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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Let's talk about braking in corners, or how every safety school forever has had the physics of it all wrong. Trail-braking is not only the best thing you can master for better riding ability, but a huge increase in safety. But it's usually scoffed away as something for the track only. For the cage road, when we're toolin' along pushing about 65% of the envelope, we go back to the oldest method: brake until the entry point at what we hope we judged is a safe speed for turn-in point, then coast with light throttle through the corner terrified to touch any brake until it's clear to start throttling-up. It's what we were all taught to do, we're comfortable with it. It's also very unsafe and obsolete.

About a third of motorcycle fatalities are from riders running off the edge of the road. Too fast, sharpening radius, maybe just seizing up in total panic over the guardrail and 50 feet down into a concrete culvert (I witnessed this once). Practice and learn to trail-brake proficiently on every corner, and this will never happen to you. Intrigued yet?

Let's consider the physics, which are much more dire when riding heavy bikes that aren't built for pushing the envelope with inherent stability like sporty crowd. Your heavy cruiser likely doesn't have ABS or traction control either; and yet it is the class of motorcycle that has the most safety to gain by using good trail-braking technique!

Repeat 10 times:
Smoothness of weight transition -- in, through, and out of the corner -- determines grip.

That is the most important thing to remember. Smoothness in moving weight on all axes, which necessitates smoothness in loading and unloading the suspension. This is the gospel truth for motorcycles, race cars, and station wagons too. Sink it deeply into your mind. The grip of this tire vs that tire is splitting hairs and mostly not the point... the real factor in grip is overall weight stability at that moment and modality. Your cruiser has a lot of weight, and moving it correctly is even more important than light bikes.

When the weight balance is upset, available grip is lost. And when the suspension is abruptly unloaded or loaded (compressed/decompressed) in a corner, available grip plummets. Tires need time to smoosh into the rough pavement and form to it to grip -- and they also need time to let it go and unsmoosh too, to hand off smoothly to the next patch of tire making contact. Changing the weight abruptly anytime in this process reduces the quality of the contact patch and thusly grip. Maintaining weight distribution and moving it slowly and deliberately fore and aft, and smoothly turning in and out, lets the suspension do its job and keep the face of your tire pushed hard into the pavement until it cries uncle.

(Think of a rock climber just barely hanging on by one hand at maximum hand grip. A little bit of swing, maybe a bounce -- yikes! He needs to be as slow, deliberate, and smooth as he can be when transitioning his weight anywhere in order to maintain his grip)

Here's a pic I stole from the Internet, of the old-school turn method we all know and love. Don't think about the line for now, think about how the weight is distributed between front and back through each phase of the corner:

287391


At the end of the fat red line, the Turning Point, the front suspension is at high/highest compression. Then what do we do with this method? We suddenly let off all brake and unload the suspension, shift needed downforce away from the front tire, try to get rear coasting in 1 second, and turn-in --- all at the same time. This is preposterous! The bike turns in better when the front suspension is loaded, and in a smooth transition, not abrupt and unloaded or even still bouncing. We are literally making it harder to do what we're trying to do, turn, and exerting unnecessary forces on the tire. And with multiple axes all being disturbed at the same time with that profile, we are reducing grip by our style even further.

With trail-braking one can safely brake -- amazingly hard -- at any point throughout the corner. When you practice and learn it, and begin to actually see it work for yourself, it will change your riding life.

One important note: Never ever touch the Rear brake in any corner. Ever. You will high-side it someday, hotshot. Use trail-braking and it's a moot point anyways. Rear brake only when straight up, and even then using it mostly to modulate dive. To simplify, let's pretend we don't even have a rear brake at all. You won't need it for much anymore. :)

OK TELL ME HOW TO DO THIS ALREADY

In this pic I also stole, focus on the red and green bands and their widths. Fat red line is hard brake, as it gets skinny you are gradually releasing until you timed it perfectly and end up at zero brakes right at the apex. Green throttle works the same, skinny is a little gas, fat a lot. But the red portion of the corner is where most riders get setup for a crash, so we are entirely looking at the trail-braking part...the red.

