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Thread: Trail Braking

  1. #1
    Track Day Star LuckyDuck69's Avatar
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    Trail Braking

    Since cowasockee brought this up in another thread, I looked it up. Didn't see a thread relating to this so I thought I'd copy/paste the info from Wikipedia. Perhaps another newbie rider will stumble upon these forums someday and this will help speed up his or her learning curve.

    TRAIL BRAKING


    Motorcycling
    In applying this technique, motorcycle riders approach turns applying front brakes to reduce speed. As they enter the turn, they slowly ease off the brakes, gradually decreasing or trailing off the brakes as motorcycle lean increases. This is done for several reasons.

    First, it gives more traction because the downward force on the front tire is increased by load transfer. Second, as the brakes are applied and the weight shifts forward, the forks are compressed. The compression of the forks changes the motorcycles steering geometry, decreasing stability in a way that makes the motorcycle more apt to lean and more quickly change direction. Third, decreasing speed decreases the motorcycle's cornering radius. Conversely, accelerating while turning increases the motorcycles cornering radius.

    Fourth, trailing off the brakes while entering blind or tight corners allows the rider to slow if something unexpected blocks the rider's path. Because the motorcycle is already on the brakes and the front tire is getting additional traction from already slowing, the rider can slow even more with very little risk, depending on surface conditions. However, applying the brakes after the motorcycle is already leaned over can be exceedingly risky depending on surface conditions and lean angle.

    Traditionally, trail braking is done exclusively with the front brake even though trailing the rear brake will effectively slow the motorcycle, also decreasing the turning radius. If the motorcycle is leaned over, forces from the front brake and the deceleration causes the motorcycle to yaw (lean), while use of the rear brake generates a torque that tends to align (straighten) and stabilize the motorcycle.

    The rider's ability to correctly choose his turn in, apex and exit points reduces or eliminates the need for prolonged trailing of the brakes into turns. This technique is commonly used when racing, but can enhance control and add more evasive options for street riders.

    Risks
    There is risk with trail braking because excessive use of the front brake can result in a loss of grip as the tire's adhesion is split between braking and cornering forces. Effective trail braking requires finesse from the rider, which can be difficult to learn.

    Controversy
    Guides such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic RiderCourse teach that the safest way for a beginning rider to approach a corner on a motorcycle is by performing all of the slowing before the entrance of the turn, discouraging the use of any brakes while the motorcycle is leaned over. The argument against trail braking on the street, at least for beginners, is that the steep learning curve of trail braking makes it appropriate only for the race track. The benefit of learning trail braking to the street rider is that knowing and understanding how to slow while entering a corner gives a greater safety margin, particularly in blind, decreasing radius or downhill corners.

    Freddie Spencer, founder of the now defunct Freddie Spencer's High Performance Riding School as well as Nick Ienatsch, author of the 2003 book Sport Riding Techniques and chief instructor of Yamaha Champions Riding School argue that trail braking should be used in nearly every corner as a means to help the motorcycle change direction, stating that trail braking gives the rider more control and significantly increases rider safety.

    Spencer and Ienatsch agree with the physics of angular acceleration and note that the slower any vehicle is going, the tighter the radius of the corner it can navigate. This is seemingly opposed to Code's writing that, as soon as possible after initiating a turn, the rider should get on the gas smoothly and progressively throughout the turn. Spencer points out that for every radius, motorcycle, and rider combination there is a maximum speed at which the turn can be navigated without exiting the road or suffering a low side crash. Code is saying that as long as this maximum speed is not exceeded, proper throttle control throughout the turn will result in higher corner exit speeds and faster lap times.
    Last edited by LuckyDuck69; 06-27-2014 at 10:51 PM.

  2. #2
    Track Day Star Outlaws justice's Avatar
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    I teach trail braking as part of the Total Control program. I also receive the news letter from Penguin racing as I have attended their program a couple times and plan to again. This article is from the most recent news letter (re-posted with permission see note at the bottom) I thought it would be helpful to all.

    Riding Series 7.5 - Make the pads touch the rotors

    This installment focuses on a tip for corner entry that is both easy to implement and a big difference maker for many riders. One of the most important contributors to rider confidence is to have a motorcycle that is completely predictable on corner entrance. One simple way that riders can help this happen is to stabilize the front end using trail braking. However, many riders are afriad to trail brake because they are unsure of if they have enough traction to brake during the turn in process. We have found a simple solution for getting riders started on this path....please read on for more details.
    It is often the case that the very same strategies used by top racers to maximize speed also can be applied by track day riders and Amateur racers to ride more safely. Trail braking is a prime example of one of those principles. Top riders brake right up to the moment of their major bar input, using the front brake to both set entrance speed and steer the motorcycle. Riders who are developing their skills often feel safest doing all of their braking while straight up and down and then fully releasing the brake lever as the motorcycle begins to lean. Unfortunately, this practice often causes several problems on corner entry.

