The brake levers of a dirt bike are one of the most important parts of the vehicle. Setting up, maintaining, and using the brake levers properly could have a significant impact on the longevity of your bike and also on your own safety. Learning the appropriate braking technique is also equally important, as it will allow you to have greater control over the vehicle and help you maneuver the bike while riding.
There is a proper way to grip the brake levers of a dirt bike and it involves putting not two but just one finger over the brake lever. You should never use two or more fingers on one lever, as it could hamper your riding experience. The angle of your brake levers is also important and you must ensure that the levers are not positioned too low or too high.
Riders must also understand concepts such as ‘lever throw’, and in particular, the throw produced when the front brake lever is applied. Advanced riders can play around with this front brake lever throw to get a little extra speed under their wheels and also to stay out of any accidents. The brakes are not just there for stopping the bike or slowing it down. There is much more to it, and learning the proper use of the brake levers is an important step towards mastering the skill of riding a dirt bike.
Brake Levers – A Tool for Smooth Riding and Momentum Management
Controlling the speed of your dirt bike, managing its momentum and tilt in an effective manner, these are all things for which you need a quality set of brake levers. Often, it is not about slowing down or stopping, but rather about maintaining a consistent speed and not allowing the vehicle to move any faster or slower. Even when accelerating, you may often need to keep a finger on the brake lever just to control the extent of the acceleration without going overboard and speeding dangerously.
The braking techniques you need for all of these functions are quite different. The way you need to handle the brake levers when decelerating or slowing down is not the same as you would handle them when you are merely controlling the speed or trying to keep acceleration in check.
It is important to maintain some amount of finesse in both throttle control and braking when driving a dirt bike. Riding full throttle, hands completely off the brakes, can be dangerous and counterproductive when it comes to maneuverability. At the same time, being extremely hard on the brakes will also impede your speed and lower your control over the vehicle.
The first step towards learning proper braking technique is, of course, getting the set-up and positioning of brake levers right. So let’s dive straight into that.
Proper Finger Placement and Positioning of the Levers
The first thing that every dirt bike enthusiast should keep in mind is that the brake levers need to be set up in such a way that they can be operated with just one finger. You should never have to use two fingers to operate your brake levers, and definitely not three or more. To ensure that you use only one finger on each brake lever, the position of your brakes needs to be such that more than one finger is not required. Incorrect brake lever positioning can often promote bad braking techniques, which in turn can lead to unsafe and inefficient driving.
Traditionally, when a dirt bike is manufactured, the brake perch is positioned next to the grip and is often in contact with it. Hence, there is little to no space between the brake perch and the grip. So, before a biker can begin riding the bike, they will need to move the brake perch slightly inboard, so that some space may be created between the grip and the brake lever. This will allow the rider’s finger to touch the brake lever at the correct spot, which is near the curve of the lever’s outer end.
In order to achieve the goal of proper brake levers positioning, the rider may need to swap the order of shifters and brakes. Adjusting the reach of the lever may also be necessary. Any quality brake lever will allow for some level of reach adjustment, though it might require the rider to drop the integrated dropper-Seatpost/shifter/brake configuration that many manufacturers offer as the default option.
For most dirt-bike riders, the braking-finger of choice is the index finger. But if someone happens to have small hands, the middle finger is also a perfectly acceptable option for braking. The only requirement is that one of the first two fingers of the hand should be placed on the brake lever, while the other rests on the grip.
Learning the proper use and placement of the brake lever, as well as the right braking techniques, may not be easy or quick. However, it is vitally important for all those who want to ride dirt bikes as a long-term sport or hobby. Moreover, you should always purchase the brake levers from a reputed and trusted manufacturer in order to ensure safety and durability.