As you begin to practice good downhill techniques, start with easy hills to try out the principles, and work your way gradually to steeper and longer hills.
Outlook: Downhills are just flat terrain where you accelerate quicker and decelerate slower. Not all downhills require heavy braking. Learn to recognize the difference, especially when the bottom runout area is clean and smooth.
UNLESS YOU HAVETO GET OFF AND WALK IT DOWN, NEVER LOCK UP YOUR REAR WHEEL AND "SLIDE IT DOWN" THE HILL! You not only lose braking effectiveness that way, you give up a lot of control. A tire that's sliding forward becomes very easy to slide sideways too. A sliding rear tire typically deflects sideways from every rock, root, and Suzuki rider you run over. This is not good! It's better to be doing 20 mph under control, than 5 mph out of control.
If the hill really requires a very slow descent, use first gear, clutch out, lots of brake, and a little throttle to prevent the rear brake from locking the rear wheel. You actually control your rate of descent with the throttle. This takes a little practice, but it pays big dividends.
When you approach something really ugly on a downhill, like a bad root, rock, or a short drop-off, get off the brakes just before your front wheel encounters the obstacle, and then reapply the brakes after the rear wheel clears the obstacle. Yes, you'll accelerate a little when you do that, but you keep your wheels rolling, you maintain traction, and you keep control over the obstacle.
Look for the bottom of the hill, and think of it as the beginning of an uphill. If there's a clean and smooth runout, then get off the brakes and accelerate on the lower part of the hill to carry some speed onto the fast part of the trail.
You have more control of your bike when you're on the gas, so don't consider every downhill a place where you have to slow down. Many downhills are great opportunities to speed up, and often great opportunities to pass slower riders.
Practice, practice, practice.
Gordon Banks, Huntsville, AL
2005 Honda Pilot Tow Car
2005 Honda CRF450X w/Rekluse
2005 Honda CRF250X w/Rekluse
2001 Honda Gold Wing GL1800
1997 Honda 300 4x4 w/Powroll Big Bore Kit