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Motorcycle Stopping Distance: A Comparison

Previously, we discussed the differences in stopping distance between passenger cars and semi tractor trailers. In this previous post, we discussed that there are some fundamental differences between the two types of vehicles and generally speaking, heavy semi tractor trailers take longer to stop than passenger vehicles. It’s interesting to note that stopping distance is influenced greatly by the tire compound for the stopping vehicle. This is universally true, as tire compound affects the friction available between a tire and the roadway surface. Today’s post will discuss stopping distance of another popular vehicle type: motorcycles. Motorcycles are capable of stopping very quickly. How do they compare with passenger cars? Read on to find out:

Scenario: to lay out the difference, consider the following scenario comparing passenger cars, semi tractor trailers, and motorcycles: a full braking stop from 60 mph takes a:


Motorcycle: 110 feet

Passenger Car: 170 feet

Semi Tractor Trailer: 215 feet


The numbers are drastically different. It is amazing to think that a motorcycle would be stopped in almost half the distance that it would take for a semi tractor trailer to stop.


Tire construction: Stopping distance is related to tire compound. Softer compound tires allow for better grip but wear out faster. For example, motorcycle tires in general are designed to only last thousands of miles, instead of tens of thousands for car tires, or hundreds of thousands of miles for semi tires. Better grip is also more important for a motorcycle than it is for four-wheeled vehicles because loss of grip can often mean a crash for a motorcycle, whereas only a loss of control for a car or truck.


Rider Skill Level: Another issue that comes into play with motorcycles is rider skill level. The ability for a rider to properly apply brakes for the most effective stop possible requires that the rider know how to apply both front and rear brakes to their fullest extent, and most importantly, not crash during brake application. Learning how to properly apply brakes takes some practice, and a novice rider will likely not be able to stop as quickly as a veteran rider would. This is an interesting variable that is often overlooked by reconstructionists who claim to have experience in motorcycle accidents. Automobiles, trucks, and semis all provide the driver with maximum braking capabilities, regardless of the skill level of the driver. However, rider skill level has a direct impact in stopping distance for a motorcycle. Therefore, it is important to consider motorcycle rider skill level when discussing the topic of stopping distance.


Anti-Lock braking: Even motorcycles can benefit from ABS technology. With the advent of anti-lock braking, automobiles suddenly were given the ability to stop and maintain control at the same time. Motorcycles can also take advantage of ABS systems, and the majority of motorcycle manufacturers these days offer ABS on their bikes. ABS systems on motorcycles have the ability to help the rider apply maximum brakes without the risk of losing control through a low-side or high-side event during braking.


Veritech’s engineers are avid motorcyclists and have the skill and experience to reconstruct your accident correctly. Call us today with your case!

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