Engine Braking

Engine Braking 

Before discussing the proper techniques for aggressive braking we must address one important topic, which is “Engine Braking”.   A common mistake many new racers make is to start their downshifting before, they ever touch the brake lever, or at least way too soon in the braking sequence.  This early downshifting is a way to use engine compression as a braking force I.E. Engine Braking.  Unfortunately, this can more often than not, get the rear tire skipping and hopping around and cause the bike to be unsettled. 

As a teacher, I discourage the technique of engine braking, and definitely it should not to be used as the first step in your braking routine.  Another big potential problem with engine braking, besides upsetting the chassis, is when you hang a false neutral.  Many new riders will experience a scary or a panic situation when they hang a False Neutral.  The reason for this panic is that the rider who is relying on the engine compression to do the majority of slowing down.  


When a rider is relying on the engine to slow the bike down and hangs a false neutral, suddenly,

  • The bike is no longer slowing down as quickly
  • An out of control feeling overcomes the racer
  • The racer will now get to his turning point several miles per hour faster than he has ever been there before, which causes a panic 
  • The rider is at his turning point several miles per hour faster than he wants to be there,  which also causes a panic
  • When a rider relies on engine braking, he generally will not be using the front brake efficiently and have a cooler tire than expected 
  • This out of control feeling, and overall panic, from a false neutral, can often cause the rider to suddenly grab a whole handful of front brake, on a cold front tire, thus locking up the front wheel and then crash or at least stand the bike up and have an off track excursion

Simply put, get the brakes on first then, start your down shifts.  With proper braking, proper downshift techniques (ref; "Encyclopedia of High Performance Motorcycle Riding Techniques", Downshifting Chapter ) and avoiding engine braking, false neutrals will happen a lot less often and if they do happen, they will only be an inconvenience not a disaster!