Trail-braking | Motorcycle driving technique tip

Trail-braking | Motorcycle driving technique tip

We all want a leg up in life, and as riders, that usually translates itself into modifications we can do to our motorcycles, or a tip that can drastically change our driving.
In my honest opinion, by far, the holy grail of riding tips is trail-braking.
Although it is quite known for those that race, do track days or have had advanced training, it is not as widespread as it probably should to the rest of the riding world.
This technique can be applied to all bikes on the road, although, I would advise extreme caution if you are using 50/50 or more off-road biased tires.
This technique CAN BE DANGEROUS if performed wrongly; however, it is the safest and fastest way for you to go around a corner.
This being said, it should be learned with an instructor and practiced far from traffic!
Disclaimers made, let us try to boil it down and give you some of the advantages of this technique.



  • First things first, what is trail-braking?

It means you will trail or in other words, continuously brake into the corner, instead of doing all your braking before you start cornering with the bike still upright.
As you “fall” into the corner, you will slowly alleviate the brakes - both rear and front - at the same rate as you lean down.
By the time you hit maximum lean angle, usually around the apex of the corner, you should be applying zero brakes.

 

Trail-braking | Motorcycle driving technique tip

Reference: Image from https://motodna.net


This technique allows you to reduce the trail measurement on the bike, and push more weight/compression onto the front forks and tire which can be advantageous.

Trail-braking | Motorcycle driving technique tip

Reference: Image from http://onedowntwoup.com


Those advantages translate themselves in faster-turning radius, faster reaction times, and faster stopping time if needed and more traction.


  • With so many advantages, why is it dangerous?

If not performed correctly, you may apply too much pressure on the front tire forcing it to slip, and as it is a lot harder to recover from a front tire slip than it is from a rear tire one, you may find yourself washing out mid-corner.

This is why this technique should be learned and practiced with professional assistance.

Trail-braking is not just for the track, and it can improve your street riding immensely, as it will allow you to have more traction when cornering.

The same way, braking more does not mean you will be slower.

It can be said that the fastest riders are the ones that brake more, so don’t push this technique aside just because it implies braking more, you might find that it will make you a faster and safer rider.

 

Trail-braking | Motorcycle driving technique tip


2 comments

  • Braaaaaapp Team

    Hey Doug!

    On bikes, except on very special situations, you always need to use both brakes.

    You can assume that the front brake is responsible for stopping the bike, while the rear is responsible for stabilising the bike.

    As an example, new bikes like BMW’s for instance, are coming out stock with integral braking, meaning, you brake in the front and the bike automatically applies brake in the rear, and the other way around as well.

    They do so because using both brakes is the safest way to brake on a motorcycle, as it is the only way that makes the bike move as one stable unit.

    While the front brake does indeed reduce the trail measurement, the rear brake helps in making a sharper turn as it forces the bike to rotate around the rear wheel, while at the same time it grounds the motorcycle, keeping your rear from being too loose.

    Without the use of the rear brake, you will be forcing the front way too much which might result in loss of traction and a washout.

    Using just the front will at the limit either make you do a stoppie, or make the rear extremely unstable.

    Using your question we will prepare a blog post just to explain what is at play when we brake. However, if you have any further questions about this, please ask, it is always a pleasure to help :)

  • Doug

    I had read that you should use the front brake – or mostly front brake- because that shortens the trail while the rear brake lengthens it. I like trail braking especially when turning from a Main Street with a high speed limit onto a side street. Gets out of the traffic faster and lessens the risk of being rear ended. But I trail the front brake.
    Your thoughts?

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