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You absolutely must trail brake to be safe on the road or on the track. How else do you safely change your line midturn or come to a safe stop in a turn?

Technology such as cornering ABS helps, but you must learn to control your brakes while leaned over.

Take a course at Yamaha Champions Riding School if you need help learning how to trail brake.

https://ridelikeachampion.com/







 

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Huh....turns out I've been trail braking this whole time lol.

I honestly rarely do it much when I am just out tooling around. I find myself naturally doing it when moving at a spirited pace. I may be doing it Wrong but typically after easing off the brake I ease on the throttle and use the gas and body position if I need to change my line if needed.
 

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Last year I had an interesting experience stemming from having too many bikes and too little brains. I was cruising along a curvy road, just starting to get my speed down going into a right hander when I realized I was on my SuperGlide, not a Sport bike or even my old Bonny. It’s only equipped with a single front disc ( aftermarket pads, braided lines) . Very quickly I decided my best choice was to pretend it was a Sportbike, because though I was hard on the brakes (f&r) it was obvious I was going to be going much faster than Harley speed. When I hit the apex I just layed it over enough to hold the line on the outside and kept enough throttle to hold the line. I had a feeling I might not have the ground clearance, but fortunately the two into one exhaust tucked in higher than previous exhausts had. I was fortunate to have kept my cool. It was a split second decision to favor a possible low side over leaving the road and probably crashing. It was rutted dirt and I could picture a tank slapper. If I am going to get off I don’t like the idea of a 700 # bike bouncing along behind me when I do it.
 

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First off - great discussion.

Since 90% of my riding is mountains, I trail brake all-the-time.

As others have pointed out - trail braking is using some front brake during "turn in", decreasing brake pressure as you turn, and releasing the brake at the apex. It's not braking in the apex (that's basically overshooting the corner)

Ienatsch is good explaining why it's safer, but with me it comes down to control.

With the bike preloaded on the front with some brake during turn in, any need for additional braking (e.g. dirty road, obstacle, or unfamiliar corner/too much speed) is no drama to chassis. It allows you to easily scrub additional speed and change your line. If you are off the brake during turn in and then decide you need to brake, you upset the chassis (fork dive/weight transfer) and geometry (decreased trail) in the corner. Think about going in a corner too hot after you are off the brakes and starting to turn; that's when it gets a hairy because you are trying to compensate for weight transfer, decreased trail, traction and keeping your line.

Another thing it allows me to fine tune my speed at the apex. Since you have some brake on as you approach the apex, it's so easy to fine tune your speed before hitting it.

As for the track, I don't know if trail braking works any better or worse than the classic "no brake" cornering since you already know the corner speed and braking markers. On the street however, the improved corner control, ability to fine tune corner speed, as well as slowing down in a corner with no drama makes it well worth having the skill.

Scott L.
 

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A really great discovery in terms of directional control with trail braking is the rear thumb brake or left hand rear brake control.

I have been riding with this setup for the past few thousand miles in aggressive mountain roads and I am amazed at what a powerful tool this is to allow for directional control, chassis control and speed control at any point in the ride.

Leaned over with foot on the outside of the peg right or left, midturn, a whisper of rear brake and I can maintain my speed while tightening the line and never getting off the throttle. Less worry about tucking that front tire already working hard to maintain grip. Very interesting tool. Really confidence inspiring. Feet always planted not reaching for a pedal with no feedback.

Also, a hint of left hand rear brake while never letting off the throttle can fine tune an exit line.


https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/motogp/ducatis-cornering-tool-press-turn
 

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For those who don't trail brake the day will come when you get a false neutral downshifting into a corner. You'll then realize the need to do so!
Good point. Happens often enough.


Is that your P-51! ? :nerd:

Is there a motorcycle in that picture?
 

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All the above are good descriptions of a difficult skill to master. Preloading the front suspension to ease the bike over for a smooth transition to cornering loads by using trail braking.

No suspension bounce, no shocks to the chassis, keep your body position set early in the braking maneuver.

As I roll into the throttle approaching the apex I sometimes gently apply rear brake if the surface is bumpy so as to get a little lift on the rear suspension - essentially loading it up against the throttle.

After 30 years I can do all this rather quickly, even when "hooking" a late entry turn on the track with really hot sticky slicks!
 

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A really great discovery in terms of directional control with trail braking is the rear thumb brake or left hand rear brake control.

I have been riding with this setup for the past few thousand miles in aggressive mountain roads and I am amazed at what a powerful tool this is to allow for directional control, chassis control and speed control at any point in the ride.

