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Braking by Nick Ienatsch

Outlaws Justice

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nick is one of our forum members on another forum I am a member of, he shared the following and I tought the members here might benefit from it.



"If you have to stop in a corner, one of two things will happen. One, you will stand the bike up and ride it off the shoulder and into whatever is over there. Or two, you will lay the bike down and slide off the shoulder of the road. Braking is done before, or after a corner. The best thing to do before taking a corner is to grind the thought "I'm going to turn this corner" into your mind."

Hiya FZ1 lovers.
I’ve stewed for two days about the above quote taken from another FZ1OA thread...and finally decided to launch this thread. In past years I would have just rolled my eyes and muttered, “Whatever”…but not anymore. I want to tell you that there are measureable, explainable, repeatable, do-able reasons that make great riders great. And brake usage is at the very tippity-top of these reasons. It’ll save your life, it’ll make you a champion. It will save and grow our sport.
I’ll ask this one favor: Would you open your mind to what I’m about to write, then go out and mess around with it?
To begin: Realize that great motorcycle riding is more subtle in its inputs than most of us imagine. I bet you are moving your hand too quickly with initial throttle and brakes. Moving your right foot too quickly with initial rear brake. The difference between a lap record and a highside is minute, almost-immeasureable differences in throttle and lean angle. The difference between hitting the Camaro in your lane and missing it by a foot is the little things a rider can do with speed control at lean angle. Brakes at lean angle. Brakes in a corner.
Yes, a rider can brake in a corner. Yes. For sure. Guaranteed. I promise. Happens all the time. I do it on every ride, track or street. Yes, a rider can stop in a corner. In fact, any student who rides with the Yamaha Champions Riding School will tell you it’s possible. Complete stop, mid-corner…no drama. Newbies and experts alike.
There are some interesting processes to this sport, mostly revolving around racing. But as I thought about this thread, putting numbers on each thought made more sense because explaining these concepts relies on busting some myths and refining your inputs. Some things must be ingrained…like #1 below.

1)You never, ever, never stab at the brakes. Understand a tire’s grip this way: Front grip is divided between lean angle points and brake points, rear grip is lean angle points and acceleration points, lean angle points and brake points. Realize that the tire will take a great load, but it won’t take a sudden load…and so you practice this smooth loading at every moment in/on every vehicle. If you stab the brakes (um...or throttle...) in your pickup, you berate yourself because you know that the stab, at lean angle on your motorcycle (and bicycle, btw), will be a crash.

2)Let’s examine tire grip. If you’re leaned over at 95% (95 points in my book Sport Riding Techniques and fastersafer.com) of the tires’ available grip, you still have 5% of that grip available for braking (or accelerating). But maybe you only have 3%!!! You find out because you always add braking “points” in a smooth, linear manner. As the front tire reaches its limit, it will squirm and warn you…if that limit is reached in a linear manner.
It’s the grabbing of 30 points that hurts anyone leaned over more than 70 points. If you ride slowly with no lean angle, you will begin to believe that aggressiveness and grabbing the front brake lever is okay…and it is…until you carry more lean angle (or it’s raining, or you’re on a dirt road or your tire’s cold…pick your excuse). Do you have a new rider in your life? Get them thinking of never, ever, never grabbing the brakes. Throttle too…

3)If you STAB the front brake at lean angle, one of two things will happen. If the grip is good, the fork will collapse and the bike will stand up and run wide. If the grip is not-so-good, the front tire will lock and slide. The italicized advice at the beginning was written by a rider who aggressively goes after the front brake lever. His bike always stands up or lowsides. He’s inputting brake force too aggressively, too quickly...he isn't smoothly loading the fork springs or loading the tire. He may not believe this, but the tire will handle the load he wants, but the load must be fed-in more smoothly…and his experience leads to written advice that will hurt/kill other riders. “Never touch the brakes at lean angle?” Wrong. “Never grab the brakes at lean angle?” Right!
But what about the racers on TV who lose the front in the braking zone? Pay attention to when they lose grip. If it’s immediately, it’s because they stabbed the brake at lean angle. If it’s late in the braking zone, it’s because they finally exceeded 100 points of grip deep in the braking zone…if you’re adding lean angle, you’ve got to be “trailing off” the brakes as the tire nears its limit.

