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Trail Braking Usage


tweek
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Ty Howard is a local hero that I've gotten to work with a bit during the past year. He teach trail braking, but the interesting piece to me is that the way he talks about it, it isnt really about slowing down. My interpretation is that his trail braking is the equivalent to CSS's hook turn. For instance, in this video:

he points out that on the brakes the bike's front suspension is collapsed making the bike turn faster. By keeping a little pressure on the brakes the entire time you keep the bike's nose down and it turning in at a fast rate.

 

Getting the bike turned quickly seems to be foundation to what CSS preaches. The quick turn, 2 step, hook turn, knee to knee are all about flicking the bike in the direction you want it to go. If trail braking can help why isnt it discussed anywhere in levels 1 - 3?

 

I'm asking because I'm trying to figure out how to get my butt around ECR in under 120seconds this year (Track record is 105s) and the way ECR is laid out you have to be able to get the bike turned quickly and get back on the throttle. There is nowhere you can 'just coast' and get a decent time.

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There is nowhere you can 'just coast' and get a decent time.

Tweek;

I'm not sure that you will find this quote just coast in anything that Keith has written or the School teaches, especially because it is the antithesis of Throttle Control Rule No. 1. There has been extensive exchanges on this Forum about trail braking that I won't rehash here but the three levels of specific training that CSS offers coupled with the fourth level of refinement has helped thousands of riders maximize their cornering efficency and minimizing their lap times. What the video shows is a singular component of what a rider can do but that's all that Ty Howard spoke about. The School utilizes a fully integrated approach that incorporates many components that are used to teach cornering that can't be covered in a single teaching session.

Rainman

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Tweek,

 

If turning the bike quickly is the issue, how about just putting more pressure on the bars? Here is one place where trail braking has to be done delicately: the more brake you have on, the less force/steering pressure you can use. One of the single biggest source of novice crashes is turning with the front brake on. If you want to turn quickly, have to use less and less front brake.

 

Another issue with trailing the brake in too late is, keep you from getting back on the gas, as early as possible.

 

Here is another way to think of this: balancing the bike's load to the tires. Simply shutting the throttle can go to 70% of the combined weight on the front, on a sportbike, this might be even higher (75%+?).

 

What do you think?

 

CF

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I watched the video all the way through and the end he talks about the clutch.

 

I used to ride with a guy who had the habit of covering the clutch. On a fairly simple turn, he crashed on the outside of the turn. One factor was no power going to the rear tire with the clutch in. Seems that Ty Howard is more interested in teaching evasive riding than skills the novice trackday junkie will be able to utilize out of the box.

 

Side Note- Didn't he do some AMA racing a few years back?

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I watched the video all the way through and the end he talks about the clutch.

 

I used to ride with a guy who had the habit of covering the clutch. On a fairly simple turn, he crashed on the outside of the turn. One factor was no power going to the rear tire with the clutch in. Seems that Ty Howard is more interested in teaching evasive riding than skills the novice trackday junkie will be able to utilize out of the box.

 

Side Note- Didn't he do some AMA racing a few years back?

 

2 MotoST championships along with a long string of CMRA championships. I think he ran in FX but the bike was uncompetitive and then something happened with the main sponsor (who knew people could actually get hurt on these things?) causing them to pull funding.

 

He actually coaches a number of successful racers (who might have had careers if RE had not screwed things up) and tends to be more race focus. Not sure why he kept talking about accident avoidance in that video. Actually, I do. If you ever do a track day with RideSmart you'll see why (more crashes than a NASCAR weekend). If he wasnt one of the Barber school instructors I'd say the CSS ought to get him on staff. He is an excellent coach one on one and really knows what he is doing. He holds time trial records at nearly every track in Texas and Oklahoma.

 

Anyway, I agree that the way to go fast is on the throttle not the brakes. I'm just working through some problems and bouncing stuff around to see what echoes back.

 

how about just putting more pressure on the bars?
I agree that this is probably the simplest solution (involves the fewest actions and causes the fewest changes).

 

Here is another way to think of this: balancing the bike's load to the tires. Simply shutting the throttle can go to 70% of the combined weight on the front, on a sportbike, this might be even higher (75%+?).

