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Engine Braking vs. Disk Braking ?


Sidmariner

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Sidmariner

I admit, this is probably a rookie question:

 

After 35 years of driving cars I got used to the practice of gearing down (engine braking)to slow my vehicle. Now that I'm on an RT I'm reading about the importance of going easy on the dry clutch and the high cost of clutch replacement, so it's got me thinking: Should I be using my brakes to slow down instead of downshifting?

 

Seems to me changing brake pads is a lot easier and cheaper than replacing a clutch.

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Hi,

ONLY my opinion, but 100% engine braking. If you are driving around a series of bends say, then you are better off staying in a lower gear say third (5 speed box) and using the throttle to accelarate, and then coming off the gas when the next bend comes up. The thing with this I found was I used to change up too early and find I was using the brakes because I didn't have any engine braking available. Most riders change up too early. The best way to ride is to be at about half throttle, so you can go up (accelarate) or down (engine braking) for any given situation. That means you should have around 3500-4000 revs on at any given time. I quite often go on a 100 mile ride and never get into top, even though we are getting a lick on, and on many different types of road.

We all have different types of riding style so each to his own. I know this works brilliantly for me.

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I admit, this is probably a rookie question:

 

After 35 years of driving cars I got used to the practice of gearing down (engine braking)to slow my vehicle. Now that I'm on an RT I'm reading about the importance of going easy on the dry clutch and the high cost of clutch replacement, so it's got me thinking: Should I be using my brakes to slow down instead of downshifting?

 

Seems to me changing brake pads is a lot easier and cheaper than replacing a clutch.

 

It rather depends what you mean by engine braking.

If you mean "I see the need to slow down now. I'll just take a lower gear" that's asking for a locked rear wheel sooner or later.

There is merit in not being in too high a gear, & that does make a bike more responsive, but on the open road, as opposed to a track, there is even more merit in advanced observation, perceiving the need to slow in plenty of time, & achieving that by throttle control, arriving at the hazard at the correct speed with no need to brake.

In UK police training circles we use the expression "Gears to go, brakes to slow".

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Using the engine to slow a car down instead of the brakes has been obsolete for years. This is normal driving technique for my '41 Cadillac and commercial vehicles. Any modern car benefits from that only on steep roads, not general driving. A motorcycle has a sequential transmission so you are having to shift down one gear at a time. This means you are far more likely to be using engine braking than in a car, even when just going from high speed to a stop. I've put only 66,000 miles on one BMW - never needed a clutch.

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In the twisties, if I need to slow a few mph/drop a gear for a corner or series of corners, I'll do a throttle "blip" and downchange to get my rpm's into the meat of the torque band (around 5000/5500 rpm), otherwise its brake to the speed and concurrently downchange. Once you "body learn" your bike and get familiar with it, you should instinctively feel/know what's "right" for your speed/situation. Just don't overthink it....

grin.gifgrin.gif

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I agree that engine braking will lock the rear wheel up when under load. Applying brakes allows you to control the front wheel too. At low RPM and at slow speeds the engine will do a fine job in my opinion.

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Brakes are for slowing down not engines. You should be blipping the throtle on your down shifts while braking to match engine speed on a bike or a car.

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This is a little bit like flying.

In an aircraft you use the throttle to gain height not speed.

If you want speed you use the stick.

But they can be reversed.

 

I would say that if you have a smooth easy to use brake Ie your engine. It should be used.

Does depend on your bike. Some bikes have crap engine braking so you use your brakes. Us BMW owners though, have big twins which are the very epitamony of torque and have shed loads of engine braking. One of the things that makes riding a big twin so nice.

Engine braking will not lock up the back wheel. Changing down at the wrong time will do that. Engine braking nessitates being in the correct gear when you do it. Hence driving with a 'middle' throttle. Or changing down in plenty of time in order to get the engine 'set up' for engine braking.

As I said in a previous post. Every rider has a different technique. This works brilliantly for me, but it may seem alien to another rider. The importance of 'any' kind of braking is to arrive at a particular point at the correct speed, in the correct gear, before any manuevere is carried out.

Great to exchange ideas and thoughts with other BMW riders.

 

Martin UK

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I admit, this is probably a rookie question:

 

After 35 years of driving cars I got used to the practice of gearing down (engine braking)to slow my vehicle. Now that I'm on an RT I'm reading about the importance of going easy on the dry clutch and the high cost of clutch replacement, so it's got me thinking: Should I be using my brakes to slow down instead of downshifting?

