Braking, as one of the basic skills, sound awfully simple: just grab the lever... but... did you roll off the throttle? Should you? Was the bike leaning?
We generally use the brakes to slow down. Other times though, we also use them to start a slide into a corner, control a wheelie, correct the bike's position in mid-air or to tension the bike at low speeds... many uses.
SQUEEZE! That simple. Other than trying to lock the wheels on purpose, the brakes should be SQUEEZED gently. Always think of squeezing an orange or something.
The simple reason for this is weight transfer: the wheels have traction when loaded. Let's see what happens when you squeeze the front lever:
If you just pulled the lever without giving the suspension time to compress, the wheel will simply lock up, since there isn't enough traction to keep up with the powerfull brakes.
So, basic front braking sequence is the following:
At the end of braking, you need to be in a lower gear... as a beginner technique, you downshift after braking is done, as many times as needed. If you're not braking very hard, you have time to downshift as the revs get too low, while braking - again, the beginner sequence would be:
As you progress, you should try to downshift properly, using the advanced technique, see below.
The most effective braking is done with both brakes, so you should apply the rear brakes as well. It is very easy to lockup the rear tire though, since there is no weight on it - if it's locked, then the rear of the bike starts swinging sideways and it doesn't help much.
A nice term used to describe downshifting while braking: the point is that you should always be in the proper gear for the speed the bike has. While racing, it's obvious that you save time by being in the proper gear at the end of braking.
So, while braking, pull the clutch, blip the throttle and downshift. It sounds easy but it surely takes a lot of practice to master.
The trouble is not necessarily coordinating the clutch with the downshift, but Blipping the Throttle while still pulling in the brake lever.
We blip the throttle because we don't have a slipper clutch. Such a clutch takes care of the rear wheel slip so we don't have to manage it by blipping the throttle.
We'll cover this under cornering in more detail - you can also use the front brakes while cornering, but less of them and with more care, since some of the traction is consumed with the cornering.
This is a good argument as to why you should be prepared to brake in a corner: www.gtamotorcycle.com/vbforum/showthread.php?159931-Braking-by-Nick-Ienatsch
When going downhill, use the engine braking and the rear brakes. I also like to keep the front brakes in a little bit, to keep the forks compressed a little bit. The point is that you need to be careful with the front brakes, they can spill you over the bars really quick in this situation.
These articles are useful: