Engine Braking and/or Trail Braking? - BMW K1600 Forum : BMW K1600 GT and GTL Forums
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 40 Old 09-28-2019, 07:12 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
Vandaldog's Avatar
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Russ from Appleton City, MO
Posts: 2,513
Engine Braking and/or Trail Braking?

I recently posted three videos, by Canyon Chasers, in a thread entitled "How & Why Delayed Apexes Work for Cornering." Trail braking was brought up in one of the vids and was, subsequently, discussed in the posts. I've intuitively used engine braking, for years, but as a self-taught rider (other than online instruction), am curious as to whether this is a substitute or a supplement to trail braking. Educate me, please.

Link to the "How & Why Delayed Apexes Work for Cornering" thread, mentioned above:

2018 K1600 GT Mars Red Metallic
► There exists a group of people who believe that 2 > 4.
► "I drive way too fast to worry about cholesterol." — Steven Wright
► No government, constitution or law gives you any rights... breathing does.
Vandaldog is online now  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 40 Old 09-28-2019, 09:01 PM
Senior Member
Rick92040's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: San Diego CA Area
Posts: 3,930
After I smashed my second GT I only trail brake on the track. On the street I brake in the straight and power out of the curve.

Take a class. It will be the most rewarding two days of your life.




2012 K1600GT (smashed)
2015 K1600GT (went over a cliff)
2018 R1200GS

Last edited by Rick92040; 09-28-2019 at 09:07 PM.
Rick92040 is offline  
post #3 of 40 Old 09-28-2019, 09:02 PM
Senior Member
svfiat's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Florida
Posts: 230
Well in today's new technology of linked brakes, your actually using your rear brake as you go into a corner if your using your front brake lever. For years I had to balance the braking going into corners a little too much of either and it was an OH SH1T moment. Now the bile does it for me making aggressive riding way easier. In any case I'm using one finger on the lever and pretty much never on the rear. I'm also down shifting to match the difficulty of the corner so I'm in the proper rpm range to power out of the corner if you know what I mean. I'm also self taught and what they describe as a new method of making corners I've been doing for years, go figure,
PLAGUE likes this.
svfiat is online now  
Sponsored Links
post #4 of 40 Old 09-28-2019, 09:22 PM
Senior Member
flyjets's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2015
Location: Bradenton FL
Posts: 365
R u serious your on an almost 800lbs motorcycle with linked brakes u better rethink such nonsense. To try and just use the rear brake and repoint the bike with this weight will be dangerous when rotation starts.

Buy a light weight sport bike and try trail braking it works I use it all the time but not on a K Bike.


Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.
flyjets is online now  
post #5 of 40 Old 09-28-2019, 09:30 PM
Senior Member
J-Luv's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2017
Location: KCMO
Posts: 1,355
I’ve been thinking about and practicing trail braking since I got back into riding about 5 years ago. I became much more focused on it after applying it incorrectly about a year ago. I even think about it often while driving. I don’t know that I have a perfect understanding of it because there is so much conflicting commentary out there...or on here for that matter. I can say that I have a very solid but possibly evolving grasp on it. I won’t like ever be as good at is as I’d like to be unless I get a track bike that I don’t mind finding the actual limit on. I can’t afford to do it on the K...and it just isn’t wise to practice or approach limits on public streets.

As far as your question goes...here is my thinking from my current grasp of the concept: engine braking has always been a part of my braking. My first teachings on entering and exiting corners were solely throttle control...rolling off and on. It’s why I enjoyed keeping my bike screaming in the upper RPM range. It offered more speed control with less braking. But brakes are cheaper than motor parts. I’ve never ridden on the edge (at least not on purpose) like the rider in the video, with front tire chattering and feathering the clutch to help unload it and help the bike turn. And on the K the brakes are linked so the concept discussed doesn’t apply because the rear tire is already taking some of the braking load. I don’t even use the rest brake pedal. And that’s because the front brake on the K is so very effective, with it without engine braking. But I’m likely utilizing engine braking because I’m trying to be smooth off the throttle, smooth onto the brakes, loading the front end, transferring the weight to the tire, adding angle, reducing brake pressure inversely with angle, seeing the exit and trying to be smooth rolling back on the throttle. Honestly, if I was on a bike with no back pressure like the video’s referenced 2 strokers, I would probably be much better with the trail braking by now. I would be relying solely on my brakes. But for my current street riding habits, the first braking I do is with the throttle. And the Shift Assist Pro makes my downshifting very very smooth. I believe that if I’m carrying too much speed to get the bike to turn, I would likely add front brake pressure because I think I ride well short of the bike’s limits or just lean and trust the bike to get thru the turn even if my mind has doubts. I might add a toe to the pedal.
PLAGUE likes this.


