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Old 03-22-2018, 08:31 PM   #1
Spencerjo
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Braking in corners

Hi all,

I've been reading a lot about cornering as I'm looking to upgrade my skills. In particular, cornering at a brisk pace is always a struggle for me. This topic sheds some light on why.

I recently came across some very contradictory advice from multiple reliable sources.

When I learned to ride, I was told to get my braking done before any corner and, if anything, accelerate a little bit through the corner. My instinct is that brakes in a corner are bad, and this is easily corroborated by reading several moto blogs and advice columns.

However, Nick Ienatsch (of Yamaha racing school and Cycle World writing) has some very detailed columns about this and specifically says in all of them that braking in a corner is not only ok, it is good, and often necessary for a good pace. In particular, one of his posts discusses highway on-ramps and hairpin sweepers where there is a critical point in the turn that requires braking unless you're already going very slowly. Nick also likes to say that radius = MPH (makes sense to me). But if that's so, throttle in a turn at a constant lean angle couldn't possibly help with making the turn (as some internet forum posts state).

I'm not afraid of speed, but I'm very cautious in turns especially when I can't see the exit or I don't know the road. I choose very careful entry speeds because I'm used to the idea that I can't brake in corners so I had better not be going too fast. While other factors may be at play, I suspect that this is the main reason I'm so easily outpaced by other riders. I'm not nervous in turns, I'm not tense on the bike, I shift my body and weight the inside, and I (think I) choose good lines. I'm just slow.

So, to wrap up my post/rant, what do others think about braking in corners? What do people think about how to maintain a brisk pace while being appropriately safe, especially on new roads?

Looking forward to reading. Thanks!
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Old 03-22-2018, 08:53 PM   #2
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What do I think? I think I brake in corners all the time. I feel that yes, getting your braking done early is good, but if you aren't used to ever using your brakes while leaned over bad things could happen when you need that skill.

Heed Ienatsch's advice.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:09 PM   #3
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Tyres, brakes, suspension, frames, swingarm, electronics.

They are vastly different since the days when "finish braking before you turn" was right and proper.

It isn't terrible advice, but it is outdated for performance riding.

Research "trail braking". The Googles will enlighten you, grasshopper.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:15 PM   #4
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Nick is right, completely. But it might not matter much for you. You can drastically exceed every speed limit and ride at a very dangerous pace on the street without braking into any corner.

If you aren’t yet comfortable with a brisk pace on the street now, I wouldn’t jump into learning about trail braking just yet. There’s probably some more basic technique or feeling that you are missing that’s holding u back. Maybe it’s your bar inputs or your throttle control. Find and fix that first.
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Old 03-22-2018, 09:36 PM   #5
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I'm going to let the experts answer the meaty parts of your post, but I'll try to clear this up...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spencerjo View Post
Nick also likes to say that radius = MPH (makes sense to me). But if that's so, throttle in a turn at a constant lean angle couldn't possibly help with making the turn (as some internet forum posts state).
Two important factors: First, being on the gas doesn't mean you're accelerating. I think Keith Code posted in his thread about how much throttle must be applied in a turn before you actually accelerate. It was more than I expected. You need some gas to keep speed constant and to load the rear suspension and maintain ride height. Second, at exit (not mid-turn) turn radius is increasing, so with added speed, lean angle in the equation still balances.

Quote:
I'm not afraid of speed, but I'm very cautious in turns especially when I can't see the exit or I don't know the road.
Don't change that. It will keep you safe. The place to add speed--and risk--is where the variable you're testing is your own skill, which you know pretty well and are trying to improve incrementally. In a blind turn on an unfamiliar road, the variable that will determine outcome is random geography.

On the street, prefer risk that arises from your execution of a task; reject risk that arises from random conditions or events.
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:02 PM   #6
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Thanks everyone who replied, this is already quite helpful.

@Datadan I like your guidance re:risk and which variables to test.

@stangmx13 I find it useful to know that pace can typically exceed posted signage without brakes being necessary in turns.
From this, I expect part of my issue may be a lack of knowledge of / confidence in my tires. If anyone has thoughts on how to safely build that confidence or get a sense of what lean I can take at what speed, I'd be interested to hear it. I am planning to attend a CSS session this summer and the more I can learn, the better.
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Old 03-22-2018, 10:06 PM   #7
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It’s uncanny how well you put into words what I, as a newbie myself, also feel and experience (the slowest guy). Great to read the feedback.
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Old 03-23-2018, 05:48 AM   #8
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Generally, with the front, I try to get my major braking done before turn in. However I use my rear brake in corners a LOT. It's helpful to settle the bike and tighten lines.

