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Aug 11th 2018, 11:58 PM   #1
 Andonon's Avatar
  Jul 2018
  Mill Creek

  06 SV650S
Trail braking is NOT using your back brake. An epiphany!

I didn’t know what trail braking was until Yesterday. Seriously. It’s not funny.

I know this is dumb. I shouldn't post dumb stuff. But it’s not dumb or funny. I’ve been riding since I was 8. Bit of a daredevil, I heard that little voice in my head yesterday... When I was a kid I thought trail braking meant framing your brake control around dragging your rear brake to stabilize the bike or something. I never thought about that I didn’t *actually* know what “trail braking” meant. I never rode dirt, only street. I was born in the city.

Yesterday I learned what trail braking is. That’s not what this post is about and I do feel this was a, shocker... for me personally. I feel thankful.

My point, OMG! I could have died! I didn’t know that I didn’t know what trail braking was!

I’ve been riding track and street for years and only yesterday I read an article on trail braking. I’ve read A twist of the wrist 10 times, More proficient motorcycling, total control, track days, GoWMST advanced rider, more cornering, and on street course. I’m serious, for some reason, I never actually knew what trail braking was. I thumbed through TOTW and I don’t find the term, but the book dances all around it, for example. I think I had some Vulcan mind meld about it. That’s the point of this post. Go read up on trail braking, or anything that you think you know. These training courses and books all talk about braking in corners and favoring your front brake and I’m a long time student of our sport, but I don’t know why I didn’t know this.

The result. Never stop practicing. Today I gained a new level of confidence in my riding that has plagued me for years, misunderstanding my rear brake and trail braking. I was honored to learn that my want for favoring my front brake was validated. I’ve been trail faking for years and thought I was cheating or something because I didn’t understand what it was or how to do it. Every time I tried I would upset the bike and in the back of my mind I was pushing that problem out for another turn, for another day, when I would figure out what the hell all the hype about trail braking is. But it was subtle and I didn’t hear myself doing that until just yesterday. So... if you have an inkling you don’t know what trail braking is, go study it.
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Edited by Andonon on Aug 12th 2018 at 12:02 AM Reason: Misspelled TOTW
Aug 12th 2018, 06:28 AM   #2
 Sentinel's Avatar
  Jun 2016
  Poor Tortured

  2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Harlequin
now I don't know what it is.

am i already doing it?

i am a pretty good "braker", but i have no idea what ur talking about here.
Aug 12th 2018, 07:38 AM   #3
 unicykle's Avatar
  Sep 2017
  milwaukie oregon

  gsxr600 gsxr750 gsxr1000 i like gsxrs
Trail braking is continuing to brake while entering the corner, you get the hard braking done while upright and as you tip in your letting of the brake more and more. Lots of variables here and they can be used in different ways to do different things. The use of the brakes swings weight front or back, the front brake swing weight forward and resists turning so done rong youll run wide, the rear brake is more forgiving but doesnt affect things as dramaticly and it ads weight to the back thich can be used to tighten an exit if you just drag it at about the apex while on maint throttle and even on accel. Im no pro maby im rong just my 2c
Aug 12th 2018, 12:54 PM   #4
 Sentinel's Avatar
  Jun 2016
  Poor Tortured

  2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Harlequin
OK so "trail braking" could also be called "proper braking"?

it's the old 100% friction trope.
chadams66 and Andonon like this.
Aug 12th 2018, 01:13 PM   #5
 Scribbles's Avatar
  Jan 2016

Here's a good video from a motorcycle training instructor..
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Aug 12th 2018, 03:50 PM   #6
 Transported's Avatar
  Jan 2016

  2006 FZ1, 1999 R1
I think a lot of people don’t understand it. I read many posts here where people talk about doing trail braking and I can tell they are confused.

And it is not like countersteering, where you do it without realizing you are doing it.

If you think it means dragging the rear brake, or has anything to do with the rear brake, you are doing pretty much the opposite of trail braking. And unless you read up on motorcycle physics, you most likely will not understand how it works and how to do it properly.

