Eastern Dirt Article: Braking Technique

In this months EDM technique article we are going to talk about braking. Braking when used correctly can save you a considerable amount of time. Consider this – on my local MX track we have 19 turns where you would need to apply your brakes. Brake ¼ a second (What’s that right?) later on all those corners and you would be cutting your lap times down nearly 5 seconds! Fundamentally, braking is one of the most important techniques in dirt bike riding because majority of it is not performance/machine related but rather the riders’ skill and technique.

Today we will be looking at braking after a jump. In our case it was a left hand turn onto a short straight into small table top leading into a sharp right hand turn.

The key to any corner like this is to find the smoothest fastest line using the correct braking technique. If you have the correct braking technique after the obstacle it allows you to be more flexible and give you more options. Preparation is the first item to address and could be done by simply using the inside or outside of the previous turn and setting yourself up to take the best possible line through the corner. This will enable you to maintain a good speed and control over the obstacle in question and be ready to get on the brakes for the following turn. 

Lets take a look at the example above, in this instance I started preparing by exiting the previous corner slightly on the inside and avoid following the main line, this will put you on the outside of the next corner so you can brake slightly later without having to lock up the brakes to get around the corner. 

The general idea behind this line would be to jump the table top slightly off center on the left side, enter the corner slightly wide, sweeping through and then hugging the inside and accelerating to the outside again. This should give you an “outside-inside-outside” line while maintain a good speed and being smooth and consistent.

While in the air you want to prepare you self for the braking and put your finger/s onto the brake and get ready to start slowing down as soon as you land. In the sequence above you can see I am landing on the top of the down slope which soaks up quite a bit of your speed which helps with the breaking.

Shortly after landing is where majority of the braking technique is coming into play, you are going to want to move your weight slightly towards the rear of the bike, maintain a good balance and utilize as much of your front braking power as possible. In this case you are going to most likely need both front and rear brakes to get you stopped in time, so once again the weight distribution between the front and rear is very important. 

Because so much braking is needed in this case you can see that I am already quite far into the actual turn and still haven’t put my foot out mainly because I am still using the rear brake to control the bike going into the turn. Normally you want majority of the braking already done before entering the turn, but in this case there is just not enough time. This makes it even more crucial that your braking skills are perfect because it is very easy to blow through the turn.

In the rest of the shots you can see how useful the preparation was, it allowed me to come through the corner carrying more speed, breaking on the downside and late into the corner allowing me to carry a flowing line through the corner to get on the gas sooner.

General Braking Practice

Some good braking techniques include:

Practicing nose wheelies or ‘stoppies” – These are really great practice, they teach you how to control your weight while using your front break and how hard and fast you can stop. If you find it difficult to do them, try leaving your feet off the pegs and just before grabbing a handful of the front break, move your weight forward and throw your legs forward, this will help with the momentum to get your bike to roll up onto the front wheel.

Another good technique is to use braking points on the track, whether it be a tire, branch on the ground or hay bale. Use your practice session to remember where each point is and throughout the session see how far forward you can advance them.