As I have talked about in the past, your braking effort is more than just hitting a braking point, slamming on the anchors until you reach your entry point, releasing them and steering.
In truth, that isn’t actually very typical among less experienced riders, mainly because they won’t have that level of confidence to get to hard brakes quickly.
In this article we’re going to talk about the more common approach to braking that learning riders display, how that negatively affects them, and what you can do to flip it on it’s head to start making BIG progress in this area.
For learning riders the way they transition from the throttle to the brakes is often not so good. Quite simply… it’s lazy.
A common trait you see is that riders will roll off and spend a considerable length of time coasting along without either the throttle or brakes applied. This rolling off early like this shows that the rider is unsure of themselves as they move into the braking zone.
Because they’ve rolled off so early, they find themselves a long way away from the corner with no immediate feeling that they need to brake to any large degree for the upcoming corner.
As such, they’ll start off with light brakes simply because they don’t feel they need more than that.
However, as they get closer to the corner they start to get the feeling that they’re going a bit too fast, so they gradually build up brake pressure as they get closer and closer to the turn point.
The end result is that the rider will find themselves hard on the brakes at or near the point where they want to enter the corner, creating a whole manner of unpleasant feelings and possibly some unfavourable results like overbraking for the corner, or missing their turn point altogether.
Here’s how this approach would look if we plotted the braking effort of this rider.
Aside from the negative results that come from being hard on the brakes right when you want to steer the bike and enter the corner, this light to hard braking approach makes it difficult for riders to improve in this area.
The biggest difficulty comes from the fact that riders don’t actually realise what they’re doing, and because they find themselves feeling rushed at corner entry (because they’re hard on the brakes) they feel like they’re braking late enough already.
The result is that while they may want to brake later, they come around again and are met with the same lack of confidence and find themselves rolling off early and being unsure of themselves in the braking zone.
To combat this and in-turn make MASSIVE progress in the braking zone, we have to turn this approach on its head.
This is actually something we’ve covered before so I won’t go too deep into it here, but we’re simply looking to turn this approach on its head and get the bulk of the braking done earlier in the braking zone.
Once again here’s how it would look…
I was one of many who, unbeknown to me, adopted the approach of building up braking pressure slowly and leaving the hard braking until later in the braking zone, but when I was first taught to adopt the correct braking structure it was a complete revelation for me.
Particularly in heavy braking areas I found that once I adopted the technique of starting with hard braking, I was left feeling that I was beginning my braking effort far too early.
I would start braking at my normal point, and then with plenty of distance to go before I arrived at my turn point I felt like I was coasting up to the corner and going far too slow.
As a result I was able to move my braking marker considerably closer to the corner and in turn cut good chunks out of my lap times.
Not only that but I felt a lot more calm, controlled and relaxed at my entry point having finished all my hard braking earlier, away from where I wanted to begin steering.
This trait will be displayed by so many riders across any track day paddock and not just exclusively in the lower groups.
Even when riding in the fast group I occasionally get caught out by riders who start braking light but then quickly build up pressure closer to the corner, leaving me getting a little too close for comfort (note to self: don’t follow so closely).
But like I said, many of the riders displaying this trait won’t be aware that this is a mistake they’re making, which is why you need to be receptive to exactly what you’re doing in the braking zone in particular if it’s an area you don’t feel that confident in.
If you discover that you are in fact displaying braking technique similar to this, just by changing when you perform your hard braking it’s not out of the question that you can begin braking later AND feel more composed as you enter the corner too.