April 17, 2007

Motorbikes…

So why is it, that all motorcyclists deem it necessary to break nearly every law of the road?

Just today I was out on a B road, behind 3-4 cars, when 2 motorbikes come up behind me. On a blind bend, double white lines, at nearly twice the speed limit, they flew past me, onto incoming traffic, narrowly avoiding a fatal accident.

Now why cant motorcyclists obey the laws of the road, not overtake on blind bends, not overtake on double white lines, and more importantly not break the speed limit! Having a motorbike does not mean you can break the law as far as I can recall?

Why cant motorcyclists see that not only will this awful display of riding end in their own death, it was also cause the death of others, or if not that, serious injury, or mental illness after witnessing such a horror accident.

At least they were wearing leathers, which is more than can be said for some...

http://www.dft.gov.uk/pgr/roadsafety/research/rsrr/theme5/indepthstudyofmotorcycleacci4784
The above article from the DfT shows under section 2: killed and serious injury rate for motorcyclists is 16 times that of car users...
Motorcyclists make up less than 1% of traffic yet are involved in 14% of deaths and serious injuries on Britain's roads...

M

p.s. how do most motorcyclists get away with it? both not being caught, and avoiding death?

Motorbike Crash


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  1. Just to stick up for motorcyclists here:

    Your post is worded too strongly, “that all motorcyclists deem it necessary to break nearly every law of the road” and so your statement clearly is not true. But I take the point that some motorcyclists do act negligently. Overtaking on double white lines is 3 penalty points and/or a fine – and if a police car witnessed it then they might not get away with it. This I agree with you on, they were reckless and lucky.

    But then you say “more importantly not break the speed limit”. It’s safer to break the speed limit than overtake on a blind bend, so I disagree with you here. If you don’t know about roadcraft then look it up. Many instructers/police riders will agree while sticking to 30/40/50 limits, when it’s national speed limit you can go pretty much as fast as you like (i.e. 80 or 90) as long as you are safe and can stop within the distance you see. Yes it’s technically breaking the law – but it’s understanding WHY the law is there and knowing when you can push it and still be safe.

    Apart from serious dangerous driving motorcyclists get away with it because they are fairly safe even if it looks or sounds dangerous to non-motorcyclists, and if they did lose control then they would often only injure themselves. Car drivers must have stricter enforcement because they are so much heavier they often cause lots more damage when they lose control.

    -

    Anyway, every single journey I have taken I have seen car drivers break the law: Talking on mobile phones, speeding, making dangerous manoveurs on roundabouts, driving too close to the car in front. My pet hate is driving without due care on the motorway, you regularly see cars drifting slightly into other lanes. At least motorcyclists are aware and what is around them and don’t kill pedestrians because they were distracted by their mobile phone going off.

    -

    In fact, we should ALL take more care on the roads. It’s only a journey, no need to die for it.

    17 Apr 2007, 09:19

  2. it is wordly strongly yes, but not intended to accuse everyone, it just reflects my annoyance at the time! apologies for that…

    my main point is that yes many car drivers break the speed limit, i do included, but yes i do it safely. more often than not motorcylcists break it whilst weaving between traffic, especially on the motorway, which i believe to be highly dangerous, cars cannot see and countless motorcyclists get knocked off in this manner…

    i do agree with you on the car drivers breaking the law front as well, dont get me wrong! mobile phones whilst driving is my absolute pet hate!

    agreed – all should take care on the roads…

    17 Apr 2007, 14:13

  3. Robert O'Toole

    Michael, perhaps you notice dangerous motorcylists more than you notice dangerous car drivers? A motorcycle makes more of an audible and visual impact than a car, largely because there are far fewer bikes. Loud exhausts, daylight running lights, and bright clothes add to this. There is clear evidence that because of this greater prominence car drivers and pedestrians always assume that a bike is going fast and dangerously.

    In my extensive experience (100,000 miles on a bike), motorcyclists are far better trained and safety conscious than car drivers (being so exposed makes you safer). The statistics support that. I think something like 40% of all riders of big bikes now have “advanced” training – and that means that they know and use the police “roadcraft” method. The method includes sophisticated techniques for “making good progress” (police speak for going fast) and for filtering through traffic (which is both legal and encouraged by the police system).

