canyon riding, curve roads, twisties

Forums Introductions and General Motorcycle Chat General Motorcycle Discussion canyon riding, curve roads, twisties

  • This topic has 8 replies, 7 voices, and was last updated 3 weeks ago by Nick Ienatsch.
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    Michael Trinidad

    Hello when it comes to canyon roads do I use both brakes when dealing with the curve road? or do I just use front brakes? It was my first time riding in yosemite area I ended up relying too much on my engine braking which according from the instructors here is not good for the engine. Thank you for reading this topic.


    Michael, I am not an instructor, nor am I a Champ U employee… but yes the front and rear brake are both used to control the motorcycle. However, it would be highly dependent on a lot of variables concerning if both should be used in every corner. I think of it as different ways to control aspects of my riding. I might use engine braking, I might use it in addition to the front or rear brake, I might use all three.

    I don’t think the instructors have said not to use engine braking or that it was bad for the motorcycle, only that engine braking is not controllable like front brake pressure. Your engine braking will only yeild the resistance of the motor decelerating. The front brake can supply the same thing, but you can add more or less (controllable) as you need and as the corner changes. It is the first 5% that will transfer weight to load the tire… engine, front, or rear brake. However, your front brake will allow the most control and you would be able to modulate it around the corner until your speed and direction are comfortable, then you can use a controlled release of the last 5% of the front brake and transfer to controlled throttle maintenance to carry you through until you see the exit of your corner and can start trading off lean angle for acceleration.

    I found that finding a large safe area (parking lot for me) and practicing braking really helps. You can get to a set speed and decelerate using rear only, then front only, then engine braking, then combing them. Truly, front and rear together can get you stopped a lot quicker than you would think. Knowing what it feels like in a controlled situation will allow you to have a bit more confidence once you are back in Yosemite.

    For me… most street canyon roads I am concentrating on front brake. Rear if I need to come to an emergency stop, but controlling my speed with my front. What I learned is if I let off my front too soon and it unloads…. I’m going wide. Mastering that 5% on/off is key to keeping a settled chassis in the corner.

    Please… instructors… jump in… I’m not the expert!

    • This reply was modified 4 months ago by Dale_I.

    Not a YCRS instructor either. 🙂 But love riding up in that area. Amazing roads! But also pretty challenging, yeah? All those uphill corners are pretty easy, but then those downhill ones get a bit more tricky, right?

    So, on the street, and especially, with big torquey bikes, engine braking is simply going to be a thing we have to deal with. It’s not that engine braking is necessarily bad, although we can minimize it by being one gear higher if need be, but the problem is we don’t want to rely _only_ on engine braking.

    So, lets say we are doing the whole coasting into every corner thing. I’ve done it. We all have. The road has nice flow and its fun, but then mid-corner, something unexpected happens. What are our choices? Can we add more coast?

    This is why I’m very, very active with my front brake especially. My fingers are always covering it and as soon as I roll off the throttle, my fingers are starting to ease into that first few percentages of front brake. I really want weight over my front tire for all the reasons. With the front brake I can add and subtract small amounts of pressure for some incredible precision that engine braking simply does not offer.

    Now, if I’m comfortable with speed and direction, I may go to maintenance throttle, but my fingers are still at the ready to ease back into the front brakes if I need to.

    Now, I absolutely love my rear brake, and I use it all the time. I love how the rear brake settles the back of the bike, but I’m just putting pressure on the rear brake. Not often am I actively pressing on it – just pressure. I especially love the rear brake on those steep downhill bits and the ends of straight bits. But I’m putting way more focus on the front brake.

    I’d love to see an instructor chime in here as well, especially if Dale and I are giving less than ideal advice. 🙂

    Michael Trinidad

    When i ride my bikes in the street I’m used to using my front and rear brakes it was definitely a challenge when i took that ride to yosemite I was riding my 1700 roadstar and hell it was heavy being a new rider the roads spooked me for a while but put more focus to get back my concentration. The next time i go up there in yosemite I’ll remember the advice about the front brakes and i believe it will be a lot better because of the riding tips i learned from champu thank you for all the riding tips from members as well be safe.

    Alex Hatfield

    Hi Mike!

    Dale and Dave are correct:
    The front brake provides up to 90% or so of our braking force (depending on style of bike), so we really want to prioritize it. That being said, there’s a whole section on the rear brake in Champ U. The manufacturers add them to the motorcycles for a reason, and especially on a cruiser like yours, they’re pretty important to master! With yours, it could be close to 50-50.
    Engine braking occurs naturally when we roll off the throttle, but it’s not adjustable or repeatable – and we’d rather wear a set of $80 brake pads than an $8,000 drivetrain! Check out the Champ U lessons on Braking and Rear Brake for more info 🙂

    • This reply was modified 4 months ago by Alex Hatfield.

    but put more focus to get back my concentration

    This part made me happy. FOCUS! This is always going to help. It’s amazing to me how many riders lose focus and then little mistakes become big mistakes. So good job!!

    Franbunny Alice Viera

    I rear brake, then transition to trailbraking with the front on a lot of turns. Rear brake is necessary when you’re coming off of a straight that you took as fast as you can. Learning to use the rear brake let me ride a lot of straight-a-ways faster on my favorite curving road.

    Barry Cahill-OBrien

    The complexities of downshifting can be a distraction, that can make me forget to brake, and then its too late, so using the mantra of “front brake” when entering a corner reminds me to cover first, then fumble with shifting, while allowing my instincts work magic on the brakes

    Nick Ienatsch

    Barry, thanks for the notes…yes, the steps of correct downshifting are initially complex. We took a lot of time in that section, breaking the process down to steps and adding a few vital processes.

    We want to reiterate this encouragement: Riders who take the time to practice these steps on a non-running bike or even with their hands in the air, will get the downshift right quite soon! This low-risk practice allows us to make mistakes and eventually fine-tune the steps.

    Reminders: 1-Many riders begin the DS process too late. Snap off your first downshift in the first 10% of the braking zone, in other words, quite soon after initial braking.
    2-Keep it simple: Before easing out the clutch lever in the lower gear, give the throttle a short blip or rev. We have all downshifted a bike, so just add this simple thought to your current process.
    3-If the tips of your fingers are extending below the brake lever, you might struggle with smoothness and add/release brake pressure as you blip. Using just the tips of your fingers on the brake lever gives your fingers an arch, and that arch will flex as you blip…ah, smooth as buttah….
    4-For downshifts done when we’re not braking, make sure your fingers are still covering the brake lever.

    Keep at it, and in a very short time you will get it right. After all, we must remember our mantra: “If Chris Peris can do it, we can do it.” -Nick I.

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