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Braking: Street and Track
By Andrew Trevitt

1. We've often discussed braking techniques in a street environment, where the important aspects to consider are road surface, traffic and your surroundings rather than outright stopping power. Still, there are times where maximum braking is called for, and it's best to be prepared for that eventuality. On the street, you should use both front and rear brakes for maximum effect, balancing each based on your bike's load and the pavement characteristics. Learn to gradually but aggressively apply both brakes, and practice various combinations in a parking lot so that you become familiar with how your bike reacts.

2. Since street riding does not lend itself well to reference points, and a vast amount of information other than braking must be processed at the same time, you must rely on your judgment and experience to know when and how much you are able to brake entering a given corner. Pay close attention to the condition of the pavement, and modulate your braking force accordingly over rough, dirty or cambered surfaces. Experiment on your favorite road with different combinations of both brakes, trail braking and smoothness rather than all-out braking. Canyons are not the best places to practice late, aggressive braking, as the consequences of overshooting a corner are severe. And while it's an easy trap to fall into, avoid using your riding buddies as brake markers.

3. The track presents a different set of parameters for braking, as you can concentrate more on how hard you are braking as opposed to worrying about stray dogs and traffic. Always use braking markers, but instead of using the marker as a place to begin braking, try finding a spot up until which you keep the throttle open this will force a quick transition from throttle to brake. While braking, your arms should be slightly bent, and try gripping the fuel-tank area with your legs to absorb some of the braking forces. Devote a set distance in the braking zone almost entirely to concentrating on your braking. Is the rear wheel coming off the ground? Is the front wheel hopping or close to locking up? Pick a spot to mark when to gradually shift your attention away from braking and more to turn-in and cornering.

4. If you have trouble with the rear end hopping under deceleration, leave your downshifts until later in the process, and be sure to match the engine rpm with the road speed. Use two fingers, or even one, on the brake to keep your braking smooth as you blip the throttle for each downshift. Use the rear brake sparingly, as the rear wheel will have very little contact with the ground and can easily lock up. You can also adjust your suspension to better control the rear wheel under braking, as well as front-end dive. And most importantly, avoid getting comfortable with a set braking marker that you've used for ages you should constantly strive to push that reference point deeper.

Source: Sport Rider
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