Riding the pace, trail braking and tight winding roads

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Süsser Tod, Jun 27, 2018.

  1. Süsser Tod

    Süsser Tod Long timer

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    For a while I've struggled with slow corners, but I think I struggle more as my riding technique "settles" and I become less of a well rounded rider. I guess it doesn't help a bit that the two times I've go down at the track, on two different tracks, it was on the slowest corner.

    In order to keep my anxiety in check and becoming a safer rider I ride the pace, but I like riding fast... If I'm on a road with fast sweepers things like these happen:

    IMG_20180523_153845_HDR.jpg

    I've been thinking about it and I guess it really boils down to my braking technique, or lack of it. When I'm on a road with fast sweepers I won't slow down much for them, so engine braking is enough to set my speed by the time I start leaning as I'm not doing top speed runs between corners.

    Tight, two lane, roads are a different story. If I'm by myself and riding the pace I find them enjoyable, save for the tighter stuff that pretty much requires braking no matter what, similar to the tightest/slowest corners at the track. This is kind of a mind f*ck to me, it's like breaking one of the cardinal rules in my riding: avoid the brakes!

    So... In the tight road I usually ride I've come across other riders that I just can't keep up with; these same riders will not keep up with me on the fast sweepers; definitely I'm doing something wrong on the slow corners and reading about riding techniques I came across trail braking...

    Obviously trail braking does not apply to my beloved fast sweepers as I'd have to be riding much faster to actually need some braking, and I'm not really interested on testing the top speed of a super sport between each corner. I go into the corner and come out of it faster, once the bike is upright I stop accelerating and keep up that speed as I close to the next one, where I'll engine brake to more or less the speed I had on entry on the previous one.

    When I'm on a slower, tighter, twisty road I feel like I'm wrestling the bike around when I try to go faster. When I go for the brakes, I have less time to setup my body position and lean the bike as I have to finish braking before I do that.

    Me thinks thats when trail braking would make sense... Set my body position and then start braking, reducing the braking as I gain lean. The geometry of the bike changes, making it easier to tip into th corner, reducing that wrestling feeling that I get, and obviously it will be smoother as I'd have less transitions.

    That makes sense in my mind, but I don't know if I got it all wrong, feedback is appreciated.
    #1
  2. White Knuckle

    White Knuckle Whirlygig Operator

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    I'm no expert, but it sounds like you're trying to skip to the advanced technique before mastering the basic one. I'd get comfortable with slowing down before the corner and the transition from braking to turning before trying to do both at the same time.
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  3. kbroderick

    kbroderick Long timer

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    Sounds about right, but the best option (IMO) is to find a track with a decreasing-radius corner and do some track days. I generally try to avoid hard trail-braking on public roadways because if I'm already committed to trail braking and something goes awry (I miss the line or the entry speed, an oncoming F-350 appears half in my lane, a marmot decides to run onto my line, etc), there's not a lot of traction left to work with. Light trail braking, though, does a lot to help the bike be settled on corner entry and tip in easier (from the suspension change you noted). Having the ability to trail-brake effectively is a great tool to have in the bag, though, when you come into a corner and realize that it's decreasing-radius more than you expected or that the "25 MPH corner" sign got taken out by a plow truck last winter and 60 MPH is going to be a bit exciting.

    Relatedly, being able to go smoothly from braking to throttle without upsetting the suspension helps a lot; you might try slowing down more so you can get on the throttle sooner and the bike is never neutral in the corner (i.e. apply throttle before getting to 0% brake application, to avoid driveline pogo). A Total Control class would probably be a better place than an Internet forum to learn that, though.
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  4. Süsser Tod

    Süsser Tod Long timer

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    Noted. That's true... I hate braking; in my mind that's where things go all sorts of wrong and why I looked into riding the pace in the first place, avoiding the brakes. That's where my anxiety comes into play, I do it very well at the track without problems, late braking, but not on the road. The unknown of the road conditions makes me think that if carry too much speed closer to the corner entry I'll have a reduced safety margin if something goes wrong. Obviously there is no such fear at the track, even after the main straight going at the top speed of the bike I can count on clean pavement, no debris, animals or a car crossing the center line...
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  5. kbroderick

    kbroderick Long timer

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    That's absolutely true—you don't have the same margin of safety on the road (often no run-off, definitely no corner workers or guarantee of clean pavement), so pushing it too hard is a bad idea. One option is to bring your "brake-release / on-throttle" marker back—finish your braking sooner and enter the corner on (very) light throttle, and then move the braking closer to the corner as you figure out how much extra room you have to work with if you brake harder on entry (while still leaving that margin of safety that you need on the road). That way, your hard braking is still while the bike is vertical and in straight line, and if you do overbrake and lock the front, you have the opportunity to correct before ending up on your ass.