    However, there are many dangerous riders, and they are very noticeable. But the majority of riders are safe. The standard of car driving is, however, utterly shocking. Drivers just constantly make errors, use indaequate techniques, or indeed use no techniques or intelligence at all. We have got so used to it that no one notices or even cares. And yet cars kill so many people.

    17 Apr 2007, 15:35

  4. um, no, never seen a motorcyclist is “bright clothes”.
    Thing that pisses me off more is people on pushbikes. Now they are real cunts, eh?

    17 Apr 2007, 15:56

  5. Many instructers/police riders will agree while sticking to 30/40/50 limits, when it’s national speed limit you can go pretty much as fast as you like (i.e. 80 or 90) as long as you are safe and can stop within the distance you see. Yes it’s technically breaking the law – but it’s understanding WHY the law is there and knowing when you can push it and still be safe.

    1) Are you saying please officers are encouraging drivers/riders to break the law as long as it is ‘safe’ to do so?

    2) Why is a ‘red roundel’ speed limit more accurate indication of a safe maximum speed whereas the national speed limit isn’t?

    17 Apr 2007, 19:24

  6. Bikers do sometimes believe that they have the ‘right’ to carry out manoeuvres that cars can’t.

    eg filtering through rows of stationary/very slow moving traffic.

    I had an example of this recently where I wanted to move from lane 2 to lane 1. I checked my mirrors and positioned my car to the nearside edge of lane 2 with my left indicator on.

    A MB making progress between the lanes behind me inevitably had to slow for my manouevre and wait for lane 1 traffic to reopen a gap for him to proceed. He shakes his head at me, effectively lecturing me for making a perfectly safe and legal manouevre.

    Having said that bikers are more likely to have ‘road sense’ than car drivers but then their lives literally depend on it.

    17 Apr 2007, 19:29

  7. Robert O'Toole

    Bikers do sometimes believe that they have the ‘right’ to carry out manoeuvres that cars can’t.

    Actually we do have the right. Safe filtering is legal in Britain. For an idea of what counts as safe, see the Roadcraft Police Rider’s handbook.

    18 Apr 2007, 10:00

  8. Judda

    I ride and drive, probably using the bike about 40 percent of the time. I have to say that since passing my bike test last year I have become painfully aware of how poor the skills of many car drivers are, especially in the mornings, between 8 an 9, rushhour and shool run time, my trip to work is like running the gauntlet. I have seen car drivers brushing their teeth, on mobiles (of course), shaving, brushing their hair, twisted half way around helping/dealing with the kids in the back seat, just amazing stuff. It has ceratinly made me a better (more aware) car driver too. That said I followed a biker yesterday, who was astonishingly bad, not looking in mirrors, not checking over shoulders, indicating (occasionally) on the turn not before the turn, an accident wating to happen. There are good and bad drivers and bikers, please don’t tarnish all with the same brush ! We are faced with a road infrastructure that cannot handle the number of vehicles that we have put on it, the margin for error has been reduced and we all need to take care. Personally I advocate an IQ measurement being part of driving/riding test ;-)

    Be Safe.
    Judda

    18 Apr 2007, 10:35

  9. Catherine Fenn

    In fact, we should ALL take more care on the roads. It’s only a journey, no need to die for it.

    Nathan: as someone who never wants to attend another road fatality funeral I just wanted to cheer the best line seen yet on Warwick Blogs re: road use. Thank you.

    18 Apr 2007, 11:46

  10. Mike

    Firstly, have a look at the photo… Clearly that car hasn’t looked properly and pulled out in front of the bike. Most of the accidents involving bikes are down to the carelessness of car drivers. I think if every driver had to do a day on a bike they would drive a lot differently.

    Like Robert says bikers are usually much more saftey consicious than drivers, as a mistake could be fatal. They are more highly trained, and not only do they want to live, but their bikes are much more valuable to them then most peoples cars. Have you ever seen a dirty superbike?

    Anyway, of course you get the few nutters doing mental speeds, and if they crash they will be in a bad way. But it will be just them, if a car crashes they can injure many more people at a time.

