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Question about MSF Basic Rider Course


imeyers

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Recently I took the MSF Basic Rider Course which I found even after a couple of years of riding to be helpful. The one thing I do not understand is the way they teach proper braking techniques. They insist that you have to get the bike upright before braking if it is leaned over. From what I and a few other got out of them is that you never use the brakes when the bike is leaned over. Now you have all of these new riders that are afraid to use their brakes in a turn unless they get the bike upright. What is the person supposed to do on an exit ramp when the traffic slows down or stops in front of them. Every ride that I go on, there is some point where I have to use a little braking in a turn. Instead they should teach proper braking technique in a turn. I can just see one of the students on a 2 lane road going around a bend with cars in both lanes and the traffic suddenly slows or stops. If they upright the bike before starting to brake they will either be off the road or into another cars lane. Just makes no sense to me. Yes ideally you want to do your braking before the turn and accelerate through the turn, but in New York traffic on a busy day that is not always possible. You may not be able to use full braking potential when leaned over but you can definitely use some. Just my $.02. dopeslap.gif

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They are teaching in artificial absolutes to the lowest common denominator. Not to say they aren't doing some good, though, because they are.

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This is somewhat dependant on the instructor. Many do teach that braking in the turn was something that would be learned as the rider progressed in skill. The important aspect here to drill into the head of the student was that there is finite traction to be shared between lean angle and braking force. Therego if you are traversing a corner and use to much break you can wash either end out.

 

David is very much correct in his statement of teaching to the needs of the lowest common denominator. Those who quickly understand the concept of the traction quickly understand that there is a balance there that the have to learn. We dont worry about those students.

 

The other aspect of teaching this topic is that the number of people who slide face first across the MSF range because they used too much brake while cornering. That number is not as small as you would think. This is usually at 13 MPH and as a result is not generally serious. However, it scares the poohpooh out of the instructors. The chances of a new rider going down because of over braking in a corner is (IMHO) many times greater than a rider going down because he straightened up before he applied the brakes. And if they did, they were "going too fast for conditions." grin.gif

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Recall that most of the BRC is slow-speed. "Bike upright" braking at slow speed is appropriate for a beginner course. The scenarios you describe and your question underscores that the BRC does not teach real-life street riding, rather, slow-speed control.

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I don't have nearly the proficiency that many others on this forum have, but I've taken the basic rider course a couple of times. I was taught that you don't perform hard braking, i.e. panic stops, while leaned over, but nobody told me that I absolutely can't or shouldn't brake while turning.

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The scenarios you describe and your question underscores that the BRC does not teach real-life street riding, rather, slow-speed control.

 

So...um, turning into/out of driveway aprons; turning through tight intersections; riding in stop-n-go traffic; parking the bike in tight parking spaces; etc.... isn't 'real-life street riding? wink.gif

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The scenarios you describe and your question underscores that the BRC does not teach real-life street riding, rather, slow-speed control.

 

So...um, turning into/out of driveway aprons; turning through tight intersections; riding in stop-n-go traffic; parking the bike in tight parking spaces; etc.... isn't 'real-life street riding? wink.gif

 

Not in the opinion of the BRC instructors around here. They are very clear that at the end of taking their course, the students are now uniquely qualified to ride around in a traffic-free parking lot at low speed - and that's it.

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They are very clear that at the end of taking their course, the students are now uniquely qualified to ride around in a traffic-free parking lot at low speed - and that's it.

 

Yep that is almost exactly what my coach said at the end of the course.

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Sorta like learning how to SCUBA dive. The mulit-week, several hundred dollar basic underwater course does little more than certify you to go into open water, practice the skills you've learned, and start learning how to dive. thumbsup.gif

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Recently I took the MSF Basic Rider Course which I found even after a couple of years of riding to be helpful. The one thing I do not understand is the way they teach proper braking techniques. They insist that you have to get the bike upright before braking if it is leaned over. From what I and a few other got out of them is that you never use the brakes when the bike is leaned over. Now you have all of these new riders that are afraid to use their brakes in a turn unless they get the bike upright. What is the person supposed to do on an exit ramp when the traffic slows down or stops in front of them. Every ride that I go on, there is some point where I have to use a little braking in a turn. Instead they should teach proper braking technique in a turn. I can just see one of the students on a 2 lane road going around a bend with cars in both lanes and the traffic suddenly slows or stops. If they upright the bike before starting to brake they will either be off the road or into another cars lane. Just makes no sense to me. Yes ideally you want to do your braking before the turn and accelerate through the turn, but in New York traffic on a busy day that is not always possible. You may not be able to use full braking potential when leaned over but you can definitely use some. Just my $.02. dopeslap.gif

 

Remember this is a "basic" rider course. To much information will cause brain over load. I due try to express that you will never never do a max. braking with handle bars turned. You can use the brakes in a turn to slow, but when it comes to max. braking the handle bars have to be squared, straight, not turned. We know why.

