Here we are with one more of our Breaking The Basics Article and the topic at hand today is : Trail Braking.
What Is Trail Braking?
Some of you know about it, some of you do not. Let us start simple : Trail Braking is the braking action one takes while diving into the corner, till the apex or before hitting the apex. Trail Braking is not an ordinary skill that every beginner can perform perfectly, it requires practice. A LOT OF PRACTICE!! What one normally does when approaching a corner or a turn is to reach a specific distance before the turn, apply brakes, pass through the corner and accelerate to the exit. Trail Braking is a very fine-tuned version of this scenario. Here, the brakes are depressed till the apex and the vehicle smoothly transitions into gradual acceleration to achieve optimum speed for the exit. The use of front and rear brakes during Trail Braking varies from person to person. Some of them do not use rear brakes while some use just the rear and some use both.
Why Do Professionals Trail Brake?
It makes the vehicle’s momentum flow smoothly into the corner. Trail braking is not just meant for racetracks, it is also very beneficial on daily basis. For example, a mountain road can be filled with unexpected sharp corners. It could prove to be really risky especially when the road has not been travelled through before. If Trail Braking is used on such roads, it soothes vehicle’s chassis in corners while being on an above average speed. It provides better tyre-road grip, it allows variation in time and distance to get the perfect speed to enter any corner, it lets one judge the corner ahead and adjust the braking immediately as required. We have seen many professionals use this technique for overtaking in corners and these are just jaw-dropping moments. If we see just from a singular perspective of motorcycles specially, Trail Braking is a boon as it helps you achieve high lean angles without running wide.
How It Is Done?
Trail Braking is nothing but simply carrying your vehicle into corners while using the brakes. It is a skill that needs to be polished. It needs a perfect transition between braking and acceleration. Just before applying brakes you need to spot your braking point and entry point along with proper speed while braking. While you start applying front brakes, the front end of your vehicle comes under very high pressure as all the weight from the back shifts to the front. If you hit the brakes any harder, you lose traction on the front. To avoid this, professionals usually start gradual application and all the way to the limit. When they reach the mid-point of a corner, they start releasing the brakes and start accelerating. At this moment the front suspensions start rebounding smoothly with increase in speed.
Some points to consider:
Before performing or practicing Trail Braking, keep the following in mind.
- For Trail Braking on tracks, you need a set of proper track tyres according to the track surface. While on streets, make sure to look out for oil patches, sand, gravel and so on.
- Always have the right tyre pressure. Too low or too high pressures cannot withstand brake pressure.
- Braking time is the most critical factor that needs to be mastered. How long you remain on the brakes depends on the length of the corner. Synchronization of braking and acceleration is all about timing.
- To get the best traction, you need to apply adequate brake pressure. Gradually increase brake pressure till you hit the apex and then smoothly transition to acceleration.
Trail Braking is not just a faster, but also a safer and smoother method. It lets you understand your vehicle’s dynamics and behaviour better. With this we conclude our article and hope we further increased the depth of your Automobile and Motorsports Vision.