Enter speed into corners is a major place to lower your lap times. To carry more enter speed, braking control is a major factor! This is Braking Part 1 of 3. These three parts (one per month) will cover my 3 Step Rear Braking Techniques:

  1. Braking while standing
  2. Braking while going from standing to sitting
  3. Letting off the rear brake at the transition

Braking While Standing

One of the most common mistakes with riders below the B class skill level, is not using the rear brake properly while standing. This usually coincides with not using the front brake property either. Which brings up an interesting question. What is more important, the rear brake or the front brake? Most riders will answer, the front brake is more important. It's true that the front brake has more stopping power, but it's not necessarily more important. Overall, they are equally important. In order to have the most braking control and effectiveness, it's best to maximize the rear brake. This means to brake as hard as possible without locking it up. Then you would take up the extra stopping power needed with the front brake.

Braking in Motocross would be a lot easier if there was always traction, like in road racing. Then the front brake would be more important. But in Motocross, traction is usually one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. When braking properly with the rear brake, the rear tire has a big effect on the front tire, as it pulls it back. When you are leaning into a corner, it pulls it back and to the inside. This will keep the front tire from sliding out. (Note: this is different once you have checked into a rut. More on ruts in another article).

So, let's brake down step number 1 - braking while standing. When you're on the gas and approaching a corner, obviously there's going to be a point when you have to shut off the throttle. This is where you're hardest braking should be taking place. This is where you'll be carrying the most speed. It's also where the bike will be going straight, as in, not leaning for the corner yet. But, when most riders shut off the throttle, they coast, before beginning to brake. That's their first mistake in regards to entering the corner. There should be no coasting. Instead, as soon as the throttle is shutting off, the rear brake should be maximized, remember, as hard as possible without locking up. As this is happening with the rear brake, it should also be happening with the front brake. At this time, you should be standing with your butt back. This body position will take much of the load off the front end, while under all that braking power.

When you are just beginning to lean a tiny bit for the corner and you are maximizing the rear brake, the bike will do a little bit of a drift slide towards the corner. This means the front wheel will be counter steering a bit, tracking straight, and allowing you to use the front brake as hard as needed, with no danger of sliding out. This wouldn't be possible without maximizing the rear brake.

When you master this first technique of my 3 Step Rear Braking Techniques, it will allow you to carry way more speed into the corners. This is most beneficial when the ground is somewhat smooth, with no ruts. It also works best going into 180 corners, where it's necessary to slow down quickly.

Check back next month for Part 2: Controlling the Rear Brake While Going from Standing to Sitting.

Ride hard, ride smart and have fun.

About Gary Semics:

Learn our GSMXS time tested and proven practice and training methods to improve your riding skills and race results. How? Through our hands on Motocross School Group and Private classes, with located in six countries. Through our Techniques and Training DVDs.