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Trail Braking

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by FALCON-LORD, Dec 18, 2007.

  1. I have pulled these quotes from there original location so that I don't take Ravens new bike thread WAAAAYYYY off topic and steal his thunder.

    I am left with a truck load of thoughts going around my head on this one.

    1) why is it called trail Breaking if it is done on the front tire? I always thought of Trail breaking as feathering your Rear (Or Trailing) break into a corner to settle the rear end.
    2) I definitely understand the idea of preloading your breaks on corner entry so that if you need to increase your breaking you already have the suspension compressed and don’t cause the front to dive and all hell to break loose (Along with your front traction) BUT!!! And this is a big but (Almost as big as Vic’s butt in his new Tiger Angel Leathers) In the Church of Code (That’s Keith Code of Twist of the Wrist Fame) they state that you should keep a 60/40 rearward weight bias for best cornering and stability. So what’s the deal?
    3) Allowing for number two, is this where we get to the Funky GP Rider extremes of Front break with a little throttle on to force the shocks to compress and thus shorten the wheelbase midcorner (Now that is some funky Sh!t)
    Now I state this all in the knowledge that we are talking advanced techniques (Don’t try this at home kids) and that they should not be tried until you are familiar enough with your bike that you could have sex on it in the twisties (Provided you can find a willing and capable partner).

    Car’n guys explain this as it sounds… Well… FUNKY!

  2. Good topic! I was about to start one on this as well.

    So, trail braking is for the front brakes only? Does slightly applying back brake when in a corner have a name? :oops: Is it "bad"?
  3. Yep, its' called "Trail Braking". :p

    You can trail brake both the front and back brakes. Both are advanced skills in cornering. FLUX's description could pretty much be applied to the rear brake as well. Either brake throws weight on to the front wheel.
  4. Most bike mags refer to trail braking as applying some slight pressure to the rear brake in order to correct oneself mid corner.
    Trailing the brakes more or less means maintaining some brake pressure whether it be rear or front.

    Trailing the front brake mid corner can end up with a washout whereas trailing the rear is more the norm.
  5. 1) "Trailing brakes "means running into a corner with the brakes on (front, rear, or both). It doesn't necessarily mean the rear brake only.

    2) Keith Code is teaching a mantra by which the average person can practise and learn to get around a race track quickly in a fair amount of safety. The 60/40 thing is a rule of thumb that applies to Keith's teachings. It's not necessarily the fastest way around a corner, nor is it necessarily a truism for the best bike balance. It is true in the sense that it's true under the scenario of constantly accelerating through a corner, as per Keith's method of teaching to get all the braking done before a corner and to be rolling on the throttle continually through a corner. Keith's model more or less guarantees that people will enter into a corner on the "safe" side of the maximum possible corner entry speed, and will accelerate up to the maximum speed.

    3) Yes. Trail braking is what the MotoGP boys, SBK guys, and pretty much every super-fast racer will use. There is an exception. Where traction is limited, like in the wet, Keith's method is safer and works extremely well, as per John Kocinski's rain-riding prowess when using Code's methods. With Code's methods you're not demanding an exception amount from the front tyre. To enable a bike to turn in even more quickly in the dry though, you can run into the corner hot with the brakes on firmly, which pushes down the forks, steepens the steering angle and if you practise, practise, practise (at a racetrack please), you can get almost half-way through a corner with the rear wheel doing little more than touching the road occasionally to hold the bike straight and stopping the rear from overtaking the front. This is what you're seeing when you watch racers "backing it in". They're on the front brake so hard as they're entering the corner that the rear starts to unhook and drift sideways to the outside of the corner and makes the bike turn through the initial part of the corner extremely quickly. The rider is modulating the front braking pressure to keep the rear in contact with the road just enough to prevent it from completely overtaking the front of the bike (which would risk a highside).

    I was starting to get decent at doing this sort of thing coming into Honda Corner at Phillip Island. Once I was coming up on some guys who were coming into Honda using the classic Code brake, late, wide, stop braking, tip-in, roll-on. In fact, I was counting on them to do it. I'd be coming up on them starting from about 10 bike lengths behind. Brake late and deep into the corner with the rear wheel hopping/drifting sideways. By the time they were tipping their bikes in, I was already halfway through the corner, the rear hooked up again, and driving my way out. After the session they caught up to me and were wide eyed at how suicidal it looked to them, yet they were also equally amazed at how quickly I had gotten into and out of the corner in comparison.

    All of the really fast guys I've followed do the same sort of thing (it's how I learned it). In fact, what twigged me onto it was one session when Steve Brouggy himself flew up the inside of me into some corner doing the same thing while I was doing the Code method, and it was then that I realised that they're teaching the method for safety reasons, not necessarily as for being the fastest way to get into, through, and out of a corner.
  6. I was curious about this last week and wanted to ask if what I have been doing is wrong.

