Nick Ienatsch’s Braking Top 5

To go fast you must be able to slow.

Cycle World motorcyclist riding on road.
Trail-braking is reducing brake pressure as you add lean angle.Cycle World Archives

Trail-braking defined: Reducing brake pressure as you add lean angle. If you know anything about me, you should know my emphasis on the importance of proper braking technique, especially trail-braking. However, it doesn't hurt to revisit some of the bigger pieces on slowing and controlling your motorcycle the right way. Below is a compilation of my braking top five:

Brake Light Initiative: Braking Properly

The Pace 2.0 challenges riders to add this statement to their riding portfolio: “I can go to the brakes at any time during my ride.” The Brake Light Initiative (BLI) will take this challenge much further as I illustrate that a rider’s ability to use the brakes anywhere, anytime will significantly improve his or her riding.

Each and every brake application begins with the first movement of a brake lever or pedal, typically the point where the motorcycle brake light flashes on, and that initial squeeze begins the forward weight transfer to load the fork springs and front tire. This initial squeeze can happen relatively quickly, but it shouldn't happen abruptly. Big difference.

Trail-Braking On The Street

While shooting this video, Coop DeVille and I sat 50 feet from the freeway on-ramp and watched 100 percent of the four-wheeled vehicles entering the on-ramp trail their brakes into the corner, the brake lights staying on past the turn-in. Grandma in her minivan, the plumber in his work truck, and everyone in between—100 percent. Were they all trained at a racetrack, or were they simply slowing their vehicles until they were happy with their speed and direction with trail-braking?

Stop, Midcorner Or Anywhere

In “The Brake Light Initiative” I challenged riders to be able to sneak on the brakes during any part of their ride. If a rider can go to the brakes at any moment, confidence and safety soar. In this video, Dwayne Stroman and I discuss and display a life-saving riding skill: the ability to stop our bikes midcorner from real-world speeds.

Motorcyclist riding on road at maximum speed.
Few rider’s get close to a motorcycle’s maximum stopping potential.Jeff Allen

A Practice Guide For Braking

Last week while standing on the Inde Motorsports Ranch asphalt watching riders approach during the Yamaha Champions Riding School’s braking practice session, it occurred to me how poorly most riders brake. To be more precise: how poorly most riders perform during an emergency stop. Very few even get close to the bike's maximum stopping potential until well into the drill.

Accelerate With A Plan To Brake

Whew! I just flew home after a whirlwind week of instruction: two days of YCRS at Inde Motorsports Ranch in Willcox, Arizona; two more days of Level 3 training at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar near San Diego; and finally our first-ever Harley Owners Group clinics in Las Vegas.

These disparate groups are examples of why I want to plant something in every rider’s brain that is becoming more common in YCRS verbiage: I accelerate because I plan to brake.