How to brake in a corner if going too fast on a motorcycle?
There are times when you may be travelling into a bend a little bit too fast for your own comfort. So the answer to the question ‘How to brake in a corner if going too fast on a motorcycle’, is not a quick answer or simple solution, as there is a lot to discuss and think about.
This is an appropriate time to discuss the merits of advanced training. This is because you really should know how to ride to a methodical system. That way you will always be planning and be aware of the road ahead and see the hazards that you are riding towards.
Is braking in a bend a no, no?
Braking in a bend has always been seen as a no, no. But in the right conditions and circumstances, you can use some kind of braking if you are travelling into a corner too fast.
The key to success is to practise at a slower speed and understand what you would need to do when you find yourself in a situation where you have got to slow down.(H3) Entry speed is too fast
One of the biggest reasons that riders need to slow down in a corner is because their entry speed is far too high for their ability. Or they have failed to plan for a hazard mid-corner before they could see it.
There is a reason advanced riders use this saying ‘You must be able to stop within the distance you can see to be clear, on your side of the road’.
The correct speed of approach
The following few tips are different ways to prevent the necessity to brake whilst cornering, but there is a way to slow the bike down mid-corner quickly if you really need to.
Firstly, to avoid braking mid-corner, you should work on your vision and planning. Far too many riders do not look far enough ahead, which causes panic braking or riding too fast into hazards.
By having a deeper understanding of forward vision and how to assess the road ahead, you must learn how to judge the severity of a bend.
There are different methods to do this and there is no right or wrong answer, you must learn how to assess the bend in order to adopt the correct speed.
Vanishing or Limit Point
To learn how to do this you should be familiar with Vanishing Points or Limit Points, this will help you to judge your speed correctly. Some trainers do not advocate this but it is a good starting point if you find it difficult to judge the speed you require.
Another way is to have a memory recall on the layout and set-up of the road ahead. Once you have dealt with the same type of corner many times, you become familiar with the feel of the bend and how you should set the bike up to negotiate the bend.
You can do this by putting a number of severity on the corner, the higher the number the more severe the bend. As an example, a zero is a straight road and a ten is a hairpin bend.
Slow in, Fast Out
This is very similar to track riders who learn how to corner on a certain race track by repetition. But the golden rule you should always use when learning to corner correctly is:
Slow In – Fast Out.
If you use a methodical system to approach every bend, you will soon become familiar with approaching the corner with a structured planned approach. You will start to understand where you are going wrong and be able to pinpoint what areas need to be altered in order to improve cornering.
A systematic approach is the key to success
Always practise at a slower speed than you normally ride, in order to process what you are doing and set the new skills you are developing. Riding too fast when practising will not help you to make changes that are required or set the new skill as your new way of riding.
There are different methods
There are a number of ways that you can slow the motorcycle down before cornering commences. There are various articles explaining different ways to do it and you will see some very elaborate ways of explaining what you should do.
Some of them sound out of your ability set and they are overcomplicated! After all, you just need to know how you can slow down safely to stay on the road and hopefully in your own lane.
Below are a few things to think about. You should be able to isolate what is wrong with your own riding in order to prepare more accurately for each corner or bend that you encounter.
Turn off the throttle and countersteer
For obvious reasons, you don’t want to use the front brake in a bend. Using the front brake will mean that the bike will either want to sit up and want to go straight, or you could lose control of the front end (low side) if you brake too hard.
One of the problems of riding in a higher gear is when you turn off the power by closing the throttle, the bike will want to naturally run on instead of slowing down quickly enough. Running on means there is no engine braking and instead of the bike tipping in, it will want to go straight on (or that’s how it feels).
This is one of the reasons why it’s so important to select the correct gear prior to arriving at the entrance of the corner and turning point.
So what you should do on approach is slow down well before the turning point. Make sure that you’re in the correct gear before you start the counter-steering manoeuvre. Being at the correct speed before the turning point is important to have one steering movement through the corner.
Turn off the throttle and use the rear brake
However, there may be times when you do ride into the corner a little bit too fast and want to brake.
The first thing to do if you need to slow down in the bend is to turn off the power by closing the throttle, this will give you some engine braking (provided you are in a responsive gear).
You can then apply the rear brake gently. This will have the desired effect and slow the bike down further which will allow you to steer the bike through the corner.
As long as you look where you want to go and use counter steering, it will help the bike go into the corner a little bit tighter.
Turn off the throttle and gently apply both brakes
It has always been said that you should never use your front brake in a bend. This I presume is a scare tactic, to stop people from using the front brake. It is probably because riders have been aggressive or overbraked when panicking and fallen off mid-bend!
