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Discussion Starter #1
While reading another thread, I was reminded of something my Suzuki dealer told me when I picked up my new 400 a month ago - keep two fingers on the brakes. Some folks were mentioning this in another thread, so I wanted to pose a question. I am 5'1" with rather small hands. If I put two fingers over the rear brake, it is nearly impossible for me to be able to roll the throttle up and down to control speed. Certainly if I am cruising at a set speed, this is not an issue, but I like to vary speed and cannot do so with fingers on the brake. Do all of you ride like this? If so, any tips for someone with small hands? I want to be prepared for a sudden stop without "reaching" for the brakes, but I am just not sure it is possible for me. Thanks.

Ride safe!
 

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I cover the brakes when I'm nearing an intersection, or getting into a situation where I may need them quickly, but for usual cruising, I don't cover. Does your 400 have the means to adjust the distance between your brake levers and the grips? If so, try adjusting them to reduce the distance.
 

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The only time I cover the brakes on my 650 is when I'm in heavier traffic conditions. You know when you moving well below the posted limit and traffic is jammed. You leave safety space in front of you only for the retards that like jumping from lane to lane to dash in front of you.

The 650 has a little thumb wheel on the brake levers that allow you to adjust the position of each lever . Not sure if the 400 has these or not. But if you can reposition the lever using this adjustment to make it easier to use.
 

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Justice,
I'm somewhat confused. If you cover the "rear brakes" lever you then have problems with rolling on with the throttle? On my 400 the left lever is the one I use to "cover the brakes" as it controls both the front and rear brakes. The right lever covers the front only. Hence if you are covering the brakes with the left hand, then there is no problem in "rolling on" with the right hand. Maybe I'm just confused?--Dan
 

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The answers on why to cover have already been given..
My advise: you must develop the skills to cover your brake on your right hand...(front brake)
It is essential to give you the extra second which translates in another 5 feet or so of stopping distance...which can prevent an accident....
It can be done with any rider; develope your strength and stretch today...
Kind of like stretching your fingers on a guitar to play that great sounding chord..
bernard street..............
 

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The study manual for the written test in GA advocates "covering". I rode for about a week doing that. However, when I took my private training course the next week, the instructors were not in support of this approach. Their position was that you have more control with your hand fully on the grip. As it stands, I still cover the left brake when in heavy or stop and go traffic situations.
 

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Another thing to consider in covering that brake lever is that if you suddenly have to lift your butt up because of road hazards, i.e. potholes, wood, etc., there is a real danger in that out of reflex your going to close your hands around whatever your holding to get a better grip. If your holding that lever out of habit, you could very well find yourself applying break pressure when you least need it.


Bill
 

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Discussion Starter #8
I suppose I would not be too concerned about covering the right-hand brake if I knew my bike had linked brakes, since as Dan mentioned, the left brake lever would take care of both. It is an '05 Burgman 400. The dealer/salesman said is does not have linked brakes, but Suzuki's website indicated otherwise. I could not find any info in my owner's manual. Anyone know for sure? Thanks.
 

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Engine braking being what it is, I feel my brakes are pretty well covered at all times. I do keep one or two fingers resting on my rear break lever, but if I just grip tighter they drop down to the grip. I keep them there to light up the breaklights when slowing down.

Like most above, I tend to be more prepared to use the brakes in heavy traffic.
 

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I got in the habit (on my 650) of using the left (rear) brake too much for casual slowing. In a "near-emergency" I gripped it too quickly and too hard, and ended up locking up the rear wheel. Slipped a little sideways and then I let the brake loose and straightened out.

I did this twice - once at slow speed (25 mph) on a sidestreet - no problem. But once on a highway and about 40 mph. The second one snapped me around pretty hard. On another higher-centered bike, I mighta been in trouble, but the Burgman has such a low center of gravity, all went ok.

I am very careful now - typically cover the right brake when I am in using the left (rear) brake in the least.
 

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I agree with Brewman and Allwalk that's it's not necessary to "cover your brakes" during normal riding situations. Whenever you're riding and feel you are in conditions that may require quick or immediate braking, it's best to cover both brakes to reduce reaction time and allow you to be able to stop in the shortest possible distance.
In MSF classes we stressed "cover your clutch" to students so if they squeezed or grabbed the left (clutch) lever (on purpose or accidently) they would just disconnect the engine from the rear wheel and slow down. We didn't want them to cover the brakes because we didn't want students to accidently apply the brakes while manuvering and possibly drop the bike.
Even with larger hands it's sometimes difficult to cover the right brake lever and still modulate the throttle. Just do your best and practice in a safe area. If you find you really can't cover the right lever and still maintain max throttle control, don't worry about it. You don't want to interfere with your throttle control while you're trying to stretch your hand and fingers to cover the brake lever. Just keep the left lever covered.
And, while we're discussing this subject, get in the habit of using all four fingers to squeeze the brake levers. In an emergency, using all of your fingers give you more leverage on the levers and your little finger will give you a better "feel" on the lever for your braking.

