Motorcycle Wheels and Brakes


At 299km/h a motorcycle will be traveling 83 meters a second, which is just short of the length of a football pitch. At this speed the wheels are spinning 43 times every second, which is 2,621 revolutions a minute, the cruising speed of a light aircraft engine. So, theoretically, if you could fit a propeller onto your wheel at this speed you could get airborne!

We all know from stupid burns that motorcycle brakes get hot, but just how hot? Well, slam the brakes on from around 120km/h in an emergency and your brake pads can heat up to around 400 degree Centigrade. All the energy in your forward motion has to go somewhere, and a lot is transferred into your brake pads as heat. Even under normal braking your pads will hit 200 to 250 degrees Centigrade. MotoGP riders use carbon fiber brakes with carbon fiber pads, which have a working temperature of between 400 to 500 degree Centigrade.
During a warm up lap riders brake a lot to get heat into the pads/discs to get them into working temperature. It doesn't always work and often on a first lap riders overshoot corners because the brakes aren't working to their optimum.

Another brake worry which some people ask a lot is about brake lines. Some riders are worried that the brake lines might explode because they are such a demon on the brakes. Braided steel brake lines can withstand up to 20,000psi before they pop, a set of regular rubber brake lines will pop at 8,000 to 9,000psi. But don't worry too much, the pressure in the brake lines usually only get as high as around 750psi.
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