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bwhip said:
I'm not sure how it may have affected any change in Freddie's philosophy (and that of his instructors), but they definitely mentioned that changes over the past few years in tire technology have created tires much more capable of responding well to trailbraking. The tires were obviously a whole lot different back in the day.

All I know is when I tried their approach, it worked extremely well for me.

I also can't speak to whatever additional guidance they may give regarding countersteering or otherwise in more advanced classes including pro racer level. I know Trackho went through that level a year or two ago, maybe he can chime in on that.
I have no problem with trail braking in theory or practice, but I have had 2 Spencer School graduates lowside at Grattan (one did it twice) because they didn't understand all the possible variables (including an unloaded front end cresting the rise in turn 7 at Grattan).

I believe that putting all your eggs in one particular basket for adjusting or setting your line through a corner is a bit myopic and can be pretty dangerous until a whole series of other basics are mastered. I know all the staff at Freddie's school have it dialed, but how many people in your class were newbies? Also, I believe a track with multiple elevation changes brings an entire series of dynamics to cornering technique that can preclude trail braking as an effective tool regardless of newer tire technology.

Oh well, chocolate and vanilla make the world go round . . .
 

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abtech said:
...I believe that putting all your eggs in one particular basket for adjusting or setting your line through a corner is a bit myopic and can be pretty dangerous until a whole series of other basics are mastered...
I hope that my write-up didn't give the impression that trail-braking was the only way they suggested we set up for a corner!

I wrote, among other things, "Freddie talks about the need to figure out how to best make the bike change direction, and get parallel to the turns and apexes we want to hit – through a combination of lean, head/chest, peg weighting and trail braking."

I came away from the school not feeling trail braking was the only way to get through a turn, but that I don't need to fear it, either. I consider it to be one tool of several in the box, and one that must be used with great care.
 

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bwhip said:
I hope that my write-up didn't give the impression that trail-braking was the only way they suggested we set up for a corner!

I wrote, among other things, "Freddie talks about the need to figure out how to best make the bike change direction, and get parallel to the turns and apexes we want to hit – through a combination of lean, head/chest, peg weighting and trail braking."

I came away from the school not feeling trail braking was the only way to get through a turn, but that I don't need to fear it, either. I consider it to be one tool of several in the box, and one that must be used with great care.
No, you were very clear about that. I guess being told about 20 times during the past 3 years that trail braking was the only way to get around the track by people that had taken Freddie's school has sort of made me a bit sensitive to the subject. Especially after watching more than a few of these same riders trail brake themselves right into the kitty litter on a regular basis.

I have mentioned this a few times, but when GLRRA was running, we ran a study over a 4 year period on race crashes and the primary cause (upwards of 90 percent) involved trail braking in the heat of competition. It seems that "outbraking" the guy in front of you became the Holy Grail of regional racers. The only problem was that people were regularly exceeding the tire's capability to stay on the asphalt by carrying the brakes way too far into the corner.

In a controlled environment (like the school track sessions) with an instructor setting the pace, riders can get a feel for the limits of traction under braking. Unfortunately, most riders I work with on the track don't know what to expect when the front end starts to slide, and very few of them know how to save a lowside once it gets started. These same riders have been taught (mostly by discussions on internet forums and their buddies) to cover the front brake all the time, and find themselves using the brakes much more than they need to.

I like the "no brake" drills and find that most riders are totally blown away at just how well they can navigate corners at speed without using the brakes at all. I also believe (and this flies in the face of Spencer's philosophy) that the bike can be better controlled when the suspension is not totally used up mid corner from dragging the brakes. Since the geometry of the bike changes so drastically with the front end compressed, all of the things riders need to count on are minimized (like ground clearance, ability to handle bumps while leaned over, smooth transition from brake to throttle etc.).

But that's just one point of view, and when used properly trail braking can be effective under the right conditions.
 

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That was a really good read. abtech, I wouldn't blame Spencer for people's myopic interpretation. Trail braking was probably the last thing they learned, so that's what they focus on. I hope you can find a way to minimize the poor decision process with the misguided riders.

I learned and believe in the "old school" no brake method. I can "trail brake" past the apex and use my rear brake to change lines. But, that's because I try NOT to use brakes, first. When I left racing, "slam-braking" was just coming into vogue. I was taken out several times by these ham-fisted bozos.
Believe me, I understand that you KNOW what you are talking about.

Thanks again bwhip and thanks abtech for the good information. Unfortunately, words don't always sink-in. Only actions do.
 

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That was a great write up though. It definately made me want to go.

I've been trail braking a bit more lately on the track. I spent a couple of years trying to get all the braking done before tip-in. As I get more comfortable setting corner speed in a hurry, and more comfortable moving directly to my full lean angle, it just seems natural to drag the front brakes to a later point. There is a time when you have initiated the turn, but aren't quite putting full pressure on the tires yet, that you can continue with some braking. I will be practicing that more this season, but I will just do it to the degree that it feels natural. After 50 track days, I finally am starting to feel that I can trust myself to stay smooth. I feel some more speed coming this year.

Again, great write up!
 

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Great article and great detail. FWIW: Freddie always tells the class, what is experienced at the school is only the beginning of learning not the end, continue to practice all the time. The class has a very definative method of teaching "trail braking" of which most other schools do not. Trail braking takes a lot of practice, but the revelation of being able to really stop a bike in mid turn ---if you have to, is a reality check that can make a difference on the street. My buddy who took the class with me could not wait to "show his stuff" at the next track day. Basically forgot all what he was taught. You guessed it--crashed in the first session. I am still not all that fast on the track, but my street riding survival has improved a lot. To those who have gone to Freddie's. Eyes Up!
Sugoi8
 
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