Author Topic: UK Braking Method - Tested  (Read 284 times)

Offline Watcher

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UK Braking Method - Tested
« on: April 11, 2017, 08:14:43 PM »
Let me begin by saying this is my opinion.  Though it is supported by my testing it has incredible potential for bias so my results may be flawed, and it's a technique I am not practiced in using so that may have skewed the results.

That being said, this is the result of me putting to pavement the principles of what I'm calling the "UK Braking Method" from the discussion in the "Ask A Rider Coach!" thread.  I felt it would be going a little off topic so I'd like to move the discussion here.

If you're just joining us, here is what's going on.

I'm MSF certified and the way I was taught and teach to emergency stop is to clutch in, downshift to be in 1st when you stop (in order to be able to react to a rear-end collision threat), and apply the front and rear brakes as best you can to threshold (the limit of traction to where any more braking will cause a wheel to skid).  Since it's a "both hands squeeze, both feet press" application I think it's easy to handle under stress when motor skills will deteriorate, and since it's the same method as any other normal stop it's a technique that is reinforced through normal every-day riding practices.

The detractor is what I'm referring to as the UK Braking Method, which was first explained to me through a supposed 30+ year veteran instructor of the UK Police force, in which you ignore the transmission, ignore the clutch save for pulling it in last minute to avoid stalling, and focus on just braking.  The theory is an engaged rear wheel is less likely to lock up, therefor maximizing control over the motorcycle.
While that has a potential to be true, I would argue that it would be harder to learn just where the rear threshold is, that the force rotating the rear wheel fights braking forces which would now increase total stopping distance, that getting the timing for the clutch to avoid stalling would be harder to do under high stress, and coming to a stop in some gear other than 1st (3rd? 5th?) and with a potentially stalled engine puts you at huge risk if there is a rear-end threat.
Her response to the last part, which I think is idiotic, is to leap from the motorcycle out of harms way.  If you know even the slightest thing about balance and Newtonian Physics you'll know why that won't work, and in my informed opinion the best response to an incoming would-be rear-end collision is to move forward first, then laterally out of harms way.
Other points of discussion she brought up made me treat her opinion on the whole with suspicion, but she did share with me some articles that echoed her explanation so I wanted to find out for myself whether or not her way was viable and in fact better.

Anyway, here's the raw, unedited video I took at the range of my little test setup.  The results I got did echo my rational, but I encourage debate.  If someone here is from the UK and DOES use this clutch out braking method, I implore you to mimic my setup and please share your results.  I'm interested to see how a practiced and autonomous UK Method stacks up against an alien MSF method.  If the results flip-flop mine I'll concede that simply "there's more than one way to skin a cat," and that "practice makes perfect."


Sorry for the delay of getting this uploaded and posted here, I had recently moved, gotten a new job, and gotten a new motorcycle, and all in the course of like 2 weeks, so in addition to my PC not being set up for a while I was quite distracted.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2017, 08:23:02 PM by Watcher »
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Offline Joolstacho

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #1 on: April 12, 2017, 12:11:17 AM »
My Opinion:
Well, the test is all very well, but you're braking from 2nd gear only, and you're braking in a straight line. All that proves is that YOU can stop better FROM 2nd GEAR, and IN A STRAIGHT LINE.

You might not "buy it" but maybe you need more practise with the UK method? We do it all the time WITHOUT locking the back wheel.

That's the trouble with these attempts to create 'rules' for riding, there are so many other variables that can mitigate against your method.

From (say) 5th gear, and/or on a curve things could be very different.
You'll definitely get better braking traction on a curve if you leave the clutch out.

Say you're in 5th, we know that many bikes don't like going down through gears without clutch re-engagement between the gears. So you pull in the clutch, then, even if it does go through the gears, you're concerned about avoiding stalling when you come to a stop, but you're not concerned about having to repeatedly press down the gearlever as you emergency brake?
I reckon the pommie copper is right... better grip if left in gear.

Do the tests again, on a curve in 5th, see what you come up with :thumb:.
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Offline Watcher

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #2 on: April 12, 2017, 05:01:44 AM »
You might not "buy it" but maybe you need more practise with the UK method? We do it all the time WITHOUT locking the back wheel.

