BikeSpeedman

Can Css Teach Someone How To Not Brake Like A Chicken?

14 posts in this topic

I remember doing the vision drill and how it helps you carry more corner speed because it makes the track look wider and safer. Is there some voodoo you guys can impart to help me get over the fear of charging right up to the ideal braking point?

 

I'm giving up a lot of time there and this is what I'd like to work on for my L4 class.

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The first step will be to find out what is capturing your attention and keeping you from getting the result you want; what is the thing causing your hesitation? Your coach and consultant will work through that with you; sometimes an issue with braking turns out to be rooted in something else, like visuals, or a weak lock on that causes the rider to lean on the bars during braking, etc.

If the issue turns ot to be with braking itself, working through the plan of how much brake pressure to apply and when can help. If you were to draw a graph showing your pressure on the brake lever over time as you approach a turn, what would it look like? What SHOULD it look like?

And there's the brake rig exercise off-track which allows you to explore the limits of braking and how to recover from a slide.

Tell your Level 4 consultant that you want to work on braking and you and your coach and your consultant will work together through the day to create a customized plan for you. There's a nice variety of of Level 4 drills available that address braking.

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I'm actually not doing a great job keeping the weight off the bars in heaving braking and that's another thing I need help with. But it's tangential here. What I'm having a hard time with is the mental aspect of keeping WOT as I approach a braking marker. As a result, I brake early and too much and I end up over braking and coasting up to the the turn-in point.

 

It's not that I'm struggling with fear during the braking process. It's before braking where the speed is highest and the longer you wait the greater the risk of starting it too late.

 

About getting a good lock... I don't understand it. In a straight line, I can lock the tank hard enough to keep the weight off the bars. But when preparing for a corner, you want to slide over before braking right? So my guess is that you want the inside of your outside leg on the back of the tank to keep the weight off the bars. This would jive with what you see the pros do where often times one of their legs is dangling - they're certainly not sitting dead center with knees squeezing the tank.

 

So I try this and I'm not having great results. I have a litany of issues.

 

1) When I'm hanging off to prep for a left hand turn, I'm a little less reliable when downshifting bc my leg isn't coming at the shifter from the usual angle. I find myself missing shift and upsetting the bike when I blip but let the clutch out only to find out I'm still in the same gear.

2) When I'm hanging off to prep for a right turn, it's even worse. My left leg is being used to push against the tank and when I try to shift, I cause instability / wobbles.

 

As I write all this out I start to think maybe I would have more bravery charging full speed ahead to a brake point if I wasn't planning on screwing up my downshifts and worrying about wobbles and having to leave some extra time to spot my mistakes and clean up after myself in time to start my turn. Like if I could count on being shifted and steady X feet after starting to brake, it might be easier to get within a few feet of a desired brake point.

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Great topic. I understand exactly where you are coming from. In a race situation when I try to outbrake someone, I will sometimes lose confidence in my ability to get the down shifting done while braking hard and then beginning to trail brake into a corner. The end result might be that I enter the corner a gear high (or, in an extreme example, two gears high), so the person I just passed ends up motoring past me again exiting the corner. Sometimes it all just seems like too much to do in a short time.

 

I hope I am not contravening school teaching in saying this, but in most cases I would think we *should* be able to get the downshifting done before we actually need to slide over in the seat to set up for the turn. Especially with a good slipper clutch this should always be possible I think. I think the block can be a mental one - braking really hard it is natural to not want to do anything else at the same time, for fear of upsetting the bike that we feel is already at the traction limit. But in theory the time needed to slide over in the seat and stick your knee out is pretty short - it could happen right before turn in.

 

Sorry, not much help I know - just empathizing!

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I think I went through this same ordeal doing car track days and I think the fix might be similar. Back then (~2002) I decided to keep it simple and just forget about shifting for a few sessions. Don't worry about shifting and don't worry about even hitting the apex. Forget about lap times and just set a modest goal of staying on the track. With things simplified as much as possible, just get up the nerve (mind over matter) knowing that I have plenty of time to finish braking so stop chickening out. Then go through the corner in the wrong gear. At least I'll be building up experience being WOT in the scary part of the track (end of the straight) until it's not scary anymore. Once it's not scary, I can then go back and try shift properly.

