To improve your track time and increase your abilities as an ATV rider, you should learn proper braking techniques. Speed is important, and fun, but if you can’t brake well coming into the corners, you’re gonna get passed up. Learning how to brake the right way is also useful for trail riding. It can help keep you from crashing on tight corners through wooded areas.
When I first started riding, corners were my weakness. I some how always got passed on corners, it wasn’t too fun. As I watched the better riders, and rode more myself, I learned how to position myself leading into a corner. Learning good braking techniques was a game changer for me. Slowing down faster allowed me to keep my speed up for a longer period of time before I came into a corner.
ATV Braking: Line Selection
To brake most efficiently you have be aware of line selection. Ideally, you want to be braking on the smoothest and most packed down area of ground possible. This isn’t always possible, but keep the terrain in mind for your braking.
You also want to be aware of where you are entering the turn, and where you will be exiting. I go over cornering in much more detail in my How To Corner On An ATV article here. But the point is, if you’re braking for a corner, know how you plan to take the corner.
ATV Braking: Technique
Knowing how to position your body and how to handle the controls will change how you brake, and help you improve. Here are some tips on how to master the proper technique for ATV braking.
Stand on your quad with your weight slightly more towards the rear. Get yourself into the central standing position, and be ready to shift your weight if you need to. When you stand, you’re giving you and your quad another set of suspension by using your legs to absorb some impact. This will help prevent you from getting bounced off the seat if you’re braking into some bumpy terrain.
Grip your handle bars firmly, and have your hands ready to use the controls. Also grip the ATV with your legs. This will keep you steady and ready to react in case you need to make adjustments. Having control over your machine is key to improving your riding technique.
Apply the front and rear brakes together. Try to brake smoothly, and avoid locking up the wheels getting you into a slide. If the rear wheels lock up, it’s not as big of a deal as if the front wheels do. If the front wheels lock up and you need your steering ability, let off the front brake a little to regain control. The front brakes will be doing most of the work, that is why it’s important to lean to the rear a little. Positioning yourself more towards the back of the quad will allow your rear brakes to dig in more and help slow you down faster.
Switch down gears to help you slow down faster. Doing this is called engine braking, it works better on 4-stroke engines. They idea is that if your in a lower gear, the engine will help slow the quad down for you. I don’t find much help from the engine braking, a lot of times I brake so fast I don’t even let off the clutch until I’m ready to accelerate again. The main benefit of switching to a lower gear is that you’re already in the right gear to accelerate out of a corner.
You can always upgrade your brakes and rotors for faster braking. Here is a link to Amazon for ATV And UTV Brakes to help get your search started. You can find brakes and brake parts for almost any four wheeler or ATV online now a days. I do pretty well with just the stock pads and brake parts that come with the machine. But it is important to maintain them and replace them when they need it.
You can find pads, rotors, and calipers for a decent price. But if you want professional quality parts that will help you brake faster than stock parts, it’s going to cost you. Some of the high end rotors can cost over 100 dollars, while a simple replacement rotor can be found for under $20.
Keep your brakes cleaned and maintained, follow the braking techniques above, and you will notice faster braking and improved riding in no time.