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trail braking

Discussion in 'Racing' started by francod123, Dec 31, 2014.

  1. francod123

    francod123 Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Do any of you guys consciously do this on the road, or are trying to make it a habit? I've been trying to learn more about advanced techniques, etc. and trail braking is not something you are taught to do in the beginning...seems more of a new school thought but wondering if anyone here utilizes it.
     
  2. makarushka

    makarushka Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    I use it often. My daily commute has a very twisty road with several downhill turns with decreasing radius and trail-braking with the front brake helps steer through those a lot as the forks are compressed and the bike steers sharper and easier, all while having the weight on the front and maximizing the contact. But it's really about applying and modulating the pressure very gradually. One chop of the brake -- applying or releasing -- and the entire maneuver is compromised, resulting in worse disturbance to the chassis/balance than you'd have without using this technique to begin with. I suppose that's one other reason it isn't taught to beginners.

    On level turns or when going uphill I sometimes trailbrake with the rear [brake] to set up turns when it fits the pace and I want to change the riding style a bit. I rarely feel it is a necessity in those conditions as I probably do not go fast enough for that but it can be pure fun, too.
     
  3. canuck1969

    canuck1969 GT Reference GT Contributor

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    All the time. Trail braking the front really helps to keep the bike level in corners and find it much more stable. Took some getting used to braking and throttling with the same hand but once you master it you will be glad you did.

    Trail braking the rear in slow speed maneuvers is a must for me with my bike (Stelvio NTX). Again, once you master it you can do some real nice slow speed handling without fear of falling over.
     
  4. GuzziMoto

    GuzziMoto GT Reference GT Contributor

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    By my definition trail braking is applying the brakes after you begin turning. It does not matter whether it is the front brake, rear brake, or both.
    Some corners suit trail braking and I will do so in those corners, but I seldom use the rear brake for that on the street. And I don't like to do it on corners without clear sight through the corner as there is less room for things to go wrong when trail braking. You have less margin for the unexpected.
    It also depends on the bike you are riding, some motorcycles do not like to be trail braked, they stand up with the brakes on.

    But on the street I am not an aggressive braker and even when trail braking it is not like I am pushing the limits. Often on some of my favorite twisty roads I won't even hit the brakes. We just ride what we call "The Pace".
     
  5. King of Fleece

    King of Fleece Cruisin' Guzzisti GT Famiglia

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    Nick just wrote a story called "Brake Light Initiative" that was all about lightly braking with the front into every turn. One of the major bike mags a few issues ago. CycleWorld, I think.
     
  6. ghezzi

    ghezzi High Miler GT Contributor

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    "Trail Braking" has many meanings including when you've really fucked up and are cutting a new path thru the trees. Not recommended.
    My introduction to trail breaking came from an old man in his 70's, in the 1970's. He on a CX500 and me a GS1000 heading to a rally, when we hit the dirt road Harry disappeared. A former board track racer, apparently. Around the camp fire I stayed sober and Harry taught me a lot that night. His dirt road technique was to get entry speed right while you were still upright and traveling straight. Then apply both rear brake and throttle simultaneously. Throttle is to keep the bike stable and the front end tracking, while the brake is applied to counter wheel spin and stop acceleration. As you exit the corner, release the brake. Keeping it all balanced per say. It works on road too.

    In reality, you probably already use this technique on small round-a-bouts and car park manoeuvres. Practice it on windy roads at 3/4 pace. It has saved my life on many occasions, when I over commit to a corner, or it all tightens up with a reducing radius.
    1. Backing off when cranked right over makes most bikes feel unstable, vague and can result in running wider.
    2. Applying front brake at max lean angles can result in a low side, or standing up and running wider.
    3. Applying the rear brake at max lean angles can also result in either low or high sides.

    Just when you shit yourself coz it all looks to be going wrong, keeping the throttle applied and controlling your speed by applying the rear brake can save ya bacon. You can actually wash off a lot of speed resulting in a tighter turn and get yourself back on line.

    Remember, we are talking Guzzi's here too. All my Tonti framed bikes wanted to stand up and run wide if too much front brake was applied suddenly mid corner. However, Bella with all her mods has displayed a tendency to dip and turn even better, if my own freckle tightens in a corner.
     
  7. francod123

    francod123 Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Thanks for the tips everyone. Seems to be a good technique that can come in handy for sure. I'll have to start practicing it.
     
