The stopping distance of a motorcycle, which is the distance it takes to come to a complete stop after the brakes are applied, depends on various factors including the motorcycle’s design, tyre quality, brake technology, road conditions, and the skill of the rider.

Are distances today shorter than in the past, or as some suggest, have they pretty much stayed the same?

Motorcycle Braking and Stopping Distances

Over the past 40 to 50 years, there have been significant advancements in motorcycle technology, including improvements in tyres, brakes, and overall design. However, the fundamental physics of stopping a moving vehicle remains the same.

Motorcycle stopping distances from the 1970s or 1980s might be difficult to compare directly to modern motorcycles due to these technological changes.

For example, the introduction of anti-lock braking systems (ABS) in motorcycles has been a significant development. ABS prevents the wheels from locking up during braking, which helps maintain traction and can reduce stopping distances, particularly on slippery surfaces.

Additionally, tyre technology has greatly improved, offering better grip and stability, which can also affect stopping distances.

The overall design and weight of motorcycles has evolved, with many modern bikes being more powerful and potentially heavier, which can impact stopping distances.

It’s important to note that while technology has improved, the stopping distance is also greatly influenced by the rider’s reaction time and skill. A well-trained rider on an older bike might outperform a less skilled rider on a newer bike in terms of stopping distance.

The Motorcycle Stopping Distance Experiment

While the goal had initially been to understand if average stopping distances had improved or not, we ended up not doing any comparison for a number of reasons.

1. Data Access Challenges

For specific data on motorcycle stopping distances from different eras, one would need to look at controlled testing results from those periods, comparing similar conditions and motorcycle types.

This data might be available in motorcycle safety studies, transportation research, or historical testing records from manufacturers. However, I do not have access to such specific historical data directly.

2. Too Many Variables

I also realised that there are too many variables that affect stopping distances and to simply quote and compare numbers without really understanding the variables behind the generation of those numbers would probably be misleading.

Ultimately we ended up performing this experiment by simply going out and collecting data ourselves and drawing our own conclusions.

To view the results, watch the following video. I think you’ll find it interesting.

Author Information

This article was written by George Lee Sye. To check out more of his work in the world of motorcycle riding visit the Bike Stig YouTube Channel.

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