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Old 03-23-2018, 06:14 AM   #9
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As an instructor, we teach step by step building blocks.

1) a new rider has many many things to learn. Slowing for a corner is one of those. It is much easier to teach a new rider to select their speed before the corner and achieve their selected corner speed before turning the bike, look through the corner and then turn the bike.

Teaching them this step by step gets them through the corner safely and builds smoothness at noob pace.

2) once the noob is smooth and controlled in a corner they can then be taught to blend their braking, looking and cornering together into what is commonly referred to as trail braking.
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Old 03-23-2018, 06:22 AM   #10
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I should also add: most riders have NO formal riding instruction and those few that do amount to about 10% or less of the riders out there and the vast majority of that 10% have only ever taken a beginning rider course and never had any more training.

As a result, the belief in most riders is the noob cornering technique.
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Old 03-23-2018, 07:20 AM   #11
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Nick is correct. A bit of braking squashes the front tire and increases traction.

A bit is the operative word, If you're going to the brakes in a corner and not on them already, do it very gently and with no sudden input.
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Old 03-23-2018, 08:40 AM   #12
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Ken Hill also has podcasts about this, and I've seen videos where he discusses it in a street-specific environment as well. If you haven't listened to his podcasts, start doing so now.

Having a smooth brake application and release will be elemental to increasing your skills on the brakes whether it's at a leisurely street pace, emergency situation, or pushing your limits at the track.

I use some trail braking on nearly every corner on the street. It may be very, very, very light, just enough to keep the pads brushing the rotors, but it can be rather helpful in some circumstances.

Practice smooth brake application and release at super slow speeds in a straight line. Once you start gaining control of your hand and fingers then you can work on applying it to more advanced situations.

As for speed on the street, you can carry what I personally consider a very spirited pace without needing to brake, and well exceeding any posted speed limits. Proper braking is still a good skill to learn, and don't ignore it, but it's not required to go faster than you need to on an public road
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Old 03-23-2018, 11:27 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spencerjo View Post
I recently came across some very contradictory advice from multiple reliable sources.
The 2 advice aren’t contradictory. They’re for different stages of the learning curve.

1. Finish all the braking before the turn -
Good when you first start to ride. It’s the slower and safer approach. You’re still trying to:

- Figure out your approach speed into a corner.

- Get used to the sensation of turning/leaning.

- Learn visual skills – look thru the turn.

2. Trail braking into the turn -
With more seat time, operating and riding the motorcycle becomes natural from muscle memory, you can start working on improving techniques.

- Braking/turning shifts weight to the front tire. The goal is to make the braking-to-turning transition smooth – reduce braking pressure as you add lean angle. This puts a constant load on the front tire to maximize traction.

- Start at a lower speed and lower braking force, get the feel for it, then work your way up in speed and braking force. Use 2 fingers on the brake. Squeeze, be smooth; DON'T grab, DON’T be abrupt.

- as soon as you finished braking, you would start to sneak open the throttle to maintain the cornering speed (so you don't keep slowing down), or go slightly positive throttle to shift a little weight to the back in the turn.

Last edited by Gary856; 03-23-2018 at 01:39 PM..
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Old 03-23-2018, 11:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Spencerjo View Post
. I am planning to attend a CSS session this summer and the more I can learn, the better.
This is a great place to build technique and confidence. Hope they do the no brakes drill. The first time I did it as a racer, I learned a lot that is hard to get when all the physic's of braking hard is in place.

Since this is a motorcycle you are riding, doing it right is so important to your health! Things like track days and more experience will get you want to go at the speed you want to go. Trying to make abrupt riding changes on the street can be no bueno for sure. Not getting away with them once can have bad outcomes.
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Old 03-23-2018, 12:01 PM   #15
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Thanks for the replies, all. The collective responses here are helping to add texture to the issue. In retrospect, it makes perfect sense to teach new riders to avoid braking in turns even though, done skillfully, it can be advantageous. It's interesting how these sorts of subtleties make perfect sense when pointed out, but tend to elude one when reading and practicing in a vacuum...

Will likely work on pace and trailbraking separately so as to only hone one at a time, and start with the trailbraking so that I'm prepared to slow at any time when my speed is up.
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