Trail Braking
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2010 Dragon Red GTS 300 Super, 2018 Grigio Titanio Piaggio Liberty S 150
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:59 am quote
I was reading a scooter review and it mentioned this term. I don't recall reading anything about it in the "Proficient Motorcyclist". Does anyone use this technique when they ride or is it only something that should be used on a track and avoided on roads?

From Wickipedia.

"Trail braking is a motorcycle riding and driving technique where the brakes are used beyond the entrance to a turn and are gradually released up to the point of apex.

In applying this technique, motorcycle riders approach turns applying both front and rear brakes to reduce speed. As they enter the turn, they partially release the brakes, as to keep only partial brakes throughout the turn. This will give more traction as the front tire is forced into the pavement.

This technique is commonly used when racing, but can enhance control and add more evasive options for street riders making it very worthwhile to learn or at least understand.

Be aware though that excessive trail braking can result in a loss of grip as the tire's adhesion is split between braking and cornering forces. It will also noticeably affect the motorcycle behaviour (as in handling). Should the surface traction be unexpectedly impaired, possibly by oil or fuel spills, a crash is utterly unavoidable."
Molto Verboso
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:11 am quote
i only do it in an unplanned way when i enter a corner too quickly
Hooked
1998 ET4-125 Pre-Leader
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:20 am quote
In racing where there are no hidden obstacles in the apex of the curve it makes sense, although, when you brake in a curve, the bike tends to go upward raising the point of gravity.

Therefore, in normal driving conditions, as per Proficient Motorcycling recommendations, I would rather decrease speed previous to a curve to the point where I could avoid any obstacle.

To slow down to a reasonable speed when the bike is upright and straight when both tires have the maximum traction and not when they have partial traction as when leaning is the technique that is outlined in Proficient Motorcycling book. Stick by it and your tires will stick to the ground.

Regards,
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:26 am quote
I certainly do most if not all of the braking before leaning and countersteering into a turn and if anything, I apply some throttle whilst in the turn. I was just wondering if trail braking was a track only thing or if there was a good reason to utilize this technique on roads.
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:46 am quote
Re: Trail Braking
Benito wrote:
Should the surface traction be unexpectedly impaired, possibly by oil or fuel spills, a crash is utterly unavoidable."
Given the current state of our roads, this would give me reason to be cautious.
Ossessionato
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:59 am quote
Most do this once in a while.

Works great on a scooter since so much of the wright is in the rear.

I use it regularly.

my $0.02....

R

Ossessionato
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Location: Austin
Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:05 am quote
glasseye wrote:
Most do this once in a while.

Works great on a scooter since so much of the wright is in the rear.

I use it regularly.

my $0.02....

R

+1, but only when you are pretty familiar with the road and its conditions! Never use it when traction could be questionable. Also, it is a fairly advanced technique, so don't try it if it is not within your ability.
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Vespa GTS 250
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:22 am quote
Do it as well on roads I know well like roundabouts I take daily. Never when having to lean too much into the corner. Always a bit scared, guess that's a good thing.

Don't know why or how I started doing it, no previous bike experience here. Just somehow made sense and feels secure enough. I can feel the bike having enough grip, applying both front and back brake seems to push the bike more towards the ground, increasing the grip. Not sure if it makes sense.

Again, don't do it in places I don't know.

Last edited by teller on Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:35 am; edited 1 time in total
Moderator
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 8:23 am quote
Tell me, you guys who use trail braking, are you familiar with it because you have ridden motorcycles, or did you learn to do it on your scooter?
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'05 LX 150 "Rosso Dragon"
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:10 am quote
I learned to trail brake when I was autocrossing. When I took the MSF course they kept yelling at me to quit it! In my opinion, it's best avoided unless you are riding competitively.
Ossessionato
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 9:42 am quote
mstevens wrote:
I learned to trail brake when I was autocrossing. When I took the MSF course they kept yelling at me to quit it! In my opinion, it's best avoided unless you are riding competitively.
I can imagine MSF instructors getting pretty upset about this! One step short of doing rear brake power slides around the cones..
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 10:56 am quote
drewteague wrote:
mstevens wrote:
I learned to trail brake when I was autocrossing. When I took the MSF course they kept yelling at me to quit it! In my opinion, it's best avoided unless you are riding competitively.
I can imagine MSF instructors getting pretty upset about this! One step short of doing rear brake power slides around the cones..
So funny!!

