(909) 838-4587 ed [at] le-suspension.com

This is me on my ‘93 TZ250 in Turn 1, Short Course, Hawaii Raceway Park in about ‘95. Eric (CBR900RR) and Kim (TZ250) are on the up hill part of the track and I’m on the down hill part. We are turning off the drag strip and the center line I just crossed marks the top of the camber that lets the water drain. The drag strip was 4 lanes wide, two on each side, the dashed line between Eric & Kim is between the 2 lanes on the right side. I’m about to cross into the 4th lane. The apex of T-1 is to the right about 10 yards out of the shot.

I’m posting this for two reasons. One is that it’s a great shot that makes me look good. Two is that it shows hard braking in a turn. You can see my fingers still on the brake lever and by the forks that I’m not at max braking any longer.

On a TZ max braking is limited by keeping the rear wheel on the ground. So I would squeeze the lever till I was at max braking while going straight right next to the white Armco and keep it there till just before the crest then start easing off the brake as I roll on the throttle.

My knee would be on the ground by the dashed line between Eric & Kim still with the brakes on just as hard as they were in a straight line. I’m telling you this to give you an idea just how much traction you have at turn in if you keep the brakes on. Letting go of the brakes then turning feels like you have no grip because you are coasting and because the suspension is not loaded you don’t have any grip.

You have to work up to this. Start by easing off the brakes as you turn in. Once you are good at that, ease off less and less. You can’t brake as hard on a street bike with DOT tires as this but you can keep you suspension stabilized and therefore give yourself more traction. Also work on rolling on the throttle as soon as you let off the brakes, again so you are not coasting. Coasting is bad.

As a free bonus your bike will turn in easy because you compressed the front end 4 or 5 inches. So if you lowered your front end for easy turn in, it’s time to put the forks back where they were because the few millimeters you moved them is nothing compared to what you can do with the brakes. Worse, you made your bike unstable when you tried to make it easy to turn.

It’s not the bikes job to turn easy. It’s your job to flick it. See the guy keeping up with me on the CBR900RR that he rode to the track every month? The skinny guy in front of the other TZ. The guy with the same DOT tires he used on the street riding that bike to work everyday. How come his bike flicks? Talent. Skill. Knowledge. His bike is stable freeing him up to use his skills to ride faster. And he is so good on the brakes that we called him, Madman. You can see that Eric is still on the brakes and I assure you that Kim is too.

Also note that we are all looking thought the turn, all have are head and eyes level. None of us is holding our breath and even thought this photo does not show it none of us were dangling our foot.