Minor issue – trail braking also needs smooth downshifts

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  • This topic has 4 replies, 3 voices, and was last updated 6 months ago by Nick Ienatsch.
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  • #515894

    I understand the value of trail braking but you may want to add a footnote is that it also requires practice with smooth downshifting. I don’t necessarily mean going off on a tangent but just mention that you must learn smooth downshifting before you can attempt trail braking.

    Just from my own experience when I was learning how to ride I had a close call doing a downshift in the middle of a curve. I let out the clutch too fast and nearly lost grip. From that experience I ended up doing all braking before the curve and use the throttle the entire curve.

    From the course I started doing some practice with smooth downshifts by blipping the throttle and letting out the clutch slowly. Only by doing this I started to feel less scared of trail braking.

    Hope that helps and had a lot of fun with the course!

    Nick Ienatsch

    We’d rather approach it from a different angle because if a rider hears they “must be able to downshift smoothly or they can’t trail brake”, they will not use a life-saving, lap-time-dropping technique.

    Say it this way: If you are not able to make butter-smooth downshifts, the type of downshift that is necessary at lean angle, make sure to get your downshifts done before you tip into the corner.

    Getting downshifts done before tip-in is pretty normal anyway.

    Butter-smooth downshifts are further down our safety priority list than trail-braking, so please don’t discourage trail-braking due to sloppy downshifts; get downshifts done before tip-in…and keeping practicing rev-matching!

    Thanks, Nick I.


    Yeah you do have a point in that it may discourage riders. Thanks for your comment!

    Andrew Duffin

    Nick–semi-related question: So ideally, as we are corner braking and downshifting on entry, we must simultaneously blip the throttle so as to match RPMs, right?. This seems like such an impossible task–to do two things with my right hand that are running at cross-purposes. I just completed the ChampU course and will be at NJMP in September for ChampSchool. Gotta figure this out, and it’s something that an empty parking lot isn’t going to fix.

    Nick Ienatsch

    Andrew…one significant process: Make sure you are using the tips of your fingers on the brake lever…that allows you to have an arch in your fingers so when you blip, you don’t pull on the brake lever because the arch gives.

    Hang in there…work on it at a standstill, not just when you’re rolling…in a very short time you’ll get it because you know the saying: the only way to fail is to quit…-NI

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