287392


What is the motorcycle's weight and suspension doing through the corner? The front shocks are slowly and smoothly unloading from max compression -- We braked hardest at the beginning because we're entirely straight up and can use both brakes to full effect, AND to dive...yes, dive on purpose to pre-load those front shocks quickly, getting them compressed down nicely to help us turn soon. Immediately though, a gradual release of that hard braking begins and we slowly unload the front at a rate so it'll end up neutral at apex. An analogy would be sucking in a deep breath quickly (brake point, hardest) and slowly letting out the air until your target (apex).

This: basically, your goal is to have brakes released slowly to zero AND have the front suspension unload smoothly so that it's also neutral and ready to smoothly transition the weight from center to rear with gradual roll-on.

Until the turn in, we're also getting plenty of time to put in a little bit of power to get rear tire "neutral".

Weight is moving slowly and with most stability from extreme front loading to rear throughout the entire turn. It's balanced to obey its own design and the laws of physics, and now it can turn-in much easier. But that's not all you get!

Simply by doing all of this smoothly, the moment that you realize there's a herd of elk on the road around that blind corner, you don't have to straighten-up and hard brake over the double yellow or any stupid nonsense like that. You don't have to panic and low-side it on purpose or high-side it on accident. All you have to do is stop letting off of the brake and just hold it braking where it is while you keep your turn angle steady -- no matter how severe the lean and hard the corner. You're not upsetting anything, it was already braking stable. Speed continues to bleed, and turn radius will instantly and smoothly shorten than originally planned.

Say you need to really stop fast on that hard corner and you're thinking "this is it"? Don't panic! You're still holding in a good amount of brake, the weight transition is stable, and the tires are happy and still have so much more grip yet you have no idea. (Seriously, you have no idea how much grip a moto tire actually has...you're used to upsetting the balance and f*cking with the contact patch on every corner you've done "old school", and you've grown accustomed to giving away free grip then blaming the tire)

Simply squeeze a little harder on the brake -- nice and gradually like you know she likes it. Your tires are well planted, weight is stable, and you are simply putting some of the brake "back in" that you were releasing a moment ago. On top of it all, your speed has already come way down, adding to your fat grip bank account. Front tire that you used to fear braking at all in a steep corner will now brake and corner to a degree that you never thought was possible. It will save your life in the rare event you grossly overshoot or have to panic stop on a curve. The old school way, tough ****...the bike's balance is wrong, you've been coasting, it's settled only on lean. Hard braking is off limits to you, and this is the situation you needed it most.

Trail-braking really is just that simple, it is not hard. The hardest part of it is that you must learn to identify the Apex for trail braking to work. Judging apex isn't easy, but if you can't see it early it's difficult to know how long and quickly to bleed off the brake. It's not easy to master like a racer, but they master it for all of these same reasons. It's not all about speed or braking ever deeper into the corner, it's about cornering a motorcycle the way it's designed to corner. The brake and throttle profile is exactly as in the picture... just do that with brake and gas, and counter steer into it like usual. You will find that at first that for some weird reason you keep coming up "short"...meaning you got too slow before the apex and had to let out all the brakes, change your line out etc...it feels like you're doing something wrong. What you may not be realizing is that you are, right off the bat, witnessing the power of cornering correctly. You misjudged the apex, and the more you keep practicing the better you'll get at it. Once you know about where the apex looks to be on any given corner, you can brake to accurately.

Soon you'll be entering corners a little faster than you ever felt comfortable before -- yet...somehow... also safer and under much better control than ever before? What sorcery is this? Trail-braking, it is magic. Wield the magic.