    Filtering traffic jams is actually a requirement to pass your test, and only if it is safe to do so. Most people get scared when a biker goes past them, probably because they think its quick, when actually the bike has hugely more powerful brakes than most cars.

    One other thing, as for speeding. If I was to overtake a police car on a motorway doing 10-15 mph over the speed limit, and then drop back down after the overtake they would not mind. This much safer to get past the car quickly and then get back into a safe postion.

    This just seems to me to be a driver jealous of bikes, and completely unaware of the facts behind riding.

    18 Apr 2007, 12:19

  11. “Actually we do have the right. Safe filtering is legal in Britain. For an idea of what counts as safe, see the Roadcraft Police Rider’s handbook.”

    Safe filtering is indeed legal. But as a motorist I am entitled to use the full width of the lane I am in and have no obligation to facilitate a filtering motorbike. His manourvre doesn’t take precedence over mine.

    If it is safe and necessary to move to the white lines I will so.

    It is this arrogance that, in my view, that can be a sourc of conflict on the road.

    18 Apr 2007, 13:48

  12. “Filtering traffic jams is actually a requirement to pass your test, and only if it is safe to do so. Most people get scared when a biker goes past them, probably because they think its quick, when actually the bike has hugely more powerful brakes than most cars”

    Are you saying stopping distances are much shorter on a bike than in a car? I doubt this to be the case and in any event loading the front end probably has more adverse implications for a bike than a car.

    I am not convinced by the ‘I am not going too quickly because my brakes are very good’ argument.

    “One other thing, as for speeding. If I was to overtake a police car on a motorway doing 10-15 mph over the speed limit, and then drop back down after the overtake they would not mind. This much safer to get past the car quickly and then get back into a safe postion.”

    So why would you not be in a safe position when overtaking on a motorway? So long as there is sufficient differential in speeds I don’t see a problem. If there aren’t then why overtake?

    In terms of the Police not minding I don’t think you can speak for all our Traffic Officers, or at least what’s left of them.

    You break the speed limit, you risk prosecution, regardles of your reasons.

    18 Apr 2007, 14:53

  13. Jake Mahoney

    Motorbike users who break the laws and the speed limites do so because there is only a small risk of being caught. Ok, I used to be an idiot, I used to (when I was about 19/20) ride far too fast, go round islands as low to the floor as possible and overtake cars non double white lines. But I used to do it because it was fun and if a copper saw me, what could they do? I was usually going too fast for them to note down the licence plate and if they gave chase they’d never catch me. Sure they could go as fast as me, but they couldn’t turn off roads whenever and drive of pathways and grass so they’d always lose me
    You kinda asked WHY do motorbikers do it.. so there’s your answer… because we can.

    18 Apr 2007, 16:01

  14. Are you saying stopping distances are much shorter on a bike than in a car? I doubt this to be the case and in any event loading the front end probably has more adverse implications for a bike than a car.

    A sports car will outbrake a sports bike, due to increased stability under heavy braking (lots of weight transfer). Modern cars also have anti-lock brakes, high performance models also come fitted with wide low profile tyres made of high grip rubber as well as stability programs that control the car during loss of traction. However, the fact remains that most bikes are far more performance-focussed than most cars (note Mike’s use of the word most), and as such are specified with suitably bigger brakes for their mass. Bear in mind that even the largest 1l + sports bikes weigh in at under 200kg, whereas my Ford Focus is a hefty 1350kg.

    Motorbikes tend to attract the most extreme of thrillseekers on the road, for the obvious reasons that it’s much more exposed, you get a greater sensation of speed, there’s more skill involved, and the acceleration and speeds are far in excess of almost anything else on the road (Buggati’s latest hypercar, the Veyron, has a power to weight ratio around half that of the most powerful superbikes, and has a pricetag of £1 million compared to less than £10k for a new superbike); thus it’s unsurprising that the few we notice are riding in a manner that shocks a road user restrained by the dynamic ability of their Fiat Panda. But then your eyeballs would pop out if you got a lift in a 2 seat F1 car and experienced 5g braking and over 4.5g cornering. Superbikes are a different world of performance compared to almost all road cars. As has been pointed out numerous times here, training and discipline amongst riders is actually very high by virtue of the fact that most riders ride as a serious pastime rather than a means of transport, and also from necessity of being more vulnerable. It’s a source of irritation of the IAM and other advanced motoring groups that the average car user lags so far behind that of a biker in road awareness, skill and discipline.

