Cover or Not Cover the brakes? - Ducati Monster Forums: Ducati Monster Motorcycle Forum
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post #1 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-30-2005, 06:41 PM Thread Starter
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Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

I took the MSF Experienced Rider Course yesterday (excellent refresher course, BTW), and the instructor noticed that I used two fingers to cover the brakes at all times. She asked me where I learned that technique, and I told her that I learned it from talking to experienced riders, reading about it in various books such as Pridmore's "Smooth Riding, and from first-hand experience. I ride in a city (Chicago) so I am dealing with rapidly changing traffic conditions, and a corresponding increase in risk factors, most of the time. It only makes sense for me to cover the brake lever in order to reduce reaction time, and I only cover with two fingers because my Brembo's are pretty d**n powerful. I always use a progressive pull on the lever, never "grabbing" it.

Anyway, she looked at me like I answered her in pig Latin and told me that it was "better" to use all four fingers to progessively brake for a firmer, stronger stop. I was told to keep all four fingers on the throttle, and when I wanted to brake to remove all four fingers from the throttle and use them to progressively brake. I did that for the rest of the class, but honestly, it feels counter-intuitive to my experience out on the streets as a competent and accident-free rider (so far, knock on wood).

After the instructor explained how why she wanted me to NOT cover the brake, another student wearing a Harley helmet, Harley leather jacket, Harley riding pants, Harley boots, Harley gloves, and riding a Harley Softail with 2 cutesy yellow luggage containers and a couple of flags mounted on the back of his slow-moving mobile jukebox piped up and said "When you're in your car you don't use the brake pedal and the gas pedal at the same time, do you?...why would you do it on a motorcycle?" OKEY-DOKEY, DUMMY...this guy has obviously zero experience with modern day sportbike brakes.

I then proceeded to have a vision of hoisting this candy-ass suck-up over my shoulders and pile-driving him head-first into the pavement...BUT I DIGRESS.



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post #2 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-30-2005, 09:08 PM

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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

I'm with you.

I live in the Western Burbs, and unless I'm on a wide open stretch, I'll cover the brake with two fingers. I took the ERC a few years back and they wanted me to cover the brake with three fingers. I tried it, but quickly reverted to what I was used to.

Not sure what your Harley friend was talking about. Did he think you were riding the brake?

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post #3 of 18 (permalink) Old 04-30-2005, 09:25 PM
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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

way back, when bike brakes weren't so good, any fingers under the lever could interfere wth lever travel. my guess is since some of thes bikes are still around, MSF discourage what most of us do on our ducs.

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post #4 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-01-2005, 04:54 PM
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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

I cover the front brake with 2 fingers most of the time.* I think it also helps you to learn better throttle control.* There are many situations where you wouldn't want to just chop the throttle off completely because of the engine (rear) braking that would occur--you would instead want to slowly roll off the throttle and begin applying the brake at the same time.

I think some folks who are learning to ride for the first time may be better off learning the feeling of the brakes and the throttle separately and then start covering the front brake after they get comfortable with the bike.

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post #5 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-01-2005, 09:12 PM
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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

i dont cover brakes unless i see a hazard im worried about then i cover. i use all 4 fingers for braking two is no good for me as i cant bend my index finger on my right hand at last joint due to smashing it in a crash as a side note rossi uses 4 fingers to brake and his brakes are much better than yours. i do cover the clutch alot as i used to race 250 two stroke roadrace bikes and they sieze up alot and getting the clutch in FAST is curcial to not crashing heavily old habits die hard. point to remember dont get on the brake too hard you need to compress the fork before heavy braking for best result my .02
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post #6 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-01-2005, 11:30 PM

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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

I ride in the city all the time. People try to kill me. All the time. I cover the brakes. All the time.
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post #7 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-02-2005, 10:41 AM
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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

I cover both my brakes and clutch with two fingers, force of habit. Also, I find it more comfortable to have the hand in a more open position and it keeps me from grabbing too much throttle. When I took the MSF course, the instructor asked everyone in the class to keep the clutch covered at all times with all fingers and to not cover the brake. He specifically mentioned that there really wasn't a problem with covering the brake but that it was safer to have beginning riders not cover the brake because they tended to grab more than a handful at a time.

I'm not sure when or why I got in the habit over covering the levers with two fingers. I probably thought it looked cool when I was a kid.
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post #8 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-02-2005, 01:43 PM

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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

As a fairly new rider, I haven't decided which way to go on this. I agree that there are too many people in cars who don't seem to have a care in the world....much less the guy on the bike they probably won't see. On the open road, I notice that I'm not covering the brake. When in the city (most of the time) I cover the brake approaching and going through intersections or when I see a potential [email protected]#$. I doubt that will go away with experience because I see how it is going to be.

On a side point, it is amazing how riding a motorcycle has made me a better driver in the car. It has really opened my eyes and made me more aware of what is going on around me.
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post #9 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-02-2005, 02:33 PM
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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

I think Howie's got it...

On older bikes (or bikes with jacked up brakes) the lever can go all the way to the grip when braking really hard and the outside fingers could get in the way of the lever in that situation.

I don't always cover the brakes, but in town or sketchy situations I cover the lever and I only use one or two fingers on the Ducatis.

I've never quite figured out the cover the clutch thing at MSF... If I was worried about a student running into me or something else, I'd really rather see them stopping than coasting.

Only tangentially related, but during the Estoril GP they had the on bike camera on Valentino Rossi's bike showing his throttle brake hand. He only used two fingers, but he was braking with his outer two fingers (ring and pinky).


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post #10 of 18 (permalink) Old 05-03-2005, 11:13 AM
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Re: Cover or Not Cover the brakes?

Originally Posted by Spidey
I ride in the city all the time.* People try to kill me.* All the time.* I cover the brakes.* All the time.
same here.

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