‘18 K16GT Option 719 Blue Planet Metallic with matching BMW top-box, Bomber Brown RDL, Denali D7s, Ilium f&r bars with highway pegs
IBA # 63673
‘14 FJR-ES Candy Red (sold)
‘83 CB1100F Blue White & Red (in a garage);
‘83 CB1100F Red White & Black (in a shed);
‘76 CR125 Elsinore Red (sold);
‘73? CB125S Torquoise (sold)

Last edited by J-Luv; 09-28-2019 at 09:39 PM.
J-Luv is offline  
post #6 of 40 Old 09-28-2019, 09:46 PM
Senior Member
Gunnert's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2012
Location: Catlett, VA
Posts: 6,078
After loosing a motor a couple years ago I trail brake ALL the time. I’m faster in the curves now than I ever was. I’d recommend learning how to trail-brake and apply it all the time. Major safety advantage for street riders. I didn’t like the feel of the stock BMW master cylinder. Felt like you either had brakes on or brakes off, very little room to modulate. I switched master cylinder to Brembo Corta Corsa, I now have. Full 3/4-1” feel when braking.

Qbird66, GTLuver, J-Luv and 2 others like this.

Duane: '12 K1600GT/WL EngineBars//Wilbers/VarioLevers/ cbdaneAmber /BajaDesigns LED/PDM60/Remus Headers/GPR Exhaust/BST Carbon Fiber Wheels
Gunnert is online now  
post #7 of 40 Old 09-29-2019, 12:48 AM
Senior Member
Donna's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Canberra, Australia
Posts: 682
The thing I don’t like trail braking on my B is the weird ABS pulse you get if you need to give a little front brake... Solution is to stomp a little harder on the rear if you need a few more anchors.

(It’s all fun until I break a nail!)
Pink and Black K1600B
Donna is online now  
post #8 of 40 Old 09-29-2019, 04:43 AM
Senior Member
Mole999's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: UK
Posts: 2,629
Rear brake application is mostly what I use, local speed limits reduce the need for further control, reduce to to the correct speed then change gear. Fronts get applied when travelling quicker. There are some very bad ways to use brakes, but whatever method you use, as long as you are not out of control, and they are well maintained, then is it really bad. Used to be 70/30 on non linked brakes, and 50/50 in the wet. Most of which pre dated disc brakes

R80/7RT / K75RT / R1200RT / K1600 GTL - in the U.K.
Also Rans ( Honda C90 & CD175 & CX500 & ST1100, Suzuki GT250 (J) & X7, Puch Maxi), Coveted Honda CBX, Yamaha Martini XS 1300 & FS1E, Kawasaki Z900, Z1000 & Z650, Quasar, Suzuki GT750
Mole999 is online now  
post #9 of 40 Old 09-29-2019, 10:23 AM
Senior Member
earthling's Avatar
Join Date: Jun 2018
Location: Uxbridge, Ontario
Posts: 1,117
All of this is my opinion and I how I talked myself through switching from how I was driving/riding to how I do today which admittedly is not biased towards aggressive riding. These days I would rather focus on being quick/smooth/safe.

Having recently switched to trail braking (in the last half dozen years) I can say that it is a much more effective way for me to get through a corner. I was the downshift, engine at high RPM, ready to drive out of the corner, working to balance the engine, brakes, clutch guy (car or motorcycle). When I stopped to think about it (after watching numerous onboard cameras of fast riders and drivers) I started looking into why I wasn't hearing the same thing from those videos that I hear from my riding/driving. Eventually it came down to watching in car videos and stumbling on trail braking online. Also a track-side comment to me from a fast driver along the lines of 'man you beat the snot out of that motor' helped me get some clarity.