Sure, I even admitted I wasn't practiced at it.  But my 3 "serious" attempts were done with full control.  I didn't lock the wheel, nor stall it, nor any other issues than what was simply increased stopping distance and coming to a stop in a higher gear.
I did start locking the wheels up on purpose to see what would happen in a "worst case" and was much more unhappy with that result, as not only was the stopping distance much worse than the MSF way with a locked up rear, but you invariably stall the bike and leave yourself dead in the water once you're stopped.

Quote
That's the trouble with these attempts to create 'rules' for riding, there are so many other variables that can mitigate against your method.
From (say) 5th gear, and/or on a curve things could be very different.

Sure, I'll admit that there is no "right" way for every situation.  But I will say that a consistent and repeatable technique is probably the best one, regardless if it's MSF or UK Method.

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... we know that many bikes don't like going down through gears without clutch re-engagement between the gears.

Maybe when static.  From a stop, not moving, clutch held in, I've had bikes fail to shift.  The CB300F I am riding in the video is one.  After one stalled stop I fired it up and it took a few presses to go into 1st.  Sometimes that bike has trouble going into first from N, even with the engine running.  Usually the fix is clutch exercise and then it'll go into 1st.
But when moving?  I've never been on a bike that won't shift, and I often will clutch in and shift down from top gear to first all at once, like when exiting the interstate to a signal controlled ramp.

Quote
... but you're not concerned about having to repeatedly press down the gearlever as you emergency brake?

Well, concerned maybe isn't the word for it.  I do want to repeatedly press down the shifter and end in first gear, but to me it's an autonomous motion.  Even on these 2nd gear stops my left foot will keep tapping the shifter until I have to put it down on the deck, just ensuring it is in 1st.
All of the two times I've legitimately needed to emergency stop on the road I've been higher than 2nd and ended in first.
So it is important to me, but it's not something I have to actively think about.

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Do the tests again, on a curve in 5th, see what you come up with :thumb:.

That may be hard to find the space to do.  And I'd rather not do it on public roads let alone on my brand new Ducati.  Last thing I want is to slide out on it! :sad:

But I'll try to think of a fair way to test it again.  I'll do the straight line stops in a parking lot in 3rd gear and I'll try stopping in a fictitious curve.  Next time I'm teaching I'll see what kind of setup I can make.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 05:35:09 AM by Watcher »
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Offline ShowBizWolf

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #3 on: April 12, 2017, 05:27:13 AM »
Finally had time to watch your video and I really enjoyed it Watcher. Food for thought, no doubt.

My modest 5 years on a bike and what I've come across on the road tells me that I feel comfortable emergency stopping with that clutch pulled in. I can concentrate on what's happening around me, why I'm stopping, etc... without also worrying about stalling the engine or having the gear keep pulling me. Now downhill, pulling in the clutch and going into neutral would add to momentum heck yeah but I'm not a crazy fast rider anyway so... idk about that part but... if it's an emergency, I like to have the least amount of things on my mind at that moment.
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Offline Watcher

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2017, 05:44:28 AM »
I feel comfortable emergency stopping with that clutch pulled in. I can concentrate on what's happening around me, why I'm stopping, etc... without also worrying about stalling the engine or having the gear keep pulling me...
I like to have the least amount of things on my mind at that moment.

That's in many ways my thought as well.  No doubt "practiced to muscle memory" may reduce or completely remove this concept, but I feel like being poised to snatch the clutch in at just the right time is unnecessary draw on focus that should be on braking power.
Pulling that clutch in immediately, and just holding it, gets it out of the way and then allows your brain to focus on braking.

The transmission is another point of discussion within this.  If the argument is they ignore shifting because it's less to think about, but they add in a delayed clutch reaction which is MORE to think about, then it's essentially the same as me pulling the clutch in right away (less to think about) but stomping on that shifter (more to think about).
Biologically this may be a simple case of having 6 in one hand and half a dozen in the other.

If we can agree on that, all that's left is the physics of the bike during the stop, and the strategy for what comes after, and so far for both points it seems to me that the MSF way, at least in the case of the straight line stop, is superior since it had the lowest overall stopping distance and had the best setup for moving away once stopped.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2017, 05:49:10 AM by Watcher »
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Offline rscottlow

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2017, 11:49:35 AM »
If we can agree on that, all that's left is the physics of the bike during the stop, and the strategy for what comes after, and so far for both points it seems to me that the MSF way, at least in the case of the straight line stop, is superior since it had the lowest overall stopping distance and had the best setup for moving away once stopped.

