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Discussion Starter #1
I am going through the MSF class today and tommorrow. Anyway today the instructor told me not to cover my brake and clutch with 2 fingers. I've been doing this for years and old habits are hard to break...

Anyway the last few MC classes I took (2x MSF BRC; 1x MSF ERC; BMW offroad experience, Germany) all told me to cover the brakes and clutch.
 

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perhaps the MSF has revised the whole "cover your levers" approch to basic instrution? it is wise to change year to year as the envron changes... however it might just be the variance in instructors...
 

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I took mine last month and they taught not to cover. Meh, I do anyway, I always have and that's what I'm comfortable with.
 

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In the basic course I took they wanted you to cover your clutch during the class. That way should anything happen you can just clutch in and stop. I prefer to cover the brake on the street only if there is something I can see ahead that could possibly make me need to stop. I slow and cover the brake in case of an emergency situation. I only cover the clutch if I'm going to be upshifting quickly or I'm comming to a stop..haha. That's just me though.
 

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They taught my fiance not to cover. My aproach, and what I told her she should do, is cover anytime you feel you may(no matter how small a chance) have to stop quickly.
 

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When you're riding, your hands should be gripping the handlebars, not hovering over the clutch/brakes. You only hover when anticipating a potential problem, stop, etc.. It's no different than driving a car -- you hover the brake when you expect you might need to stop, but once that expectation passes, your foot goes back to the gas.

You should never be hovering the front brake. You don't want to have instinct take over in a dangerous situation and pull the front brake when it will only cause more problems.
 

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June 06 they were teaching to cover your clutch at the beginning of the class, so that if something went wrong you could just pull in and stop. However, after the first day they pretty much let up on that and instructed us not to cover.

For the brake they were adament about us NOT covering: the theory being that we would grab some brake without realizing it, and it would be a bad thing to do in a corner. In fact even with that instruction, we had a girl dump it because of exactly that.

Now since then I've been doing a lot of reading & work on my riding.. what I've found is that most people recommend covering the brake with two fingers whenever you're not full throttle. I think the difference is they assume you're going to think about it before just grabbing a handfull of brake (especially while leaning).
 

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I am an MSF Coach,
we do teach to cover the clutch during the first day of riding. It acts as a safety. get in trouble, pull in clutch.
We are adamant about not covering the front brake. I had 4 bikes go down this past weekend because they grabbed the front brake in slow speed turns. Some people just can't break that habit
 

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McBiggity said:
I had 4 bikes go down this past weekend because they grabbed the front brake in slow speed turns. Some people just can't break that habit
That is a valid point. If you have that habit you definately would not want to cover. Then again, if you have that probem, you better break it quick or give up bikes.
 

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I rode for more than 15 years before taking the MSF course 3 years ago and I drove them nuts by always covering the brake with 2 fingers. Since then I've worked on not covering but once in a while I'll slip back into the habit. Usually in a busy parking lot which is probably the WORST time to cover since your turning the forks a lot.

On the whole I think that it is generally better not to cover the front brake unless you think you might need to. The same as almost every other reply.
 

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What exactly is MSF? I have read quite a bit of discussion about it on the forums, and I'm assuming its a rider safety class. I attended classes given by Team Oregon Motorcycle Training http://teamoregon.orst.edu. Its a 3 day class with a combination of classroom "lecture" and riding. After passing the written and riding tests, I was simply able to walk into the DMV and get my endorsement.

When I went through Basic Rider Training, we were instructed to cover the clutch, and never cover the front brake.

Team Oregon also offers intermediate and advanced riding classes. It would be interesting to know if their instructions are different for non-beginning riders. I plan on taking the intermediate class at the beginning of next season.
 

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Motorcycle Safety Foundation

They offer multiple courses to improve rider skills and safety, and the BRC (Basic Rider Course) can be used in lieu of your state's drivers test.

Highly recommended by just about everyone to improve on the basics of riding, and/or shake the rust of the experienced riders.
 

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i dont think oregon has MSF. they have their own thing... there are a couple states like that. most states will honor other state's motorcycle licenses, but some want you to take an on cycle test to get a license in their state. thats if you move there, not just passing through.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I dunno the guy was off on a bunch of stuff. Mostly military rules regarding bikes (it was a military special MSF class), and he was wrong about a bunch of local laws too (in NJ you are not allowed to lane split and the MSF class wont help you get your license). I was just disapointed in the knowledge that he presented.

Like I said Ive taken a bunch of other classes and I always cover the brake with 2 fingers.
 

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This is exactly why I have gripes with these courses. There's almost ZERO consistence in their teachings. I've seen guys failed, on things other instructors told them to do! That's insane! In each state and province, they all need to sit down and decide the specific do's and don'ts amongst themselves, and legislate it. It's the only way to make it even across the board.
 

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I don't care what the reasoning is, if I am in traffic, I ALWAYS cover my brakes. It only takes a split second for something to happen, I would rather have as fast of a reaction time as possible. I do agree that to new riders this could be dangerous as they may not be familiar with panic stops on a bike and may lock up the front. For this reason I try to do braking drills myself just to keep my skills pollished. If you practice it, then it will become second nature and you do not have to think about it.

Another thing, I always use my rear brake. No many of you will say, but if you are not careful you will lock it up, putting you at greater risk of having a highside. To which I respond, if you keep your skills sharp that risk is minimized as is your stopping distance. Now the Ex500 is not a stoppie machine so the arguement that the rear brake is useless when the rear tire is lifted in the air does not apply as it may on 600's or 1000's. Yea a novice may lock his brake up while learning to use it, which may cause him to highside or fall, which is all the more reason to do drills in a controlled enviroment and practice practice practice. To me this argument is no different then someone saying they will only drive an automatic car because they might stall the car, or even worse stall it at a light infront of everyone. Sure if you are new you may screw up, but this is why you work to improve those skills.
 

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Jrocket said:
I don't care what the reasoning is, if I am in traffic, I ALWAYS cover my brakes. It only takes a split second for something to happen, I would rather have as fast of a reaction time as possible.
I would rather use other alternatives to avoid problems than a panic stop. You are best able to maneuver your bike with your hands on the bars.

Like you, I always use both front and rear brakes. This was definitely taught in MSF, and in my opinion for really good reason. You want to condition yourself to be able to react the best way possible if you do actually have to make that panic stop, so that it is automatic that you go for what gives you full stopping potential when you need it (both brakes). I use both brakes even when I am coming to a very slow stop. The only time I don't is if I am just doing a minor slowdown before a 90 degree turn. I have only locked the back wheel once - when practicing stopping in a parking lot to see where the absolute braking limit was. You probably would be much more likely to lock the rear if you never use that brake and then all of a sudden trying it out in an emergency situation.

The way they tested to make sure you were using both brakes for MSF was when you did the quick stop part, you had to always put your left leg down first, because your right is still on the brake as you come to the stop - then put the right leg down.

I am by no means an expert rider, but not using the rear brake just seems like being lazy. Like Jrocket said - you won't lock the rear if you practice using it.

(and if you do, come to a stop before letting off!)
 

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I would argue that using two fingers to cover my brake lever (two fingers is all you should need on a EX500) gives me no less control to manuever then someone who isn't covering. Remember you want your hands to be lightly holding the controls, not squeezing the life out of them. When you relax your grip you can feel more of what the bike is doing. I would say that using two fingers to cover does not compromise my ability to hold on and lends itself to a relaxed grip.
 
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