Advanced Motorcycle Riding Technique: Trail Braking
Trail braking is an advanced riding technique that involves using the brakes while cornering. Unlike traditional braking, where the brakes are fully released before entering a corner, trail braking allows riders to gradually release the brakes as they lean into a turn. This technique enhances control, stability, and allows for precise adjustments mid-corner. It’s crucial to approach trail braking with caution and gradually build your skill level.
1. Understanding the Concept:
Trail braking extends the braking process into the cornering phase, allowing for a smoother transition from braking to cornering.
When you initiate a turn, you begin with the brakes applied. As you lean into the corner, you gradually release the brakes while maintaining control.
2. Application Steps
Initial Braking: As you approach the corner, apply the brakes in a controlled manner to reduce speed before entering the turn. This initial braking should be done in a straight line before you start leaning.
Smooth Transition: As you start leaning the bike into the corner, begin to gradually release the brakes while maintaining a steady throttle.
Progressive Release: Release the brakes progressively, allowing the suspension to settle and the weight distribution to shift as the bike leans.
Maintaining Control: Keep a light grip on the handlebars and continue to maintain a neutral throttle position or slightly roll on the throttle.
Exiting the Corner: As you approach the exit of the corner, you can start to roll on the throttle more aggressively.
3. Benefits of Trail Braking:
Increased Stability: Trail braking helps stabilize the motorcycle by keeping the suspension compressed, maintaining traction on the front tire.
Precise Adjustments: By gradually releasing the brakes, you can make fine adjustments to your speed and line mid-corner.
Smooth Weight Transfer: The technique ensures a smoother weight transfer from front to rear, maintaining a balanced feel throughout the corner.
Reduced Trail Braking: In some cases, you might continue to apply a light amount of brake into the corner to manage speed while maintaining control.
4. Advanced Tips:
• Gradual Progression: Start with gentle trail braking in less aggressive corners before attempting it in sharper turns.
• Brake Control: Apply the brakes smoothly and progressively; abrupt or harsh braking can destabilize the motorcycle increasing your risk of losing control or crashing.
• Smooth Inputs: Smoothly release the brakes as you lean into the turn to prevent unsettling the suspension.
5. Practice and Caution:
Begin practicing trail braking in controlled environments, such as empty parking lots or closed courses.
Gradually increase your speed and lean angles as you gain confidence and proficiency.
Remember that trail braking is an advanced technique that requires practice to master. Build your skills incrementally to ensure safety.
6. Risk Management:
Be aware that trail braking reduces the tire’s contact patch available for cornering grip.
Avoid overloading the front tire with excessive braking force while leaned over, as it can lead to loss of traction.
7. Professional Instruction:
If you’re new to trail braking, consider seeking guidance from professional riding instructors who can provide hands-on training and feedback.
Trail braking is a technique that demands finesse and experience. It’s not recommended for beginners or riders who haven’t mastered basic braking and cornering skills. As you become more comfortable with this technique, you’ll find it can significantly enhance your control and confidence while navigating corners, especially in more challenging riding conditions.