for 19 years and counting!

The Chap - My YouTube channel. Trying to share the stoke!
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCqTZ4lNA_xYv6N2DS4L1Now

2/2/2021 4:12 AM

Always. 80% or something like that of your stopping power. As others have mentioned, sign up for a riding school or find a local pro who will give you a lesson.

|

2/2/2021 4:25 AM

JB 19 wrote:

I hate for the way this will sound, but I have to wonder, what class are you riding that you were passing into the lead, but rarely use the front brake.

Rickyisms wrote:

B200. Though I will say our series would be “easier” compared to other areas I’ve raced. Since I’m in FL a lot of it is quad wide sandy trail or wide open fields, with maybe 2-5 miles of actual “single track” per lap, so the front brake is probably not nearly as useful here as it is in somewhere like up north where the woods are tighter and have more elevation changes.

Titan1. wrote:

With the exception of sand...you should be using the front brake almost everywhere...

Take your rear brake pedal off and ride for a few months...then you’ll be good to go.

Really though You should take a good riding school...some in person, one on one training will be a huge help to you.

One of the best training tricks I ever did as a kid was to take all of the adjustment out of the back brake when practicing, to the point where there was very little (if any) stopping power (this was back in the drum brake days). That way, you are forced to use the front brake...if you want to slow down, that is.

|

2/2/2021 4:40 AM
Edited Date/Time: 2/2/2021 4:45 AM

Rickyisms wrote:

Was never really taught it, I'm pretty good at not really "dragging the rear", rather just slightly apply it upon entry and smooth throttle on the way out.

It's not your foot that'll cause the drag and skip, it's the dynamics of the sand.

Think of the rear tire as being hooks instead of knobs. As you brake, those knobs (hooks) grab into the sand, because it's decelerating (grabbing/dragging) and not under throttle (pushing)

So as you brake, that tire of hooks keeps trying to grab, that results in skipping or wheel hop

Take a string and small weight, hang it from the mirror in your car. When you hit the brakes, where does that weight go? It moves forward...that is momentum.

Same happens under braking, weight moves forward....all your braking power has moved forward

Now you're braking on the lightest wheel (rear end) and it's trying to grab the sand, causing wheel skip

= poor braking technique and control

Imagine how much better you'd be with proper technique

|

Make sure you downvote!

2/2/2021 5:00 AM

You should practice using both at the same time.
Rear brake alone is used more to rotate the bike, most of the stopping power comes from the front brake (as in cars, if I remember correctly most cars are like 70% of braking bias on front wheels).
Once you start practicing that, you will be surprised how short of a distance your bike needs to stop.
Watch Gary Semics riding technique videos, he talks about using brakes properly A LOT.
Like you noticed, keeping the front brake slightly on in the corners will allow you to turn sharper, it will also keep you in the rut perfectly.
I assume you ride a 4 stroke, for me the switch to a smoker made all the difference in learning how to brake properly.
Someone once said that the proper way to get faster is to treat every straightaway like it's the start straight - you accelerate as fast as possible and brake as late and as hard as possible. There is not a chance in hell to grab a holeshot without braking late and hard before the first corner.
Notice in SX it is pretty common to see riders endoing into the first corner with the front forks pretty much bottomed out - and those forks are stiff like a mofo.

|

2/2/2021 5:02 AM

I took a two day MX class From Donnie Hansen a long time ago and he asked us a question an none knew the answer.
He said "How do you know when to apply the front brake"
The answer given. "As soon as you let off the throttle".
After that for two laps I realized how lazy I had been and all the coasting I was doing.
Don't know if this helps but it helped me.

Jason

|

MXPawPaw on Facebook

@mxpawpaw on instagram