improving traction/speed in corners

I somehow got a feeling theres a little bit of mysticism to like properly using the front brake. My state of knowledge is what I know from Garys DVDs plus a bit from all kinds of articles... but in some cases I wish there was more of "why" not just the "how" to do things properly... (to get a better understanding and make more educated decisions).

What i'd kinda like to know is a bit more in depth explanations of certain braking techniques.

I understand that for normal braking u usually use the rear brake to somehow push down the front end and use the front brake to maximise braking power. Thats how you get slower... but what interests me the most is how to use the brakes to increase traction to be able to be faster in turns.

Like on flat corners witout ruts or something... if you're just acceleratig out of such a corner you either loose the front or rear end, depending on weight distribution, if you're going a tad too fast. But lets say you're dragging the front brake a bit. This would cause the front tire to be pushed harder to the ground, but not just by gravity, but also by a force the engine/momentum creates, the angle between front and rear (steering) might also increase so the rear pushes the bike more towards the center of the turn, not tangential outside... hope that makes sense... so after all, just by dragging the front brake you should be able to increase turn speed quite a bit, just because of forces created by braking... so if you just coasted thru the corner (at the same speed as you'd be able to accelerate thru with dragging the front brake) without acceletating or decellerating you would very likely lowside or wash out the front end, right?

 

 To some of you thats maybe common and natural, but to me its a bit fascinating that proper braking (and I guess accelerating too) will create more traction, making you faster... It's kinda funny because I remember coasting thru turns beeing afraid of accelerating or decellerating because of thinking to wash out a wheel then...

I guess thats why most riders say either brake or accelerate, but never coast... I guess getting off the brakes/gas would be that moment when weels wash out if you're fast enough...

 

I'm not sure I'm asking a precise question here, I just wanted to hear a few opinions, tips etc on that topic to get a better understanidng of proper braking (and accelerating) in turns. As said, I watched Gary Semics' DVDs, so thats my baseline...  maybe I'm even overcomplicating things? After all I'm just really keen on improving my cornering speed. And as said... sometimes I just got the feeling that some techniques are shown how they're done, but not how they exaclty work...

It will take a long time and a lot of practice to only ride on the brakes/gas. I got some lessons in cornering and in 2 days improved so much it was ridiculous. Actually look and feel smooth in the corners. Heres what I learned.

 

1. Slow down to go fast

2. Come in standing up

3. Slow down using the front brake/and sometimes downshift

4. Jump forward and slam your nuts down right on top of that gas tank, you want your pecker up by the gas cap

5. Get your head over the bars, keep your head UP and looking at the exit of the corner, and raise your elbow up

6. Most importantly, smooth throttle control, learn how to blend throttle control with speed to maintain good traction/speed

7. As you exit corner keep looking down the track

Edit: 8. Keep your shoulder blades in straight vertical line with the footpegs

 

It's really amazing what a little applied technique does to you, I have improved my corner speed and smoothness ten fold. Remember to get your weight on that front end and plant the front tire down good.

Edited by dan2581

ya I think you may be over complicating a bit. The only place I've ever heard to drag the front brake while applying throttle was in ruts to help prevent the front end from wandering. Usually I try to come in standing, which makes it easier for me to use the rear brake and move around to balance the bike, get the back brake just before the point of locking up and then I use the front brake to do the rest of the braking that is needed.

 

Thinking about what your talking about with weight transfer to the front wheel increasing grip, the only thing i could see happening is that you might be able to carry a little more momentum through the corner which would make you have to lean the bike over a little more. If there is a slight time between when you release the front brake and throttle is applied, the bike will be unstable (washing out) during that time because of the loss of traction from when you stop using the front brake. Because you can get the bike leaned over more, your transition from braking to gas would have to be smooth but quick to 'catch' the bike so you can stand it back up exiting the corner.

 

I know when i get sloppy I can feel that slight wash/the bike laying over upon the transition from braking to accelerating out. I'm pretty sure this is an undesired effect because usually i have to get on the gas hard and turn hard to get the bike back under me and stood up, sometimes braking the back end loose and definitely not maximizing forward drive.