4) Radius equals MPH. Realize that speed affects the bike’s radius at a given lean angle. If the corner is tighter than expected, continue to bring your speed down. What’s the best way to bring your speed down? Roll off the throttle and hope you slow down? Or roll off the throttle and squeeze on a little brake? Please don’t answer off the top of your head…answer after you’ve experimented in the real world.
Do this: Ride in a circle in a parking lot at a given lean angle. That’s your radius. Run a circle or two and then slowly sneak on more throttle at the same lean angle and watch what your radius does. Now ride in the circle again, and roll off the throttle…at the same lean angle. You are learning Radius equals MPH. You are learning what throttle and off-throttle does to your radius through steering geometry changes and speed changes. You are learning something on your own, rather than asking for advice on subjects that affect your health and life. (You will also learn why I get so upset when new riders are told to push on the inside bar and pick up the throttle if they get in the corner too fast. Exactly the opposite of what the best riders do. But don’t believe me…try it.)
Let me rant for a moment: Almost every bit of riding advice works when the pace is low and the grip is high. It’s when the corner tightens or the sleet falls or the lap record is within reach…then everything counts.
“Get all your braking done before the turn,” is good riding advice. But what if you don’t? What if the corner goes the other way and is tighter and there’s gravel? It’s then that you don’t need advice, you need riding technique. Theory goes out the window and if you don’t perform the exact action, you will be lying in the dirt, or worse. Know that these techniques are not only understandable, but do-able by you. Yes you! I’m motivated to motivate you due to what I’ve seen working at Freddie’s school and now the Champ school…
I’m telling you this: If you can smoothly, gently pick-up your front brake lever and load the tire, you can brake at any lean angle on and FZ1. Why? Because our footpegs drag before our tires lose grip when things are warm and dry. It might be only 3 points, but missing the bus bumper by a foot is still missing the bumper! If it’s raining, you simply take these same actions and reduce them…you can still mix lean angle and brake pressure, but with considerably less of each. Rainy and cold? Lower still, but still combine-able.

5)So you’re into a right-hand corner and you must stop your bike for whatever reason. You close the throttle and sneak on the brakes lightly, balancing lean angle points against brake points. As you slow down, your radius continues to tighten. You don’t want to run off the inside of the corner, so you take away lean angle. What can you do with the brakes when you take away lean angle? Yes! Squeeze more. Stay with it and you will stop your bike mid-corner completely upright. No drama. But don’t just believe me…go prove it to yourself.

6)Let’s examine the final sentence in the italicized quote. The best thing to do before taking a corner is to grind the thought "I'm going to turn this corner" into your mind.
No, that’s not the best thing. It’s not the worst thing and I’m all for positive thinking, but we all need to see the difference between riding advice and riding techniques. This advice works until you enter a corner truly beyond your mental, physical or mechanical limits. I would change this to: The best thing to do before taking a corner is to scan with your eyes, use your brakes until you’re happy with your speed and direction, sneak open your throttle to maintain your chosen speed and radius, don’t accelerate until you can see your exit and can take away lean angle.
7)Do you think I’m being over-dramatic by claiming this will save our sport? Are we crashing because we’re going too slowly in the corners or too fast? Yes, too fast. What component reduces speed? Brakes. What component calms your brain? Brakes. What component, when massaged skillfully, helps the bike turn? Brakes. If riders are being told that they can’t use the brakes at lean angle, you begin to see the reason for my drama level. When I have a new rider in my life, my third priority is to have them, “Turn into the corner with the brake-light on.”

I’ve said it before: This is the only bike forum I’m a member of. I like it, I like the peeps, I like the info, I love the bike. Could we begin to change the information we pass along regarding brakes and lean angle? Could we control our sport by actually controlling our motorcycles? If we don’t control our sport, someone else will try. Closed throttle, no brakes is “out of the controls”. Get out there and master the brakes.
Thanks, I feel better.

Nick Ienatsch
Yamaha Champions Riding School
Fastersafer.com
 

RedDogDarren

Well-known member
nick is one of our forum members on another forum I am a member of, he shared the following and I tought the members here might benefit from it.
One of my favorite journalists. Thanks for sharing.
 

silent_vik

Well-known member
very informative. thanks for sharing!

one question: normally i do try to do all my braking before the turn, but like it says in the OP, there are instances where you dont have a choice and will have to brake in the middle of the turn. Which brake to use at that time the most? front? rear? both in conjuction?
asking for two kind of braking situations.. one just to slow down and the other would be to come to a complete stop.
 

Outlaws Justice

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Brakes can do many things in a turn aside from slowing that can help you change direction as well. I tend to practice with both brakes but every situation will differ.
 

knowledge

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very informative. thanks for sharing!

one question: normally i do try to do all my braking before the turn, but like it says in the OP, there are instances where you dont have a choice and will have to brake in the middle of the turn. Which brake to use at that time the most? front? rear? both in conjuction?
asking for two kind of braking situations.. one just to slow down and the other would be to come to a complete stop.
Depends on your bike and its geometry. My 250 doesn't transfer weight to the front too as well as an ss so I can actually brake pretty heavily with it mid-turn. If I had to pick one brake to use, I'd pick the front over the rear...but I still use both brakes mid-turn.