Although as instructors, we generally agree that you should not use the front brake when tipping into or mid-bend, there is a way that it can be used. If you have ever experienced riding off-road or doing any riding on loose surfaces, you will know that you can use both brakes to slow down.
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Get the pads to gently bind the disc
The point here is that you do not use the brakes aggressively and just apply them very gently. This is to get the pads to just gently grip the discs (especially on the front wheel), to slow the momentum of the front wheel. This can be done lightly and have great results in speed loss, especially on poor surfaces (when off-road riding).
This happens to all riders. There may well be times where you go into a bend and you are travelling too fast and need to slow the motorcycle down. You’re always advised never to brake mid corner.
However, if you do need to use your brakes, the idea is to turn the power off and use the brakes gently as you go into the corner. The desired effect will be to slow both wheels down gently and gradually whilst you are cornering.
Do not panic brake
If you panic brake this will have a detrimental effect on the motorcycle and this method will have a totally different outcome.
To prevent the necessity to brake in the corner, you should undergo some advanced training and learn how to set the bike up prior to arriving at the corner.
You could even book yourself onto an off-road training day to build up your own knowledge, skills and experience. We highly recommend the Yamaha Off-road Experience to develop your skills in an alternative environment.
This will also mean you complete one of the Extra Modules in the Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) syllabus.
Lift the bike up straight and brake hard – Release and tip in
If you do need to brake hard while you’re in a corner. You will need to lift the bike upright so that you’re travelling in a straight line and then apply both brakes positively to slow the speed of the bike down.
Once you’ve done this, you can then release the brakes and then tip the bike back into the bend by counter steering again.
The way you do this is to look at the corner itself and find an area where you can create a straight section of road within the corner. There will always be a section (however long or short the curve) where you will be able to create a braking area in a straight line.
Get the bike upright and travelling straight
Have a look for the straightest line through the corner, where you can lift the bike upright so that you’re riding straight for as long as possible while you apply both brakes. While the bike is upright and as long as the road surface is good, the brakes can be applied quite aggressively to slow down.
Once you have the correct speed to corner again or start to run out of space. You should release the brakes, look where you want to go and then counter steer to lean the bike back into the corner.
Practice at slower speeds
This particular manoeuvre should be understood and practised at a slower speed. This way you will have a clearer understanding of what you can do if you ever find yourself in the situation where if you don’t react you will have an incident.
Riding off the road and having a single vehicle accident is typically rider error, where the rider fails to get round a corner and rides off the tarmac. This is a very common error for new riders trying to keep up with quicker riders and also with riders who ride quickly and get caught out.
Never use this technique as a get out clause for riding too fast for your own ability. Instead you should learn to corner properly, so that you enter the bend at the correct speed.
I have heard it many times while I am training that the person informs me that they prefer to trail brake into a bend. They have normally heard the phrase and don’t always fully understand it, or have not been taught how to do it. They state they are doing it because they ride fast and they frequently use it to lose speed going into a bend (Valantino Rossi style).
The fact is that without proper education to do this and fully understand what you are doing, trail braking like this is upsetting the bike on a very precarious road surface. You are putting all your faith in the road surface being perfect, along with all other factors being in your favour.
I don’t dispute that riders use this method to brake. But it is usually because they are travelling too quickly into the corner and have to slow down using their brakes. It is used as a way of reducing the bike’s pace to a more comfortable speed for their own ability.
One of the problems riding too fast into a corner is target fixation. If you start to get a little bit panicked in the corner, you could end up looking directly in front of the bike towards the kerb or towards the white line (other side of the road).
If you target fixate, the bike will start to go straight towards where you are looking. This is where the phrase, the bike will go where you look comes from. It will prevent you from steering the bike in the direction of the correct road position.
Target fixation may mean that you leave the road or travel across into the opposite lane and towards oncoming traffic. This error is down to excessive speed for the riders ability.
Basically, as a motorcyclist you are vulnerable to a number of factors. It is important to understand your own ability and that of the motorcycle.
You have to respect the road and the power of the motorcycle, if you don’t the consequences could be severe and devastating. Far too many riders ride faster than their ability and have problems and scary moments while they are riding.
You should always consider further training over performance parts for your bike. Advanced motorcycle training is not beyond anyone’s ability, it merely means advancing your skills from where you are now to a higher level.
You decide on how far you want to take your own personal riding development. You may only want to improve a little bit, or move onto becoming a proficient advanced rider who is in full control at all times.
It’s your decision how good you want to be or whether you just want to get by! Do you want to be blissfully unaware of your mistakes and be naive about your riding, or do you want to be the best you can be? If you want to improve we really do advocate further advanced motorcycle training.
Our aim at Motorcycle Riders Hub is to help riders understand, develop and improve their riding skills. Our mission is to help riders Keep it on the Black Stuff ®