It’s time to break the braking myth: do motorcycles actually require a shorter stopping distance than cars? 

Sure, motorcycles are lighter, more agile, and more nimble than automobiles. And it’s true that they can navigate around obstacles and through heavy traffic much more easily than a car can… but did you know that there is almost NO difference between the maximum braking capability of a car and that of a motorcycle? In fact, often a motorcyclist will actually need more space to stop safely than a car would! 

Luck or skill?

The Truth About Motorcycle Braking

Every year a significant amount of motorcycle collisions are caused by the rider miscalculating how quickly they can stop. Additionally, unlike in a car, a motorcyclist has no engine space in front of them — which means riders can misjudge the actual distance between them and a possible forward-facing collision threat. 

The stopping capability of a beginner motorcyclist is around 0.5 G’s, which at 45 mp/h (72 km/h) means their total stopping distance is around 135 feet (41 meters). The maximum braking capability (what an expert rider can do) of most motorcyclists is around 1 G, which at 45 mp/h means the motorcycle comes to a complete stop within 67 feet (20 meters). The difference between these two stopping distances is almost the length of a semi, complete with trailer! However, the average braking capability of a car or truck on the road is 1 G, the same as the maximum capability of a motorcyclist. 

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This means that most motorcyclists on the road require somewhere between 1-2x as much stopping distance as they would need in their car. With these facts in mind, it’s easy to see how front-end collisions are not only more dangerous for a motorcycle rider, but much more likely as well.  

Avoiding Motorcycle Accidents

Maintaining an appropriate following distance and staying aware of possible front-end collision threats is crucial for any motorcyclist to stay safe. Fortunately, Ride Vision was uniquely designed to help riders avoid collision situations exactly like this. 

Ride Vision’s industry-leading front-end collision warning alerts riders of when their following distance has dropped below a safe minimum level. This unintrusive alert system also functions to notify riders of when someone else may have entered their safe stopping distance path of travel. With these lifesaving warnings, riders can adjust their speed or lane positioning to create a safe riding zone again.  

Practice Makes Perfect

Any rider on the road must continuously practice developing safe riding habits. One way to increase braking capabilities (up to the expert level of 1 G) is to practice emergency braking maneuvers. On average, most motorcycle brake capabilities are split 70/30 between the front brake and rear brake. Motorcycling braking “structure” (how the brakes are applied) should be smooth but firm, especially with the front brake.  

Ride Vision helps riders maintain safe distance to avoid front collisions

Mechanical braking capabilities will vary for each motorcycle and in different roadway conditions. When you are practicing emergency braking it’s possible that either the front or rear tire will slide — if this happens, don’t panic! If your rear tire slides simply continue to keep your handlebars straight and maintain steady braking pressure until you come to a stop. If your front tire begins to slide, release braking pressure and re-apply smoothly. Remember, even in an emergency maneuver you must straighten the front bars before braking.

Prevention of motorcycle front-end collisions can be achieved through a combination of awareness, practice, and the installation of an effective Advanced Rider Assistance System (ARAS) like Ride Vision. Ride Vision is the industry leader in versatile and affordable motorcycling assistive safety systems. Sign up below to get product updates, releases, and more great motorcycle news.