Just the thought of this brightens my day!
Olivia Newton-John
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:44 am quote
dude, that is totally for snowmobiles.
Molto Verboso
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:44 am quote
I learned it on my motorcycle and when I got a scooter it wasn't any different. They are both two wheels and that technique is meant for both.
Molto Verboso
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 4:51 pm quote
It's a useful thing to know, but you probably won't use it a lot. (Unless you ride like a maniac like, um, me.) As the wiki implies, it is good to know because you might find yourself going into a turn where there's a pothole or some obstacle and being able to scrub off a bit more speed gives you options. But far more likely is that you're not at the limits of tire traction or lean angle, so you can just apply a little countersteering and lean over more to avoid the hazard. But that takes learning to trust your tires, which is not an easy thing to do unless you practice a bit.

Where I think trail braking gets a bad rap is when people go into a corner too hot and jam on the brakes mid corner. This is not trail braking. This is panic, and it is a very bad thing to do. Your scoot will either a) want to stand up straight, making you go into oncoming traffic or the bushes, or b) your front end will 'tuck' and you'll be sliding down the road.
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:04 pm quote
Trail braking - read about it in Bob Bondurant's High Performance Driving, but for cars. The deal with cars is that it keeps the suspension "set" through the turn so the turn can be taken faster / sharper. I know nothing about racing techniques on bikes. Twice early in my riding days I had front wheel slide out crashes because of slick conditions and front brake. The first time it hadn't rained in months and it was on a busy 6 lane divided street near a traffic signal, so cars had been backed up idling for long periods of time and dripping slippery fluids (plus I was racing my boss to the comic book store at lunch and he was in an F-150). The next time I was about to be t-boned by a prelude, so I turned sharper and braked where there was some sprinkler runoff. That one earned me my name. 2 broken wrists. It sure was hard shifting and clutching on the way home, but I digress.
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 5:57 pm quote
Cindy wrote:
I learned it on my motorcycle and when I got a scooter it wasn't any different. They are both two wheels and that technique is meant for both.
Same here. I seem to use it when necessary without really thinking about it.

I stumbled onto it quickly when I was riding Deal's Gap following this jackass on a Harley that was trying to corner without leaning, and I had to slow down and turn at the same time.

I think it's actually easier on the Vespa than on a bike. The GTS seems more forgiving to me.

Having said that, it mostly depends on the corner. The best, and quickest way through a corner (not to mention, the most fun) is to slow down first, lean and give a positive throttle as it comes back up. And since the GTS is tail heavy, a positive throttle can sometimes be WFO.
Molto Verboso
GT200
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:43 pm quote
glasseye wrote:
I use it regularly.
I also use it regularly.

I remember using it EXTENSIVELY on the backside of Mt Hamilton last year when you me and Patrick were having fun in the twisties on the 3 peaks challenge ride.
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 6:47 pm quote
Wow.. a trailbraking discussion on a scooter forum...

When I used to race in SCCA (sedans) I used trailbraking pretty much all the time. The main point in trail braking is using the maximum traction your tires have at all times and to transfer some more of the cornering traction (don't know if this is the right term) to the front tire(s). In racing, you want the tires to work at maximum efficiency and use all available grip for braking and cornering.

Example.... Coming in to a corner..... Hard braking, just before lockup on straightaways... as you start your turn (or lean) you let up on the brakes in proortion to the amount of turn, more turn, more release of brakes. By the time you are using all available traction for turning, you should be all the way off the brakes. As you start releasing pressure on the steering wheel (or start straightening your lean) you should be gradually applying throttle in proportion to the turn or lean.... By the time your steering wheel is straight (or body straight!) you should be at maximum accceleration.

That being said.... I NEVER plan on trailbraking on the streets. Way to many variables and no on-site paramedics! IMHO, there is no place on the street that is safe to trailbrake. The very definition of traibraking assumes that you are using the maximum traction that your tires have. You should NEVER be at that point on the street except for emergencies. For spirited canyon riding, I enter a corner slow and exit fast. Still fun and much safer. Also, in canyons, I usually ride straightaways moderate and corners faster. I'm not racing, I'm just out to have a good time.

I was right behind Reverend when he dumped his bike. If I was trailbraking in that corner, I would have NO MARGIN for error. I would have run right into him and probably killed him.

Please, unless you are very experienced, don't trailbrake on public roads. If you want to learn, which is great for emergencies, do it in a parking lot or better yet, go to a track and take a performance riding class. I personally believe that everyone should have experiencre on a track.... its doesn't just make you faster but it teaches you how a vehicle behaves at the limit.