Other tips:

You do need to keep a little bit of power on all the time until apex. Why? To keep the rear tire coasting and not under any engine braking or acceleration at all. Why? Oh my god never forget it again: smoothness weight transfer. That rear tire needs to stay planted, cornering, and out of the way in this entire dance -- not pushing or pulling against the front tire that's trying to do his work and fat rear's too.
  • CrampBuster is required to ace this comfortably. Those crappy plastic things, what? Yes. You need to be able to cover the brake in any way that works for you, whether it's the first 2 fingers or other 3 on the brake use what you like. Crampbuster slides along the grip anywhere you need it. It's necessary to work both brake and throttle to hold that tiny bit of gas the whole time start-to-apex and simultaneously be slowly letting out brake. (It's safer to ride around with brake covered to begin with; it reduces the tendency to "grab" at the brake too hard. In a true emergency stop if you let go of throttle to move the hand up to squeeze the brake you are highly likely to squeeze way too hard. With the brake covered, it is natural to apply gradually quickening pressure with your fingers already there. Learn to do this everywhere.) Cramp buster also removes all the torsion stress from all fingers, even when not covering. It's hard to keep a throttle twisted all day, but not with this sub-$10 piece of genius. And when trail-braking, it's gold. It allows your fingers on the throttle to just relax and hang on loosely, while your palm works throttle up and down like your heel on the accelerator in a car --- and at a wider radius than your grip! (Physics again -- increasing lever radius yields more precise control of small movements). So already, your hand muscles are much more relaxed. Meanwhile, your fingers on the brake are much more precise and stronger, because the other fingers are just hanging out and the brain diverts focus and resources to your brake fingers. You will feel more in control of the brake lever with 2 fingers and a Crampbuster than you ever did before. Some people put them on and immediately don't get how they work: when you push down on the lever (throttle on) the plastic bends a bit to squeeze the grip so it doesn't rotate at all. When you rotate it the other way, the throttle off direction, it rotates freely around the grip. Often you wish to adjust the angle, you simply flip it over to where you want it in about 1.4 seconds. Get one. Get 2, a wide and a narrow one and see which works the best with you. Don't get the "chrome" one, it's garbage... only black.
What should be imprinted inside the visor of every rider so he never forgets it:

YOU AND YOUR BIKE WILL GO WHERE YOUR EYES ARE LOOKING.

LOOK AT THE CORNER'S VANISHING POINT WHEN TRAILBRAKING, ALWAYS.
IN EMERGENCY, LOOK FOR THE HOLE, THE GAP, ANYWHERE SAFE AND FOCUS ON IT
NEVER LOOK AT THE TRUCK CAREENING AT YOU OR THE EDGE OF THE MOUNTAIN ROAD APPROACHING.

YOUR BIKE WILL GO WHERE YOUR EYES ARE LOOKING

Never push a corner, a brake point, or a shopping cart beyond 75% of your abilities. There are closed-circuit tracks for testing where 100% is. Speed kills.


I welcome critique and discussion on this, any things you'd dispute, clarify, or add?
 

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One important note: Never ever touch the Rear brake in any corner. Ever.


I welcome critique and discussion on this, any things you'd dispute, clarify, or add?
Grasshopper,

It's actually refreshing to see a 'new' person posting about such subtle nuances that will make you become a better rider.

Did you actually type all of that or was it a 'cut and paste'?

The only throttle assist worth my consideration is the Kuryakyn rubber universal throttle assist. The right side ridge of that throttle assist has to be ground off to allow 'flat access' of my throttle palm.

I have 2 words for you: Keith Code "A twist of the wrist'.

The "Never ever touch the Rear brake in any corner. Ever". Is BS. That means bullshit in some countries.

The people that are behind me say that they saw my brake light 'on' all the way through the curve (brake pedal...not hand lever). My brake light activates long before my rear brake ever engages. A lot of times it causes them to 'grab a handful'. I only use my rear brake during 'trail braking' activities.

All of your braking needs to happen before you ever enter the curve. Any braking beyond that and you have totally FU (that stands for FK'D UP) your smoothness in the suspension department. Brake/throttle...Brake/throttle...etc. and so on and you are riding a pogo stick. Be smooth.

More times than not I have to slow down on corner exit (with short straight-aways) to let my riding friends 'catch up' to me. It's a win for everybody because my friends don't actually know I slowed down and they think that they 'powered out' and caught up to me. That's not being braggart...that's being real. It keeps everybody in check and their ego remains intact :).


John
 

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I always take the path of least resistance and complication.

1) Approach a bend in the road.