    The average motorcycle these days has about 120mm worth of front suspension travel. When the brakes are fully released, the suspension extends and rides high in the travel. The absence of brake lever input allows the front end to essentially "float" and react with a lot of amplitude to every input (bumps, rider weight shifts, etc...). When riders trail brake, even with very light pressure, the forks not only ride lower in the travel (making turn in effort easier) but they also react less severly to every input. The "preloading" of the front fork with lever input puts downward pressure on the front end, decreasing the unsettling motion of the forks at the top of the stroke.
    The question that always follows after explaining the benefits of trail braking is "How much trail braking is OK?". The answer in an ideal world is that riders should trail brake and set their entrance speed with every bit of traction available. The challenge with this is that it takes excellent body position and perfectly soft arms and hands to feel the precise feedback needed to brake at this level. However, all riders can benefit from a stabilizing effect in corner entrances by simply applying the lever enough to just cause "the pads to contact the rotors".

    This concept is an ideal starting point for riders at all levels to develop the habit of trail braking. Applying just enough pressure to make "the pads touch the rotors" will stabilize the front end, decrease the motion of the forks, lower the amount of bar effort needed to turn in, and greatly increase your sense of control. As an added bonus, you will slow down an extra couple MPH at the end of the braking zone and eventually be able to safely move your brake marker forward. All you have to to is keep those pads just touching the rotors when carving into a corner, and you'll find an immediate improvement in the handling of your bike on both the street and the track.
    Until next time - ride fast, ride safe!

    Copyright 2014, The Penguin Racing School Inc. This material is intended strictly for Penguin Racing School newsletter subscribers and may not be copied, reproduced or distributed without the express written consent of The Penguin Racing School Inc.

    This article was copied with permission from the Penguin Racing School newsletter. Penguin operates the nation's oldest motorcycle track school and has classes for both racers and street riders. For more information please visit www.penguinracing.com."
    David
    National Rider Training

  3. #3
    AMA Superbike Champ mars's Avatar
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    TL;DR version



    Image from http://www.n2td.org/trail-braking/

    I started trail braking at the track, now it is part of my everyday riding, traction permitting.
    - Mario

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    World SBK Champ Oldscool's Avatar
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    Then there's King Kenny's philosophy about accelerating making for a smaller turning radius. The above statement is given that the wheels are sticking and carving on a line. Start drifting either tire and the equation changes. Break the rear tire loose within control and the turn is quickly accomplished.

    Keith code talks a lot about available traction and Mars' diagram shows that as the side force as the turn is entered increases, the available direct traction to braking is reduced. The combination cannot go over 100% or traction is lost and you're on your head. One of my most memorable quotes was Wayne Rainey casually talking about not touching the front brake after the bike had settled into the turn and said that if you were going in too hot don't touch the front brake, just "push the front end a bit" to scrub off that excess speed... Wow!!

    Lot's of this stuff is great in theory, but time in the saddle, and more importantly track time where you can explore your own limits and scare yourself a bit in a controlled environment. Cause doing all this stuff at speed is a whole lot different than reading about it. Visualization is key and real seat time keeps the visualization compass pointed true north.

    Another big thing here is body positioning and that has very much to do with the tightening up of the front end like Outlaw's post on the trail braking pre-loading the front end.

    Dammit, season's coming to a close...


    ----"I don't bounce as high as I used to, but I still slide just as far"----

  5. #5
    Old, grumpy mod cowasockee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Oldscool View Post
    Then there's King Kenny's philosophy about accelerating making for a smaller turning radius. The above statement is given that the wheels are sticking and carving on a line. Start drifting either tire and the equation changes. Break the rear tire loose within control and the turn is quickly accomplished.

    Keith code talks a lot about available traction and Mars' diagram shows that as the side force as the turn is entered increases, the available direct traction to braking is reduced. The combination cannot go over 100% or traction is lost and you're on your head. One of my most memorable quotes was Wayne Rainey casually talking about not touching the front brake after the bike had settled into the turn and said that if you were going in too hot don't touch the front brake, just "push the front end a bit" to scrub off that excess speed... Wow!!