Leaned over with foot on the outside of the peg right or left, midturn, a whisper of rear brake and I can maintain my speed while tightening the line and never getting off the throttle. Less worry about tucking that front tire already working hard to maintain grip. Very interesting tool. Really confidence inspiring. Feet always planted not reaching for a pedal with no feedback.

Also, a hint of left hand rear brake while never letting off the throttle can fine tune an exit line.


https://www.motorsportmagazine.com/opinion/motogp/ducatis-cornering-tool-press-turn
100% agreed! I promoted this technique in a Yamaha R6 forum a few years back and got GANG TACKLED by the squid population among their membership.

Right hand rear brake is useful in many situations. When you watch the Isle of Man handlebar camera, you can see the leaders and multiple winners using a left hand brake quite a bit. Especially when going over spots on the course where the rear wheel just barely gets "light" and the bike's traction control wants to reduce power ... application of the left hand thumb brake "fools" the ECU so it doesn't apply traction control (aka reduction of power) when the rear wheel becomes a tiny bit light. Every tenth of a second adds up!

I've even promoted the notion of the use of a thumb throttle. I had one motorcycle that I tested that idea with by installing a thumb throttle assembly from a Yamaha Banshee. It worked famously, especially in situations where your right arm/wrist is contorted when deep in a corner and attempting to apply front brake, operate the throttle, and maintain a a knee drag. It allows the rider to keep a very solid grip on the right handgrip while still having excellent throttle control.

If you're able to shave off one tenth of a second on a 10 turn race course, that's one entire second you've picked up per lap. In a 20 lap race, that works out to 20 seconds!

Anyhow, yea, I'm a big proponent of the left hand braking systems. Think of it in motocross ... right hand turns are a bitch because at some point your right boot has to be taken off of the right footpeg going into the corner, so usually all of the hard braking must be done before entering the corner rather than braking all the way into the apex and squaring off (as is done in left hand turns). A right hand rear brake would allow the rider to square off the right hand corner in the exact same manner as when squaring off a left hand turn.

But .. as usual ... I'm made out to be some crazy ass squid with stupid goofball ideas. It's ok, I've become used to that since I've had "oddball ideas" my entire life.

:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

So I'm glad the see others promoting the notion of right hand rear brake use.

BONZAI !!!!!

:smile2:
 

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Good point. Happens often enough.


Is that your P-51! ? :nerd:

Is there a motorcycle in that picture?
Not mine but I've maintained it during the last dozen years. The owner has plans to donate it to a Air Force museum this year. It's painted as Scat VI.
And yes there's a insignificant superbike in the picture.
 

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What's the best way to learn trail braking if you don't have the vacation time and extra two grand for the Yamaha school?
Legitimate question.

Go to a large parking lot and practice getting comfortable gently applying brakes as you enter 180 degree turn and trailing off that pressure as you approach the apex of the turn.

Start slow and pick up the speed and narrow the radius.

Practice using some in turn trail braking to slow to a stop in the turn and change your line without stopping.

Your speed at a given lean angle is directly proportional to that turn radius. Faster you go at a given lean angle, the wider that turn.

Play with that relationship.

Unlearn what they teach in basic rider courses that you should never brake in a turn.
 

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Discussion Starter #33
Last year I had an interesting experience stemming from having too many bikes and too little brains. I was cruising along a curvy road, just starting to get my speed down going into a right hander when I realized I was on my SuperGlide, not a Sport bike or even my old Bonny. It’s only equipped with a single front disc ( aftermarket pads, braided lines) . Very quickly I decided my best choice was to pretend it was a Sportbike, because though I was hard on the brakes (f&r) it was obvious I was going to be going much faster than Harley speed. When I hit the apex I just layed it over enough to hold the line on the outside and kept enough throttle to hold the line. I had a feeling I might not have the ground clearance, but fortunately the two into one exhaust tucked in higher than previous exhausts had. I was fortunate to have kept my cool. It was a split second decision to favor a possible low side over leaving the road and probably crashing. It was rutted dirt and I could picture a tank slapper. If I am going to get off I don’t like the idea of a 700 # bike bouncing along behind me when I do it.
Hi, I'm just wondering if you use Trailbraking on your old Trumpy?
 

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Yes, I do, out of habit. However the Bonneville, with its narrow tires, is a very intuitive handler. I basically look at the other side of the curve and the bike takes me there with minimal input on my part. I have been riding for nearly 60 years, so most of what I do is habit and I’m not really thinking about exactly what I’m doing at a specific point in a curve. It’s only when I started riding Ducati’s with a bunch of traction and ground clearance that I had to start thinking about what I was doing , when, and why.
 

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How's the trail braking going? Were you talking front or back brake? Front being far more fun, especially going into a turn too hot.

