It is more complicated than a simple post but here goes. Rake is the steering head angle. Trail is the difference between a point on the ground directly below the axle and an imginary point on the ground running inline with the steering head.
It seems simple but gets complicated by:
1. the triple trees offset from the steering head
2. the front wheel diameter
3. if the triple trees are offset from each other changing the angle of the fork tubes relative to the steering head
4. the location of the axle relative to the fork tubes
Essentially less trail means it turns sharper/quicker, more trail provides less of a twitchy feel at highway speeds.
It's easier to understand if you know basic trigonometry. Notice that it's similar to a right triangle. The perpendicular runs from the steering head to the ground. The rake angle gives you the hypotenuse. The trail is the 3rd side of the triangle which would run parallel to the ground. A bike with longer fork tubes can give more trail with a sharper rake angle than a bike with shorter fork legs. If you draw some triangles you can see how it works.
Never mind all that mathmatics mumbo jumbo, just remember that lame-o gaywad cruisers have lower degrees of rake angle and lots of trail that's why they can only go in strait lines untill they get ridden off the road by the drunk wanna-be riding them,
Where as super cool dope-as-sh*t sportbikes have greater degrees of rake angle and less trail, that's why they can shredd corners like a ripper, dude piloted by the mad skillz of there totally bangin' riders..
just seems like it's mocking new riders and their questions - possibly hindering MO's role as a source of motorcycling knowledge by making posters think twice about reaching out for information, and creating in a small way a sense of elitism. maybe all question-threads get that icon, but how would a freshman MOfo know that?
for example - a new poster's response to that icon last week was something in the area of "uh, gee, thanks for equating me with a baby goat-like creature that still has a banky and sucks its thumb. guess i won't be asking any more questions..."
we all have to start somewhere. just like brian boitano did.
That icon is just Longride's way of copeing with the grief that all Chi-Town residents feel at this moment after the National Humiliation that was handed to Da Bears this last weekend..
After being spanked like a red-head step daughter then left out in the rain their only solace is to retreat to the womb-like comfort of a baby-blue blankie................Even Chuck Norris ALMOST shed a tear at the abuse handed out to Da Bears, if not for the Manly yet soft-spoken counsel offered by Brian Boitano ol' Chuck himself had an almost perceptible twinge of emotion....
You're about right. I will add this: Rake determines the "steering speed" and trail is the steering's tendency to "self correct".
Increasing rake (numerical degrees, that is) make sthe bike steer slower. Decreasing rake makes the bike steer faster. Increasing trail makes the bike more stable and track better (like when you let go of the bars, the bike won't wander). Decreasing trail makes the bike less stable and track more difficult.
Your 4 complications are dead on and broken down so nicely it's perfect. Additionally, tire profile and width will affect stability, steering and rider input too, but that has nothing to do with rake and trail.
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