We are often asked how to properly apply brakes on a scooter. While it is a normal tenancy to favor the rear brake, efficient braking on a scooter requires the use of both brakes.
The braking power on a scooter (similar to any two wheeled motorcycle or bicycle) is distributed with about 2/3 of the braking force being provided by the front wheel, and approximately 1/3 of the braking power being provided by the rear wheel. Thus, in order to stop efficiently and effectively, you need to apply both the front and rear brakes in approximately even pressure.
One of the best ways to make sure you are applying both brakes in an even fashion is to make sure the pull or distance of travel is equal between your front brake lever and your rear brake lever. On most scooters, the front brake is a disk or rotor operated by brake fluid; where the rear brake is typically a drum brake operated by a cable. Over time, the rear brake cable can become stretched such that the pull or distance of travel on the rear brake lever is a further distance than that of the front brake lever. Fortunately, most scooters have an adjustment nut on the back of the rear brake cable that can be tightened to accommodate for brake wear and cable stretch over time and use.
When adjusting your brakes your main objective is to make the pull or distance of travel equal between both the front and rear brake levers. Typically you want approximately 10 to 20 mm of travel at the ball end of your brake lever. As such, if your front brake has 10 mm of travel at the ball of the brake lever, you likewise want close to 10 mm of travel at the ball of your rear brake lever. (Note, your brakes should be applied long before your brake lever can touch your handlebars. If your brake lever can be pulled to the point where it can touch the handlebars, additional service/repair is required).
Further, make sure your brakes are well within wear limits. On a disk brake, there are usually wear indicators (typically grooves) in the brake pad that denote the point of maximum wear. You can view these by shining a flashlight at your brake pads - the wear groove should be visible on the section of brake pad touching the rotor. If this groove is not visible, the pads should be replaced. On a drum brake system there is a wear indicator on the brake arm. If this aligns with the index mark on the casing when the brake is applied, the drums should be replaced.
Finally, like everything, controlled braking takes practice. Learning to use your brakes effectively before you absolutely need to is important. We suggest always using both brakes when stopping so that you form a good instinctual "habit." This way when you need both brakes to stop quickly, you naturally reach for both levers.
Happy and safe riding.
Metro Scooters, LLC