What Should I Do If My Motorcycle Brakes Fail When I Am Driving Downhill?

The brakes might fail due to many reasons, weak leather, low break oil, or there might be a mechanical issue. But what should I do if my motorcycle brakes fail when I am driving downhill?

This situation can be pretty dangerous if you don’t know what to do. Some countries have emergency escape lanes for such situations. But these lanes are not available everywhere. So, what can be done here?

Let’s find out what should I do if my motorcycle brakes fail when I am driving downhill.

Things to do When your Motorcycle Brakes Fail Driving Downhill

Here are some important steps you need to take in case your brakes fail while going downhill.

Use Front Brakes

Use Front Brakes

The front and back brakes of the motorcycle work separately. If you have lost the rear brake system, which is completely separate from your front brake system, your front brakes will continue to work. Chances of losing both brakes at the same time are rare.

Use Engine Braking

Use Engine Braking

Engine braking is the process of slowing the motorcycle by shifting to lower gears instead of using the brake. When your engine is operating at lower gears, it is facing more mechanical resistance. When you do this to slow down your vehicle, this is called engine braking.

Make sure not to over or under rev the engine. You will have to step down a few years because you are losing speed. Instead, take out each gear one by one until you are moving in the first gear.

Never Turn off your engine

Don’t switch off your motorcycle engine. Most modern bikes have an electronic braking system. As soon as you turn off the engine, you’ll lose control of your motorcycle, and the brake pedal will become hard.

Pump the brakes

If your brake pedal is down, push it out a few times to the floor. You might not notice much braking, but something is better than nothing at all. If you feel your pedal is too rigid, you may check if there is something lodged into it. Just make sure you press the pedal to the end.

Give others clear signals

Put those hazard warning lights on for others to see. You can also use your horn. You are going through a lot of trouble; make sure that others know it as well.

Turn on all the accessories

When you have lost your brakes, turn on all your accessories. This includes your headlight etc. This way, you will be putting in some drag on the engine, and you will be able to reduce your speed just a little bit.

Get out of the way of other traffic

The first thing you need to do is to get out of the way of other traffic. You have to make sure you don’t cause problems for others.

Traffic around you need to know what you are doing. Therefore, ensure that you immediately go towards the left-most lane by turning the left signal and moving into the gap.

Press the other brake if it’s working

You can also use the other brake if that is working. Press the other brake in pulses, and don’t toss it all the way. You will have to deal with wheel locking as well.

You can also use those road contours

The last thing to do in dealing with the issues of “what should I do if my motorcycle brakes fail when I am driving downhill” is, if you see that a side of the road is uphill, you can always turn it up, stopping far quicker. Similarly, you can also use the curb and the edge of the road to prevent. Just run your wheel gently through the curb.

It will not be suitable for your wheel alloys and tires, but it will create some friction and stop you from going at a pace. Similar is the case with those concrete dividing barriers on motorways. You can use those grass verges for creating more resistance, but you will be more exposed to the risk of spinning out.

Things You Need to Avoid When Your Brakes Fail

Things You Need to Avoid When Your Brakes Fail

There are some things you need to avoid when your brakes are not working. Ensure that you don’t do any of these things when trying to reduce your bike’s speed.

  • Do not neutralize your bike if you are trying to slow it down if your brakes fail. If you put it in neutral, you won’t tackle the issue by engine braking.
  • Don’t weave at high speed from one side to another multiple times. Most people think it’s an effective technique to create some friction and lose the bike down, but this way, you expose yourself to an unnecessary risk of spinning out. If your motorcycle has electronic stability control, then you might end up damaging it as well. Going at low speeds will work for you.
  • Turn your engine off because you will end up losing any drag you might create on the alternator by turning on all the accessories.

What to Do When You Have Finally Stopped?

What to Do When You Have Finally Stopped

After all the effort, when you have finally managed to stop your bike out of the way of traffic, then you need to turn on any hazard warning lights on your bike. Next, check to see whether you have overheated your brakes. You can allow them to cool down. From there, you can limp on to home.

Here you have to change the brake fluid and check those brake pads and rotors. Unfortunately, you might have ended up glazing your pads, and they have become ineffective in their functions.

Tips on Emergency Braking

Tips on Emergency Braking

When your motorcycle’s brake fails, it will be an alarming experience, but you don’t need to panic and stay calm as much as possible. Avoid this from happening by checking those breaks regularly. Make sure to replace those worn-out brake pads right away to top up the brake fluid as well whenever you think it is necessary. Here are some essential tips you need to follow when you’re riding.

  • Make sure to shift to a lower gear and make an effort to slow down your vehicle.
  • Don’t forget to pump the brakes hard and use any stopping capacity left in your braking system.
  • Also, make sure to warn other riders and drivers on the road. Let them know what you’re trying to do. Keep those hazard lights on and honk them frequently.
  • Try to find an escape route. If there is a wide shoulder on the road, then go for it.


What’s the best way to stop if brakes on your bike fail when going downhill?

When you are going downhill and lose your brakes, it’s time to take your foot off the gas and turn your hazard lights off. Don’t forget to downshift slowly and try to pump the brake pedals hard and quick. Carefully try to apply other brakes if it’s still working. You can also use those guard rails and steer yourself to safety.

What’s the first thing you need to do when your brakes fail going downhill?

If you find an open field, you can ride straight to it. If there is any other escape ramp, go for it and try to downshift gear by gear. Engine braking is one of the most effective ways to slow the vehicle if brakes are lost for good.

But the first thing to do when you have found out that the brakes are gone, don’t panic and clear out other traffic and turn the hard lights on and honk as well. By choking and turning the lights on, you alert other riders and drivers on the road that you are facing issues with your ride and need to stay away from you.

Why do brakes tend to fail when going downhill?

Going downhill, brakes tend to fail because you have ended up boiling your brake fluid, which is caused by too much brain. This is very common when going downhill in long stretches. So, make sure to keep pressing and releasing your brakes, and don’t put too much pressure on them to prevent this from happening.


There you have it. Now you know what you should do if your motorcycle brakes fail when driving downhill? There is no need to panic because you only need to show a little bit of presence of mind and try to slow down your bike with the help of engine braking.

Just downshift each of your gears one by one, and you will see that you can control the speed of your bike. However, don’t shift down too fast, or you will put too much stress on your engine as well. Also, you might risk damaging your gearbox this way.

If you see an open field on the side, use that to stop yourself. But make sure you turn your hazard light on and start honking to make others know you are dealing with an issue with your bike. Next, steer your way clear out from other ways and start working on slowing down your vehicle.