 

Also, I think another thing that's coming back to me is that part of my hang up going into turn 1 (Thunderhill) is that it's not a heavy braking zone. Turn 1 is so fast you just need to scrub off a little speed before turning in. So it will also help to trust the brakes if I remind myself how little braking you actually need to do there.

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But in theory the time needed to slide over in the seat and stick your knee out is pretty short - it could happen right before turn in.

 

Yes, but then the risk is to upset the suspensions in the turn. All pro racers I've seen preload the side well before the turn. I remember seeing an onboard video of Baubier at my local track braking surprisingly soon at the end of the straight.

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I think I went through this same ordeal doing car track days and I think the fix might be similar. Back then (~2002) I decided to keep it simple and just forget about shifting for a few sessions. Don't worry about shifting and don't worry about even hitting the apex. Forget about lap times and just set a modest goal of staying on the track. With things simplified as much as possible, just get up the nerve (mind over matter) knowing that I have plenty of time to finish braking so stop chickening out. Then go through the corner in the wrong gear. At least I'll be building up experience being WOT in the scary part of the track (end of the straight) until it's not scary anymore. Once it's not scary, I can then go back and try shift properly.

 

Also, I think another thing that's coming back to me is that part of my hang up going into turn 1 (Thunderhill) is that it's not a heavy braking zone. Turn 1 is so fast you just need to scrub off a little speed before turning in. So it will also help to trust the brakes if I remind myself how little braking you actually need to do there.

 

This sounds like a good plan, and good solutions. For sure breaking things down into individual steps is a GREAT way to approach the problem, and exactly what we would do at the school - take one aspect at a time to discharge the fear from each (as needed) then add the other aspects back in, with the ultimate goal of leaving you enough free attention to handle downshifting, etc. without feeling rushed or panicky.

 

Also, as YellowDuck mentioned, there are some situations where you may end up better off going through the corner in a higher gear, unless you are on something like an RS125 with a very narrow power band. When I first got my current racebike it was prone to false neutrals and therefore downshifting became very distracting, so I did some experiments in a couple of corners with a laptimer and in both corners found that there was almost no difference in the overall time through the corner when I stayed a gear higher; I carried more speed when I stayed in the higher gear but got a slightly better drive with the lower gear, it basically balanced out. You could try that experiment too, and see if that challenging downshift is really gaining you anything. If nothing else, the data let me know exactly how much time I would or would not lose if I chose (under race pressure) not to make the downshift in those spots.

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It's killing me that I can't get the mechanics right. I practice on the road where braking forces are much lower and where there's no drama about making a turn. I seem to have hit a roadblock in my development.

 

If I stay dead center, I can just about grip the tank hard enough to keep weight off the bars. But by gripping the tank, I'm on the ball of my foot so I can't shift. I'd feel stable in braking but then unable to shift and still not in the right position for the turn.

 

If I move over before braking, I tend to false neutral shifts on every left turn. I'm a little better on right turns.

 

I've tried the Troy Corser method and it works for keeping weight off the bars. But I'm sure I'm doing something wrong because using a thigh to hold myself back while hanging off causes an imbalance. I'm not getting my support directly fore/aft. There's a little side pressure too. Plus, there's always the other issue of missing shifts when I'm hanging off.

 

@Hotshoe, can you walk me through the exact steps you do from full tuck all the way to releasing brakes and leaning in?

 

eg,

 

1) both knees on tank

2) slide over (keeping both knees on tank maybe?)

etc

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First let me say that nothing I say here can compare to actually getting you to a school where a coach can work with you in person on your bike (or ours), observe what you do on track, and address the problem with observation, suggestions, experimentation right there at the track.

 

Also, telling you what I do might not be directly helpful, as we are undoubtedly built differently and riding different bikes, tracks, etc.

 

So with all that said, here is what I do for the hardest braking corner I can think of - an extremely hard braking zone followed by a tight low speed corner and chicane. On the straightaway, right before letting off the throttle I clamp BOTH knees very tightly to the tank, tighten up my core muscles (abs and lower back, and quads) then I let off the gas and apply the front brake only (I don't use the rear brake). I get the bulk of the hard braking done quickly and with the bike vertical. Then, roughly halfway through my braking zone (in distance), I shift my hips over for the turn, WITHOUT letting off the pressure on the tank with both knees. Then I begin my gradual brake release as I get close to the turn point, then shift my upper body over, then at the turn point I release my inside knee (opening it into the corner) as I am turning the bike and continuing my brake release until full release a little after the turn point.

