The rule of the track is to leave the clutch out while braking so the engine helps slow you down and control the braking process. It's kind of like anti-lock brakes. The best stopping power is just before the rear wheel locks up and that's what leaving the clutch out helps with. This is done when you're still carrying some speed into the corner. If it's a tight corner where you're going to be slowing down to a slow speed in the middle of the corner and/or if you're going to do a brake slide than you have to pull the clutch in so you don't kill the engine.

Photo above: Not enough rear brake and too much front brake

I've seen this technique of leaving the clutch out while braking misused and abused by a lot of beginner riders. Every time they apply the back brake they put the clutch in. They do this because they don't have good braking control and by stabbing the rear brake they stall the engine - sometimes making it stall even easier by being in too high of a gear.

It's the same technique for 2-strokes and 4-strokes. It's also the same when exiting a corner with 2- or 4-strokes. The 2-stroke does depend on the clutch more than the 4-stroke but if you're pulling a high gear out of the corner even the torquey 4-strokes can use a little help from the clutch.

A good rider can make the bike drift-slide into a corner real pretty-like by leaving that low-end lever out (the clutch). When a rider pulls the clutch in while braking at speed he's taking a chance of sliding out too much, then his automatic reaction is to let up on the rear brake too much. This causes the bike to straighten up and then he hits the rear brake again and so on and so on. This is especially the case on a high speed slippery approach to a corner. Learn to feather those controls or lock them up and everything between. It takes a fine feel to go fast.

Cornering is an art form. To get really good at it you have to have some talent, know all the techniques inside and out and then practice it frequently in many ways over a long period of time.

Nice drift slide using both rear and front brakes properly with clutch out

There's much more to cornering than just leaning over and going through the turn. There are things like the angle of the corners, whether they're banked or off-camber, sharp or sweeping, and the conditions of the track. Then there are the techniques of cornering between the rider and motorcycle. There are even techniques that affect the handling of the motorcycle in the corner. These techniques make the motorcycle either hold the track or brake loose and pivot, slide through the corner.

In order to handle a corner fast you need to carry as much speed as possible and as long as possible into the corner. Slow yourself down just enough to still have control at the "Exit Transition," (the exit transition is where you go from braking to accelerating) and then get on the gas as soon and as hard as possible. In order to carry a lot of speed into the corners, you need to have a fast and late "Approach Transition" (the approach transition is where you go from accelerating to braking). With this in mind, we can understand that a very important part of cornering is braking. To be good at cornering, you have to be good at braking.

Of course, all through the corner, you have to maintain complete relaxed control. Tightness and mistakes will only make you tired and slow you down, if not make you crash. Remember, you can only try as hard, and go as fast, as you can, and do the basic techniques correctly and maintain relaxed control. So, if you're tight or making mistakes, you will benefit by slowing down, which in turn allows you to learn how to go faster.

In others words, it takes much more finesse than just charging into the turns at full speed and hoping you'll be able to make it when you get in there. You have to constantly anticipate exactly what is going to happen just before it happens. You have to know the exact line that you want to be on. That line should take you to the best possible traction for the exit transition. You see, it's very important to know exactly where your front tire is going, so you can find the best traction at the most critical part of the turn. This is where you're going to be turning the most, at the exit transition. Again, make sure your front tire is going exactly where you want it to go. If you're doing the techniques correctly, the back tire will also go exactly where you want it to go.

Get all the how to details from my "Motocross Braking Techniques DVD or Stream."

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.