2) Approximate about how much I should slow down to before entering the curve.

3) Slow down to about 10-15 mph less than what I originally estimated.

Why?

Because NO ONE knows what's actually on that curved road surface in the way of gravel, sand, grass clippings, leaves in the fall, Mayflies in the spring, or oil spots...... until you are right on top of them.

All this talk about trail braking and taking corners is fine for the race track. In the real world, we don't ride on manicured tracks.

I sincerely apologize to everyone here, but these kinds of 'tips' can get someone killed or seriously injured.
 

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..............The "Never ever touch the Rear brake in any corner. Ever". Is BS. That means bullshit in some countries............. :). John
Nope that's not what was taught to me in the motorcycle safety course given by the state. Going into a turn decelerating or braking is setting the bike up for a fall. And we were also taught to accelerate coming out of the turn because the rear wheel will dig in, gain traction as it were, ensuring safety.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
This was my original writing and what my ideas are about how it works. I'm new to mechanic work in bikes at the age of 50, but have been riding and learning for 25 years. I'm a licensed pilot that is obsessed with safety analytics. Cut n paste LOL

I've been pestering people like crazy for answers about how to work a socket wrench. I am sharing some things I think might help someone else, that's all. I have trail braked for 20 years, and that is how I do it. I encourage all help though, I'm not saying I know it all. If something looks wrong, discuss. I want to be safe and get better
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Grasshopper,

It's actually refreshing to see a 'new' person posting about such subtle nuances that will make you become a better rider.

Did you actually type all of that or was it a 'cut and paste'?

The only throttle assist worth my consideration is the Kuryakyn rubber universal throttle assist. The right side ridge of that throttle assist has to be ground off to allow 'flat access' of my throttle palm.

I have 2 words for you: Keith Code "A twist of the wrist'.

The "Never ever touch the Rear brake in any corner. Ever". Is BS. That means bullshit in some countries.

The people that are behind me say that they saw my brake light 'on' all the way through the curve (brake pedal...not hand lever). My brake light activates long before my rear brake ever engages. A lot of times it causes them to 'grab a handful'. I only use my rear brake during 'trail braking' activities. Like this:

All of your braking needs to happen before you ever enter the curve. Any braking beyond that and you have totally FU (that stands for FK'D UP) your smoothness in the suspension department. Brake/throttle...Brake/throttle...etc. and so on and you are riding a pogo stick. Be smooth.

More times than not I have to slow down on corner exit (with short straight-aways) to let my riding friends 'catch up' to me. It's a win for everybody because my friends don't actually know I slowed down and they think that they 'powered out' and caught up to me. That's not being braggart...that's being real. It keeps everybody in check and their ego remains intact :).


John
You didnt carefully read my thesis and totally don't get the concept of TB and ALL and that it attempts to control: NOT set the weight first, but transfer of weight from fore to aft the entire time until apex, thusly vastly improving stability, turn in power, and braking power. Hell I have braking power in a corner, you dont. Like, that is the whole point of it.

I use my front brake exclusively in turns, every turn, and deep into the turns. I've never ridden off or chinned myself once in all those turns and many hard turning stops. I've dumped for other reasons but not that. You have to set your brake then forget it. If you make a mistake then you can't dig out. I can easily. I just always rode on street like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
And everyone still thinks when someone says trail braking, we're diving deep into corners and performance. No! On your lazy sunday through a sweeper, that's when. You can start braking at the same time as always. You just do the action...brake forcefully first, gradually ease off brake until your target...the apex. Do it as aggressively or easy as you like.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Cyclejohn and anybody. Go up to and read the entire stickied thread called "Riding Tips for newbies and everyone" or something RIDING TIPS FOR NEW AND EXPERIENCED RIDERS Read it 3 times. Who ever wrote that up is master instructor level and put the treasure chest of safe riding techniques ever right there, it's the best resource I've seen and read. There were many things on it that never once occurred to me, many things I had backwards, etc. That guide sets and continues to set me straight. If you dont want to drop your bike ever, or unknowingly put yourself in a danger spot, or if you want to know what to look for and where your eyes should go (ahem), get up there.