 

In this particular corner the initial braking is SO hard that I prefer to do it centered on the seat with both knees clamped hard on the tank. I tighten my core to absorb the forces, and the balls of my feet are on the pegs. I shift my hips over during braking, but that is NOT the normally recommended procedure from CSS, and has the potential for upsetting the bike - the usual recommendation is to shift the hips BEFORE you let off the gas, because the bike is more stable while on the gas. For most any other corner I DO shift my hips before letting off the gas, but in this corner the braking is extreme and the corner afterwards is slow and tight, so I make the choice to shift my hips partway through the braking zone; I do it smoothly, using my knees and make sure not to add any bar input. If the bike were leaned over while braking I would probably not attempt that.

 

I will say that in really extreme braking on something that stops as quickly as the S1000rr, it is very difficult to have ZERO pressure on your arms, I just try to keep it as little as possible, and keep it even from side to side (so the back end doesn't come around) and keep my arms parallel to the ground, because pushing DOWN on the bars can overload the front and/or contribute to a stoppie. I have trained myself to consciously relax my arms as much as possible as soon as I start applying that front brake, that is part of my brake sequence, and make sure to relax them completely as the deceleration forces come down at the end of braking.

 

Also for what it is worth, on one of my bikes that has a very narrow gas tank, I added a pad at the back of the tank (crotch area) as a stop point to keep me from sliding forward so far. I simply could not grip the narrow tank hard enough with my knees to prevent sliding forward. The pad is about 3" thick, built up from layers of seat foam, and wraps around the end of the tank giving me a little extra grip on the sides too. I also have StompGrip on ALL my bikes, even my YSR50. :)

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I just tried to do it your way and crashed. Send a check or money order promptly. :)

 

Thanks for the run down. And I'm def coming back for L4 early 2017.

 

Just to be clear tho, you say you're also on the balls of your feet during braking so how do you downshift?

 

I started playing my position a couple of days ago and I feel like I'm making a little progress. My inside knee, after shifting over, can get a lot of force on the tank if push longitudinally rather than laterally. So with the inside knee, I'm making contact more with the front rather than the side. Then my leg is much stronger driving my thigh/knee forward into the side of the tank.

 

BTW, I also have Stompgrip. Not a fan of the looks so never thought I would but after trying them in CSS I realized they're a must have.

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I just tried to do it your way and crashed. Send a check or money order promptly. :)

 

Thanks for the run down. And I'm def coming back for L4 early 2017.

 

Just to be clear tho, you say you're also on the balls of your feet during braking so how do you downshift?

 

I started playing my position a couple of days ago and I feel like I'm making a little progress. My inside knee, after shifting over, can get a lot of force on the tank if push longitudinally rather than laterally. So with the inside knee, I'm making contact more with the front rather than the side. Then my leg is much stronger driving my thigh/knee forward into the side of the tank.

 

BTW, I also have Stompgrip. Not a fan of the looks so never thought I would but after trying them in CSS I realized they're a must have.

 

Please tell me you are kidding, I will lose sleep over it otherwise!!!

 

Good point, you are right about the downshifts. I do move my foot forward when it is time to shift, and in this particular example corner I am coming down three gears; I think I do two shifts then shift my hips then do the third one. For sure all the shifts are done before I release my inside knee. I do all clutchless downshifts so I do three separate shifts (versus pulling in the clutch and trying to do multiple shifts at once, I think some people do it that way but the lack of engine braking and lack of certainty that you are in the right gear bother me). I'm pretty sure once I move my foot forward to shift, it stays there for all three shifts but definitely comes back afterwards to the ball of the foot, I'm careful to do that otherwise I tend to drag my toe in the corners.

 

Glad you're making some progress on staying locked in, with driving your knee forward, that makes sense.

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Love your sense of humor and openness. Believe it or not, you make me feel better about the areas where my ineptitude lie. :)

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