Stopping and parking

Slowing down and stopping your motorbike in a controlled way is vital for good riding: it reduces wear and tear on your motorbike, saves fuel and keeps you and other road users safe.

The distance your motorbike will take to stop depends mainly on how fast you’re going and the road and weather conditions.

  • The faster you’re going, the longer it takes to stop.
  • It takes longer to stop in wet or icy conditions.

The stopping distance is made up of 2 parts

  • thinking distance – the distance you travel from when you decide to brake to when you start braking
  • braking distance – the distance you travel from when you start braking until your motorbike stops completely.

Check the typical stopping distances in The Highway Code (GOV.UK).

Anticipating the need to brake will help you brake smoothly and safely: watch out for things around you that you might need to brake for, such as pedestrian crossings or cars pulling out of junctions.

Using the front and rear brakes

Use both brakes to stop your motorbike. In good road and weather conditions,

  • apply the front brake just before you apply the rear brake
  • apply greater pressure to the front brake.

If the road is wet or slippery, apply a more equal pressure to both brakes. Always avoid braking on a bend: see Steering and manoeuvring for more information about riding around bends.

Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) can help you brake safely and effectively by helping to prevent skidding but they will not shorten your stopping distance.

Using the cut-out switch

The engine cut-out switch lets you stop the engine in an emergency, such as if the motorbike falls over. When you’re stopping the engine normally, it’s best to use the ignition switch because

  • you’re less likely to leave your keys in the ignition when you leave your motorbike
  • leaving the cut-out switch in the ‘off’ position can cause problems when you try to start the engine next time.


Whenever you park, make sure the place you choose is

  • safe – could it cause an accident by being too close to a junction?
  • convenient – you’re more likely to cause damage, either to your motorbike or someone else’s vehicle, if it’s an awkward spot
  • legal – check The Highway Code (GOV.UK) for more information on parking rules.

Park your motorbike on firm, level ground. If you leave your motorbike where it’s unstable, it could fall onto another vehicle or a passer-by, or fall into the path of other road users.

Use the centre stand if you’re leaving your motorbike for some time.

When you’ve parked your motorbike, you must turn off

  • the headlights
  • the fog lights (if fitted)
  • the engine.

Make sure you also switch off the fuel tap, lock the steering and take the ignition key with you.

If you’re parking at night on a road where the speed limit is more than 30 mph, you must leave the parking lights on.

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