 

and after though: are you supposed to over lap front brake and throttle application?

Edited by Die_trying

thanks for the replys so far.... yeah, maybe i'm overcomplicating... but it also might help to get a few insights and tips from people so I can put together a good understanding of conering...

 

and after though: are you supposed to over lap front brake and throttle application?

 

I do think so, yes. At least gary smics is showing this in his videos... It might also help to smooth out the transition between braking and accelerating and save a little time... (a bit here and there will likely sum up to a measurable amount of time at the end of a lap I guess...)

Cornering is complex...and you have to isolate specific skill sets.  If you try to just learn "cornering"...without breaking it down into pieces...you will likely not progress quickly.  Some skills you can separate and focus on:

 

1.  Apex out cornering.  Basically....this is cornering that you do for the last third of the corner...once you are on the gas (usually sitting unless you are in a loose or sandy rough fast sweeper...where you will stand).  The best drill for doing this...is circle drill.  Do it...a LOT.  Have a big fast circle drill....and small tight circle drill....and a rutted tight circle drill.  Do a TON of circle drill.  You should also do circle drill standing...a higher speed loose sandy dirt circle is what you want here....  Do your sitting circle drill with proper fundamentals....outside elbow up...sitting up near the tank (unless sandy)...leg up and driving forward...head as low as you can keep it...and outside knee pressing on the shroud and guiding the bike (which is even more important that weighting the peg which everyone harps so much on).  For standing circle drill...you have to get WAY forward...and learn to surf the bike.  The reason you have to get forward is the tall position combined with acceleration really lifts the front more than your realize.  IF you can keep you head lower while standing (watch ETomac in the sand)...you wont have to drive forwards as much.  For this standing drill...you will learn to 'surf' the bike by using your knees and weighting the pegs.  When you want to lean the bike more...and do it quickly...you weight the INSIDE peg...and drive the bike down with your outside knee.  McGrath talked about this in his vid...it is a technique not mentioned often...and JM was adamant that it was super super critical to do this automatically.

 

2.  Corner entry on the rear brake (no front when learning).  Have you developed a feel for LEANING the bike early in the corner as you use the rear brake?  If you watch most C- riders...and compare them to B or faster riders...you will notice a HUGE difference early in the corners.  Fast guys lean the bike early and hard while still standing and using the rear brake.  You have to practice this specific skill over and over.

 

3.  Transition from standing to sitting.  Not as easy as it sounds.  If you have learned to lean the bike early..and use the rear brake to get the bike turning early while doing this....you have to smoothly transition to sitting while maintaining...and sometimes even increasing rear brake.  To do this...you have to unweight the inside peg and lift your heel as you sit.  Also...drive your hips in a straight line to the proper sitting position.  Make it smooth.  Dont plop down and spike the suspension (though you can do this into a rut).  Dont go forward...then sit vertically down.  If you have done a lot of corner drill...that corner exit skill set will be ingrained and automatic...so if you learn to transition to sitting...you are home free...because you have that phase of the corner down.

 

4.  Straight line braking.  To slow down fast...you have to use both brakes.  So you need to learn how to go from accelerating hard, to full braking...in an instant.  You body position has to anticipate the braking point.  Let your hips drift back so you are shifted back...but stay low.  Do not let your head come up.  Watch Tomac and RV...their acceleration to braking position transitions are perfect.  Their heads stay low with a strong back...their hips just shift back.  Get on the rear slightly before the front.  You NEED to rear brake to help create stability so you can use the front hard.  Without enough rear...if you get on the front hard...bad things can happen quick.  As you start to turn in (to the corner entry)...fade off the front.  As you get better...you will be able to stay on the front some as you turn in...but that is a pretty advanced touchy feely thing for riders who have completely internalized these basic skills.

 

There are two practice principles for learning to corner that I believe in...

