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Trail braking


nobleswood
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In my quest to learn more about how to go around corners quickly, I thought it's time I admit to my novice status & ask some questions;

 

First up. What is 'Trail braking' and how does it help set the bike up through a corner ?

 

Humbly,

 

Grasshopper

 

(For those of us old enough to remember the reference)

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It influences the machine. Done right it creates a constant or settling and allows a faster entry.

The point is to set the machine up for the next step (acceleration out of the corner)

Practice it very gently using both brakes and then compare utilizing either brake.

You will be amazed at your entry speed difference when you've acclimatized to it.

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Front trail braking is basically using the brakes from  the point of application all the way to the apex or there abouts. It obviously means you can brake later because you get to use the brakes for longer. It also keeps the contact patch on the tire larger all the way to the apex because its still loaded and therefore you have more grip. It also keeps the front forks compressed which shortens up the trail and quickens the steering to help you get the bike turned.

Forget the rear brake as a means of slowing down on a sports bike, on a sports bike its basically a decoration unless you're two up or carrying a lot of gear. Good for two things, holding the bike on a hill at the stop lights and helping the bike hold a tigher line on longer corners if it's running wide.A little rear brake application will help keep the bike on line.

Some racers use it a fraction before the front brake to help the rear squat a little but even that's unusual these days. Other racers use it to help get the bike turned on the way in if they need to and also tame the drive a little on the way out. We are talking seriously good racers here, not me for sure.

So thats a race track tutorial and in the real world you can basically forget it for the street. The key to safe and fast road riding is to get your entry speed sorted before the turn in and get the turn in point right. Dont use trail braking on the road as a means of trying to improve your speed. Leave the real trail braking for the track.

I trail brake to a degree on the road out of habit but rarely all the way to the apex unless I've seriously misjudged the situation, not so I'm faster. However I've been road, track and dirt riding for a hundred years and didnt learn to do it on the public roads.

My advice is to learn how to trail brake on ride days at the track and practice it very conservatively on the road, primarily so one day if you misjudge a corner situation you will know how the bike reacts to firm braking whilst turning and give yourself a little extra margin of safety.

 

Ciao    

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Heh, I remember thinking I had this figured out and completely used up my rear brake pads trying to learn it. Nope - that's not it. In fact, it's not about the rear brake at all. As I see LuckyPhil states so well.

 

 One of the best descriptions I heard was about "feeding the compression forces of the braking into the turn-in compression" so that braking into the turn and leaning forces were blended seamlessly together as one suspension compression.

 

I paraphrase deeply . . . :glare:

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Use both brakes, try to stay balanced.  Do most of the hard braking early in a straight line, then lighten up until you get to apex, let off the brakes and give her some gas.  In other words stay on the brakes or on the gas but don't coast into the corner.  Just lighten the brake until you hit the gas.

 

It seems to work well with my Guzzis, my Suzuki has a tendency to stand up from the lean.

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It's quite an eye-opener following someone who's good thru the bends. I did a short one-on-one course last year where the battery died in the intercom and I followed the instructor back to base to swap it- he was hustling a big bmw at speed thru many roundabouts to make up time. Wow. So quick, so smooth, so seemingly effortless.

 

The v11 is a pretty heavy lump- i bet the best thing for good results would be to get the suspension set right?

I'd love to have a bash on an ohlins v11 to compare to mine...

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If you're really interested in learning trail braking, you could take a class with the Yamaha Champions Riding School (YCRS). Trail braking is their big obsession for improving cornering, for faster riding but also for safety and better overall technique. They preach it like gospel for both track and street riders. It's on my to-do list, haven't been able to go yet but fingers crossed that I can make it this summer. They have classes scheduled at tracks all over the US. They do BYOB as well as provide brand new Yams for rent if you'd rather flog theirs.

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Lucky Phil is spot on in his description.  I will quibble with one point.  You can use trail braking and not be pushing for speed.  Trail braking will also improve your "smoothness".  The opposite of trail braking is brake, release, turn.  So, the suspension is front loaded, released, then turn loaded.  Even if you are not balls to the wall, trail braking with matching the release of the suspension loading from braking with the increase of suspension loading from turning will keep the suspension happy. I really find this when riding big touring bikes 2-up.

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Riding fast is easier than explaining how to ride fast for most. 

Nick Ienatsch in his book Sport Riding Techniques does a very good job of transmitting the information you need.

There are a few key things to understand and apply prior to practicing trail braking.

This will benefit you when and if you do get out for the track day tutorial.

Have fun, hopefully you have access to some corners.

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Thanks all.

 

As the weather improves and I can get on the roads again, I'm looking forward to refining my cornering skills. This gives me some techniques to try.

 

Working from memory now, I have been braking in a straight line. Then at the same time, releasing the brake, turning in & getting on the throttle to have a constant speed to the apex. Rolling on the throttle from then.

 

I have found that holding the brake on after turning in, makes the steering very heavy & reluctant to turn in.

 

Under the chapter 'Mistakes I have made', I have learned that squeezing the front brake too much in the corner, will stand the bike up, yet using the rear brake doesn't.

 

Advice ?

 

What books, Youtube or other sources do you go to for riding techniques ?

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Parks' book (newest edition) is quite good. I learned to trail brake on an airhead BMW for "smoothness." When I first got my Scura it reminded me of the BMW because it was smoother in the corners with some front brake applied. However, (and this is point coming up) after I set suspension sag correctly I don't really need to trail brake to ride the Scura fast as I want to on the street. I have no track experience.

 

To reiterate the point..... be sure your springs are right and can be set in spec before trying to adjust your habits to overcome a possible flaw in the bike's setup.

 

I only learned about sag recently, from this forum. Need to do it again twice soon.

 

 

Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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I'm still working on getting the sag right, what measured correctly one time in the garage seems too stiff.

 

On YouTube I was watching 'Twist of the Wrist II', which talks about keeping the suspension balanced.

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 One of the best descriptions I heard was about "feeding the compression forces of the braking into the turn-in compression" so that braking into the turn and leaning forces were blended seamlessly together as one suspension compression.

 

I paraphrase deeply . . . :glare:

Yes docc when you have the suspension setup right and you trail brake all the way to the apex and get the bike turned as you release the brakes the front should stay planted so the transition from the forks being loaded by braking to cornering is seamless. As you release the brakes at the apex what you dont want is the forks extending again, unloading the front tire, losing grip and making the steering change.

Watch some recent racing accidents( it used to be different ) and there are two types of front end crashes. One, the nasty type are on corner entry only just off the vertical at initial turn in, almost still upright. This is caused by not starting the breaking upright and loading the tire before you start to get it turned in. No load equals less contact patch and less grip and lower tire temps.Happens a lot to riders who's style is to use a lot of mid corner speed. They dont brake hard enought initially and it catches them out.

The other type is the apex crash just as you get OFF the brakes sometimes before you open the throttle or just on initial opening and the front tire unloads and washes away. It's interesting stuff and I dont envy the modern racer these days as the window for everything is very small and the price you pay for getting it wrong high.

Of course little of this aplies to the road as you should be nowhere near these limits but the understanding is interesting.

I'll be applying these techniques on Monday at Phillip Island:)

 

Ciao

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