The stopping distance for a motorcycle is calculated for the time it takes for the rider to react ‘thinking distance’ and the overall distance the motorcycle has travelled before stopping ‘braking distance’.
Thinking distance combined with braking distance equates to a motorcycle stopping distance. The chart below illustrates a motorcycle stopping distance based on a motorcyclist who is fit to ride, is using a motorcycle in good roadworthy condition and riding in ideal weather conditions. Though in reality, there are many circumstances that can affect the overall stopping distance.
For example, a riders thinking distance can be affected by drink or drugs, tiredness, a lack of concentration and age may also become a factor as we get older. Such factors can significantly increase the reaction time for the rider.
Braking distances can also be affected by the condition of the motorcycles brakes and tyres. Weight, if you have a pillion passenger for example, or carrying a load in a storage box. Going downhill and other factors such as road condition, slippery surfaces due to rain, oil / diesel spillages and debris on the road surface can extend the braking distance.
Factors of these combinations can easily double (or more) a motorcycle stopping distance and particularly due to a motorcyclist being a vulnerable road user, it’s essential that you only ride when fit to do so, that your vehicle is well maintained at all times and that you retain a safe following distance.
Motorcycle Stopping Distances Graph
The graph below illustrates a motorcycles stopping distances in ideal dry conditions with speed in mph and km/h and distance in metres and feet. Braking distances are considerably extended in wet and icy conditions. The braking distance in green is doubled for wet conditions and is multiplied by 10 in icy conditions.
Stopping Distances on the Road
In reality, whilst riding a motorcycle, you cannot go measuring meters and feet in order to gauge a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead. A technique easily understood is the motorcycle 2 second rule. This technique offers novice riders an easy method for keeping a safe stopping distance from the vehicle in front.
Motorcycle Stopping Distances and the Theory Test
If taking the motorcycle theory test, you’ll be asked multiple choice questions relating to thinking distances, braking distances and stopping distances. Some of these questions may also factor other circumstances such as extra weight and weather conditions. Answers to these questions can be found above. For example:
The overall stopping distance is a combination of thinking and braking distance. You are riding on a good, dry road surface with good brakes and tyres. What is the typical braking distance from 60 mph?
- 24 metres (80 feet)
- 38 metres (125 feet)
- 55 metres (180 feet)
- 75 metres (246 feet)
Freezing, icy conditions will affect the distance it takes you to come to a stop on your motorcycle. Stopping distances are likely to increase by up to:
- Two times
- Three times
- Five times
- Ten times
Your total stopping distance will be longer when riding:
- during the night
- in foggy conditions
- with a passenger
- up a hill
In good riding conditions, what is the typical stopping distance at 50 mph?
- 53 metres (175 feet)
- 60 metres (197 feet)
- 73 metres (240 feet)
- 96 metres (315 feet)