    18 Apr 2007, 22:25

  15. All very well Chris but it doesn’t substantiate the assertion that a bike can’t be travelling too quick because of it’s ‘powerful’ brakes.

    I think all motorists overestimate the significance of ‘performance ‘brakes. Any brakes that can lock your wheels, by definition, are more than good enough for the job in my opinion. I am sure the physics may prove me wrong but my reasoning is below.

    A couple of days ago I was in my car on a twisty B road showing an indicated speed significantly higher than the NSL with a bike following at a safe distance.(My speedo must be incorrect!). I slowed for a corner which also had a junction with an emerging car coming onto my side of the road. The bike behind clearly struggled to slow with me. I don’t believe this had anything to do with how good his brakes were but a failure on his part to anticipate how much speed I was intending to lose prior to the corner.

    In other words, ‘powerful’ brakes are a misnomer. It is your driving/riding that determines your safe stopping distance, not your brakes. It worries me when people say they can drive/ride faster because they have ‘powerful’ brakes. As do comments like ‘my car sticks to the road like glue’ or ‘corners like it’s on rails’. These are usually the people who end up in a ditch or T-boning another vehicle.

    “It’s a source of irritation of the IAM and other advanced motoring groups that the average car user lags so far behind that of a biker in road awareness, skill and discipline.”

    Unfortunately this perception of bikers is also held by bikers themselves which can lead them to becoming arrogant, assuming that car drivers don’t know how to drive. I would say the vast majority of feedback I get from bikers is positive however, as described above, it is not always the case. Unfortunately, this arrogance and intolerance can affect motorists as well.

    I don’t believe the best place to attempt to educate a fellow road user on their driving is from your own vehicle. Hence I try not to let other people know what I think of their driving. I might after all be the one in the wrong.

    19 Apr 2007, 03:05

  16. Of course a bike can be travelling ‘too quickly’ – anything can. It’s just that the performance threshold for a bike is much, much higher than an average road car, so to a road car driver bikes appear to be going ‘too quickly’ when they aren’t.

    Your assertion that any brakes that can lock the wheels is good enough is kind of a half-truth. All forces that alter a car’s velocity( (apart from aerodynamic ones) are generated by the contact patch of the tyre, and so if the contact patch is working at or over it’s limit then nothing more can be done really. It’s exactly the same for brakes or engines – once you’re spinning the wheels no more power will make you go faster (unless we get into the physics of dragster tyres but that’s another matter). Most brakes will lock the wheels on a car once, but repeated use raises the brake temperature and causes an effect known as ‘brake fade’. By having larger brakes, with higher thermal capacity (ability to absorb more energy) and increased surface area (increased cooling rates), high performance brakes are less prone to variability with use. Furthermore, powerful brakes fitted to sports cars and bikes are also backed up by improved weight distribution, more grippy tyres and improved suspension and chassis set-ups, which in turn increase the available grip before a wheel will lose traction and spin/slide/lock-up. In this respect, powerful brakes do offer a significant performance advantage.

    Your further point about drivers is of course true – no matter how good the machine, it is only as good as the person driving or riding it. There is no true substitute for awareness (apart from perhaps systems such as active cruise control and lane departure systems, that are designed to automatically control the car or alert the driver, although using these as a substitute is highly unrecommended and the last thing I’d condone). However, if the road user is in fact suitably alert and not speaking rubbish, then improved vehicle capabilities do translate to a higher safe performance threshold. The example you used with the biker following you not paying enough attention is just that – an isolated example. I would go with your comment in your penultimate paragraph and that mooted in posts before this, that in general bikers are of better ability and increased awareness. Such generalisations do not apply to individuals of course. And I don’t blame bikers for their arrogange – most of them I believe to be like myself, in that they have generally a negative view of other road users abilities but are pleased to see exceptions where others are driving well.

    19 Apr 2007, 12:49

  17. “It’s just that the performance threshold for a bike is much, much higher than an average road car, so to a road car driver bikes appear to be going ‘too quickly’ when they aren’t.”