#1.  Learn backwards.  It wont help you one bit to learn to brake hard and late if your corner entry sucks.  In fact..it may get you hurt.  So...learn your corner exit first.  Then learn the transitions to sitting.  The last thing you learn is to brake well...

#2.  Practice on FAST corners.  Slow corners are too hard to learn on...because things happen too fast.  The speeds are lower...so the various phases happen FAST.   A fast corner on the other hand...has a long braking section...a long entry...a long transisiton...and a long exit.  More time to learn the skill.The ideal drill is a large figure 8 where you are coming to corners spooled up in 4th...but the corner is a slower 3rd gear corner.  That is going to give a long braking zone...and a long entry...and a long exit...time wise.  The more TIME you spend doing something...the easier you will learn it.  

 

If I had to pick some key things I notice about the really fast guys...that they do different than the rest of us...

1.  They lean the bike early and a lot...and use the rear brake as they do this.

2.  They stay low with a strong back (OK...not all of them do this...RD corners pretty tall)

3.  They dont sweat the small stuff.  They are relaxed...and they just go with the flow as the bike is all over the place below them. 

4.  They find grip by using ruts, berms and terrain to maximum potential.

5.  They brake later, turn in earlier (but more gradually), and sit MUCH later....

Edited by Blutarsky

Oh...one more thing...even on a 4T...learn to use the clutch on exit.  If you find yourself losing the rear...you have to modulate power.  You can not do this smoothly with just the throttle...to herky jerky....use the clutch.  There is a reason so many 450 pros fry clutches in SX.

There's some good learning techniques here.

one thing I have taught my riders is, front braking "Loads the front suspension " into corners, slightly dragging puts most of the weight of the bike on its front tire. If the suspension is set up right it gets the bike into the mid stroke.

@ Blutarsky: thanks, thats some quality info...

 

I'm currently recovering from a torn ACL so most of what I do now are drills and "slower" stuff anyways... At least that torn ACL helps me reminding keeping the inside foot up and against the shroud when (tight) cornering.

I recently did standing circle drills... it's an interesting feeling when the rear starts to drift out standing, sitting its a completely different story... but this might just get some getting used to... When doing this I kinda feels like I'm pinching my outer leg between the peg and the area of the seat where the knee contacts it... applying most of my weight to that area... increasing leaining angle by weigting the inside foot more makes perfect sense and worked as suspected... also "throwing" the body more to the inside and "pulling" the bike with the outside knee to follow the lean seems to work too...

I'm just not completely happy about my body position... I'm pinching the bike in the seat area pretty much above the pegs, elbows up, head up, upper body feels(!) almost parallel to the ground, and "strong back" (pelvis out), (head in fron over the number plate). But somehow I still feel I should get even more forward... the current position requires to pinch the bike to "hold on"... I could lean even more forward but this would require to also slide the knees further forward to a area where seat an shrouds meet and don't really offer much grip at all... this way my weight is direcly applied to the pegs and the bike pushes me forward without needing that grip to hold on but it feels like compromising control... (head almost at the tip of the fron fender) .... but I'm a tall guy (6'3").

Also I'm not sure how much weight to ditribute to the handlebars... pushing them down a bit seems to improve traction but also seems to be inconsisten but helps a bit disburdening the back... however I did this in cicle drills as said... on slippery, flat ground, so not much acceleration forces to help me...

 

I also learned to use the rear brake more.... I once did a poor job bleeding the front brake and had very little stopping power there and it surprisingly hardly had an effect on my cornering and overall speed...

Its easier to go in a corner fast and keep that speed rather than slow down and rapidly speed up.  Semics himself said that you want to only brake just enough to make the corner simply because if you brake too much you loose all that momentum.   The hardest part would really be to get to the point that your just reacting to the situation with good technique like the top  National Pros are.  Most of us typically think too much when you ride.  I know that when I just concentrate on just riding not worrying about setting myself up and just react to the situation I tend to ride much better and get fatigued much less.  Thats the point you want to get to is just work on the basics and remember that there is always something to work on,  as hard is it is to critique yourself you should never be completely satisfied because once you are you stop trying to improve.

