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  • Writer's pictureAtul Aherwar

Trailing back to the line

Riders all over the world swear by the MOTOGP races. Everyone wants to ape the riders in forms of riding techniques, persona etc. For the lot who aren’t ripping the heart of the bike on a track, the road becomes the circuit.

Energy is transformed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. The total amount of energy and matter in the Universe remains constant, merely changing from one form to another. So if you want to speed up, you’ll have to stop too.

Many “riding experts” feel trail braking is an advanced technique that beginner riders shouldn’t worry about. The main reason they crash is due to too much speed at the corner entrance, or simply lack of control at the corner entrance. The brakes are the controls, and riders who crash rush into the corner without this control on. Work hard at your riding because mistakes can be catastrophic. Riding well is difficult; riding poorly is easy and painful.

Trail Braking is the secret to consistent street riding at any pace and on any bike. An expert rider’s touch on the front-brake lever is far more fine and light. The “safety experts” in the country might strongly suggest that speed and safety are mutually exclusive. Experienced riders are often the least likely to hit the ground and it can be attributed to their unique natural abilities such as eyesight, balance and most importantly; Judgement.

The guys who get it right eventually realize that every corner has a slow point and know that each corner has a point where the bike must be going at a certain speed. Thumb Rule: Too much speed and the bike runs wide or crashes. The trick is to arrive at a corner’s slowest point closer at a speed the chassis can handle. This ability makes them faster than the rider who over-slows his/her bike at the corner entrance, and more consistent than the rider who carries too much speed into the corner. This ability is called trail braking. It’s a skill if learnt enhances the riding technique for cornering and on obvious situations ends up saving your life.

Braking is a 'critical' skill for the motorcyclist. The real art in going fast is to know when and how to go slow. And getting it right, practicing it right and executing it right is what will keep you alive. Trail Braking is a technique where the rider progressively reduces his braking force as he gets deeper into the turn and closer to the apex.

Let us cite an explanation from the Book “Sport Riding Techniques”. For a front tyre, we give it 100 points which is divided into traction and braking. As we add lean angle points, we give away breaking points. People do not crash in perfect conditions.

But let’s face it, when do we have perfect conditions? Bumpy roads, neighbourhood dogs crossing your path, or the most probable: Gravel and mud mixed with little grease or oil on the road. Ah, now that’s a recipe! So, what are the chances of anyone surviving at this corner? Minimal. Perhaps some practice, knowledge and skill of trail braking could just save your day.

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