Yup. Coming off a long straight (say the back at Mid-Ohio in to the chicane) you transition from WOT to full brakes (I think this is like the drive strategy in soft science) putting just about everything on the front tire and then flick right. That is how you guys taught me and it works really well.

Using a trial brake strategy would mean that in the same situation I transtion from WOT to full brakes just a little beyond the drive approach. I begin trailing off the brake as I approach my turn marker and turn as I continue transitioning from the brakes and rolling on the throttle. I would always either be on the brakes or the throttle. By the time I reach the apex it should be all throttle (play the RRRRRRRRrrrrrrr......rrrrrrrrrRRRRRRR sound now).

 

I know this is a topic that has been well paved so forgive me for being slow. My goal for 2010 is to get around ECR in 120seconds. Right now I can do it in 138s. There are 11 turns so I need to lose nearly 2 seconds in each turn to make that goal. So whatever tools I can find along the way I will make use of.

 

Oh - in regard to the coasting comment - you're always supposed to be either on the brakes or the throttle but.....which is partially why it takes me 138 seconds to get around ECR ;)

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My goal for 2010 is to get around ECR in 120seconds. Right now I can do it in 138s. There are 11 turns so I need to lose nearly 2 seconds in each turn to make that goal. So whatever tools I can find along the way I will make use of.

 

Oh - in regard to the coasting comment - you're always supposed to be either on the brakes or the throttle but.....which is partially why it takes me 138 seconds to get around ECR ;)

ECR - is that Eagles Canyon Raceway?

 

Regardless of the track, I would recommend dividing that goal up in smaller, intermediate steps or goals - taking 18s out of 138s is my opinion A LOT, unless you are really 'coasting' along on the straights today.

Consider it this way, if the track record is 1:46 (as on Eagles Canyon), you're today 30% off the lap record and 2:00 will be 13% off the lap record.

 

Maybe you're just a lot braver than me, but to me ... wow, that's a big improvement you're looking to do.

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My goal for 2010 is to get around ECR in 120seconds. Right now I can do it in 138s. There are 11 turns so I need to lose nearly 2 seconds in each turn to make that goal. So whatever tools I can find along the way I will make use of.

 

Oh - in regard to the coasting comment - you're always supposed to be either on the brakes or the throttle but.....which is partially why it takes me 138 seconds to get around ECR ;)

ECR - is that Eagles Canyon Raceway?

 

Regardless of the track, I would recommend dividing that goal up in smaller, intermediate steps or goals - taking 18s out of 138s is my opinion A LOT, unless you are really 'coasting' along on the straights today.

Consider it this way, if the track record is 1:46 (as on Eagles Canyon), you're today 30% off the lap record and 2:00 will be 13% off the lap record.

 

Maybe you're just a lot braver than me, but to me ... wow, that's a big improvement you're looking to do.

 

Yes - ECR is Eagles Canyon Raceway. The individual membership is a decent deal so I joined. Tired of missing sessions because squids show up to trackdays thinking they have skills.

 

I don't expect to drop 18s in one whack. My first goal is to get to 2:15 which can be achieved by making a few minor improvements on corner entry. Then the goal will be to get to 2:10, then 2:05 and then 2:03 and finally 2:00. I have nearly 12 months and w/ the membership I can ride whenever so weather and tire budget are the limiting factors. Like today: its 17°F right now. Next week doesnt look much better with the chance of rain.

 

So I do have an overall strategy. Part of the strategy is this stuff. Just trying to work out what is going on w/o riding the bike.

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Speaking of trail braking, I have a question for the experts (sorry for being so long-winded). When riding on the road, my brother and I keep the same pace, but our styles are very different to the point that we upset each other if riding too close.

 

If I lead into a corner with my brother behind, he will start accelerating while I'm still braking. Of course, if he doesn't want to run into me, he must back off. Upsetting. And if I follow my brother, he starts to brake much too early for me, so it breaks my natural rythm. Upsetting, too.

