Hit the front brakes on a sportbike and it really feels like there’s a LOT of stopping power there…and there IS. But at higher speeds it’s probably a little less than what you *think.* The most dangerous mistake people make is riding faster than their braking distance… A riding faster means you have to start braking sooner than you would if you were going slower. This is probably why people who have a decent amount of driving skill manage to wrap their Ferraris around telephone poles (brake points on familiar roads come MUCH sooner when you’re going faster). It’s also why people who’ve been riding for a few years wind up in bad accidents.
Riding your braking distance means: you don’t want to go faster than you’ll be able to stop. On twisty roads with driveways, that’s probably close to 30mph, tops. On clear highways, it’s probably a good deal faster, but much slower than the top speed of your bike.
So here’s a really boring (but informative) video of a guy jamming on the front brake of his ABS equipped bike from about 150 mph. You probably wouldn’t realize it was panic braking unless he told you. It takes quite a bit of space to slow down from that speed. And with regular tires with full air pressure on the street, you probably won’t get the rear wheel in the air at full braking…especially with the oil soaked roads we call highways around here.
On a personal note, as a Citybiker dad of a baby girl, I actually find myself riding faster than I should sometimes – I think it’s because I’m so pressed for time. So here’s a good reminder to myself. Ride safe. Cheers!