Braking; Brakes are cheap, engines are not. All of the maintenance I will ever do by swapping the brake pads out every couple of years will not add up to the cost ($$ and time) not to mention temporary loss of confidence in my machine if I have to do an engine swap. Engine braking is unpredictable, the only inputs you have are gear, and clutch. Pick the wrong gear and it doesn't work they way you *need* it to, and using the clutch to disengage braking forces or change gears is ultimately a bad idea and one more control than you really need or want.

Using brakes only allows you to focus on one less set of forces, the remainder are tire rotational speed, bike attitude, and brake balance. If you think about it, you want to be on the front brake as much as possible without losing traction, thank you linked braking for making this even easier. Not only will it reduce your corner radius faster, it should simply be more predictable. When you use any brakes the bike will naturally shift its balance forward, biasing too much on the back brake robs you of critical input, that being when the front is going to wash out but more importantly, you want the transition from braking to cornering to acceleration to be as smooth as possible. Using the front brake allows you to control bike attitude and provides you with direct feedback/control of front end traction.

Cornering; 'Settling into the corner' ... You want the bikes suspension to compress and stay in a small range of attitude (position in 3D) throughout the corner. This will allow the suspension to work efficiently and you will be smoother in the corner. Using the front brake and throttle to drive the corner will provide you more focus as the brake becomes the overriding concern. The front brake is about controlling the bikes attitude in the corner, as you increase brake it wants to turn in as I release brake the bike wants to stand up. The right combination will be one that has the bike doing the right thing at the right time. Trail braking is brake releasing in my mind. It is the act of not letting off the brake completely until the corner requires it, already being into the brakes with the bike settled also allows for quicker, smoother reactions if something goes wrong.

Acceleration; Ideally in your drive out of the corner you are in the highest gear that will allow you to use the most appropriate part of the torque curve, typically this will be right under 5K rpm, for me around 4200. To be smooth out of the corner your job is to apply power without losing traction, this does not mean being at peak torque, at least for me. I found that it is more useful to 'torque' my way out of the corner and build towards peak power. Some guys who are faster can probably get away with tightening this up (by being in a lower gear) but for me it is more enjoyable, smoother, and ultimately safer to build build speed by leaning on the bikes torque curve.. which means being a gear up in many cases as I would rather be in too high of a gear than too low. These are public roads after all and there are real concerns about dust/gravel/tar snakes/road patches and the general fact that the road maintenance crews are not concerned with your corner traction. Building power/speed smoothly goes a long ways towards offsetting some of these surprise issues.

Anyways..engine braking is not the solution (for me)..

2012 BMW K1600GTL
earthling is online now  
post #10 of 40 Old 09-29-2019, 10:46 AM
Senior Member
djfalkenstein's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2018
Location: Canterbury, NH
Posts: 899
I don't see it as either/or, but some combination of both engine braking and trailing the brakes.

When I started reading about this thing called trail braking years ago, I realized I've always done it without really thinking about it. I routinely use the combination of lower gear and "feathering" the front brakes to align my trajectory through a turn. Before I understood the science behind it, I realized if I cover my fronts just slightly on the entrance and used lean more aggressively, my exits were much more smooth and natural.

Aside from the starter, a motorcycle has no binary functions; nothing is either all on or all off. To me, efficiently piloting a bike is a constant (and fortunately challenging) dance between lean, clutch, brake, and throttle. The rate of contribution of any constituent part (more throttle or brake for example) has an immediate effect on the angle of attack, and the behavior of the bike. For example, one should roll the throttle, not crank it; slow hands make for a fast ride.

When I feather the front brakes, I am using one or two fingers; not for strength (clearly), but to feel the resistance through the wheel to the bars to the brake actuator. I can feel when the brakes are too hot and grip is too much. I can feel the nose of the bike dip into a line I want her to take. I can feel the efficient release of braking and the application of power to the rear wheel as I exit the maneuver.

Trail braking works well - if the pilot understands its limitations and uses it properly.
Ranger1 likes this.

Last edited by djfalkenstein; 09-29-2019 at 10:49 AM.
djfalkenstein is online now  
Sponsored Links

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the BMW K1600 Forum : BMW K1600 GT and GTL Forums forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page

Posting Rules  
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome