Learn How To Master Trail-Braking

Tip #91 from the pages of The Total Motorcycling Manual

Master Trail-Braking, trail-braking, how to

Brakes aren’t just for slowing down or stopping—proper brake use also can help you turn as well as settling your bike’s chassis.

Traditional riding instruction says do all your braking with the bike straight up and down—before you turn. This technique certainly is safe, but it’s not the only way. Trail-braking is a technique where you stay on the brakes through the turn entrance, perhaps even all the way to the apex. You brake less and less as the apex grows closer, releasing the brakes as you accelerate out of the turn. Why? Racers like it because it's faster. It also makes it easier to tighten the radius towards the end of the turn if you need to avoid an unseen problem.

Most of the time you’ll be using both your front and rear brakes. But a second technique involves lightly dragging the rear brake while you’re on the gas. The idea here isn’t to slow down, but to settle the bike’s chassis and to help it stand up on acceleration.

The secret with either technique is smoothness—easy on, easy off. And both are skills every rider should practice and master.