 

Seems to me changing brake pads is a lot easier and cheaper than replacing a clutch.

 

 

Peter, as mentioned above, if you want to simplify it to just one or the other (no combination) then slow with throttle off first, if not enough braking there add brake as needed to get the speed you need.. Then down shift as you are rolling to a stop..

 

On the other hand you can use a combination of downshifting as you brake with the service brakes.. Just be careful to not go so low on the gear down that you slide the rear wheel.. Those large 2 piston engines can give you a lot of powerful engine braking (on just the rear wheel) that can be difficult to control if in too low of a gear..

 

Personally I always down shift as I brake to try & remain in the proper gear range for the speed I am going.. That allows me to get-out-of-Dodge in a hurry if the need arises.. But the primary means of slowing is the service brakes, the down shift is just to keep the engine power handy..

 

Twisty

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Sidmariner

Great answers, thank you all.

 

My question stems from my daily commute.

 

I ride about 30 miles down a freeway every morning which has about four major intersections with stop lights. Here in BC, we get a flashing warning light about a quarter mile back from the intersection telling us the light is about to go red.

 

Highway speed is 100 kph, but it's not usual for me to be a running a tad higher. In the past, when I saw the warning light, I was in the habit of throttling back, staying off the brake, and downshifting through the whole quarter-mile to bleed off the speed. I could feel the clutch grabbing with each change as I knocked the speed off, and each time I was thinking "man that must be a hell of a lot of friction I'm creating." Typically, I would only tap the brake for the final few feet to the stop.

 

After some thought, I began to change my practice. I now roll off the throttle a little closer to the light, squeeze the brakes gently to bleed off the speed, and when the speed and RPM are lower squeeze the clutch and go "chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk, chunk" quicky down to first. Usually my timing is pretty good, and as the bike rolls to a stop it's one final "snick" and she's in neutral and my foot goes down for my minute-long wait.

 

From what I reading, method two seems like the more correct approach.

 

For interest. Method one stems from my early years of VW Beetle ownership. Old habits die hard.

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Comment on Method #1.

If you blip the throttle before releasing the clutch with each downshift, you will match the engine speed to the rear end and put much less stress on the clutch.

 

Comment on Method #2.

It implies waiting until near stop before changing down through all 4 shifts. The only problem with that is that if you should need power for some unexpected reason, you may be several shifts away from the a gear that has some power. Better to shift down as your speed decreases, so you are always in an appropriate gear.

 

So another approach might be a combination of the two. Use the brakes to do the heavy lifting in slowing the bike, but keep the transmission in an appropriate gear as the bike slows in case you want the power.

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ShovelStrokeEd

My take on this is, it depends.

 

When rolling along a curving road where I don't plan much in the way of speed changes, I pick a gear that will allow the motor to remain in a useful rev range and just stay in it. Bikes vary with this and I can easily exceed the legal limit anywhere in the country in second gear on mine. Usually I am in 3rd or 4th, either of which will allow me to pull from as low as 20 mph to over 140 in 4th. Now, I can use the engine braking to take the 10 or so mph I gained at the exit of the last corner back off for the entrance to the next and no real need to touch the brakes. Any more than that and I will use the brakes. Still no down shifting involved.

 

For the situation where a light is involved, I use the brakes for 100% of my slowing, down shifting to match engine speed to road speed so that I am in an appropriate gear. I really don't use the engine to brake though, the brake lever is the primary control with the throttle and gear secondary.

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I would suggest getting a good book like “Total Control” by Lee Parks or there are others out there. While it is geared toward sport bikes the techniques apply to all. Good smooth down shifts are important to bike control. It might not matter going slow around town but getting in the habit of good down shifts will pay off as speed and cornering pick up.

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Silver Surfer/AKAButters
So another approach might be a combination of the two. Use the brakes to do the heavy lifting in slowing the bike, but keep the transmission in an appropriate gear as the bike slows in case you want the power.

 

Pretty much my approach unless I am driviing in a spirited way, or just playing. I agree with Jackie Stewart, brakes are much cheaper that drive line components.

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I Love good shifts, both up and down, and I endorse learning how to do it correctly. But for really slowing, I use the brakes.

 

Like the man said... easier (and cheaper) to replace brake pads then clutches.

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