    Lot's of this stuff is great in theory, but time in the saddle, and more importantly track time where you can explore your own limits and scare yourself a bit in a controlled environment. Cause doing all this stuff at speed is a whole lot different than reading about it. Visualization is key and real seat time keeps the visualization compass pointed true north.

    Another big thing here is body positioning and that has very much to do with the tightening up of the front end like Outlaw's post on the trail braking pre-loading the front end.

    Dammit, season's coming to a close...

    I think Rainey's, as well as Code's, thinking is a bit old school. Back in the day, and you and I are plenty old enough to remember, motorcycle frames were as wobbly as weebelos and tires were just as bad. We didn't know how bad it was. Back in those days trail braking was near impossible because you would so easily overcome your traction.

    With modern tire technology, as well as motorcycle frame technology, traction is not only amazing but has even introduced other foibles such as chatter.

    I've become a recent convert to trail braking and I really believe in it.

    Sport/touring tires today would have made a great race tire a decade ago and the tires made a decade ago were 10x's the tire made a decade before that. I just mounted a set of Michelin PR4's, a sport/touring tire if there ever was one, and with in a half mile on the street had already scrubbed the things in edge to edge with no slippage whatsoever. Couldn't of done that back in Rainey's time.

    Put it this way...ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL road racers trail brake. All of them. With out exception. Why? Because it just works.
    Sam

    2008 Ducati Hypermotard S
    2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
    2015 KTM Duke 390

    Happily free of the burden of any discernable talent since 1965

    "doctors say gear saved his life"

  6. #6
    MotoGP Star The Englishman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowasockee View Post
    I think Rainey's, as well as Code's, thinking is a bit old school. Back in the day, and you and I are plenty old enough to remember, motorcycle frames were as wobbly as weebelos and tires were just as bad. We didn't know how bad it was. Back in those days trail braking was near impossible because you would so easily overcome your traction.

    With modern tire technology, as well as motorcycle frame technology, traction is not only amazing but has even introduced other foibles such as chatter.

    I've become a recent convert to trail braking and I really believe in it.

    Sport/touring tires today would have made a great race tire a decade ago and the tires made a decade ago were 10x's the tire made a decade before that. I just mounted a set of Michelin PR4's, a sport/touring tire if there ever was one, and with in a half mile on the street had already scrubbed the things in edge to edge with no slippage whatsoever. Couldn't of done that back in Rainey's time.

    Put it this way...ALLLLLLLLLLLLLLL road racers trail brake. All of them. With out exception. Why? Because it just works.
    I learnt to trail brake when I was racing way back when tires were thin and shit trail braking (in fact it didn't even have a name back then) back then was a very delicate process, and as Sam said, it was all to easy to end up on your head! Over the years, suspension, chassis and tires have become outstanding and as a result, trail breaking has become easier and in fact rather than the front end pushing like they did years ago, it actually does help you turn quicker...I trail brake all the time, on the road, on the dirt and on the track, wet or dry! I find it helps me to find the traction limits as much as anything else.
    Playing safe, is still playing!


  7. #7
    The Naked MOD Ride Red's Avatar
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    i just want to say that on some road me and ej found in NC. 228 i think. i had found myself lightly braking to the apex all weekend when i would go i a tad hott. ej decided to park it in a corner and i was feeling good getting my knee down on so perfect NC pavement that was the perfect mix of 28 and the dragon. i came up on him fast with my knee on the ground and had to grab more brake than i felt was physically possible at lean angle and nothing happened. i just slowed down.

    basically if i can pull it off anyone can. just be gentle and ease it on and off. don't stab it.
    Last edited by Ride Red; 10-02-2014 at 07:38 AM.
    2014 KTM 1290 SuperDuke R
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  8. #8
    Old, grumpy mod cowasockee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ride Red View Post
    just be genital and ease it on and off. don't stab it.

    This is the misspelling of the year!
    Sam

    2008 Ducati Hypermotard S
    2014 Kawasaki Ninja 1000
    2015 KTM Duke 390

    Happily free of the burden of any discernable talent since 1965

    "doctors say gear saved his life"

  9. #9
    Back Road Barbarian lewis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cowasockee View Post
    This is the misspelling of the year!
    i thought genitals were for stabbing?

  10. #10
    World SBK Champ Oldscool's Avatar
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    Is that like being a Christian, or just grabbing the brake lever lightly like you would your schwantz...


    ----"I don't bounce as high as I used to, but I still slide just as far"----

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