Did anyone suggest having a look on youtube, plenty on there, some of it really good.
 

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...

Anyhow, yea, I'm a big proponent of the left hand braking systems. Think of it in motocross ... right hand turns are a bitch because at some point your right boot has to be taken off of the right footpeg going into the corner, so usually all of the hard braking must be done before entering the corner rather than braking all the way into the apex and squaring off (as is done in left hand turns). A right hand rear brake would allow the rider to square off the right hand corner in the exact same manner as when squaring off a left hand turn.

...
Check out this great video highlighting the use of left hand/thumb rear brake.

 

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Unlearn what they teach in basic rider courses that you should never brake in a turn.
I can't begin to say how much pleasure I get out of discussions like this one on this forum. Ducatistas seems eager to learn and fine-tune their techniques.

In contrast, just last week I had another fruitless in-person discussion with yet another "cruiser type" who stated flatly "NEVER use the FRONT brake!!!". 1951 all over again? Many can't even grasp the basics. SMH.
 

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When I was younger, many choppers were built with no front brake at all. With the length of some of the forks , a brake up there probably wouldn’t work well anyway.
 

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When I was younger, many choppers were built with no front brake at all. With the length of some of the forks , a brake up there probably wouldn’t work well anyway.
True. More common though were bikes with DRUM front and rear brakes, which was perfectly normal through the 1960's and early 70's on both bikes and cars. This contributes to the "don't use the front brake" legend. Why? The biggest functional difference compared to disks is that they are designed to be self-energizing. That is, the friction between shoe and drum serves to tighten the shoe to the drum. (That's why drums are still used on beastly vehicles like trains, construction equipment, and truck trailers.) If, as in the 1936 Packard I drove, the connection from the brake pedal to drum is purely mechanical, that extra help from the drum/shoe interaction was key in having them work at all because the human leg wasn't strong enough to have much effect. Hydraulics helped, but most modern drivers plopped into the seat of my 1962 Dodge would immediately put it into a hard object the first time they tried stopping. Luxury cars of the time became equipped with vacuum-boosted hydraulic drum brakes which at least got the foot forces down to something reasonable.

Motorcycles drum brakes never got the vacuum boost. Nor did most get hydraulics. Feet were strong enough to let the rear brake work well. Hands are far weaker however. A common choice was to simply build bikes with very weak front brakes; perhaps adequate for a Honda Cub, but not for the increasingly heavier more powerful bikes that became common. The other solution was to increase the "boost" from the drum/shoe interaction by moving the pivot points for better mechanical advantage. (Anyone here old enough to remember the Twin Leading Shoes of Brit bikes?) This worked too; my CB350 was at least okay brake-wise, though a part of that okayness was the limited grip of the era's crappy tires. But the big downside was that these brakes were very grabby and tricky to modulate especially when in less-than-perfect condition. Particularly with the first stop of the day and when at low speeds, one indeed had to be wary when using the front brake.

But that was 50 years ago!
 

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Discussion Starter #40
I had a crash on a BSA Goldstar , the civilian one, back in the day, maybe 1971 , heading up the Hume Highway on the way to the Hume Bike Races, coming into Wangaratta, the bike belonged to my friend who was on the back as I had the license for a pillion. He hadn't had the bike for more than a week or two and was egging me on to try it out. We got her up to about 95mph after Benalla which was amazing. Then as we slowed for the approach to Wang it started to drizzle. Then suddenly from a small sideroad a white ute came up to the highway and didn't look like stopping so I hit the brakes, but the front was deadly and at that moment we hit a patch of oil on the road and we went down.
I did a forward roll landing on my back and slid as I watched my friend being pushed down the road by the wheel of the Mk2 Jag which was following us carrying a trailer with a race bike on the back. Thank Dog that bloke must have been a rider or at least he understood what was happening because he kept his foot firmly planted on the brake and we slid to a stop. Had he had ABS my mate would likely be dead. I could hear the leather jacket scraping along the road as he was pushed across his chest by that front wheel and I prayed that there wouldn't be anything to catch it till we came to rest.
When it finally did my mate got up and grabbed me by the neck and screamed at me that I could have killed him. Fair call.
Anyway, yes I know how grippy those twin leaders can be, depending on their setup.
I also had one on my Norton 650ss which was aftermarket, maybe a Grimeca, and that was the best front brake you could ever have. I used it whenever I needed it, including in corners and it never locked up but always gave me incredible braking power.
Still I prefer the double discs on the ST3 as that is the absolutely best front brake I ever had.
I'll make a start learning about this trail braking. First thing before heading out will be to check the tyre pressure.
I'll go with 28 in the front and 32 in the back I think.
 
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