Ducati Monster Motorcycle Forum banner

1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
359 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
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.

My question: AM I WRONG TO COVER MY BRAKE LEVER WITH TWO FINGERS?

Rocky
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
71 Posts
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?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45,105 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
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.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
393 Posts
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
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
117 Posts
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.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
90 Posts
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.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
1,928 Posts
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).

--Fillmore
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,796 Posts
I usually cover the clutch with all 4 fingers, makes sense right and the brake with 2. I typically never brake with all fingers even at the track or under spirited riding. Those 4 piston Brembos and the huge 320mm rotors are hella good at stopping my bike. On the other side, or should I say end, I never use my rear brake.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,755 Posts
You gotta remember that MSF teaches "lowest common demoninator" techniques... even in the ERC.
If you have a vintage bike or one that is not set up or maintained properly, your two fingers on the grip can prevent you from achieving max braking. So they tell you to use all four to keep it simple.
Not covering follows logically from that; if they want you braking with all four, what good is it going to do to cover with two? And since you can't cover the brake with four and still throttle, what ya gonna do?

For the clutch, they want you covering it at all times so if you panic stop, you can grab that thing and bang downshifts without locking up the rear from compression braking. Thassall.

Me, I generally cover the clutch with all four except on long slogs when I change my grip for a break. Braking is two fingers but I don't generally cover; only when I'm managing an uncertain traffic situation.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
162 Posts
I think there are basically a few important points through this whole conversation:

1) Know your bike! This seems obvious, but if your bike has softer/harder brakes you are going to need more/less distance and pressure to get the braking feel you want. Plus, it all comes down to experience and comfort.

2) There is no cookie-cutter proper technique!! Sometimes when you are in the city you want to slow down using the engine in a controlled way. Problem is, cagers are not accelerometers, and they have no idea if you are slowing down and will likely plow into you. Covering the break, touching it just enough to get the brake lights to come on, is a very good idea. This lets people know you are slowing down.

3) Be comfortable!! If you ride with one, two, three fingers on the clutch/brake lever(s), then do it. I am not convinced there is anything exceptionally unsafe about any of these, but I think it is unsafe to ride when you are uncomfortable. I personally use two fingers to brake and to clutch, but that goes back to my dirtbiking days when hitting the trails ment breaking the ends off of levers. When you're 14, you can't afford a lot of new levers, so we just cut the broken parts off and gave'r. I still to this day have an urge to cut off my shifter handle, but I have some self-restraint.

DS
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
309 Posts
Ask your MSF instructor to deomonstrate braking,downshifting, and blipping the throttle with that four finger technique.
 

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
6,906 Posts
I took the ERC course too, and that 4 finger nonsense was the only part I really disagreed with. Modern brakes don't fade (in typical use) so there isn't a problem with fingers being trapped beneath the lever. Plus the increased reaction time to get to the brakes is that many more feet of travel before you stop.

2 fingers, all the time, even on the freeway.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
45,105 Posts
I actually feel more comfortable with one finger on each but as I don't have adjustable levers (yet!), my index finger doesn't quite reach the levers. My middle finger reaches fine so I end up covering with two inside fingers.

I don't cover 100% of the time, just when I'm a little unsure of the vehicles around me, which means most of the time when you're a new rider. I think once I get more used to the bike and learn what it can do, I might feel amore comfortable in some situations.

Dan
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
Back from the dead

Sorry to resurrect a long dead thread but just read this and thought it was funny because a buddy just took the MSF course last Saturday and asked me about the 4 finger technique. I told him that I cover with two fingers everywhere unless I'm in an area with no traffic and good line of sight. Even though my bike is an old M900, it has more than enough brake to slow down with the pressure of two fingers. My buddy said that he was covering the brake with two fingers and was chastised by the instructor for it but never got a good explanation as to why it was a bad thing. Now me being a smartass told him he may need to learn how to use the two hand method to stop that big ass Street Glide he just bought:grin
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top