Don
 

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Covering brakes with 2 fingers was common advice back in the seventies, maybe early eighties. These days, covering with 4 fingers is advised. Hitting the rear brake hard first is very bad technique, particularly on a 650. The linked brakes on the 400 might minimize the damage from that "rookie" mistake. Basically, if you lock up that rear wheel and it slides sideways, releasing pressure on the rear brake causes that rear wheel to hook up suddenly, and can throw the bike over into a "high side" crash". Tough to save, and very scary.
 

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pauljo said:
...Basically, if you lock up that rear wheel and it slides sideways, releasing pressure on the rear brake causes that rear wheel to hook up suddenly, and can throw the bike over into a "high side" crash". Tough to save, and very scary.
That's a very good point, and brings up something most new riders (and many experienced riders) don't know or don't believe: if you lock your rear wheel while braking hard, it's best to keep it locked until you come to a stop. (Not so for the front wheel, though.)
 

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In the MSF riding portion, people were broken real fast of "covering their brakes". The instructor warned people that if they were caught covering brakes again (after his initial warning) they would be asked to leave the course. The instructor felt this was extremely dangerous. I never cover my brakes, unless I'm in a slow-moving high-traffic situation.

Not sure if someone answered kcbulldog, but the 650's braking system is different than the 400's. The 650's brake levers are independant of each other and are not linked. The right hand brake lever controls the front brake, and the left hand brake lever controls the rear brake (just like the foot brake on a regular motorcycle, except its located where the clutch lever would normally be on a motorcycle).
 

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linked brakes

mjustice5898 said:
I suppose I would not be too concerned about covering the right-hand brake if I knew my bike had linked brakes, since as Dan mentioned, the left brake lever would take care of both. It is an '05 Burgman 400. The dealer/salesman said is does not have linked brakes, but Suzuki's website indicated otherwise. I could not find any info in my owner's manual. Anyone know for sure? Thanks.
Yes the 400 has linked brakes. right lever front brake, left lever front and rear. In the "brochure" that I'm reading as I write this they call it "Combination Braking"

Steve
 

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Suzuki's website also lists linked brakes as a feature for the 400, at least for 2005.
 

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I know what the safety instructors said, "don't as a general rule cover your brakes, because a motocycle does one thing at a time well
(swerving, braking, etc), but does NOT do two things at a time well"

Two fingers to me is better than nothing, but if in a high stress traffic jam situation, I keep all my brake fingers ready at all times, sometimes just extended out over the levers, flat, pointing forward, not hooked.

The danger there as pointed out to me, is that your reflexes might brake when what you really wanted to do was swerve, and if doing a high speed swerve you want a good grip on the handle bars, not just your thumb hooked around it.
My feeling is if I am going to use counter steering (pushing down and forward hard in the direction I want to swerve), then I can do that easily even with only my thumbs hooked around the bars, because its pushing with my palms mainly.

As an aside, I find when just plain stopping at stop signs lights, etc, that I have not yet mastered the gentle full stop when applying both brakes with all fingers. I tend to overdo the front brakes, they are so grabby.

My work around is to keep my chin up, look way ahead of where I am stopping, (to keep my horizon in sight and thus stay level, works well if the horizon IS level), and rely mostly on my back brakes (650), while gently applying front brakes with the proverbial two fingers. The lighter touch keeps me from doing the "frontal dip" and ungracefully stabbing at the ground with my feet looking for a purchase, before I fall over. :-(
MUCH smoother my way.

I know using both brakes to stop is the best way, but I find the burgs front brakes to be VERY powerful. ( that's a good thing) :wink:
Saved my bacon a few times so far. :wink:
 

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Just my natural riding habit is to have the first and second (social) fingers laying across the top of the brake lever while the third and forth fingers control the throtle with the help of a "throtle rocker". In this manner the fingers slide forward and back as they are not curled around the lever. The heel of the hand with the throtle rocker takes most of the stress off the wrist without resorting to "jury rigged cruise controls".

Locking up that front wheel can "High Side" you very quick also. Good reason for the seat back not to be removed, and keeping the passenger weight to the rear and avoid shifting forward during quick stops.
 

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I was also told by MSF not to keep brakes covered for all of the above reasons. When I met with my riders group last night someone mentioned to me, as Brian stated earlier, that I was not applying all 4 fingers on my left brake. I was just using 3 so I practiced with 4 today and felt a tremendous difference in braking. I am also grateful for the linked brakes on the 400 as I have not had the uncomfortable experience of fishtailing coming to a quick stop as I always did on my Savage due to excessive pulling on rear brake.

I do cover my brakes when I see trucks trying to turn left in front of me which along with many prayers has served me well :)
 

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mjustice5898 said:
The dealer/salesman said is does not have linked brakes, but Suzuki's website indicated otherwise. I could not find any info in my owner's manual. Anyone know for sure?
The 400s do have linked brakes. If you look at the front brake, you will notice 2 sets of lines running to it. One is for the left brake lever which activates a single piston. The other brake line is for the right brake lever and activates a separate piston. Using just the combination brake does not provide full braking power in the front. That is why it is important to use both brake levers all the time.
 
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