@ Blutarsky: thanks, thats some quality info...

 

I'm currently recovering from a torn ACL so most of what I do now are drills and "slower" stuff anyways... At least that torn ACL helps me reminding keeping the inside foot up and against the shroud when (tight) cornering.

I recently did standing circle drills... it's an interesting feeling when the rear starts to drift out standing, sitting its a completely different story... but this might just get some getting used to... When doing this I kinda feels like I'm pinching my outer leg between the peg and the area of the seat where the knee contacts it... applying most of my weight to that area... increasing leaining angle by weigting the inside foot more makes perfect sense and worked as suspected... also "throwing" the body more to the inside and "pulling" the bike with the outside knee to follow the lean seems to work too...

I'm just not completely happy about my body position... I'm pinching the bike in the seat area pretty much above the pegs, elbows up, head up, upper body feels(!) almost parallel to the ground, and "strong back" (pelvis out), (head in fron over the number plate). But somehow I still feel I should get even more forward... the current position requires to pinch the bike to "hold on"... I could lean even more forward but this would require to also slide the knees further forward to a area where seat an shrouds meet and don't really offer much grip at all... this way my weight is direcly applied to the pegs and the bike pushes me forward without needing that grip to hold on but it feels like compromising control... (head almost at the tip of the fron fender) .... but I'm a tall guy (6'3").

Also I'm not sure how much weight to ditribute to the handlebars... pushing them down a bit seems to improve traction but also seems to be inconsisten but helps a bit disburdening the back... however I did this in cicle drills as said... on slippery, flat ground, so not much acceleration forces to help me...

 

I also learned to use the rear brake more.... I once did a poor job bleeding the front brake and had very little stopping power there and it surprisingly hardly had an effect on my cornering and overall speed...

 

One thing that will help the standing apex out high speed cornering position is to feel your shoulders and the bars working like a parallelogram.  As you surf the bike, your shoulders and the bars should stay parallel.  As you lean the bike more by pushing with the outside knee on the shroud, and weighting the inside peg more, the bars drive down and to the inside.  Do not twist the bike into the turn...lean it.  Keep your shoulders square to the direction you are going.  The scariest thing about standing circle drill...is that it is a LONG WAYS down if you start to lose the rear, or if you lose the front.  Losing the front is more common.  But you HAVE to learn how to recover from exceeding grip...or you will never go fast.  The fast guys, whether standing or sitting, are always going slightly over the limit, and recovering.  When doing the sitting circle drill...it is easier to catch the bike...and even if you do go down, it is usually an easy quick low side.  When you go down while doing standing circle drill fast...it is a lot scarier.

Edited by Blutarsky

Cornering is complex...and you have to isolate specific skill sets.  If you try to just learn "cornering"...without breaking it down into pieces...you will likely not progress quickly.  Some skills you can separate and focus on:

 

1.  Apex out cornering.  Basically....this is cornering that you do for the last third of the corner...once you are on the gas (usually sitting unless you are in a loose or sandy rough fast sweeper...where you will stand).  The best drill for doing this...is circle drill.  Do it...a LOT.  Have a big fast circle drill....and small tight circle drill....and a rutted tight circle drill.  Do a TON of circle drill.  You should also do circle drill standing...a higher speed loose sandy dirt circle is what you want here....  Do your sitting circle drill with proper fundamentals....outside elbow up...sitting up near the tank (unless sandy)...leg up and driving forward...head as low as you can keep it...and outside knee pressing on the shroud and guiding the bike (which is even more important that weighting the peg which everyone harps so much on).  For standing circle drill...you have to get WAY forward...and learn to surf the bike.  The reason you have to get forward is the tall position combined with acceleration really lifts the front more than your realize.  IF you can keep you head lower while standing (watch ETomac in the sand)...you wont have to drive forwards as much.  For this standing drill...you will learn to 'surf' the bike by using your knees and weighting the pegs.  When you want to lean the bike more...and do it quickly...you weight the INSIDE peg...and drive the bike down with your outside knee.  McGrath talked about this in his vid...it is a technique not mentioned often...and JM was adamant that it was super super critical to do this automatically.

