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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Pretty cool interview with Keith Code on Trail Braking- lots of great info :mrgreen:

From www.motomom.ca

There is a lot of misunderstanding about the technique of trail braking; specifically people seem to be either for using trail braking, or against it. Keith Code and the California Superbike School are often thought to be in the camp that is against using trail braking and that they only advise getting all your braking done before you begin to turn the motorcycle. In this exclusive interview Code answers all our questions about trail braking.

MotoMom: Let’s start off first by defining trail braking. What exactly is trail braking?

KC: It’s the tapering-off of brake lever pressure for controlling the bike’s rate of deceleration. That’s the most basic definition. Commonly, the term is used to reference the action of tapering-off brake lever pressure while leaning into a corner. Probably the easiest way to illustrate this is to get the idea of keeping the forks compressed roughly the same amount from braking through to leaning the bike into the turn. You would have to coordinate the release of brake pressure with the increase of leaning. The deceleration load on the forks diminishes while the cornering centrifugal force of the turn increases as the bike is leaned. That’s how I originally described and photographed it back in 1983.

MM: Should new riders learn the technique of trail braking?

KC: Every brake release should have some trailing off of lever pressure. Barring something like running off the road, there is no on-road or track cornering circumstance where an abrupt release of brake pressure is optimum.

There is one important quick brake release that riders should master for maximum control in panic braking situations. In an obstacle avoidance scenario, where braking to the last instant before colliding with something and then quickly turning the bike to get by it is necessary, there aren't any options beside that technique.

MM: Is trail braking a race and track only skill or should street riders use it as well?

KC: As just mentioned, it's the correct way to release the lever for any corner entry situation. An abrupt release makes it quite difficult to accurately judge your final entry speed-if we call "entry speed" the speed that is left over right after the brake is released.

We also know that the bike will continue to slow until the gas is back on enough to accelerate it. That in itself is a very interesting subject which most people misunderstand. Most think that rolling the gas on 10 percent or so will maintain their speed but it won't, most bikes continue to slow. At race pace, the bike will be slowing an average of 8 mph per second between the brake release and throttle-on. Specifically, at Laguna Seca on a Supersport bike it requires from 12% to 43% throttle, depending on the corner, before the bike begins to slightly accelerate; up to that point it is losing speed rapidly.

MM: Do you teach trail braking at the California Superbike School?

KC: It’s a key part of our RACE school drills. It also comes up on Level 3 during a drill called Attack Angles. It can be covered at any time during Level 4 classes for which we have specific drills. Otherwise it’s also covered on request at any other point. It's interesting that the very best riders who have trained with us don't ask about it; they've figured out where it applies.

Recently, trail-braking has become a topic. On-board footage of top racers clearly shows this technique in use. Riders intently study this footage trying to pick up wisdom that will make their riding better. Trail braking as a technique seems to have developed its own fan club. From some of its fans one could mistakenly get the idea that it is the "silver bullet" that will cure all your riding problems. Thinking that any one technique in our sport is senior to the others is like saying all a painter needs to be able to paint a masterpiece is to make sure the color “red” is included.

Road racing is a multi-layered, multi-tasking, multi-sense oriented sport where there are no easy routes to achieving your riding goals.

MM: Are there any new braking drills?

KC: Recently, I've been researching all the aspects of braking, amongst other things. Right now my list contains 5 stages of braking control, each with its own on-track drills. There are half a dozen other important aspects to braking that we also use to train and coach our students.

MM: When you coach high-level motorcycle racers like AMA Supersport winner Joe Roberts, British Superbike Champion Leon Camier, etc. do you encourage or teach trail braking?

KC: It rarely comes up as a topic on its own. If a top level racer is having trouble with some aspect of his braking, often there is some underlying problem that when fixed, solves the whole thing. For that caliber of rider you are looking for the least time on the brakes and the earliest on with the gas. In all cases, they want to minimize the time on the brake and maximize the time on the throttle with no coasting.

On the track there are cornering situations that demand some extended trailing of the brakes, mainly places where you can't get the bike turned quickly to your knee. For example, nearly all decreasing radius turns require a longer tapering off of the brake because the steering into them is more gradual. In some double apex turns we will see riders trailing the brakes well past the first apex. Where it applies; it applies.

Read the complete interview here: http://www.motomom.ca/keith-code-on-trail-braking-exclusive-interview/

43 Posts
Good info. Thanks for sharing.

I wad hoping he would comment on rear vs front trailing braking. I see some guys use only front, some use rear to tighten their line....
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