    Sorry Chris but there is no logical link between the first half of your statement and the second. It does not follow from the fact the performance threshold is higher that they can go much more quickly safely. On the track yes. On the road, no.

    Perfomance brakes may be lighter, more comfortable and reassuring to use but when the chips are down they will not stop you any quicker than ‘standard’ brakes. I would suggest that the chassis and brakes on an ‘average’ car are beyond the driving abilities of most users anyway.

    ”...but repeated use raises the brake temperature and causes an effect known as ‘brake fade’”

    I don’t have performance brakes. I don’t get brake fade. I don’t believe you can get brake fade during road use without abusing them. That is not to say I am not driving fast enough (see my example in my last post). It is just brake fade is the consequence of poor driving, not an inadequacy in brake performance. Unless of course you are on the track.

    Ask any Police driver involved in pursuit driving whether or not their vehicles have ‘performance’ brakes. The answer will be no. Ask them if they have experienced brake fade. The answer will also be no.

    These technical improvements in performance have no benefit to normal road use as the average car is developed way beyond what is necessary to drive safely at speed on our roads.

    It is nonsense to suggest that drivers are ‘scared’ of bikers because they are unaware of the braking performance of their bikes. Braking performances are irrelevant. Bikers surprise motorists because they don’t ride with the flow of traffic and drivers generally are not sufficiently observant not to be surprised by them.

    “And I don’t blame bikers for their arrogange – most of them I believe to be like myself, in that they have generally a negative view of other road users abilities but are pleased to see exceptions where others are driving well.”

    Perhaps it is a product of your youth but I have driven with some extremely experienced and able advanced drivers and one thing I would say about all of them is that they are not arrogant and are indeed very humble about their own abilities.

    Hopefully you may appreciate this attitude in years to come and for the present I can seek some comfort in the knowledge you have at least taken some steps to becoming a safer and more effective driver. However passing an IAM test is the beginning of an advanced driving career not the end.

    19 Apr 2007, 15:16

  18. Gail

    A boyfriend of mine had a Lambretta and it was his pride and joy. He had to keep tuning it because the carburettor was a bit dodgy, this seemed to entail a lot of revving up and smoke.

    But my first experience of motorbikes was when one Saturday night a group of friends and I were heading to a night club which was on the outskirts of the town where I lived. We usually started the evening in town and then headed for the club on foot (it was about a two mile walk). This particular evening there were four of us girls walking along and this guy stopped on his motorbike and asked us where we were going and if we wanted a lift. He said “I’ll come back for you all one by one.” and we said “Yeah OK!” Considering we had never set eyes on him before I can’t believe now how trusting we were and I even went first. It was an amazing experience as he went like a rocket and there was me clinging on for dear life and helmetless. But he was a man of his word and came back for each of my friends in turn. I would not recommend this sort of behaviour although it was fun at the time as this was my first motorbike experience.

    19 Apr 2007, 17:57

  19. Sorry Chris but there is no logical link between the first half of your statement and the second. It does not follow from the fact the performance threshold is higher that they can go much more quickly safely. On the track yes. On the road, no.

    Well we consider it safe in modern times to drive at speeds in excess of 100 miles an hour (specifically here I’m talking about Germany, not the UK) – if everyone had the brakes from a Ford Cortina on their car I most definitely wouldn’t consider such speeds to be safe. Improvements in vehicle dynamic ability fundamentally must translate to higher thresholds of safe performance – provided the driver is similarly up to task and uses said performance where appropriate. The average car might well have a threshold of performance higher than the average driver – that’s not the point I was making. The point is, if the driver is good enough then a more capable car will have a corresponding higher threshold of performance. Some modern road cars on road tyres will happily hit up to 1.2 lateral g and beyond in cornering – if you tried that in a Smart car you’d stack it.

    You may also not have experienced brake fade, and admittedly on modern cars it happens much less often due to the advent of front disc brakes being pretty much universal. I’ve experienced it numerous times in my Escort (which has pretty lame front disc brakes), most notably when driving on a fast A road with many roundabouts in quick succession. To get a similar effect in the ST I’d have to be absolutely caning it. Police vehicles also tend to be fairly well specified, despite your suggestion that they don’t have “performance brakes” – most of their chase vehicles are high performance models such as Volvo T5’s and BMW’s, which have suitably beefy brakes.