 

2.  Corner entry on the rear brake (no front when learning).  Have you developed a feel for LEANING the bike early in the corner as you use the rear brake?  If you watch most C- riders...and compare them to B or faster riders...you will notice a HUGE difference early in the corners.  Fast guys lean the bike early and hard while still standing and using the rear brake.  You have to practice this specific skill over and over.

 

3.  Transition from standing to sitting.  Not as easy as it sounds.  If you have learned to lean the bike early..and use the rear brake to get the bike turning early while doing this....you have to smoothly transition to sitting while maintaining...and sometimes even increasing rear brake.  To do this...you have to unweight the inside peg and lift your heel as you sit.  Also...drive your hips in a straight line to the proper sitting position.  Make it smooth.  Dont plop down and spike the suspension (though you can do this into a rut).  Dont go forward...then sit vertically down.  If you have done a lot of corner drill...that corner exit skill set will be ingrained and automatic...so if you learn to transition to sitting...you are home free...because you have that phase of the corner down.

 

4.  Straight line braking.  To slow down fast...you have to use both brakes.  So you need to learn how to go from accelerating hard, to full braking...in an instant.  You body position has to anticipate the braking point.  Let your hips drift back so you are shifted back...but stay low.  Do not let your head come up.  Watch Tomac and RV...their acceleration to braking position transitions are perfect.  Their heads stay low with a strong back...their hips just shift back.  Get on the rear slightly before the front.  You NEED to rear brake to help create stability so you can use the front hard.  Without enough rear...if you get on the front hard...bad things can happen quick.  As you start to turn in (to the corner entry)...fade off the front.  As you get better...you will be able to stay on the front some as you turn in...but that is a pretty advanced touchy feely thing for riders who have completely internalized these basic skills.

 

There are two practice principles for learning to corner that I believe in...

#1.  Learn backwards.  It wont help you one bit to learn to brake hard and late if your corner entry sucks.  In fact..it may get you hurt.  So...learn your corner exit first.  Then learn the transitions to sitting.  The last thing you learn is to brake well...

#2.  Practice on FAST corners.  Slow corners are too hard to learn on...because things happen too fast.  The speeds are lower...so the various phases happen FAST.   A fast corner on the other hand...has a long braking section...a long entry...a long transisiton...and a long exit.  More time to learn the skill.The ideal drill is a large figure 8 where you are coming to corners spooled up in 4th...but the corner is a slower 3rd gear corner.  That is going to give a long braking zone...and a long entry...and a long exit...time wise.  The more TIME you spend doing something...the easier you will learn it.  

 

If I had to pick some key things I notice about the really fast guys...that they do different than the rest of us...

1.  They lean the bike early and a lot...and use the rear brake as they do this.

2.  They stay low with a strong back (OK...not all of them do this...RD corners pretty tall)

3.  They dont sweat the small stuff.  They are relaxed...and they just go with the flow as the bike is all over the place below them. 

4.  They find grip by using ruts, berms and terrain to maximum potential.

5.  They brake later, turn in earlier (but more gradually), and sit MUCH later....

 

Correction...when transitioning...you have to unweight the right peg and lift your heel...for the rear brake.  It will not be the "inside" peg when making a left turn.  In fact...if you like to get your inside leg out early....and you like to carry the rear brake deep...you will sometimes find yourself in a state where NEITHER foot is on the pegs.  So...this phase is very different for left and right turns.

Edited by Blutarsky

Correction...when transitioning...you have to unweight the right peg and lift your heel...for the rear brake. It will not be the "inside" peg when making a left turn. In fact...if you like to get your inside leg out early....and you like to carry the rear brake deep...you will sometimes find yourself in a state where NEITHER foot is on the pegs. So...this phase is very different for left and right turns.

Good post !

Good post !