It doesnt really touch Trailbraking and needs to, and it also has great points about rear brake. There is a time and place for rear, 2 namely: low speed control of sharp turns and dragging it to help balance, and accessory/control braking in a straight line only. I am well aware that all of this flies in the face of what your instructor said. I prefaced the article exactly that. But there is a reason that track racers use it that has little to do with getting deeper and faster..it's because it's the V shape of brake, apex, gas profile let's the bikes weight move slowly back and forth through the entire turn. The stability that this creates is used by them for more speed, us for the ability to now safely use brakes as needed, because that stability we've worked for and the brake we are using so long make it easy to stop, continue, and even ADD brake. In a turn.

Trail braking is NOT a race technique, it is a cornering technique. Racers use it because it's the correct way to corner a motorcycle, riders should use it for the same reason. It does not mean going deep or aggressively, it means doing your braking early and gently riding the brake until the apex. Never would anyone go from no brake to any brake once already in a turn...drop! So once you let off at the turn in, you can never go safely back to a brake. Just dont leave the brake...keep dragging it ever less, and stopping is now available to you without upsetting anything. But I'm now repeating my post. I'll come check the nets later
 

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There is a time and place for rear, 2 namely: low speed control of sharp turns and dragging it to help balance, and accessory/control braking in a straight line only.
I'm not offering up that trail braking with the rear brake in a curve is right for anyone other than myself. I will offer up that as long as I am riding at the posted speed limit or lower, judicious throttle control (with no trail braking) is all that is required. I'm talking about clear/clean roads here not about mid-curve emergencies such as gravel or animal carcasses or tree limbs...clear/clean roads.
My index and middle fingers are always covering the brake lever and I know exactly how much squeeze is required to actuate the front brakes. I also know how much brake pedal push is required to control the bike without locking up the wheel.
I can only attest to how my chosen technique applies to me and my riding style.
I will offer up that throttle control is the most useful asset I have in my own personal repertoire. But, that's just me.

Nope that's not what was taught to me in the motorcycle safety course given by the state.
I have never taken a motorcycle riding safety course. I've always thought that it would be a good idea. I always thought I should take one.

You didnt carefully read my thesis and totally don't get the concept of TB and ALL and that it attempts to control:

I have braking power in a corner, you dont.

If you make a mistake then you can't dig out. I can easily.
I did read your writings...more than once. I took them for what they were. Someone else's thoughts and experiences about arriving at point B after traveling through curves. I did not take them as the gospel. I do understand theories and concepts...I also understand real world applications. I'm OK with everybody using whatever techniques they have developed through riding experience to arrive at point B intact. I'm never against reading about tips or techniques that others use. Doesn't mean that I will crash and burn because I didn't follow or agree with what was printed.

I'm absolutely OK with presumptive thinking. I personally am not a motorcycle riding technique ninja.

I have always wanted to ride a motorcycle (my cruiser bike I'm talking about) on a motorcycle racing circuit track. I think it would be exciting to find out where that scary edge is between in total control and maybe not so much especially as it pertains to TB. Don't really care about going real fast in a straight line...anybody can do that.

John.
 

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Ok, I'm going to water down the OP a little bit, as it is a lot to understand, especially for people who have never heard of trail-braking before.

Trail-Breaking: Holding your front brake, with diminishing pressure, up to the apex of the turn while you are leaning into the turn.

Now, the purpose of trail braking is to more fully control your speed into the corner. In the BRC, we are taught the "slow, look, press, roll" technique, which is perfectly fine for new riders, and for most experienced riders. It allows them to safely ride the motorcycle through the turn with a minimum of risk. However, the SLPR method has a couple of drawbacks, such as the rider entering a corner too fast, sudden obstacles, a steep downhill grade with a hairpin turn at the end, or a diminishing-radius turn, which is where the angle of the turn sharpens suddenly around the apex.