Jose Soriano
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Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:12 pm quote
drewteague wrote:
One step short of doing rear brake power slides around the cones..
'cept that actually involves losing traction rather than getting more
Hooked
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Thu Mar 27, 2008 6:54 am quote
i trail brake all the time -- at least i think i do.
I ride my rear brake thru the turn, releasing it with a simultaneous application of throttle.
Corners are a bit zippier but i also feel more in control.
the idea is to keep the front wheel loaded by controlling speed thru the turn rather than loading the wheel on the straight and then unloading it as you coast thru the turn.
without trailbraking, you go from throttle power, to brake power, to coast, to throttle. That's a lot of shifting weight, especially when you add in a lean/counter-steer.
It seems to me there's not a whole lot of control in unpowered (or unbraked) momentum.
With trailbraking, you're riding a balanced point: The brakes are set and the front wheel is partly-loaded (better / faster braking power) and you've got speed (let go the brake) and throttle available when you need it.
I'm not sure why any of this would result in poor traction -- in fact it seems a loaded wheel would have MORE stick then an unloaded wheel. i suppose if a loaded wheel let go, you'd feel the consequences a little more, but it seems to me LESS likely to happen with the weight more evenly distributed across two wheels, rather then resting on one loaded rear wheel.
Besides, should the rear wheel start to slip when trail-braking, you have the option of instantly picking up speed (let go the brake) to roll you out of it.
As for keeping the technique off the streets, i can't think of a better place than a 90 degree turn to introduce a little more control.
Hooked
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Thu Mar 27, 2008 11:05 am quote
ottawascoot wrote:
I'm not sure why any of this would result in poor traction -- in fact it seems a loaded wheel would have MORE stick then an unloaded wheel.
(Traction Gained by Loading) < (Traction Used by Braking)

The point of trail braking isn't to gain more traction; it's to use all--or at least much more--of the traction you have, which means having none--or at least much less--of it in reserve.† In other words, it gives you performance at the expense of taking away your margin for error.† (See Amahoser's more detailed explanation above.)

That's one thing at the track.† On the street, it's not our right to impose that kind of risk on the pedestrians and drivers around us.† "Ride within your limits" means keeping enough in reserve to still be in control when--not if--something surprises you.

</soapbox>

In fairness, ottawascoot and I may not be talking about the same thing.
ottawascoot wrote:
i trail brake all the time -- at least i think i do.
(braking lightly slightly past corner entry at a reasonable speed) != (trail braking)
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:16 pm quote
I love reading some of the old posts around here. The crowd at MV I think has become a little more... cautious than it used to be. Maybe not the best word but I do think there are only a few of us here that can be described as aggressive riders now. Aggressive does not mean unsafe it just means you ride hard and do things like trail brake and use more advanced riding techniques. I've been riding in the country for a week now and LOVE it. I usually do not bring the Vespa when we go cottaging but this time I did and it's been a blast powering through the turns and pushing the limits of the scoot. Still keeping things to around 100 kmh on the country roads as I find that is plenty fast to have fun without risking a nasty speeding ticket. Lots of little hills around here with sharp turns and opportunity to push the ride.

I'm curious if anyone else here like to ride their Vespa hard? Yeah, yeah you can get a big bike and I have one. Something about the setup on a Vespa just makes it fun though. Doesn't need to be a Vespa as I'm sure the BV and other smaller displacement rides perform in a similar way. The shorter wheel base and smaller tires also create a feel that is different than a larger bike. Things like setting up for a turn and pulling away also feel different. I think 300 CC's or thereabouts is great for having fun. Fast enough to get up to speed but still small enough to have that certain "feel".

Just talking to myself here probably but it's been a great week and I'm glad I brought the Vespa this time.
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:33 pm quote
You like to go "cottaging"?
Try saying that in London and you could be in for a hard ride right enough.
eeee-bip
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:37 pm quote
Both
I brake before the corner like you're supposed to.

Braking in the corner only unsettles the bike.

Bill x
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:47 pm quote
Yespa wrote:
You like to go "cottaging"?
Try saying that in London and you could be in for a hard ride right enough.
Yeah well itís not the same here. Renting cottages just seemed like too much to type at the time. Besides who cares if someone goes to a cottage in the summer a few times? Cheaper than going to Disneyland.
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:48 pm quote
Bill Dog wrote:
I brake before the corner like you're supposed to.

Braking in the corner only unsettles the bike.

Bill x
I donít find trail braking unsettles the bike at all.
eeee-bip
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 12:54 pm quote
Miff
But you're braking in the corner which isn't recommended as it loads the tyres and suspension.

You brake before the corner, select your gear ( if you have one ) then dial the bike in as you maintain the throttle until the apex and then accelerate out of it.