    Before a corner I brake using front and just a tad of rear brake, just before I start to lean I release the front and slightly touch the back - before mid corner I release the back brake and get on the throttle (in saying this, I keep the throttle open the whole time, just go a bit harder when I'm heading out of the corner). Does this sound like the norm?

    I've been told since day one never to use the front when leaned over so I don't do it.... don't even want to try really unless I know exactly how to do it.
  7. I find that this guide explains the concept fairly well:


    Read the "Dynamics" section. It explains reasons for why the Code method can be non-optimal (suspension bounce) for why trail-braking the front can result in a more smoothly managed cornering strategy.

    Not really public road stuff. Definitely advanced race-track stuff if you've never done it before. It can be applied to the road safety and effectively, but the road really isn't the place to learn and practise it.
  8. I have read that article before, but with more experiance I am getting more from it...
    I note it very specificly deviates from the Church of Code in some very interesting ways.
    One that really got my attention was this
    Is any one able to enlighten me as to what "other ways" there are of steering?
  9. Thanks Flux, some good food for thought :) Recently I've been experimenting coming into the corner with more brakes and just easing it off when I'm further into the corner - whereas I previously finished all braking before the corner and accelerated through (code), and I find it feels alot nicer, but something that I need more practice at.
  10. #10 [FLUX], Dec 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
  11. #11 FALCON-LORD, Dec 18, 2007
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    O.K. so it is just about stearing with the rear. Though the passage indicates teh problem with counterstearing is because it pushes the bike closer to the outside edge and indicates the alternative does not. Traction breaking to stear I would confidently state does push you a little wider.
    So are you sure this would be what he is refering to?
  12. WOW, so much to remember when riding.... :?

    I guess I am one of these people that try not to think about these things when riding and apply a process that feels right for me. Maybe I am indirectly doing all of this myself, who knows. But, what I do know is varying as it varies from bike to bike...... Yes, it does....

    Approach corner and brake in a straight line as much as possible
    When riding agressively you will keep the front brake on "into" as in entering the corner
    Once you have the correct speed for the corner you work on neutral throttle and positioning until you are onj the way out of the corner
    Then nail the throttle :LOL:

    I have read hundreds of articles and the best riders always work with the neutral statement. Setup for the corner, get into the speed for the corner, maintain constant throttle (neutral) and then go wild. Yes, there is breaking and breaking into a corner also. So, as you are tipping in, you will keep the front brake on but when in the corner, no brakes and ready to pounce on the throttle....

    But, that is my opinion.... :)
  13. Who's thinking about it? People asked about it, and so it's being described here.

    When riding, it's just automatic.
  14. Hi Starlet. :)
    Firstly...careful worrying too much about what is being discussed here on trail braking, ok.

    The Keith Code method of cornering is safe and fast, and for most riders will give them alot of control because the bike is settled before entering a corner. When you're an advanced rider, like Stew, there are other ways of potentially going faster around a track, which he has used to good effect. :grin:

    For the majority of us, you are using the best method imho...but one correction if I may. While you are developing your skills, it would be best if you got out of the habit of applying your rear brake once you have released your front.
    You need to be off both brakes and have the throttle cracked open enough to maintain your selected speed - just as you are doing now (but no rear brake once the braking stage is over) :)

  15. i can understand the physics behind the powerslide, but can you explain the drift for me, FLUX?
    he seems to drift intothe corner, which looks rather freaky :shock:

    i have no doubt im years away from any of these techniques, but this is a really good read already :)
  16. I might be a bit confused...but...Nah mate...You are'nt "steering with the rear" when Trail braking...is that what you were referring to?

    The guy in the video crossed the track because he was applying steering input to the clip ons, or otherwise just allowing the bike to drift in that direction, which happened to be where he wanted to go, I think.

    As for the counter-steering part of the equation...counter-steering aggressively for a given corner, can make you a little late on the corner if your timing is off, as it will push you a smidge wider for an instant when you initially push on the bars..(effectively making your turn-in further down past your turn-in point...)
    Subsequently you need to time your turn just a a tad early - and maybe this is more noticeable at very high speed?

  17. Thanks for the explanations Stew, John. I need to practice this before Feb.

    One analogy that Code does use and is related to both what Stew and John are saying is the concept of Dollars and Cents.

    You have a finite level of grip that's available, how you use that determines your entry, mid corner and exit speed. It sounds obvious, but you can't exceed the grip that's available (safely!). So if Stew is using some of his grip by braking into the corner and whilst tipping in, he's fine, as long as he doesn't exceed it. Hence, no sudden brake application at that point.

    So when people say 'OMG, you can't brake into a corner', you can, you just need to know when you can and how hard you can. And that's what Stew has got very very (you don't keep him in sight for long!) good at.

