Motorcycle Engine Braking: 5 Things You Should Know

selective focus photography of motorcycle lever and handle bar
Limited Time Offer
Want To Download 16,000 Woodworking Plans and Projects?

What if I told you that you could get your hands on 16,000 woodworking projects...

With already “done-for-you” plans that includes step-by-step blueprints...

So you can build stunning, professional woodworking projects easily, quickly & hassle free?

  • Wanted to build something, because you cannot find it “retail”?
  • Thought of making something custom for a specific need?
  • Struggled to find detailed plans to build your dream project?
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Those getting into motorcycles will notice there are 3 different ways of braking, front brakes, rear brakes, and engine braking. Everyone who’s driven a manual car understands the concept of engine braking. And engine braking on a motorcycle is no different.

Motorcycle engine braking is when you use the engine to slow the motorcycle down instead of just the brakes. When done correctly, it can be very effective at slowing the bike down with minimal input from the brake lever. Brake pads are often connected to brake lights and engine rpm directly. The motorcycle engine, rear brake pedal, rear tire, slipper clutch, clutch lever and appropriate gear affect the engine speed of the motorcycle.

However, there are a few things you should know about engine braking before you start using it. And there are distinct pros and cons to brake pads on a motorcycle.

Let’s get into it!

How to perform motorcycle engine braking?

motorcycle engine braking

Applying engine brake is as simple as it sounds, you will use the engine to slow the motorcycle down.

There are a few ways to do this though:

  1. Off throttle
  2. Clutch in
  3. Shift into a lower gear
  4. Clutch out
  5. Let your motorcycle’s engine do the work to slow down the bike

The general idea of the engine brake, regardless of how it’s performed, is that you’ll pull in the clutch with your left hand and then cut the throttle with your right hand. This will allow the engine to slow the bike down without the forward momentum of the wheels.

Is engine braking bad for my motorcycle?

Braking the engine won’t do any more damage than standard braking to your motorcycle. When you use brakes you are only wearing down your brake pads. However, while braking the engine you are using a few more parts that can wear down.

Firstly, if you are braking enough in one gear, then the clutch plates inside of the transmission will start to overheat and warp. However, this isn’t much of an issue when it comes to motorcycles because their clutches are designed to take a beating.

Secondly, engine braking can also cause the rear wheel to lock up. When this happens, the rear wheel will skid and you’ll lose control of the bike.

So, while engine braking is a great way to slow your bike down, it’s important to use it in moderation. Don’t rely on it too much or you’ll put unnecessary wear on your clutch plates and rear wheel.

How do I know when to use engine braking?

motorcycle engine braking

Well, that depends on what you’re doing with the motorcycle. Anytime that you need to slow down, then feel free to apply a brake on the engine. But don’t start using it right away, wait until you really need it.

For example, if your motorcycle is going at the speed limit and you want to go slower, then engine braking isn’t needed. You can just use the brake lever.

Engine braking really comes into play when you need to slow down quickly or stop completely. Like if a car pulls out in front of you right as you’re approaching an intersection. In this case, engine braking can be one of your best friends, allowing you to stop quickly and safely.

Is it better to use the front or rear brake with engine braking?

it is always best to use engine braking in conjunction with both front and rear brakes. Do note that by engine braking your weight will shift forward a lot on the bike, so prioritizing the rear brake is probably best.

Is engine braking dangerous?

Engine braking isn’t dangerous in and of itself, but it can lead to loss of control if you’re not careful.

If you’re too heavy on the throttle and try to do an engine brake, then you risk locking up the rear wheel and sliding out. Think of it this way, when you perform an engine brake really quickly it’s the same as braking hard, quickly. This can be dangerous if you’ve just come off the throttle.

However, by slowly reducing the throttle over time through engine braking, then you won’t have any problems. This will allow you to safely slow down with your motorcycle.


Engine braking is a great tool to have. It can help you slow your motorcycle down quickly and safely. Just be careful when doing so, especially if you haven’t practised engine braking before. Because your weight really does shift forward, it is harder to modulate than your engine power & and you can slow down very quickly.

About The Author

daniel and sarah on motorcycle

Hi, I’m Daniel and behind me (in the photo) is my wife Sarah.

We are both travel addicts who love Motorcycles, Rock-Climbing and Camping.We love to explore everything the world has to offer

We will continue to provide even more valuable content that keeps you riding safely! Keep the rubber side down :-)

Want to Receive Exclusive Offers, Tips & Freebies

Want to know the SECRET to the perfect Motorcycle Camping Trip?


With the Ultimate Motorcycle Camping eBook, you will:


This is a one-time offer
you won't see this again.

You've got mail ✉️

You will receive your Ultimate Motorcycle Camping eBook in your inbox in the next 5 minutes

Thank you for downloading