Now, to more fully understand the dynamics of trail braking, we will look at the "points" concept. Your front tire has 100 points to spend between cornering, braking, and traction. If you are riding in a straight line at 30mph, you have all 100 points available. When you enter a turn using the SLPR method, your braking is already finished, and you are leaning the bike. If you are leaning over and using 80 points for cornering, you have 20 points left for braking and traction. In order to utilize trail braking, it is ESSENTIAL to be slow and smooth on the front brake. If you need to brake in a curve, slowly squeezing and gradually letting of the brake allows you to use the brake to modulate your speed in the curve WITHOUT exceeding your remaining traction points. If you give the brakes a hard and fast grab, you will most likely exceed your remaining points, lock up the front wheel, and crash.

Now, the diagram below illustrates the concept of trail-braking. In essence, you hold the brake until the apex of the curve while gradually letting up on the brake as you approach the apex. Once you reach the apex, you should be 100% off the brake, and then begin acceleration.
287421


Notice that I have not once mentioned using the rear brake while trail braking. There is a reason for this: You Don't.

Why, you ask? Well, let's look at how the geometry of the bike is affected by the braking action. When you are slowing for a curve, the weight of the bike transfers to the front wheel, loading the front tire and increasing the contact patch. In doing so, the amount of weight on the rear wheel is LESSENED, resulting in a comparatively smaller contact patch. Also remember, your rear brake supplies roughly 25% of your stopping power, with 75% provided by the front brake. If you trail brake with the rear tire, there is an increased likelihood of running out of traction points, locking up the tire, and low-siding.

Trail braking is a valuable tool to master, especially if you want to seek out the more technical, challenging roads.
 

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Notice that I have not once mentioned using the rear brake while trail braking. There is a reason for this: You Don't.
Kitulu,
This isn't meant for you....but I just used your quote to ask the question?.....

Am I the only person that has a comfort level with trail braking with the rear brake????????????

This is a genuine question..........anyone?

John
 

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Kitulu,
This isn't meant for you....but I just used your quote to ask the question?.....

Am I the only person that has a comfort level with trail braking with the rear brake????????????

This is a genuine question..........anyone?

John
I have no idea what trail breaking is and find no compelling reason to learn about it.

With that said, if I have the need to slow down in a curve, i use both front and rear brakes, applied simultaneously, to do it.
 

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I have no idea what trail breaking is and find no compelling reason to learn about it.

With that said, if I have the need to slow down in a curve, i use both front and rear brakes, applied simultaneously, to do it.
I think that it's safer to slow before going into the curve.
 

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Kitulu,
This isn't meant for you....but I just used your quote to ask the question?.....

Am I the only person that has a comfort level with trail braking with the rear brake????????????

This is a genuine question..........anyone?

John
You’ll get better responses by not calling it trail braking with the rear brake, it’s simply slowing down with the rear brake pre or mid corner, it doesn’t load the front suspension or reduce turning circle so calling it trail braking is a misnomer.

I do it too. Yeah, I’m a rear brake rider... but don’t call it trail braking, just muddies the waters of understanding.
 

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Kitulu,
This isn't meant for you....but I just used your quote to ask the question?.....

Am I the only person that has a comfort level with trail braking with the rear brake????????????

This is a genuine question..........anyone?

John
When using the rear brake in a corner, you run the risk of locking up the rear wheel. This is why it is not taught as part of the technique.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
 

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This video is a good education. Makes a lot of sense for any type riding.

 

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Kitulu,
This isn't meant for you....but I just used your quote to ask the question?.....

Am I the only person that has a comfort level with trail braking with the rear brake????????????

This is a genuine question..........anyone?

John
Several roads near my house have curves that I can only navigate by being in second gear and doing the old feather the clutch / drag the rear brake. Eazy peazy.
 

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When using the rear brake in a corner, you run the risk of locking up the rear wheel. This is why it is not taught as part of the technique.

Sent from my SM-G975U using Tapatalk
It's not taught or suggested to new riders because they don't know their bikes well enough to know how it will behave in certain situations. A gentle touch of the brake, and feathering the clutch to power the rear wheel while not accelerating in a curve is a great technique for folks with a few miles in the saddle.
 

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Probably most guys remember the times they crashed or flew over the handlebars of their bicycles as kids, and don't want any part of the front brake.
 
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