 

Now, this is where my question finally arrives: My brother always wears out his front tyres first (edges) and he often has trouble with front end slides. Me, OTOH, virtually never have any front end issues and my front tyre will usually last 1.5 to 2 times longer than my rear. And my front tyres usually wears very evenly from edge to edge. That despite braking later and turning in quicker than my brother. Is there a simple explanation for this?

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We must have been really (un)lucky then for that to happen with more than 20 different bikes each over the last 25-30 years. Could you please elaborate a little bit on what will do what regarding suspension set-up? Does it indicate that my brother runs his suspension too hard or too soft, or that there is a particular mismatch between springing and damping?

 

Thank you in advance!

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Speaking of trail braking, I have a question for the experts (sorry for being so long-winded). When riding on the road, my brother and I keep the same pace, but our styles are very different to the point that we upset each other if riding too close.

 

If I lead into a corner with my brother behind, he will start accelerating while I'm still braking. Of course, if he doesn't want to run into me, he must back off. Upsetting. And if I follow my brother, he starts to brake much too early for me, so it breaks my natural rythm. Upsetting, too.

 

Now, this is where my question finally arrives: My brother always wears out his front tyres first (edges) and he often has trouble with front end slides. Me, OTOH, virtually never have any front end issues and my front tyre will usually last 1.5 to 2 times longer than my rear. And my front tyres usually wears very evenly from edge to edge. That despite braking later and turning in quicker than my brother. Is there a simple explanation for this?

 

This is an interesting difference, and with that many bikes over that many years, I wonder about how you both ride? Something we could comment on if we could see you ride...any chance you have some video, of both of you, ideally on the same road/track?

 

CF

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No, we unfortunately do not have any videos at hand - and with the snow laying thick it won't happen in an instant either :( But we just got a high quailty camera for on-board fitting, although I imagine you'd rather see shots taken from the side of the track?

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No, we unfortunately do not have any videos at hand - and with the snow laying thick it won't happen in an instant either :( But we just got a high quailty camera for on-board fitting, although I imagine you'd rather see shots taken from the side of the track?

 

On board would be better, with each riding as they normally would.

 

CF

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rut ro.....nother question......

 

Why do I keep hearing that 'bikes like to turn with the brakes on'? We'll skip over the weighting of the inside peg to help it turn (beyond the fact that you have moved your mass over the peg).

 

As already stated - the bike really like to turn when you push on the clipons. So why this difference? Is it just the flexiblity of language? These arent squids hanging out in the parking lot of the quickie mart. Well respected, victorious racers. Also I have a feeling that if you secretly put a camera on your on track coachs' bikes we'd see a lot of them trail braking too.

 

Why all the mystery? The reasons for body position are well established: lower the COG so the bike uses less lean for the same speed on the same line. Can there be something equally straightforward for braking and throttle to resolve the differences? Something along the lines of the grand unification theory? :)

 

And geez I need to ride. I'm so hoping the rain misses Slidell so I can get out on Sunday.

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Why all the mystery? The reasons for body position are well established: lower the COG so the bike uses less lean for the same speed on the same line.

 

Actually, a lower CoG requires more lean for any given cornering speed, not less. Wider tyres, lower CoG and longer wheelbase all demand more lean. Using narrow tyres, a short wheelbase and a high CoG will significantly reduce the required amount of lean compared to a long and low cruiser riding on wide rubber.

 

If we could have tyres with zero width, wheelbase and CoG would no longer matter - the required lean would be consistent. At least that's what has been mathematically proved by people far brighter than me :P

 

What makes the bike require less lean when you're hanging off is that you move the collective CoG of you and your machine inwards. Hence the balance point to counter the centrifugal forces will allow the bike to stay more upright because you are leaning more to compensate.

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uhg....you're right. But the overall point that all schools teach riders to lean off the bike is correct. (What somebody come in and go 'oh, no! that isnt right. The Fisty McCrashy school teaches students to push the bike down like it's a dirt bike adn Fisty is right about everything).

 

My intention is to try and understand why the differences in talking about braking technique. If there isnt a way to bridge them, then are there situations where one technique is going to have an advantage over the other?

