Motorcycles Simple And Frequent Trail-Braking Practice
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We are five weeks into Next Ride Drills, a series aimed at overall riding improvement by focusing on critical building blockchain which I’m asking you to experiment with during your next ride, and then incorporate into every ride.
For some riders, these skill drills are the missing link in their understanding of the rider’s effect on bike performance; for some, they are timely reminders of the core of motorcycle performance and safety. For all riders, I hope these Next Ride Drills are fun and enlightening to experiment with and give you endless years of riding joy and safety through exact bike control.
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Stopping And Learning
The Next Ride Drill for this week happens at every stop because every stop presents a chance to practice. Let’s define trail-braking as trailing brake pressure into the corner, or trailing off braking points as we add lean angle points. It’s a vital skill to have and there is a low-risk way to practice the exact brake lever movement and timing needed to trail off brake pressure as you add lean angle.
I refer tofrequently in my writing because it’s an easy way to think about traction: Each tire has only 100 percent of grip to offer, or 100 points of grip. The front tire’s traction is divided between braking and lean angle; rear traction is the same at corner entry, and then divided between throttle and lean angle at corner exit. We are constantly trading away brake-pressure points as we add lean-angle points, adding throttle points when we’re able to take away lean-angle points. We know this inherently, but the 100 Points of Grip idea helps us define it and perhaps explain it better to others.
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Practice these additions and subtractions of brake, throttle, and lean-angle points smoothly at all times so when you’re close to the tires’ limit of grip due to a new lap record or a cold, rainy night or gravel back road, you will ease up to the edge of traction and live there, rather than jump over the edge of traction with painful and expensive consequences. Grabbing, stabbing, flicking—those verbs simply don’t work when you’re near the edge of grip, so don’t have them in your riding, or vocabulary if you are a riding mentor.
Every Stop Practice
As we close the throttle and initiate braking, the forward weight transfer compresses the front suspension. How far the fork springs compress depends upon spring rates, preload settings, and how hard we brake. As our bike comes to a stop, the compressed fork springs will rebound, or return to their unloaded height. It is the control of this rebound that is the focus of this week’s drill.
The Friction Circle Tells You What Your Tires Can Handle; Here's How It Works
How well you grip the street is determined by the friction circle.You’re on the street and you’re alone. Spanning the horizon, you see the sun cresting and one glorious corner after another. Some are slow, others are fast, with a few nice straights in between. Tire pressures checked and adjusted. Engine warmed up. Gas tank full. It’s time to experience driving ecstasy.
The springs’ rebound is controllable by how we release front-brake pressure. Come to a stop and hold constant pressure and the bike stops and rebounds quite abruptly. Your passenger will not be impressed.
Come to a stop and jump suddenly off the front brake and again the fork rebounds abruptly and the bike might roll forward a few feet more. Again, unhappy passenger, and terrible practice for the vital skill of trail-braking.
Between these two mistakes of stopping with constant pressure and releasing pressure suddenly is the point of this drill: We release brake pressure at a rate that controls the rebound of the fork springs so that the bike settles comfortably at rest.
Turn-In Rate Practice
The pressure of your braking just prior to stopping will vary depending upon the circumstances, so you must learn to vary the rate at which you bleed off brake pressure too. A gentle, light-pressure stop is easy for us to appear smooth because the springs are lightly loaded and the rebound forces are low. This is tantamount to trailing brake pressure into a corner that requires a long, gentle turn-in, easing off the brakes as we glide into the corner.
brake failure in Spielberg: Vinales team ignored Brembo recommendation
Brembo expressly recommended the use of the new braking system before the second Spielberg race - Vinales team ignored that Maverick Vinales' brake failure was the big shocking moment at the Grand Prix of Styria. The Spaniard jumped off his Yamaha at the end of the home straight at a little over 200 km / h and was uninjured. The other Yamaha riders also complained of braking problems, but only at Vinales did the front brake completely fail.
Bring your bike to a hard, near-emergency stop, and you’ll find your braking fingers must release the pressure more quickly and more finely to settle the front perfectly. Equate this to a quicker turn-in, where you are adding lean angle points quickly and must match that with trailing off brake-pressure points quickly. It’s in these harder stops that the skills of this drill will develop your trail-braking acumen.
You can even see this in a car. In the four-wheel world, it is called a chauffeur’s stop: Trailing off brake pressure as the limousine stops keeps the champagne in the flutes and the driver’s tips high. You might subconsciously do it now in your cars, trucks, and bikes, but this week’s drill is to bring your focus on how your braking fingers move as the bike stops and relate them directly to the finger movements needed when trail-braking. Jumping off the brakes suddenly is uncomfortable in the drill and disastrous in the real world, as is holding brake pressure too long.
Tire Contact Patch…And Suspension Loading
We can think of trail-braking as trading braking loads on the tires for cornering loads and that’s a good mental image, but also think about it this way: We are trading the load on the fork from braking for the load of cornering. Riders who mistakenly release the brake before the turn unload the fork springs, allowing them to rebound to their full height, and then load them again with cornering forces.
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Trail-braking skips that unload and load, and helps explain why riders who jump off the brakes before turn-in then flick the bike into the corner have problems: They are trying to get their steering geometry back but the flick must get more and more aggressive the faster we ride because more brake pressure means a more-heavily-loaded fork spring, which means more-abrupt rebound when the brake lever is quickly released..
Your ability to trail off brake pressure to control front rebound at a stop is the Next Drill that quickly and significantly improves your muscle memory for trail-braking. This particular drill is part of every stopping drill in our ChampSchool programs because every stop is a chance to practice trail-braking; trail-braking is a riding skill that is mandatory for all looking to thrive and survive on two wheels. Please share this drill with other riders and make it part of every stop for the rest of your riding career.
More next Tuesday!
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