 

I once had some instruction from am ex AMA pro for a morning...and he actually had me practice and exxagerate this phase...with NEITHER foot on the pegs...  It was hard....  If a small section of a body transition is hard...and you cant do it...you wont do the transition right.  You have to break down these techniques into very small parts...and master them...then stack them up.

 

Ringo noted that carrying speed in is key.  To do this...you have to learn to lean early while standing...and using the rear.  You also have to learn how to transition from this phase...to the sitting apex out phase (which is the easy part).  But you really can not work on these earlier phases...until you are very good at apex out cornering.  Otherwise...you will only get your self in deeper and faster than you are capable of handling.  As such...you have to learn cornering phases backwards.

Edited by Blutarsky

Correction...when transitioning...you have to unweight the right peg and lift your heel...for the rear brake.  It will not be the "inside" peg when making a left turn.  In fact...if you like to get your inside leg out early....and you like to carry the rear brake deep...you will sometimes find yourself in a state where NEITHER foot is on the pegs.  So...this phase is very different for left and right turns.

So you press the knee into the shroud...I think its a neat feeling in these moments.  No feet on the pegs but total control...mostly.

So you press the knee into the shroud...I think its a neat feeling in these moments.  No feet on the pegs but total control...mostly.

 

I am still not very comfortable with it.  I am MUCH better on right turns.  In other words...I am OK wiht putting my leg out late..left leg on peg...right leg still on the brake...sitting down....  I am much less comfortable with the left turn pegless transition...  I carry a LOT more speed into right handers because of this...

There are two practice principles for learning to corner that I believe in...

#1.  Learn backwards.  It wont help you one bit to learn to brake hard and late if your corner entry sucks.  In fact..it may get you hurt.  So...learn your corner exit first.  Then learn the transitions to sitting.  The last thing you learn is to brake well...

#2.  Practice on FAST corners.  Slow corners are too hard to learn on...because things happen too fast.  The speeds are lower...so the various phases happen FAST.   A fast corner on the other hand...has a long braking section...a long entry...a long transisiton...and a long exit.  More time to learn the skill.The ideal drill is a large figure 8 where you are coming to corners spooled up in 4th...but the corner is a slower 3rd gear corner.  That is going to give a long braking zone...and a long entry...and a long exit...time wise.  The more TIME you spend doing something...the easier you will learn it.  

This is good I have never been told to look at it this way

Another question relatetd to the topic... Long story short: did you ever feel uncomfortable charging into a corner standing because of being scared of ripping off the inside foot of the peg?

I'm continuisly working on my corner speed and many tips here seem to really help, but I experienced some turns that are ruttet or with sandy bumps that made me feel running into the possibility of dragging my inside foot by charging into them a good bit faster/with more lean. Sitting also of course wont work because some of those bumps would kick you off your seat by taking them at proper speeds... and even if they wouldn't... I guess it's not that healthy for your spine... I found myself with the inside foot on the shrouds and standing just on the outside peg, absorbing the bumps only with one foot... is this the way to go?

I´m slow, but just week ago, I attended mx school.Three most important things for me were:

1. Because everyone says in forums that if you corner you gotta sit as forward as you can I also did it. WRONG!!! Have to sit at the balance point, and move forward with your upper body, so you control the balance with you upper body. Work against the forces.
2. If learning something new you have to practice it slowly. Slower then you think!!!! You might feel slower, but you actually are faster.
3. No clutching when cornering!!! Ofc sometimes it is needed, but majority of the time ppl use too much clutch, it is not needed. You leave the clutch lever alone after you have used your brakes. If you say you need clutch when exiting corner, then you body position on bike is wrong, upper body movement is wrong, throttle control is bad. You will be a lot smoother without clutch.

You have to be smooth and flow. No need be mega fast on straights, and then suck in corners. Better be slower on straights and faster in corners. Will be faster, and you will ride a lot longer, because you are not wasting energy.

It is different, than some ppl here teach, but he explained everything with physics, and he is far from slow, and I tried different methods. Must say he knows what he is talking.

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