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This is a minefield, so I better not be too bombastic :unsure: If you look at racing, you will find that there are several lines and ways to take a corner that will be more or less equally fast - there are several individual styles. And someone like Rossi can make so many different styles and lines work it ain't funny, which is why he can pass his competitors as if they weren't even there.

 

WARNING: The following is based on what I have read. I do not have the skill or knowledge to verify any of it - which is why Keith Code and his instructors make sense ;) So please do not take it as gospel, just as a base for further discussions (if anything).

 

Kenny Roberts Sr. was the man who perfected hanging off in the modern tradition. He also did something unusual in that he went in fairly slowly (for top level racing) and then accelerated early while spinning the rear tyre. This made cornering safer and by hanging out the rear end he effectively made the cornering phase shorter. In addition, beginning the acceleration earlier meant higher speeds down all of the next straight.

 

Previously, racers typically relied more on the front end and by keeping a more consitant high cornering speed for longer, like Hailwood or Agostini. Even Barry Sheene relied mostly on the front end and would wait much longer than Roberts before getting back on the throttle hard.

 

Then came Spencer, in my opinion the most naturally talented racer the world has ever seen. Which was probably also his downfall since he relied mostly on talent and confidence and hadn't spent much time on his mental training, so he suffered when times got tough.

 

Anyway, he introduced something entirely new to the sport. While retaining Roberts' early-on-the-gas style, he combined it with very late braking. Later than anybody before him. So late that he slid the front wheel and, just as he was about to crash, saved it by feeding on the throttle to ease to load on the front end, allowing it to grip. It goes without saying you need lots of confidence to that corner after corner, lap after lap.

 

A few years later, Rainey came to the same conclusion, saying that he didn't know why it was so effective, but that the moment he began to slide the front going into corners, his lap times fell dramatically. Anyway, the result was a point-and-squirt riding style with quite low apex speed and where the bikes where either braking or accelerating and spending as little time as possible leaned over.

 

Today, it seems like it is the norm to slide both tyres quite a bit, but with the 800 class in MotoGP it also looks to me like they are also back more to a classic style with high cornering speed carried for quite some time, although mixed with a fairly late cornering entry and early throttle appliance. The tyres seems to slide more due to absolute cornering forces than from heavy brake- or throttle use. The difference from earlier in the GP class seems, to my untrained eye, to be that they brake for longer but gentler and accelerate earlier but gentler, but I could be totally wrong.

 

***

 

FWIW, personally, I have always turned in with the brakes on. I don't even mind hitting the brakes mid-corner if something forces me to slow down. Usually, I manage to keep the front wheel on the verge of locking up/sliding out easily (I failed once in 30 years when I found the road blocked by two oncoming cars side by side and apparently locked the front and fell down, although I have no recollection of that...) and it's like second nature. I feel very secure when braking through a corner, even all the way around if I went in too hot - although that isn't a very effective way to make time.

 

Only a few years ago, after riding for more than 25 years, did I try to set my cornering speed early and then accelerate hard the moment I had clear visibility ahead. It wasn't as difficult as I had imagined, although I need to think about it because it isn't natural for me to brake this early. I find that I use a combination today, depending on road conditions and my mood. For road use, setting cornering speed early seems a little safer, gives a bit more margin for errors, even though it isn't as natural. I haven't discovered any appreciable speed difference getting from A to B regardless of method, but then again I'm just a wobbler without much skill.

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rut ro.....nother question......

 

Why do I keep hearing that 'bikes like to turn with the brakes on'?

 

OK, you're a racer now and you're approaching the dogleg at Daytona at 105mph. You stay full throttle and flick the bike into the turn and it takes a bit of effort.

 

Now you approach the west horseshoe at 115mph and get on the brakes and flick the bike in. You notice less effort is required than the previous turn but the west horseshoe is a 45mph turn.

 

Your conclusion - bikes like to turn with the brakes on.

 

Here's some more examples of no brakes turns.

 

Turn 9 at Road Atlanta - 160mph.

Start Finish turn at VIR - 140mph.

Turn 1 at Laguna - 140mph.

 

See the pattern here?