    You misconstrue what I say about bikers when I am talking about relative performance of bikes and cars. I am saying that a motorist’s judgment of what is lunacy and what is safe is often inadequate when it comes to observing bikers, because the chances are they have no real perception of the bike’s performance envelope. If drivers are surprised at bikes appearing, then they should learn to be more observant.

    Your experience of advanced drivers is obviously different to mine. When I did the IAM test, most observers and instructors very readily pointed out the serious deficiencies in most other people’s driving that is designed to be eliminated by becoming an advanced driver. Don’t get me wrong, I’m under no illusion that I still have much to learn about driving yet – I’ve yet to own a rear wheel drive car, which brings with it a whole new side to driving, and although I’ve clocked up over 100,000 miles of road experience undoubtedly my driving will continue to improve as I gain more. I would say the key difference between myself and the average motorist is that I actually care about how I drive and take an attitude of trying to learn and improve my abilities, rather than pass a test and then just attempt to get from A to B in a shoddy fashion.

    19 Apr 2007, 20:04

  20. Thanks for that story, “Gail”.
    Thanks.

    19 Apr 2007, 20:42

  21. “You misconstrue what I say about bikers when I am talking about relative performance of bikes and cars. I am saying that a motorist’s judgment of what is lunacy and what is safe is often inadequate when it comes to observing bikers, because the chances are they have no real perception of the bike’s performance envelope”

    Lots of nice words Chris but the bottom line is that braking performance is insignificant when deciding how fast you drive or ride. If it isn’t then I suggest you are relying too much on your brakes. You cannot compare improved perfomance in other areas with brakes.

    I don’t believe I have misconstrued what you have said. I just think you have spent lot of time explaining things that are very marginal when it comes to choosing one’s speed on the road. This gives false credibility to Mikes potentially dangerous statement.

    I thought i’d post Mike’s comment on an advanced driving website to see what the response was like.

    Many of the people on this forum have considerable advanced driving experience. Their answers are interesting.

    http://www.advanced-driving.co.uk/bb/viewtopic.php?t=1157

    19 Apr 2007, 22:56

  22. Andy

    Chris, David I think your talking at cross purposes as I don’t think either of you are actually disagreeing substantially.

    Of course performance shouldn’t dictate speed, well up to a point, no one should travel at the limit of their vehicles performance so if thats below the speed limits their vehicle not the speed limit should determin their speed.

    I think Chris’ point is that car users misconstrue some bikes manovers as reckless becasue they don;t understand that bikes can get up to and down from speeds much quicker than cars can, hence they can overtake in shorter stretches of road etc. this is where performance. Increased performance doesn’t just mean increased speed.

    Though I of course am only summising and may be wrong and if thats not what you mean Chris I appologise.

    20 Apr 2007, 00:04

  23. Well the link you posted suggests that most of the contributors agree with the statements I’ve made regarding the physics of braking and the real benefit of uprated brakes – it appears that many of the contributors are themselves policemen and pointed out that even high performance T5 models have in fact had their brakes further upgraded for chase use. I was going to bring up the point of the Mclaren Mercedes but one of the contributors there already has – if it can stop from 120-0 in the same distance as the highway code says 60-0 should take, it’s brakes (and tyre contact patches, plus airbrake) have 4 times the power. Thus the performance envelope is greater and so can be exploited. Let’s do a thought experiment – if I am driving at 60 miles an hour and it takes me 0.67 seconds thinking time as dictated in the highway code, the stopping distance will be 73 metres. If my car has the ability to stop from 90 miles an hour in 46 metres, as I would imagine the McMerc would easily, I could stop from that speed in the same 73 metres. If I have an enhanced gap between me and the car in front (as I would, because I obey the two second rule) then the safety gap I have is further still enhanced. I don’t see the distinction between crummy car at 60 or performance car at 90 if they stop in the same distance with the same thinking time (of course, for conditions where grip and visibility are poor this safety margin would be reduced, and a good driver would suitably adjust their driving for the conditions).

    Andy – that way my main point, thank you for clarifying this.