  8. lucky phil

    lucky phil Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    My defiition as well as most GP and Superbike riders is not about when you apply the "front" brakes but when you release them. Modern racers still initiate the braking when upright for the most part but are then still on them very hard pretty much up to the apex, give or take. It obviously varies between riders,bikes,corners and grip levels but this is the modern technique.
    The reason for it?......well the longer you have for braking the later you can start the process and the greater your speed can be before you do so, however the primary reason is to maximise the contact patch of the front tire and give more grip. A modern GP front tire doesnt like a slow progressive brake application it wants hard initial braking carried all the way into the corner to deflect the carcase,increase the contact patch and maintain the grip levels. Most front end crashes these days are when the rider gets OFF the front brake and the contact patch reduces and he loses some grip.
    You can see also when some riders crash with little lean angle amost upright on the entry because they have started the turn with not enough brake and not created the contact patch to support the braking. At GP level its very tricky and precise and some older riders could never make the transition to MotoGP especially from the 250 class because they carried a lot of corner speed and were relatively moderate brakers. These guys had a lot of front end crashed due to not working the front tire hard enough.
    On the road experienced riders still trail brake to and extent but its safer to get the majority of your braking done before the turn because you generally dont have the latitude with regard to the conditions. So, road surface, grip levels, corner radias and camber, surrounding traffic and if you do mess it up unlike a racer you dont end up in a gravel trap but usually something much worse.
    Moderate trail braking on the road is a good thing to practice because it can help to understand it and how the bike reacts which may assist you one day when you get the entry speed wrong and need to use it to correct a situation but generally on the road get the braking done before the corner, get the entry speed and turn in point right and leave the "real" trail braking for the track.
    Ciao
     
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  9. ghezzi

    ghezzi High Miler GT Contributor

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    Agree with everything you say Phil, but there is one major factor that most road riders fail to pay attention to on this subject.
    Race tyres and road tyres are like comparing apples and oranges.
    When we watch MotoGP and the choice of tyres they have between soft medium and hard, most people think only in terms of rubber compound. Apart from rubber compounds they also have a far greater choice with variation in the sidewall construction, compared to any range of street legal tyres that we use. This choice of soft/medium/hard carcass gives the required amount of flex, and the spreading of the footprint they need.

    So with regard to road riding, caution is the first word that comes to mind if forum members intend to experiment with this style of riding.
     
  10. My name is Jeff

    My name is Jeff Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    I only trail rear brake in corners on the street as if you hit oil or gravel trailing the front well your going down.
    I use the front to slow quickly before the corner.
     
  11. lucky phil

    lucky phil Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    You are right in that GP tires are a step ahead of road, but its not as dramatic as you may think. Remember world Supersport bikes race on DOT legal rubber the same as you can buy in your local tire outlet and they trail brake the living daylights out of those things. Also a WSS bike is quite often only 3 to 3.5 seconds a lap slower than the Full suprebike on Race slicks and its got DOT legal road tires, standard based suspension and brakes and 1/2 the horsepower.
    The gap between road and race tires has closed up appreciable in the last 5 years or so.

    Ciao
     
  12. Touringman

    Touringman Cruisin' Guzzisti

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    Well said Phil; and I could not agree more. I have heard the argument for and against trail braking over the years, and, for street/road riding, I personally come down on the side of what is sometimes called "The First Rule of Danny Ongias"...or...Get your braking done in a straight line!! Tires and chassis are funny things, they are wonders of engineering, but they have limits. Speaking as a Cali 1400 rider with years of sport bikes behind me, my Cali is not, and will never be confused with a sport bike or track bike. And it runs on Avon Cobras, not DOT race tires.
    This all said, yes I do sometimes trail brake into a corner, especially if I have a good view through and out. With the Cali, even with the Matris suspension components, snap the throttle closed, and the front end lightens up and it will push wide. Keep the power on and judiciously apply (I prefer the front) brakes and the glide around the radius of the corner is a thing of beauty. Come in hot, two up and you will leave pucker marks in the Corbin seat.
    Bottom line is to learn how your particular bike reacts to both throttle and brake inputs when scraping hard parts in a corner. Knowing what the bike can and cannot do, and when, can mean the difference in a wonderful spirited ride and a very painful lesson.
    Kirk
     
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  13. Godfrey

    Godfrey High Miler GT Famiglia

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    • Control the attitude and traction of the bike with the throttle. Do not cut the power when diving into a corner, keep the power on and learn how to modulate it properly.
    • Use the rear brake with the throttle on to push a little more weight onto the front wheel in order to increase its bite and also to prevent wheeliing under power out of a corner, before you're completely upright.
    • Use the front brake BEFORE you turn to slow down, hard, when needed; don't use it IN the turn because the braking reduces your available grip for cornering, and collapses the suspension that can also cause the tire to skitter and lose traction.
    • TAPER your braking off the front wheel as you initiate and dive into the turn so as not to upset the geometry of the bike...
    These are the rules of going fast I learned in road riding, not racing, workshops. They've never failed to do the right thing. I have screwed up now and then, of course...
     