I've yet to watch the video, but I'd be interested in seeing someone who is practiced in the UK method repeat the test and compare stopping distances. That would at least give us a bit more of a fair comparison.
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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2017, 01:49:12 PM »
If we can agree on that, all that's left is the physics of the bike during the stop, and the strategy for what comes after, and so far for both points it seems to me that the MSF way, at least in the case of the straight line stop, is superior since it had the lowest overall stopping distance and had the best setup for moving away once stopped.

I've yet to watch the video, but I'd be interested in seeing someone who is practiced in the UK method repeat the test and compare stopping distances. That would at least give us a bit more of a fair comparison.

Agreed, very much.  If we have a reverse bias it may give us some insight into whether its all rider or if it works on a more scientific level.
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Offline Watcher

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2017, 04:05:30 PM »
Haven't had a chance to setup this test again, but I did want to update with another concept I was made aware of.


What happens when you lock up the rear wheel when braking?  Not specifically to either braking style, just in general, what happens when the rear wheel skids?

You increase your stopping distance, and you reduce your overall control.
In MSF we do teach that a locked up rear should be ridden out, the reason we teach this is a lot of times when a rear wheel skids the force of it wanting to go faster than the front will cause it to try and rotate around, when this happens and you release the rear brake, the tire biting and snapping back to in-line with the front can cause the rider to lose balance.  So for a beginner, and at low speed, it's better to just ride it out.
Once the rider builds confidence, they can do what is proper, which is the same technique as a locked up front.  Release, and reapply.


Now, in the MSF technique of clutch in, locking up the rear wheel is plain and simple, then you just release the pedal and firmly press again.
In the UK method, I already mentioned how I think it's "catastrophic" because it causes the motorcycle to stall.
In addition to that, "fixing" a locked up rear would involve pulling in the clutch, releasing the brake, reapplying the brake, then presumably releasing the clutch again.  But after all that you still have a stalled engine.

Just one more reason why I don't subscribe to that technique.
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Offline the_63

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2017, 11:16:20 AM »
Module 1 test emergency stop is around 30mph, which is the residential speed limit (unless otherwise posted). There are 3 parts, first one is a controlled stop, then an emergency stop, then hazard avoidance. For the emergency stop I was taught to gradually increase pressure on the front brake, medium on the rear and pull clutch in the last second to avoid the stall. I may not be in 1st gear but at 30mph who's in higher than 2nd? The point of the emergency stop is to stop as quickly and safely as possible, not as quickly and in as short a distance as possible regardless of what happens. You may not be able to stop and need to take evasive action. If I'm doing 25mph and drop to first in anticipation of my stop, then have to swerve Suzie will lock up and we'll both slide up the road together.

I personally am skeptical that anyone can execute an emergency stop change into first without locking up safely, be aware of the reaction of the traffic behind them and pull off again to avoid collision. You're a human on motorcycle, not a fly avoiding a newspaper... I'm going to deal with one hazard at a time I can't manage to avoid the kid that's ran out in front of me, oncoming traffic and the guy behind me at the same time.

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Re: UK Braking Method - Tested
« Reply #9 on: April 16, 2017, 06:23:27 PM »
The point of the emergency stop is to stop as quickly and safely as possible, not as quickly and in as short a distance as possible regardless of what happens.

Doesn't "as quickly as possible" and "short a distance as possible" go hand in hand?
Assuming 30mph and braking to threshold, coming to a stop in 2 seconds and coming to a stop in 20 feet are basically one in the same.

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You may not be able to stop and need to take evasive action. If I'm doing 25mph and drop to first in anticipation of my stop, then have to swerve Suzie will lock up and we'll both slide up the road together.

That's also assuming you don't release the brakes in order to swerve, which we both know is the proper technique.
Brake or swerve, never both.  If braking isn't going to cut it you abandon that technique and swerve instead.

I've done this, in my technique.  Driver in front of me decided they didn't want to turn left and reentered the roadway without checking.
Hard brakes, but then they came to a complete stop in front of me and I was not going to stop in time.
Off brakes, swerved onto shoulder, hard brakes.
Came to a stop in 1st as I can recall, maintained control.  Had to get off the bike and sit down for a second to compose myself...



Actually, I think you meant to suggest that being in too low a gear would make the bike behave unexpectedly if the clutch is let back out.
Realistically, though, if you are downshifting while braking you should be near the proper gear for your speed as you slow.
It's not like hard on the brakes from 60mph will get you in 1st while still going 50...
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