    20 Apr 2007, 15:56

  24. “Well the link you posted suggests that most of the contributors agree with the statements I’ve made regarding the physics of braking and the real benefit of uprated brakes”

    But not necessarily with the inferences you have made from this.

    Here are a few:-

    ‘My car has uprated pads and discs, EBC redstuff I think, with EBC approved discs. They were on when I bought the car and I’m going to change them for standard items soon as I don’t think they offer any advantages in road driving’

    ‘There is alot more skill reqd to get the maximum out of a bike, but anyone can lock the wheels in a car and not fall off.’

    ‘The things about bikes is that they fall over and have a large unfixed load, which tends to make them not very good for really heavy braking.’

    ‘A car will generally outbrake a bike, simply because of the additional grip afforded by four large contact patches, versus two smaller ones.’

    ‘Again, as has been said above, the reason for having more powerful brakes is predominantly to allow for repeated application without fade.’

    ‘We have done some informal tests at the local IAM group at a test facility, and the difference in stopping distances between “performance” cars and “standard” models was quite marked,’

    **

    So only one contributor, having done an informal test, implies a shorter stopping distance is significant. And even then it is an implication. The rest seem to think improved brakes prevent brake fade and go on to say when a car is driven properly on the road this shouldn’t happen.

    **

    In any event do any of the contributors agree with the effect this has on driving style and speeds on the road?

    The fact is, when driving safely yet progressively, braking performance is of negligible significance.

    This preoccupation with the physics is misleading and potentially dangerous.

    The idea that a lack of understanding of brake peformance is somehow related to most drivers not being able to properly assess a speed or manouevre is nonsense.

    I am disappointed, as an advanced driver, apparently with 150,000 miles of experience that you would (deliberately or not) bolster such a crass statement as Mike’s with a possibly interesting but substantially irrelevant discourse in the physics of braking.

    Andy, the disagreement, as far as I can see it is the extent of the significance of ‘performance’ brakes for road driving. I have driven with some of the contributors on that forum and can say their driving is spirited to say the least.

    None of them will boast about their brakes or blame other drivers’ lack of understanding of their car’s performance when on the receiving end of disapproval.

    It is blatantly obvious to other road users, when a bike overtakes, whether he had sufficent time to carry out the overtake safely. There is no need to understand the performance characteristics of the overtaking vehicle. I suggest this applies to other manouevres as well.

    Misguided disapproval of bike riders is far more likely to be attributed to overtaking and other unusual manouevres being considered anti-social than a lack of understanding of performance characteristics. Disapproval may also be sourced in a perception that the biker is disobeying a speed limit. For many that is an inherently unsafe act.

    In other words, in the scheme of things, the performance of components and vehicles in general is insignificant when compared with driver ability when discussing safe driving and indeed public ignorance.

    Have a look at the photo above. How relevant were powerful brakes in that situation?

    20 Apr 2007, 17:07

  25. Gail

    Thanks for your contribution too “Vincent”. All my “stories” are true, it is only the names of the people involved that I have changed although I didn’t give the motorbike rider a name but we will call him “Dave” for now, I think that suits him quite well.

    I don’t know much about the physics of breaking but when I first got my Polo I found the breaks very harsh but I’ve finally got used to them and now just touch the pedal very lightly…it’s a lovely car to drive, very responsive and I’d recommend it to anyone without reservation.

    20 Apr 2007, 19:54

  26. how very amusing that this conversation ended up talking about brakes!?

    20 Apr 2007, 22:09

  27. Heather

    Have you noticed how “unreservedly” sounds better than “without reservation.”

    21 Apr 2007, 00:04

  28. Heather

    Have you noticed how “unreservedly” sounds better than “without reservation.”

    21 Apr 2007, 00:04

  29. Whyfor is that amusing?

    I think I’ve made about all the points I can to be honest. High performance braking systems fitted to suitably developed cars offer improved rates of deceleration and thus shorter stopping distances from a given speed, with much more reliability in repeat and prolonged use. That much is undeniable fact. Having the potential to stop faster in an unexpected situation should the driver decide to do so is at worst a situation no worse than normal, and for the majority of cases I would say it is an improvement. Whether this is of benefit to the road user depends on how much of the performance envelope of your vehicle you are exploiting. The one last thing I’m going to mention is that the emergency stop is part of the standard road test, and even the best drivers among us have to apply the brakes much harder than we’d like to have to every once in a while. I leave it to everyone else to decide if improved braking is of benefit on the road or not. Personally, I’m in no doubt.