That's how you take a corner.

You don't even need to counter steer, just lean the bike over with your body.

If you're braking with the front in the corner you run the risk of locking it and if you apply the rear that could break away.

Bill x

Last edited by Bill Dog on Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:10 pm; edited 4 times in total
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:00 pm quote
If you have to brake in a corner, you are going too fast for the street. Boy racers either die young or are very lucky.
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:25 pm quote
I did it all in shorts and flip flops......

Jeebus.
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:26 pm quote
Re: Miff
Bill Dog wrote:
But you're braking in the corner which isn't recommended as it loads the tyres and suspension.

You brake before the corner, select your gear ( if you have one ) then dial the bike in as you maintain the throttle until the apex and then accelerate out of it.

That's how you take a corner.

You don't even need to counter steer, just lean the bike over with your body.

If you're braking with the front in the corner you run the risk of locking it and if you apply the rear that could break away.

Bill x
Those riding manuals will need a rewrite when cornering ABS goes mainstream.

eeee-bip
Benelli TNT 125 "Bean Alley" Kymco AK550 The War to end all Wars
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 1:35 pm quote
Clips
The bike is supposed to remain as balanced as possible throughout the corner.

If you're braking, especially with the rear you're creating a dragging effect which is essentially pulling the bike down.

I wouldn't advise that.

Bill x
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:03 pm quote
Re: Clips
Bill Dog wrote:
The bike is supposed to remain as balanced as possible throughout the corner.

If you're braking, especially with the rear you're creating a dragging effect which is essentially pulling the bike down.

I wouldn't advise that.

Bill x
If the alternative is saying hello to Mr.Peterbilt's finest, I'll be using the rear brake.

If you use the rear brake when turning its far easier to control than the front.
The other option for tightening a turn you've mistakenly entered too fast is to increase steering control input and lean further over... increased risk of washing the front out.
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:04 pm quote
Dear Bill:

https://www.ridinginthezone.com/10-things-you-need-to-know-about-trailbraking/

(one of the better articles on trail braking)

Did you not discuss this when you did your IAM?
eeee-bip
Benelli TNT 125 "Bean Alley" Kymco AK550 The War to end all Wars
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:09 pm quote
Ticks
That was about 25 years ago so sadly no.

Bill x
eeee-bip
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:19 pm quote
Looks
For the race track I'm all for it.

For every day use I'm not so sure.

Bill x
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Tue Aug 13, 2019 2:22 pm quote
Used it every evening when called home for supper....hitting our driveway at the bottom of the hill when I was 11.
Coaster braking only - and might have thrown in a bit of counter-steering around the mailbox. High-sided more than a few times into our lush Florida lawn.
What's for supper?

O.S.
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Wed Aug 14, 2019 8:51 am quote
I ride pretty hard most of the time. I operate a mixture of methods in corners, sometimes trail braking most times front brake prior to turning sometimes no braking at all (unless you count engine braking).

I'm sure my brain decides what type of braking to do as i approach a corner because I need to 'see' the corner, either directly or by satnav, before I feel comfortable to take it at speed.

Funny enough some corners I take quite slowly probably because I do not have enough information on them prior to turning.

I will be monitoring the conditions a bit more closely from now to be able to analyse my cornering more accurately.
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Wed Aug 14, 2019 9:17 am quote
Yespa wrote:
You like to go "cottaging"?
Try saying that in London and you could be in for a hard ride right enough.
Molto Verboso
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Wed Aug 14, 2019 12:23 pm quote
Around here we don't have much the luxury of smooth pavement, so talking about trail braking is mainly reserved for those who take their bikes to a track.

That said, ABS brakes make things so easy even for a clumsy rider like myself, that I do use trail braking in certain, tight corners. Just to turn the bike more easily, does not involve huge speed or radical leaning angles - just a tool for a lazy rider to ride even lazier This involves a bit of brake engagement almost through out the whole curve and indeed, makes the bike turn very easily and in a controllable way. Kind of suck you in, that's how it feels.

Without ABS... well, my two finger finesse, if there ever was one, is closer to on/off these days, so I'd limit myself to rear brakes only and be carefull even with those.

My late Sprint 125cc did not have ABS, but it had the old school equivalent - rather poor breaks, hard to lock those by accident It was a fun bike to ride around corners... but I do like a large wheel, well handling bike too. It's mayby the tank between my legs that I'd miss most when riding through curves with a Vespa.... it is hard to beat the "text book" riding position, where your upper legs actually do a lot of bike balance control, or rather provide the connection to the bike.
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