Dial in your braking performance!
Words: Jared Rando Photos: Nick Waygood
The key to corner speed always relates to how fast you can exit and not how fast you enter. Getting your braking right for corners requires a lot of discipline to come in smooth, brake early and roll out rather than coming in hot and rolling the dice. Once you gain some confidence with your cornering, there are some great little techniques to make your cornering faster and more efficient such as running wide on the exit when you can, looking for high lines to enter and maximising your braking technique so you can limit the time you spend on the brakes. Here we’re looking at a great little technique to maximise your braking technique as you come into corners. The technique is relatively simple, but it is a great and effective way to teach yourself just how effective your brakes can be. Here’s how it’s done.
Step 1 – Pick a Corner
Find a corner which isn’t too interrupted and is fairly straight forward. Something which will allow you to roll out without too much on the exit so you can clearly judge your exit speed. It’s also handy to have plenty of markers around you can use as braking points but if there isn’t too much around, a simple rock or other object which you can move around is great as well.
Step 2 – Pick a Braking Point
This is the key part of the exercise. Hit the corner as you normally would and make note of where you begin to brake. For me on this corner, the root on the trail was a great starting point. The aim of the game is to note your braking point and hit the corner over and over – each time trying to move your braking point closer to the entry of the corner. Moveable markers like rocks, your water bottle, a cone or anything else are great to use but the racer inside of me always makes reference to something naturally on the side of the trail.
Step 3 – Focus on braking hard
The key on this technique is to really focus on what you do when you are braking to slow the bike as quickly as possible while ensuring you stay on line and can get off the brakes as soon as possible. Push down hard through the wheels so your tyres hook up and be heavy on the bike. Keep your weight back as you start to stop skidding but don’t forget to look ahead and around the turn!
Step 4 – Make sure you stay on line
The mark of success is to keep the right line and not feel off balance through the turn. As you push your braking later and deeper in the turn it will become apparent pretty quickly when you hit your limits as you’ll find yourself just a little wider than you’re comfortable with as you go through the turn. From there you can keep the braking point the same and try to slow down more effectively and focus on doing everything you can to get down to the right speed.
Step 5 – Remember it’s all about the exit
Make sure that no matter what happens you aren’t compromising your exit speed. Quite often as you practice this you’ll hopefully find your exit speed increasing a little as you tend to push a little harder through the turn to make it all work. All in all, it’s a really fun and relatively safe exercise to maximise your braking into turns and something you can practice almost anywhere and at any time.