And you may end up on your back.
Aug 12th 2018, 04:38 PM   #7
 chadams66's Avatar
  Jan 2016
  Garden Home

  2012 Versys...'83 BMW R80 RT...Suzuki GS 450t
you mean it's not using your brakes on trails? here I thought it was a dirt bike thing...
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Aug 13th 2018, 08:53 AM   #8
 craiger's Avatar
  Apr 2016

  2007 Aprilia Tuono Factory, 2010 Honda VFR 1200f DCT
Decent vid..but it's kinda difficult to see what's going on with his wrist. Practicing in a parking lot is solid advice, and take heed to the warning that it is possible to low side if too much braking occurs during turn in. This is an advanced maneuver that should not be used willy-nilly. Baby steps are advised with practicing this skill, and remember kids; ATGATT. I'll step off the pedestal now. Thank you and have a nice day, rubber side down.
Scribbles likes this.
Aug 13th 2018, 09:29 AM   #9
 Transported's Avatar
  Jan 2016

  2006 FZ1, 1999 R1
A couple of things not mentimed that play a role. To do this well, you should be comfortable doing one-finger or two-finger braking, so that you can roll off and on the gas while braking.

The other thing is that front braking into a corner scrubs speed, but it also tightens your cornering radius drastically, so you can essentially square off the turn and even change your line mid corner. For me, it is almost like a toggle switch: dive in braking hard, flick to desired line and roll on the gas all while applying the brakes.
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Aug 13th 2018, 01:21 PM   #10
 Sentinel's Avatar
  Jun 2016
  Poor Tortured

  2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Harlequin
I like to get all my braking done while still relatively upright, and then more or less "coast" through the curve, which is I guess just matching throttle input to current speed so there's no suspension forces caused by braking or gassing. I like to ride as if I'm on a 250 rather than a liter bike. Some guys are brakes-and-gas. I'm more of a constant-speed dude. Of course, with Kawasaki TCS I can SLAM the throttle open mid-turn and let the computer get me through the curve without losing the rearend. Techno-whee!
Scribbles likes this.
Aug 13th 2018, 06:16 PM   #11
  Feb 2016

Originally Posted by craiger
Decent vid..but it's kinda difficult to see what's going on with his wrist.
Originally Posted by Transported
To do this well, you should be comfortable doing one-finger or two-finger braking, so that you can roll off and on the gas while braking.
this requires you to register for free but an excellent vid.

Rossi usa da tree feengar.

on the track trail braking is a necessity to go fast because it increases the contact patch of the front tire which means you can carry more speed to the apex.
Andonon likes this.
Aug 13th 2018, 06:42 PM   #12
 mgfchapin's Avatar
  Jan 2016
  Kirkland, WA

  Daytona 675R
Originally Posted by sicc
on the track trail braking is a necessity to go fast because it increases the contact patch of the front tire which means you can carry more speed to the apex.
Plenty of fast guys trail brake very little or not at all in some cases. The old GP Bridgestone required it because the front was so stiff and so sticky. To maintain heat, riders had to deform the carcass by heavily braking all the way to the apex. Grip levels were so high, they could have the forks fully compressed into the corner.

With the new Michelins, the front is a much softer carcass and not as grippy. Remember all the crashes in Argentina when they started testing? All front-end lowsides. They don’t take kindly to trail braking, which is why Maverick Viñales did so well last year; he doesn’t trail brake for most corners. Now front grip is increasing, so the trail brakers are back on top (Lorenzo).

The point is, know what sort of tire you’re on before you go bombing into a corner with the brakes jammed on. I don’t do it much on Pirellis, but it’d be different with Dunlops.
Andonon likes this.
Aug 13th 2018, 08:20 PM   #13
 Bowermad's Avatar
  Feb 2018
  Bend, OR

Ken Hill Podcast covered trail braking and the engagement of the brakes and throttle into and out of the the corners very throughly. They are free on iTunes podcast store.

I found it very informative to listen to the podcast then watch motorcycle racing. The most helpful was the Ducati Race of Champions. They were all riding stock bikes with special paint jobs. You can watch their brake engagement into and out of the corners easily because the brake lights were still hooked up. Not often you see a bunch of pros riding bikes on the track with brake lights in dry weather. Good watching to study Moto GP riders braking.
Andonon likes this.
Aug 14th 2018, 07:12 AM   #14
 PeteN95's Avatar
  Jan 2016
  Muklilteo, WA

  Suzuki DL1000, Honda XR650R, KTM 250 XC-W
There are turns that require trail braking, turn 3 at PR comes to mind. To be able to go hard into a downhill, decreasing radius turn you have to trail brake. In turn 3 I would have still have a finger on the brake with my knee in the grass at the apex.
Aug 14th 2018, 06:32 PM   #15
 Sentinel's Avatar
  Jun 2016
  Poor Tortured

  2013 Kawasaki Ninja 1000 Harlequin
i trail brake heavily on turn 1 into my driveway when the cat runs out to see me as i get home.
Bowermad likes this.

  PNW Moto > Washington > Seattle

back, brake, braking, epiphany, trail

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