 

Now do a similar speed comparison like the last 3 turns at Assen. Hard braking right turn, no brakes left, no brakes right, front straight. Where do the riders actually turn the bike faster? Do they turn fast when braking for the first turn, or are the last two flicks faster?

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I'm jumping into this a little late, and to be honest didn't follow/quite understand some of the previous posts but are you guys saying that its easier to turn the bike with the brakes on? Really?

 

So, speed being the same, you are saying it's easier to turn with the brakes on? Isn't it going to depend on which direction? Turning into a right hand turn, with brakes on, doesn't the bike want to stand up, so it would be harder to turn right?

 

Let's brake this down, one piece at a time, so let me know what you think of that first bit there, isn't the bike trying to stand up underbraking (if you are trying to turn it in)?

 

CF

 

ps--did you like the pun?

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This is getting interesting!

 

I do have a tendency to act as if I have the answers even when I don't, but I have found that it speeds up my learning process and enhance the chance of replies that either correct my statements or confirm them. So here goes my .02:

 

Again, the tendency to stand up under braking is an effect of the tyres having width. The wider the tyre, the further away the patch of contact between rubber and road moved away from the bike's centre line, giving more leverage to affect the bike negatively.

 

However, there apparently are ways to, if not eliminate, at least greatly reduce the tendency for a bike to stand up under braking during. Some bikes are more affected than others, and also different tyres can have a huge influence. For instance, on the CB1100 I once had, the standing up thing went from pretty bad with a Metzeler ME11 front to quite mild with a Micheling A49 rubber. For me, the worst bike in this regards was my CX500 back around 1980. But I have also had bikes were the tendency to stand up under braking was virtually unnoticeable, even when hitting the brakes mid-corner.

 

For me it comes down mostly to comfort; I feel so much more secure when turning in with the brakes on, but I don't think much about the power required. I have also found that turning with the power on - as you would accelerating through a set of widening esses - seems to make the bike want to stand up and resist change of direction noticeably, though, just to bring in another element in the discussion :D

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First: I'm not making the claim. I'm referencing statements by championship winning riders like Freddie Spencer.

 

Maybe this weekend I'll be able to collect data and see if I can tell any difference. Should be able to see acceleration and braking from the data collected. Too bad I don't have hookups to actually see throttle and brake usage though.

 

Anyway, what I find myself doing is going from hard braking and then trailing off the brakes as I approach the turn in point and then being all the way off the brakes maybe a 1/3rd of the way in to the turn and then rolling the throttle back in.

 

Part of the reason I'm doing this is to keep the bike settled. Having dropped 20 seconds/lap in the past year I'm finding that front end acts like a pogo stick under brakes and just gets worse if I release them too quickly. So its easier to trail the brake off. I've upped the rebound dampening but that only goes so far. I really need to take the bike back to the shop and have new springs installed. Which mean the bike will no longer be usable on the street. Unless doing on ramps at 90+ is considered good practice?

 

So, short of changing out hardware is there something I could do differently to eliminate the need to trial off the brakes?

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Oh, and I don't notice that having the brakes on changes my steering effort or the bike trying to stand up.

 

However, I do remember at level 1 in Mid-ohio having an incident. Somebody decided to make a close pass on the entrance to 11. I had to grab a little brake while turned in. That bike stanped up in a heart beat. My current ZX6 doesnt seem to do that. Possibly b/c I have more experience now or the suspension is setup differently. Any explanation for the difference?

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Oh, and I don't notice that having the brakes on changes my steering effort or the bike trying to stand up.

 

However, I do remember at level 1 in Mid-ohio having an incident. Somebody decided to make a close pass on the entrance to 11. I had to grab a little brake while turned in. That bike stanped up in a heart beat. My current ZX6 doesnt seem to do that. Possibly b/c I have more experience now or the suspension is setup differently. Any explanation for the difference?

 

Tweek--let's check out the physics on this (rudimetary). You roll on the throttle, after you turn in, then you roll of the gas (not even using the brakes), what does the bike do, if you are doing absolutely nothing to the bars--what happens to the line, where does the bike go when the gas is rolled (or chopped off)?

 

CF

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