Stayin’ Safe: Proper Use of the ‘Brottle’

For ultimately smooth braking transitions, combine brake and throttle.

When taught to ride motorcycles, we learned to use the throttle and brakes as separate controls. To speed up, roll the throttle grip toward you. To slow down, roll the throttle the away from you. To slow more quickly, roll off the throttle and then apply the front and rear brakes. In that order.

After slowing, when it’s time to reapply power, we were taught to ease off the brakes and then, as a separate motion, roll on throttle. Unfortunately, those throttle/brake transitions can be jerky, tend to upset the bike’s chassis and, when riding with a passenger, can have helmets banging out Morse code.

Fortunately, the two controls don’t have to be mutually exclusive. For unmatched smoothness, think of the brake and throttle as one combined control. Let’s call it the “brottle.”

brake and throttle
1) Apply brakes while the throttle is steady.
brake and throttle
2) Roll off the throttle as needed to aid slowing.
brake and throttle
3) Begin to roll throttle back on…
brake and throttle
4) …while slowly releasing the brakes to seamlessly resume travel speed.

Combining brake and throttle creates a push-me, pull-you tension that stabilizes the chassis while also providing the option to seamlessly add more brake or more throttle as desired without any chassis disruptions.

Try it on an open, straight section of road. Maintain a steady throttle and squeeze the brake lever (and pedal) against it. You should feel the weight of the bike smoothly transfer from rear to front.

Once a slower speed is achieved, smoothly release the brakes and let the throttle take over again. The weight will shift gently back to the rear wheel. Experiment with different degrees of brake pressure.

Got it? Now try the “brottle” technique on the approach to a slight or moderate curve, completing the full transition before entering the corner.

When approaching sharp bends, progressively squeeze the brakes against the steady throttle but this time, begin rolling off the throttle as you continue to squeeze the brakes (avoid rolling throttle all the way off).

When you’ve slowed enough, begin rolling the throttle on as you slooowwly release the brakes. Throughout the entire process, the brakes and throttle are overlapped, working together as one control.

With a little practice using the “brottle,” your braking transitions will soon be smoother than ever!

8 COMMENTS

  1. I learned a number of years ago, to lead with the rear brake, to stabilize the chassis suspension, in all braking situations. It prevents the front-end from diving. I apply the rear brake1/2-second, to 1-second, ahead of engaging the front brake. This keeps the chassis in a level position while braking, much more stable. It also helps me to utilize both brakes fully, for maximum braking power. Cheers!

    • I also use rear breaks up util I need the front it prevents jerkiness and as you say makes the bike more stable. Puting the whole weight of the bike onto the front is just a pebble away from a crash(you might get away with it on a race track but not out in the dirty unmaintained backroads).

    • I agree, Bruce, and use that technique as well (saving that for another tip!). The rear brake keeps the bike “flat” and minimizes dive when the front brake is applied. A friend of mine uses the analogy of landing an airplane; getting the rear end to drop a touch first.

  2. Well said, Bruce. It gives maximum braking power. This trick also works fine with carburated motorcycles. This is easy trick but you have to be careful with non-ABS motorcycles on the sharp bends. As the engine is moving rear wheel there is a chance that your bike may lose the road grip.

  3. Throttle and front brake at the same time puts the motorcycle in its most unstable geometry. The front-end compresses due to the front brake, which is normal. The rear also extends due to chain pull, increasing the swingarm angle and reducing the wheelbase. This decreases the stability past what is normal during front-only braking.

    This “skill” is a solution searching for a problem. Time would be better spent learning how to roll off the throttle and apply the brakes smoothly in one motion. And given that “brottle” doesn’t actually add stability and has other drawbacks concerning traction, there’s no point in doing it.

    • stangmx13: Thank you for your comment and perspective. Keep in mind that, for the street, we’re talking about “maintenance throttle” and not acceleration. Nor are we talking about heavy braking with this technique. Therefore, any chain pull or “jacking” of the rear end is minimal. We are also using both front and rear brakes with this technique. The rear brake helps to keep the bike flat (rear of the bike tends to squat with use of rear brake). Although this technique is used routinely by professional racers, we are using this technique on the street at legal speeds and as a smoothness technique. We also practice all braking while in a straight line on the approach to a curve, allowing the throttle to take over as the bike is tipped into the curve (again, maintenance throttle or “above idle” and not acceleration until the rider can see a clear exit of the curve). This technique is intended to establish unparalleled smoothness and provide the advantage of putting the motorcycle chassis in a transitional state that will seamlessly accept either more braking or less brake/more throttle without any upset to the suspension. It’s like butter. The feedback from our advanced rider training students has consistently been that the combined use of throttle and brake (brottle) when braking for curves and hillcrests has been transformative to their riding. That said, all of our tips are presented for readers to decide for themselves if a technique is right for them. I respect that this one may not be for you. Thanks again for the perspective. Enjoy the ride!

  4. I’d love to see some quotes from “professional motorcycle racers” who talk about using both concurrently. I’ve got several decades in the sport and am not aware of any today taking that stand or propounding that usage.

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