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ShovelStrokeEd

I happen to think the MSF is right, given that their target audience for the BRC is the new rider. Of course, an experienced rider can brake while turning and do so quite agressivly if need be. The new rider has neither the feel for traction nor the fine motor control skills needed to modulate either the front or rear brake under those conditions. Heck, for some, it is all they can do to find upright and straight never mind grasp the nuance of using the brake while so doing.

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When I first learned to drive a clutch (in a car), I was told not to depress the brake pedal unless I have also depressed the clutch. This was to prevent us from stalling.

With more experience, I now know that the brake can be depressed without using the clutch.

I think its the same for the braking/turning thing.

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Remember this is a "basic" rider course. To much information will cause brain over load. I due try to express that you will never never do a max. braking with handle bars turned. You can use the brakes in a turn to slow, but when it comes to max. braking the handle bars have to be squared, straight, not turned. We know why.

I think John has it right. One of the first things a teacher has to learn is not to overwhelm students by including all the subtle refinements when first introducing a topic.

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There's actually a lot of good information here from everyone. I think Spike and Motorman came the closest to explaining it though. There's only so much available traction. In a good turn/lean the tires are using most of the traction to keep the bike attached to the road. Improper braking techniques under these conditions can have undesirable consequenses in the form of loss of traction. Yes, there are techniques for braking in a turn, both to slow and for emergencies. As stated by others here, those are not taught in basic classes and are acquired from experience or learned from more advanced courses. IMHO, I recommend the advanced course and then build upon that.

Rotor

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I happen to think the MSF is right, given that their target audience for the BRC is the new rider. Of course, an experienced rider can brake while turning and do so quite agressivly if need be. The new rider has neither the feel for traction nor the fine motor control skills needed to modulate either the front or rear brake under those conditions.

 

Exactly Ed. Experienced riders can understand the concepts of percentages of traction used in braking and turning. New riders have a harder time with it and as the BRC is about basics, those concepts are not stressed by instructors. The idea is to give students foundation skills without overloading them with too much information.

 

Heck, for some, it is all they can do to find upright and straight never mind grasp the nuance of using the brake while so doing.

 

Oh lord, that's so true! dopeslap.gif

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Blue Beemer Dude
When I first learned to drive a clutch (in a car), I was told not to depress the brake pedal unless I have also depressed the clutch. This was to prevent us from stalling.

With more experience, I now know that the brake can be depressed without using the clutch.

I think its the same for the braking/turning thing.

 

Excellent point - and it is also a matter of how the instructor phrases the comment and how it is heard. I, for one, did not take it as an absolute, but I was there (at the BRC) to accompany my then-girlfriend more than to learn anything. But I did learn a lot, and it was useful stuff.

 

Now, many years later, I've been trying to teach my current girlfriend how to drive a manual transmission car, and she would occasionally brake without de-clutching. So, when it comes time for me to teach her boys how to drive, I'm going to remember this tidbit (if necessary for them). I'm hoping that I can catch them early, before they learn all those bad habits from the school driving instructors.

 

Michael

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To understand why you were taught "no braking in a curve", you have to think about what the exercises are for. The actual "braking in a curve" exercise, is meant to simulate you coming around a curve and finding an obstacle that impedes forward progress and you must come to an immediate stop. The last thing we want new riders doing is hitting their brakes (or even "progressively squeezing" their brakes) while their bikes are leaned over. They have a tendency to worry about the braking until the bike stops and then they are left to deal with the fact that their bike has started falling because it is already leaned.

There are a few other exercises that I have seen people fall on because they are putting on the brakes while not upright...the swerve is a popular place to put down the nice new Harley...they swerve, but forget to pick it up straight....poor chrome blush.gif

It is down to instructor as well. If you take the ERC, we have a final exercise that is actually not too bad at simulating slow,tight road conditions and I have students asking all the time about using the brakes....it is differrent trying to scrub off a little speed than stopping your bike. Gyro is still working at speed.

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