    I was ok at Honda, used to love having the back floating and turning at the same time. Not consistent enough at it to refine the process and the SV would spear me off into the exit road if I tried it too often, but it's a hell of a fun way round.
  18. Trail braking is an advanced technique because it's also advanced from the visual cues and feel side of things. What you're trying to do is set your speed for the corner while braking into the corner. It's kind of a way to lengthen the straights, since it delays as late as possible setting your speed for the corner. That's why it's a great track technique.

    As Flux said, the Code technique is to brake well in advance of a corner and set your speed somewhere before tipping in. Then you enter the corner with a stable bike and do all the good cornering stuff (look, weightshift, push, crack open, relax, throttle control) and accelerate out, all without worrying about the brakes. You can give your full attention to vision and technique since none is devoted to braking.

    For learning and general road use, this scenario is definitely the encouraged way to go - as it lets you get all the good stuff squared away and usually means you're left with options if surprises show up. Learning to corner this way, it's easy to know when you've set your speed too low and this helps train your visual cues as you go into the corner a bit faster the next time. Like Flux says, there are faster ways through a corner... but they usually come after mastering these techniques first - unless you're a talented so and so!!

    As you get more proficient, the gap between setting your speed and corner entry gets closer and closer, then overlaps with the corner entry, and indeed goes past the corner entry... by necessity then, the later you get off the brake, the more gradual the releasing of the brake has to be to maintain a settled bike and hand over braking traction to cornering traction.

    Flux discussed it really well above and also in Raven XX to RR thread.

    FWIW, trail braking isn't encouraged on Public roads for the joe blow rider, unless skilled and unless the corner is well known. There's too little margin for error and there's plenty to perfect in cornering without adding trail braking too soon into the mix.

    Noobs who try it without getting their speed setting side of things and cornering technique side of things down pat leave themselves open to two major flaws: 1/ Charging corners and 2/ Poor fine braking control through the corner.

    Either of which is a discussion in itself.

    On the topic of rear brake... it's fraught with dangers, can only be applied with finesse if you're not weight shifting/sliding in the seat, and if the rear locks up for any reason (bumpy corner causes major application of rear) the main thing keeping you stable (a rotating rear tyre) drops out of the equation...

    I would definitely encourage staying off the rear brake into corners.

    Apparently trailing rear was invented by Mick Doohan as a form of traction control on the way out of a corner - he'd pin the throttle and use his thumb brake to control rear wheel spin. Interestingly, HART instructor do refer to trailing rear as an advanced braking technique, however, they also teach gripping the tank with both knees at all times and moving upper body mass for body leaning... so their rear brake is always available to them.

    The other thing with rear brake, is that it can't slow you down as well as the front can - and if you do manage to get some decent decelleration, the rear will become light and it's much easier to lock up... leading to stability issues and other problems. Also, if you get used to rear braking, there's a good chance in a mid corner fright you'll stomp on the rear in an attempt to slow the bike... rear stops spinning, possible highside follows.

    Interesting stuff.
  19. Hey.
    Nah my references wern't to "trail breaking" they were to powersliding or any form of "backing into a corner'
    My coment was in reference to the idea that any form of backing in, means you are breaking traction, and therefor not really gaining any advantage over counterstearing when it comes to your timing or your line.

    Rob. it sounds like ther eis an other part of this than just the late breaking element. it is also teh idea that you keep some breaking going almost all the way through the corner simply to stop the front suspension rebounding, and bobbing up at you. So even if you break early, the idea is hold onto just a little break to avoid it coming back at you hard. (Read the reference that Stew posted)
    Now I am still not sugesting it is for public roads. And by the sounds of it, I wouldn't want to play with it until I was on a bike with better feel in the breaks and the suspension, but I am interested n other elements of bike dynamics, and this is a very interesting one.
  20. FL, the suspension only rebounds hard if you're "on the brakes hard" and then suddenly "get off the brakes" causing the compressed forks to rebound.

    Setting the speed early, by definition, means having a stable bike to enter a turn, at which point you crack open the throttle to account for the lean angle and cornering forces, then gradually roll on the throttle as soon as you can and throughout the remainder of the turn ala Code technique. This puts the suspension in the ideal point of it's travel to accomodate road bumps.

    You have two braking choices for setting corner speed early, 1/ brake hard and fast till you hit your corner speed, then get off the brakes. This will definitely give you the rebound mentioned, or 2/ set up and brake hard initially, then progressively release as your speed approaches the corner speed.

    The latter gets you practicing for trail braking and sorts out the rebound issues... it also naturally sees you toying with braking past the tip in point as your comfort level increases.

    General question to all, does braking late and deep into a corner also imply "in wide, quick steer, out tight" kind of corner lines?