Your complete stop scenario's covered in the OP, already. If you're coming to a complete stop while leaning, you can allocate more traction points braking when your bike starts standing up.

I'm an advocate of trail-braking even on the street, but I know that some people won't agree with me. But by trail-braking into turns, I can shave off any excess speed and instead of using the split-second to wait for the initial [gradual] weight transfer, I can use that already braking and shaving speed.

I would advise toying around with locking your rear. Whenever I'm on group rides and someone panic brakes in a straight line, they almost always lock up their rear. Learn to ride it out & learn to steer with it locked.

I read a lot of books before I even got on my first bike and they've definitely helped both in everyday situations and in the twisties. One of them was "Sport Riding Techniques" by Nick Ienatsch
 

reciprocity

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I would advise toying around with locking your rear. Whenever I'm on group rides and someone panic brakes in a straight line, they almost always lock up their rear. Learn to ride it out & learn to steer with it locked.
What you, and anyone else should be toying with and practicing is how to NOT lock the rear brake and learning to modulate it with feel, the same as the front.

A locked rear wheel offers little benefit, a rear wheel spinning less slowly than the ground speed of the bike is and will aid in slowing the bike, but it will also let you make line/trajectory adjustments at the same time!
 

Outlaws Justice

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What you, and anyone else should be toying with and practicing is how to NOT lock the rear brake and learning to modulate it with feel, the same as the front.

A locked rear wheel offers little benefit, a rear wheel spinning less slowly than the ground speed of the bike is and will aid in slowing the bike, but it will also let you make line/trajectory adjustments at the same time!
So true and one of the reasons the MSF training in the state got away from the excercise that had students locking the rear brake.
 

knowledge

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What you, and anyone else should be toying with and practicing is how to NOT lock the rear brake and learning to modulate it with feel, the same as the front.

A locked rear wheel offers little benefit, a rear wheel spinning less slowly than the ground speed of the bike is and will aid in slowing the bike, but it will also let you make line/trajectory adjustments at the same time!
That was exactly my point, though. I had lock the rear on purpose to learn how hard I could brake just before it would start locking up. Learning to steer with it is just practical advice 'cause usually, when people panic brake, it's usually 'cause something "pops up" aka they didn't notice all the cars slowing down and coming to a stop. If you don't stop in time, at least you can aim for an open space

Does my 250 have enough power to back in? Like, is it just a matter of technique? 'Cause everything seems to be a matter of clutch with the smaller bikes. I can't even make the rear spin out when it rains lol
 

reciprocity

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That was exactly my point, though. I had lock the rear on purpose to learn how hard I could brake just before it would start locking up. Learning to steer with it is just practical advice 'cause usually, when people panic brake, it's usually 'cause something "pops up" aka they didn't notice all the cars slowing down and coming to a stop. If you don't stop in time, at least you can aim for an open space

Does my 250 have enough power to back in? Like, is it just a matter of technique? 'Cause everything seems to be a matter of clutch with the smaller bikes. I can't even make the rear spin out when it rains lol


Backing it in is not a result of rear brake use at all, it's done with the gearbox.

This is why you don't see riders locking the rear in race conditions while backing it in.

The rear wheel never locks, it is always spinning, albeit much more slowly than the forward speed of the bike

At the very advanced level, the rear brake is used while backing it in to adjust the slide and control the arc of the turn entry slide.

ie, while you are entering the turn, bike sliding sideways, instead of using lean angle to tighten the turn up, you can apply rear brake, which will cause the bike to essentially pivot about the rear wheel and bring the radius of the turn in(it's a lot easier to demonstrate than explain)
 

Brian P

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Regarding front versus rear brake: Applying the brakes transfers more weight to the front and transfers it off the rear. The more rear brake you apply, the sooner it will lock up. The more front brake you apply, the MORE grip you have - but it takes time for the suspension to react and this is why the article's discussion about never grabbing the brake is important.

That's all well and good in a straight line. if you are truly leaned waaaaay over in a corner and you have to brake, you cannot achieve much deceleration and therefore weight transfer, so the ideal situation involves applying a little bit of both. How much ... requires considerable practice.

Now, think about this. The article discusses how many "points of traction" you have. In reality it is not additive, it's more than that, because you really have a "traction circle". You have whatever combination of deceleration and cornering up to the traction limit defined by that circle.