    Relatedly, one of the off-road drills I've been taught was really helpful for front-end feel: find a gravel parking lot, and ride across it at low but stable speed while trying to lock the front. Basically, you maintain just enough throttle to keep the bike moving and upright, while modulating the front brake so that the wheel is locked (and plowing) as much as possible, balancing and riding in a straight line across the lot. Again, doing it with an actual class probably beats some random guy on the Internet.
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  6. Süsser Tod

    Süsser Tod Long timer

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    I guess that for the first part you ride the same stretch of road several times, right? I usually ride long loops and never go back the same stretch of road in a ride, but I've noticed that all guys doing "how to" videos on the internet seem to ride the very same stretch of road over and over several times.

    The 2nd part... Decided all my bikes needed ABS as I'm primarily a road rider, none of them has defeatable ABS.
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  7. kbroderick

    kbroderick Long timer

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    Yes, you'd need to ride the same section repeatedly to play with where you start braking. For me, I have one incredible road near home and not much else for good riding, so I know that one road fairly well and know which corners I need to give a little more respect to.

    On the second part, I'd think you could do the same drill trying to either bring it almost to ABS engagement as you ride across the parking lot. I haven't ridden anything particularly new with ABS, but the last ABS-enabled bike I rode enough to know, I could feel the Tourances squirm before the ABS would engage.
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  8. VX Rider

    VX Rider Long timer

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    From my understanding of "the pace", it says nothing at all about not braking.

    So drag a little rear or front brake as you enter the corner....tip the bike in, and as you roll on the throttle release the brake
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  9. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

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    FYI - from Ienatsch (Pace author)

    "In The Pace I wrote that you might not see a brake light flash all day. This is misleading. Readers could interpret this to mean that using the brakes is wrong, and I should have been much clearer. Yes, riding up Angeles Crest Highway with almost no corners below 50 mph, seeing the brake light would be uncommon because we weren’t hammering the throttle on the straights. But if you went with us to tight-and-twisty Stunt Road in Malibu, you’d see lots of brake lights.

    Brakes. Yes. To not only control your speed, but your steering geometry, too. That is the biggest and most important clarification in The Pace 2.0: The use of brakes. You go to the brakes anytime you need your speed controlled more than is possible by simply closing the throttle. The faster you ride, the more brakes you will use, all things (like lean angle) being equal. If you’re in the habit of slamming on the brakes at every corner entrance, you are definitely not riding The Pace and that big speed and abruptness will eventually hurt you. If you use a little brake pressure to trail-brake (brake while turning) into the occasional corner, you’ve got the right idea."

    He's a big fan of trail braking. There are a lot of videos on YouTube by him and Ken Hill from YCRS.
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  10. C/1/509

    C/1/509 Why?

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    In YCRS (I have not attended, would love to though) they repeatedly ask the students "When do we sit in the middle of the seat?" Answer - "Never!" They teach you to have your body position set before you go to the brakes. Remember though that Nick doesn't want you to hang off the bike on the street - just the track.

    Is the core problem the slow turns themselves or the transition from one corner to the next?
    #10
  11. CSI

    CSI Long timer

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  12. foxtrapper

    foxtrapper Long timer

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    In the very basic of concepts, yes, your thinking of rolling off the brakes as you dive into the turn is correct.

    But from your description of your riding, you're totally failing at braking. Not braking at all is not a fast way to ride.

    Very basically, brake earlier, so that you have the speed down to where it needs to be when you actually enter the turn.

    Refinement #1, learn to brake harder and later, so you keep your speed up in the straights as long as possible, while still getting it down to where it needs to be when you actually enter the turn.

    Refinement #2, Learn to brake harder and later than in #1, so that as you are entering the turn you're just bringing the speed down to where it needs to be. Then you roll off the brakes while you roll into the turn, riding the outer edge of the traction circle.

    Practicality #1, you don't always want to be on the edge of the traction circle, especially on the street. There is no room for error, no margin of safety out on the edge of the traction circle.

    [​IMG]

    http://www.formula1-dictionary.net/advanced_braking.html
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  13. Catatafish

    Catatafish Adventurer

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    When I'm feeling rusty, I go back to how I started increasing my speed for street riding... I want all my braking done long before a tight turn that has oncoming traffic on one side and ditch on another. The bike should be settled, I should feel good about the beginning of my line.....now I have all my "attention points" (forget which book that was) focused on body position and choosing the right line through the turn, all the while having enough attention left over for critter and drivers crossing center line monitoring.

    For me, only after that is mastered/remastered, and burned into muscle memory, then it's time to worry about trail braking. Trail braking requires one more thing to worry about and time correctly.

    Edit: I'd just add....when I ride with the really fast (and young) guys, I too have issues on these slow corners. Every couple of weeks one of them goes down in the gravel. So I'd just chalk it up to having more sense than them when you're not feeling it on the road vs. track. You clearly know how to tackle it on the track. If your only issue is replicating that on the street....then just don't. Gravel at the end of the turn (or slime runoff from someone's yard) is inevitable.
    #13
  14. lnewqban

    lnewqban Ninjetter

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    I believe that trail braking is not the magical solution to your problem of wrestling feeling.
    In order to corner fast, you must develop a fine sense of the entry speed that is correct for each tight curve and conditions.
    The only way to be accurate about calculating and achieving that speed is by mastering your vision and the brakes (engine brake alone is very imprecise regarding final speed).

