Can A Motorcycle Stop Faster Than A Car?

Table of Contents

When comparing motorcycle vs car performance, the weight to power ratio dominates discussions. Because of this, many assume a motorcycle will stop faster than a car because of this ratio (motorcycles are much lighter than cars). In most real world scenarios, a car will stop faster than a motorcycle. Many factors come into play when comparing a motorcycle vs a car’s braking power. Let’s lay out some facts and evidence below to support this statement that a car will stop faster than a motorcycle most of the time.

Creating a fair comparison – Motorcycle vs Car

There are many different classes and types of motorcycles and cars. For a fair comparison the same classes of both should be compared eg: sports bikes with sports cars, cruisers with SUVs or family wagons, high performance race bikes with race cars etc.

A brand new supersport motorcycle built for the track will stop faster than your average family sedan due to the differences in technology and design…but…only with an experienced rider. Hard braking in a car is a much easier process than a motorcycle, due to quite a few factors listed below. 

The differences in braking – Motorcycle vs Car

Put simply, on average both a car and motorcycle emergency braking at peak performance have the stopping force of around 1 G. Although a motorcycle is lighter, a car has double the brakes and contact patch with the ground (4 wheels vs 2).

Braking in modern cars is technically a very simple process, especially with ABS – Slam your foot on the brake to stop as fast as possible. (note: ABS braking stops the tyres from locking up and skidding)

Braking on a motorcycle is a more complicated process, even with ABS on the newer models. Both the front and rear brake need to be applied (2 separate tasks). Because of the weight shift under heavy braking (weight shifts to the front), it’s important to keep the rear tire on the ground for maximum braking performance (2 contact patches on the road) – too much front brake can lift the rear tire off the ground. Without ABS on a motorcycle, under full front brake the front tire can lock up and slide out from under you. 

Basically any driver can perform a 1 G emergency brake in a car, whereas a motorcycle rider needs to have experience with their current motorcycle when emergency braking due to the multiple steps and weight transfer issues, especially without ABS.

Factors that affect brake performance

Many factors come into play that can affect brake performance on both a car and motorcycle such as:

  • Tire choice – high performance vs budget tires, different weather or terrain tires
  • Tire age and wear – Old rubber is less effective, worn rubber with lost tread is less effective
  • Brake rotors – rotors can be worn down and/or uneven, different types of rotors are available with different price points, designs and materials.
  • Brake pads – brake pads can be worn down and/or uneven, different types of brake pads are available with different price points and materials.
  • Environment – weather conditions, road surfaces, temperature, location can all have an effect on braking performance
  • Experience – Has the driver or rider had experience emergency braking? Motorcycle braking is more complicated and harder to maximize than a car. 
  • Reaction times – plays a huge role in stopping distance
  • Care and maintenance – this applies to all aspects of a car and motorcycle. The condition of all braking mechanical parts, tires etc.


Out on the street, a car will stop faster than a motorcycle in most situations due to the ease of hard braking in a car, and the difficulty to brake hard on a motorcycle. Because of this, a motorcycle will take a longer distance to stop in most situations, so it’s extremely important for motorcycle riders to keep a large safety bubble of space around themselves. Don’t let other drivers tailgate you or drive beside you, it’s important to keep away from other vehicles when possible by slowing down or speeding up. It doesn’t hurt to take a motorcycle safety course to learn how to emergency brake safely on a bike so you’re prepared for the real thing.