Trike Brake System Testing

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You might remember back in March when we featured a blog post outlining the design process of a Performance Machine rear braking system for Harley-Davidson Trike models. We reported how the stock rear brakes performed when subjected to Performance Machine’s standardized stopping-distance test, and we showed you how this led to the creation of the Performance Machine Stage 1 Trike brake system. Since our original post, we’ve put our beloved FLHXXX through rigorous testing – or as the R&D folks would say – we rode the crap out of it and want to share the results here with you.

First, there are a few testing parameters that we need to tell you about before we reveal our findings.

  • To allow consistent control values, all test data was collected using rear brakes only. Stopping distances would’ve been much shorter if the front brakes were used. System variability was isolated using the rear brake only.
  • Testing was performed using DOT 4 rather DOT 5, because DOT 4 performs better at high temperatures.

With these things in mind, testing went something like this:

Stock HD Trike (only rear brakes applied)

0 to 50 mph, 3.53 seconds, 129.4 feet

PM Stage One Brake Kit (only rear brakes applied)

0 to 50 mph, 3.19 seconds, 117 feet

Overall, there was a 10 percent reduction in stopping distance and duration. What does this mean to the rider? The stopping advantage equates easily to safer riding. Riders with the PM Stage 1 brake system have the potential to stop their motorcycles by almost a car’s length, which can make quite a difference in an emergency situation.

Another major advantage is modulation — in other words, the ability to regulate brake pressure based on pedal input.  Performance Machine believes that although “locking up” your brakes is not an optimal braking situation, a good brake system should be capable of providing the fluid to do so.  In the case of stock HD brakes, modulation was difficult and took substantial pedal effort and our techs were still unable to get the brakes to lock up.  Combining Performance Machine’s Contour Style master cylinder and dual-front four-piston calipers with the PM Stage 1 brake system allows a rider to apply less pedal effort to brake more quickly, creating a connected feel to the brakes and less rider fatigue.

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