Controls: Throttle & brake application.

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Before we can move onto the fun topics (like lines, apexes and markers), we need to take a step back and talk about the application of the throttle and brakes - and what their constraints tell us about how we should be riding, and hint at areas to improve.

n.b. This is the 3rd article in a comprehensive start to finish guide on how to get your knee down by riding faster, smoother and safer.

If you haven't read it already, the previous article was: 'Body position(s): Transitions and movement.'

The problem with talking about such a fundamental skill is that a lot of people won't even entertain the idea of returning to the subject again - I urge you not to adopt that attitude.

As 101 as they are, it's vital you understand (or at least are reminded of) these concepts - they're a huge prerequisite to more advanced concepts that will be covered in future articles.


Throttle is proportional to lean angle.

Throttle is proportional to lean angle - the more you lean, the less throttle you can use.

You (and your style), your bike (and it's setup), the track, the conditions and more all play a role in the throttle/lean angle relationship - so, unfortunately, you'll have to figure out exactly how much throttle you can use for a given lean angle for yourself.

This one simple rule - "throttle is proportional to lean angle" - tells us a few things:

Full throttle

It's ridiculous how many people throw away chunks of time by simply not using 100% throttle. This is the best and safest way to go faster.

Twist the grip all the way to the stop.

Progressive roll on

Roll the throttle on smoothly and progressively as you pick the bike up while exiting a corner.

Don't just stand the bike up and pin it - it just destroys tyres and lap times.

Grip is the limiting factor here. In theory, until your rear tyre starts to slide, you can go faster.


Brake pressure is proportional to lean angle.

Just like throttle application - brake pressure is proportional to lean angle, and again, the exact relationship is something you're going to have to figure out yourself.

Use the front brake exclusively. There's no need to use the rear brake until you're riding at a high level - and even then it's hardly ever used.

Once again, this simple rule - "brake pressure is proportional to lean angle" - tells us a few things:

Full brakes

While braking in a straight line (with the bike upright), brake hard and fast. Get from 100% throttle to 100% brakes quickly and smoothly.

The aim is to transfer the weight to the front - more on this in a future article.

In this scenario, the rear wheel lifting is the limiting factor.

Progressive release

You can carry brakes into a corner, progressively releasing it as you transition from straight up to full lean - this is known as trail braking.

It's potentially the most risky part of riding, and as such, there's no need to push in this area until you're executing all other aspects of riding well.

Grip is the limiting factor here. A warnings sign that you're pushing your luck is if the bike starts to resist wanting to turn.


Think about your throttle & brake to lean angle relationships - are you the limiting factor? are you applying the throttle & brakes like on/off switches? can you brake harder? can you accelerate harder?

Remember: throttle and brakes are proportional to lean angle.