Reality is that few people when riding on the street use more than 70% of available grip when cornering. If you are riding harder than that, you are taking some serious risks. (In 20+ years of street riding I've never touched a knee down on the street. On the track, in good conditions ... lap after lap.)

If you work out the mathematics of a circle, if you are using 70% of available grip in cornering it turns out that you have about 70% of normal braking capability available! That's enough for 70% of normal weight transfer forward from braking and it's enough for the front brake to be the most important and the rear brake to be the least important, unless you have a bike with unusual rearward weight bias - cruiser, touring bike, carrying a passenger, etc. - but in those cases you're probably not even cornering as hard anyway.

The key, as stated in the article, is SMOOTHLY ease into the brake, because you can't jolt instantly up to that 70% braking when you are already 70% cornering - that's a recipe for a crash.

Common situation when entering a corner is that partway through, you see something that prevents you from taking the normal cornering line, whether it's an oncoming vehicle or debris on the road or whatever. Typically this is going to mean shifting your path towards the outside of the corner (but not off the road). This requires straightening up and then turning once again. Look where you want to go. Simultaneously straighten up the bike while progressively applying brake (mostly front - some rear if you wish). When you get to the point where you once again have to turn in in order to make the corner, once again, look where you want to go, simultaneously turn in while easing off brake pressure.
 

Brian P

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Does my 250 have enough power to back in? Like, is it just a matter of technique? 'Cause everything seems to be a matter of clutch with the smaller bikes. I can't even make the rear spin out when it rains lol
Your safety on the road is not dependent on being able to "back it in".

Having said that ... you can high-side ANYTHING if you do the wrong things with it.
 

Outlaws Justice

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Your safety on the road is not dependent on being able to "back it in".

Having said that ... you can high-side ANYTHING if you do the wrong things with it.
Learning new skills is always a good thing, but remember that learning advanced skills like anything else also means you will often be outside your comfort zone and risk is involved.
 

Flywheel

Well-known member
Backing it in is not a result of rear brake use at all, it's done with the gearbox.

This is why you don't see riders locking the rear in race conditions while backing it in.

The rear wheel never locks, it is always spinning, albeit much more slowly than the forward speed of the bike

At the very advanced level, the rear brake is used while backing it in to adjust the slide and control the arc of the turn entry slide.

ie, while you are entering the turn, bike sliding sideways, instead of using lean angle to tighten the turn up, you can apply rear brake, which will cause the bike to essentially pivot about the rear wheel and bring the radius of the turn in(it's a lot easier to demonstrate than explain)
Translation: I'm not sure.
Conclusion: My next bike should be 125cc.
 

knowledge

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Backing it in is not a result of rear brake use at all, it's done with the gearbox.

This is why you don't see riders locking the rear in race conditions while backing it in.

The rear wheel never locks, it is always spinning, albeit much more slowly than the forward speed of the bike

At the very advanced level, the rear brake is used while backing it in to adjust the slide and control the arc of the turn entry slide.

ie, while you are entering the turn, bike sliding sideways, instead of using lean angle to tighten the turn up, you can apply rear brake, which will cause the bike to essentially pivot about the rear wheel and bring the radius of the turn in(it's a lot easier to demonstrate than explain)
Forgive me if I just don't understand backing it in correctly, but after you've backed in and changed the apex or point of your turn, then don't you have to make the rear wheel catch up to the speed of the front wheel?

My question is whether or not you would need power to do this, or if it's all just a matter of technique. I can't power through a turn on my 250, even if I kick down 2 gears. Going WOT doesn't do much, so I'm a little skeptical about it even being possible on a 250r for anyone but the most skilled and experienced.
 

Brian P

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It's also neither relevant nor necessary to 99.9% of street riders on ANY bike. It's not even relevant to most track day riders and roadracers. And it's not relevant to the topic at hand, which pertains to SAFELY braking in a corner in response to an unexpected obstruction.

edit: I should add that slowing the rear wheel with the gearbox (which reciprocity has correctly pointed out as being the underlying action behind "backing it in" - not rear brake) is a useful thing to do ... but in a panic situation where something pops out of nowhere in your lane, doing stuff with the clutch and gearbox should NOT be your priority. Using the brakes correctly should be. Prior to entering the corner, you should have already done the downshifting so that the bike is already in the correct gear for coming out of the corner. If something happens mid corner, this means you need not concern yourself with the gearbox, because it's already in the right gear anyways.
 
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Outlaws Justice

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It's also neither relevant nor necessary to 99.9% of street riders on ANY bike. It's not even relevant to most track day riders and roadracers. And it's not relevant to the topic at hand, which pertains to SAFELY braking in a corner in response to an unexpected obstruction.
That about sums it up in a nut shell. hard to keep threads on topic!
 

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