    21 Apr 2007, 00:07

  30. "Gail"

    Yes, have you noticed how Dave sounds better than “Vincent Carrol Bottelini!

    21 Apr 2007, 00:09

  31. i cant remember who im supposed to say

    You two! You havent been on the green chartreuse again have you. Ive been in your car Gail and you are so right.

    21 Apr 2007, 00:15

  32. "Gail"

    Christopher, Firstly:- why is the word “road” in emphasised letters i.e. more pronounced than the rest of the words? Secondly:- If I were to apply the brakes forcefully in my car I would be practically thrown through the window so I think the level of forcefullness has to be adapted to the car you are driving. Thirdly:- Next time can we talk about gears as I have several anecdotes on that subject?

    21 Apr 2007, 02:31

  33. "Gail"

    Another request:- Isotopes, please.

    21 Apr 2007, 02:55

  34. Road is emphasised because I am trying to make the point that what we have been discussing is applicable to the road as well as the racetrack. If you were to be thrown through the window it quite clearly shows that you aren’t wearing your seatbelt, which is law in the UK – if you were doing this then it wouldn’t be a problem. I think gears have much less to do on the subject of road safety, and isotopes nothing to do with roads at all!

    21 Apr 2007, 06:33

  35. " "

    But I don’t mind what we discuss as long as it comes under one of the following headings:-

    1) Cars
    2) Nuclear power
    3) Cars/nuclear power

    Occasionally I am prepared to venture into farm machinery

    21 Apr 2007, 09:38

  36. Dorian

    Optimism – is it in the genes or just a useful laid down habit.

    21 Apr 2007, 23:11

  37. Sue

    I’ve never seen the point of being a pessimist but I think optimism is partly genetic.

    Hope springs eternal.

    22 Apr 2007, 08:41

  38. Matt Shillito

    Bikes can more easily perform manouvers that cars can’t, whether it’s legal or not people try to make progress as best they can. You get wankers in cars just like you get wankers on bikes, don’t generalise. It’s a fact that most bikes on the road have better acceleration than cars and they’re smaller so can nip into gaps that car drivers don’t even consider. It’s more dangerous, but it’s quicker and more fun, cagers just get resentful seeing bikes swoop by and making time when they’re stuck in traffic. Give me 2 wheels any day.

    25 Apr 2007, 13:11

  39. Ranil

    It is so annoying!

    AND it is unfair. Why is it that motorcyclist, cyclists and pedestrians are never at fault – the driver is always to blame!

    If a motorcyclists undertakes, it is his fault that the driver can’t see him!

    If a cyclist goes through a red light, it is their fault if they get knocked over!

    If a pedestrian runs out into the road without looking, it is their fault!

    07 May 2007, 12:36

  40. http://video.google.co.uk/videoplay?docid=4534222523174638042

    22 May 2007, 00:50

  41. Do you consider that to be representative of motorbiker’s behaviour? I would suggest that such acts are that of a reckless few rather than the majority. Cars are similarly abused in such a manner by a minority – for example I recently found a similar underground-type video of an old Sierra that had been tuned to 400BHP drifting around roundabouts at 70+ mph.

    22 May 2007, 12:59

  42. intensive driving

    That picture is terrible – I assume that at least two people’s lives were severely effected if not ended. Sad and such a waste. I know a doctor who calls the donor cycles and says that without them there would be practically no good second hand organs! I think the time has come to limit some of these bikes at least to 150mph – it’s still a ridiculous speed for the road but videos on youtube regularly show people doing more…
    Good bikers know that driving defensively involves allowing for others imperfections.

    09 Aug 2007, 15:33

  43. Will

    I agree that there are some bikers that ride stupidly.
    But what happened to me yesterday was a pure display of shitty driving.. riding down the road at 30mph on my way home and a transit van driver on the phone decided to pull out of a blind t junction into me, as the ground was wet i basically planted myself into the side of my van. Not my fault but im on crutches..
    The blame cant be put on us totally

    03 Oct 2007, 10:40


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