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Discussion Starter #1
Can someone fully explain the art of trail braking to me. I am confused by some things I heard at the track this weekend. I thought trail braking was scrubbing speed in a corner by applying light front break, which I do and thought I was doing, but a few people told me it's rear brake only.... Am I doing things wrong? Just need someone to clear it up for me.

Thanks,

h8
 

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h8mondays : Can someone fully explain the art of trail braking to me.  I am confused by some things I heard at the track this weekend.  I thought trail braking was scrubbing speed in a corner by applying  light front break, which I do and thought I was doing, but a few people told me it's rear brake only....  Am I doing things wrong? Just need someone to clear it up for me.

Thanks,

h8
It can be either, front or rear, and yes, any braking done after turn in to the apex is trail braking...

There are several schools of thought there though. Cornerspeed doesn't teach it. As the pace quickens, it takes a ton of feel with the front to know how hard and late you can trailbrake without losing the front...

I personally 'attempt' to have all braking done by the time I turn in. After turn in, I'm back on the gas (even if its a little bit) and progress into the gas as I approach the apex and out again... Granted, I often find myself trailbraking to the apex when I am first learning a track and trying to figure out how fast I can go in and what not. Like I said, I 'try' not to do it at all, but when I do, I do it lightly, reason being, you do weight the front quite a bit and thats the small contact patch, the fat one is on the rear...

I'm not the best person to attempt an answer at that, but like TB, thats my take on it...

charlie
 

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tigerblade : To me, trailbraking is any braking that you're doing after the point of turn-in.
Yeah, what Tigerblade said.

It can be front and/or rear brake. You're only doing it wrong if you crash or are getting passed. Don't ask how I know.

They usually have a camera angle where you can see the riders letting off the front brake mid-turn in televised races. I'm always amazed how deep the pros will brake.
 

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I agree with ccwilli, that's my definition of trail braking as well. I personally feel it's best left to the pros, not a mere mortal like myself. I also get all my braking and downshifting done just prior to turn in, and then as soon as I turn in, I have 'static throttle', just a bit of application to the apex, then I smoothly feed in more throttle while straightening up the bike. I don't have the expertise to know how much traction I have while braking and turning, so I separate those two tasks. That's the safer way, and the preferred way (IMHO) if you're doing trackdays and not racing.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Generally speaking, I try and get my downshifts and breaking done before the turn and usually only trail brake when I'm learning the track, or I am racing and am carrying a little too much speed into the turn. I don't use it as a panic measure and tend to only trail brake to scrub off the few extra MPH. Like most of you, I try and get back on the gas as soon as possible to stabilize the suspension and get good drive out of the corners.

The biggest reason I ask the question about trail breaking is because I don't use my rear brake all that often, if ever. I've heard from experienced racers, that lightly applying the rear brake can tighten your line up a bit, but is risky. This weekend, I was talking to a couple of people and they use their rear brake exclusively to trail brake and seemed appaled that I would use my front brake for this purpose.

It's probably just some mental baggage I'm carrying about the rear brake because of a low side I had years ago when a car came into my lane in a right hander and I panicked and went for the brakes. Since then, I don't even think about rear brake on the track and only use it on the street occasionally.
Like I said, just looking for insight and clarification.

h8
 

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I try to get all my braking and shifting done before I turn in, and typicaly I'm releasing the front brake (I never use the rear) as I turn in and holding the throttle steady. If necesary I can keep a little pressure on the brake if I think I'm going too fast, but its really light and with diciplin I wont grab any more brake mid corner, I'll just stand it up and runn off the track if I cant make it. To trail brake effectivly it boils down to being able to know how much brake you can apply based on your speed and lean...I'd rather run off than dump it. I had a racer do that exact thing last race, too much front brake in a corner, lost the front and I about ran him over.
 

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Trail braking can be front or rear---but I know few people that are qualified to trail the rear into a corner--its a real easy way to land on your arse.

With the front brake alot of new guys(like I used to) trail out of shear nervousness, which can spell disaster if applied a tad too hard.

In my expreience, best to get all braking done prior to turn-in, learn to carry serious cornerspeed this way....later try trailbraking and see if it really makes you faster or slower
 

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In addition to what trackho said, sometimes, its nice to take a session and just try not to use your brakes at all... You'll be surprised how how much cornerspeed you can carry that you normally wouldn't have because you would have been on the brakes the entire time. I thought this was BS till I tried it because I too used to trail brake out of just bad riding habit... There's a fine line there with trail braking, you cross it and bam, down you go...
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Good info guys, thanks....

Trackho,

Since I started racing an SV, my corner entry and exit speeds have increased 10X what they were on the 954 and even 600's. It's amazing what a difference it makes to ride a bike that doesn't intimidate you down the straits.


ccwill,

I realized within a few laps on the SV when I first started riding it, that I rode the front brake like an idiot in every corner. That has since changed.

h8
 

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The whole idea of trailbraking (as I have heard) is that its just another way to control your exit point/line. Braking will 'stand' the bike up more.
 

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ccwilli3 : In addition to what trackho said, sometimes, its nice to take a session and just try not to use your brakes at all...  You'll be surprised how how much cornerspeed you can carry that you normally wouldn't have because you would have been on the brakes the entire time.  I thought this was BS till I tried it because I too used to trail brake out of just bad riding habit...  There's a fine line there with trail braking, you cross it and bam, down you go...
I read this in a Keith Code book and thought it was crap. Then I tried it and it actually helps ALOT to force yourself to increase corner speed. Not good to try in a 'end-of-straightaway' corner or if you are running ANY TYPE of MICHELIN tire  ---but other than that excellent practice, I rarely use the shitty linked brakes on the XX riding the street
 
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