Many people believe motorcycles can stop faster than cars.
Some even argue that since motorcycles are lighter in weight, they will have a shorter stopping distance than their four-wheel counterparts.
Unfortunately, this is simply not true.
In this article, we will tell you why.
What is stopping distance and what factors affect it?
A vehicle’s stopping distance is the distance it travels before it comes to a complete stop when the brakes are applied. It is usually measured in the range of 100 km to 0 km. Here are some of the factors that affect the stopping distance of any vehicle:
The size, tread, and age of the tire will determine how quickly a vehicle can stop.
The tread on a tire helps to grip the surface. Therefore, when there is less traction, which is mainly caused by poor weather conditions such as ice or rain, the vehicle will not be able to stop quickly.
Read more about how long motorcycle tires should last.
The quality of brakes also plays a vital role in stopping speeds. If your brake system is poorly maintained it will not be able to stop you as efficiently.
Also, if your shocks have worn out, then more weight will be transferred to the front of the vehicle which will make it harder for you to stop immediately.
The driver’s skill level is not only reflected in their ability to avoid collisions, but also in how fast they can stop a vehicle.
The average reaction time estimate of a driver is around 0.75 seconds. The more experience and familiarity with the vehicle a driver has, the better the reaction time and the shorter the stopping distance.
Does the weight of a vehicle play any role?
Just like how some people expect trucks to stop slower than cars due to their bulkier nature, the same logic convinces them that motorcycles will be able to stop quicker than cars.
In reality, what makes a vehicle stop is the coefficient of friction, which is the measure of static friction between two surfaces and the gravitational force.
In simple words, a vehicle’s weight has no effect on its stopping distances.
A lot depends on the vehicle itself
Since tires are the sole point of contact with the road, they have a major role in stopping distances. Two extra tires mean a car has twice the grip of a motorcycle.
Consequently, a four-wheeler will, in general, stop more quickly than a two-wheeler because of that extra road contact.
However, the issue doesn’t end there.
Even if you compare the stopping speeds of a quality sports bike like the BMW S1000RR with an average car like the Toyota Camry, the Camry will still come out on top.
The chart below shows the average stopping speed from 60mph to 0mph and makes for surprising reading.
The results become even starker when comparing the stopping distance of a sports car like the Porsche 911GT3 RS with that of the BMW S1000RR as shown below.
With four wide tires and high-quality ABS most cars will stop more efficiently than most motorbikes.
The weight transfer
The gravitational force also plays an instrumental role in stopping a vehicle. It corresponds to the measurement of acceleration (or deceleration) an object experiences when it is subject to gravity.
When we compare the stopping speeds of a Formula 1 racing car with a Moto GP bike, the F1 car will certainly have more gravitational force than the Moto GP bike.
So while a car is able to brake more quickly due to the increased contact area of its tires with the ground, its braking mechanism is also supported by a lower center of gravity and an aerodynamic force. This will lead to less weight transfer for the same force of deceleration.
On the other hand, even after applying hard brakes, a bike’s front tire will have the bulk of its weight, which means there is practically only one tire doing the work as compared to the car’s four.
In other words, a motorcycle rider must put more effort and practice into producing the same gravitational force that a car driver can achieve with a simple press on the brake pedal.
Thus we can come to the general conclusion that motorcycles can not stop faster than cars. Of course, there will be exceptions to this rule but the additional grip a car has from two extra tires is very hard to overcome.