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  14. GuzziMoto

    GuzziMoto GT Reference GT Contributor

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    There are lots of ways to "go fast", especially on the street. While those "rules" may work well for you, none of those "rules" are absolutes. None of them are things that you can't break or not do. There are various riding styles, various techniques, that can work well in different situations, different bikes, and different riders.
    I do prefer to corner under power as you indicate.
    I rarely touch the rear brake, except in emergencies where I am already pushing my front tire hard enough that I fear it does not have enough traction left to also provide braking ( I think pushing that hard on the street is not so bright).
    Almost always I try to be smooth at the controls, this includes both applying the brakes and letting them off. Doing either too suddenly can upset things, but the same can be said for the throttle as well.
     
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  15. Trout

    Trout GT Reference

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    Know your self & know your machine & know the limitations of both.
    By doing the same thing over & over you build "muscle memory" & reaction times speed up.
    Learn to trust instinct more than a set of "rules".
    Explanations of why something happens are good info but you don't have time to review "the steps" when you realize you are in a curve with a decreasing radius, only experience will keep the shiny side up.

    I used to have a stripped 650 BSA that I liked to flat track on, not on a race track but in a local gravel pit.
    One day a group of kids on bicycles were watching me slide thru the corners.
    When I stopped they rode over & one of them asked me how I did that.
    I couldn't answer him except to say " I just do" then I took off to find out how.

    I was amazed at how bad I was riding & how hard it was to lay the bike over when I started to think about what I was doing.
    After 5 or 6 laps I stopped thinking about how & quickly fell into the groove.
    Muscle memory & Instinct.

    When needed I do trail brake in corners I find it especially useful when I want to turn onto a side street quickly.
    2nd gear, drag brake, R's up, 1/2 way thru release brake & throttle on.
     
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  16. Godfrey

    Godfrey High Miler GT Famiglia

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    (bolded) Of course. I didn't say anything that would indicate differently. :D
     
  17. Godfrey

    Godfrey High Miler GT Famiglia

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    Absolutely.

    Returning to motorcycling after twelve years away (due to physical disabilities, now taken care of), I found myself a bit terrified at first because I was trying to think through all the things I needed to do to make the bike go the way I wanted. Too slow, too many things happening too fast ... couldn't keep up. I was frustrated: I used to do this so easily and so well. Yet, I noted that when I stopped trying to think about it, my body simply did the right thing. Observing this happening was fascinating. I started riding with a different mindset: "Okay, my body has done this oh so many times before. I'll let it do what it does and observe what's going on as it does it." That's when riding started to be fluid and fun again. I went slowly at first, keeping an eye on what was going on and on what my body was doing. Now my mind and body are back together, working as one to make the bike work as I observe traffic, where I want to be, where I want to go, and sends those messages on to my hindbrain and muscles without thinking about "how" so much.

    The rules are there in the back of my mind as guidelines, much like the rules of English grammar when I'm writing, or the rules of mathematical computation when I'm sitting down to frame a problem that requires calculation, or the rules of composition when I've taken out my camera and start to look at the world with the intent of making photographs. They are there as a framework upon which to build observations and teach my body what to do when it gets a particular input or stimulus. But they are fluid and slide around as conditions demand, as I adapt to different bikes, different roads, different tires, different conditions, etc.

    This raises an interesting question: How do we train ourselves and new riders to learn how to do this thing in the first place? Re-learning how to ride was an interesting process because deep down under the 12 years of absence from riding, all that muscle memory and observational data was already there for me, built up by three decades of riding experience and training for road and track. I had studied hard way back when, reading books, going to classes, talking to more experienced riders, and testing, testing, testing by practicing how to make a motorcycle do what I wanted under every situation that presented itself to me. I made (and still make) many small mistakes ... everyone does ... and I use them to learn further. Now, how do we impart that knowledge for others eager to ride the first time, or how to improve their riding?

    Well, the answer is we have to use words to describe archetypal rules and basic practices that establish a norm around which the mind can frame the 'problem' and its possible solutions. And once they have that, they have to go out and see how it works in practice, by practice. Watching other good riders do it is very helpful, once enough of the basics are in the individual's musculature and mind so that they can see what those riders are actually doing. No amount of words—rules, advice, whatever—can replace the willingness to practice, practice, practice ... while observing objectively what works and what doesn't, and recognizing the difference.

    I don't pretend to have specific answers for everyone or every situation. I'm more concerned with framing the problem in such a way that others can take that framework and put it to use in order to learn how to improve their riding. :)

    There's risk involved, of course. In addition to being open to observing and practicing, you have to be courageous enough to engage a little risk, and wise enough to know when, and how much, is acceptable and non-lethal. It's a tricky thing...!

    G

    If you're afraid to fall down, you'll never stand up.
     
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