    With plenty of time prior arriving to the curve, visually determine your entry point on the road and commit to it.
    You have to learn to study and figure out each curve way before you arrive to it: if the available information is limited, you should select a conservative entry speed, just in case you are missing some hidden danger.
    You should position your bike in your lane and follow a line (late apex) that gives you the most visual information (vanishing point, curve of power poles, potential traffic, intersections, etc.).
    Your eyes (sharp central and peripherial vision simultaneously) should be gathering information as far ahead and as deep into the curve as possible, all the time.

    [​IMG]

    While you do all that, you are off the gas and on the brakes as early as practically possible (coasting does nothing for fast riders like you: either on the gas or on the brakes).
    The more time you are on the brakes, the easier it is to modulate a more moderate deceleration down to the proper entry speed.
    Then, you release the brakes and gradually open the throttle as early as possible on the curve (no need to wait for the apex).

    These could give you additional ideas for practicing the above:
    http://forums.superbikeschool.com/topic/310-the-fine-art-of-braking/

    https://advrider.com/index.php?threads/countersteer-or-die.1315345/page-4#post-35312985

    :muutt
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  15. oic

    oic Business is ALWAYS personal

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    https://www.n2td.org/trail-braking/

    Braking is my biggest challenge at the track. This article has helped me a lot. One of my biggest issues with TB is I tend to hang on to the brakes too long and lose too much speed. Its a great skill to have. Keep working at it. You don't need racetrack speeds to practice these skills.
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  16. Moronic

    Moronic Long timer

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    Always hard to diagnose from a post on the internet, but here is what jumps out to me.

    You are comfortable in the quick turns, where you don't use the brakes much. You have fallen in slow turns, where you used the brakes a lot.

    Your hypothesis is that you have poor braking technique. Okay. So then what is poor about it?

    Here's a thought: for the slow turns, you are braking too hard.

    Why would I say that?

    Well, the key to satisfaction in any turn is to get your entry speed right. It looks and sounds as though in the quick turns, you are managing that.

    In the slow turns, perhaps not.

    So, what does it mean to get your entry speed right?

    It means having the bike at the right speed on turn-in. That is, judging the turn and getting the bike to the right speed at the time and place when you turn in to the corner.

    What makes that easier? Adjusting your speed more gently.

    What makes it more difficult? Adjusting your speed more severely.

    So, you like the quick turns because you adjust your speed gently for those, and get your entry speed more or less right.

    How to get more fun from the slow turns? Brake gently, and get your entry speed right.

    It will feel slower. But likely you'll be quicker.
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  17. drmiller100

    drmiller100 Long timer

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    I used to autocross a LOT. And I was pretty good. In autocross you learn the importance of late apex.
    Late apex means you brake earlier, harder. You do all your braking straight, stay wide in the corner later, and your minimum speed is actually lower than the center apex shown. So, you brake a lot, then look up, and realize you are going "too slow", so you turn in. Because you are going "too slow", you turn in sharper, and sooner. Once you are turned, you look up, and you are going too slow, so you start accelerating well before the apex, making the next straightaway longer. Because the next straightaway started sooner for you, you are going 2 or 4 mph faster on every point on that straightaway.
    A bonus is if you brake sooner in preparation for that late apex, and something goes wrong (sand, rabbit, whatever) you have more chance to dodge it. Just don't accelerate and you are already going slower.
    The guys who early apex are screwed - they overbaked the corner and now have limited options.
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  18. fast1075

    fast1075 Fasterizer

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    Are you looking far enough thru the turn, or maybe fixating a bit on how tight it is? My perspective is if I am riding an unknown road, I simply will not out ride my sight lines, period. And due to the limited "good riding" roads in Flaw'duh I do loop roads a lot, so I know them well. If I am in the mood for some spirited riding, the first loop is a "sighting lap" to assess road condition.

    The trail braking thing requires confidence and practice. I learned to ride on tires that did not much inspire confidence because of the poor traction. I had to unlearn to ride modern tires with confidence.
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  19. JohnCW

    JohnCW Long timer

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    You have it largely correct. Set your body position for the corner at essentially the same time as your start to brake and downshift while still straight up and down. Certainly not after braking, as that in effect means you would be moving around on the bike at the same time or even after tipping into the corner.

    You want your body position to help you tip into the corner, so that is way it's done in advance of the corner. Now that raises a question worth understanding. If body position assists a bike tip into a corner, but is set in advance of the corner, what makes the bike continue to run straight till the point the rider wants the bike to actually tip in?
    #19
  20. Owen Snell

    Owen Snell Adventurer

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    Inside body position just reduces the bike's lean angle giving you more tyre to work with. Didn't the no bulls**t bike show that body position alone only has a very limited / slow affect on actual turn?
    #20