Starting Right

A new year brings a fresh start.  Anaheim I is literally hours away and the atmosphere is intensifying.  One thing about Supercross that seems to be a reoccurring issue with some riders is starts.  With 250f mains lasting less the 15 minutes long, the initial jump off of the gate is extremely important.  You can jump all of the rhythm sections and rail all of the corners, but if you get a bad start, you will be running through tear offs like they are going out of style.  So, I thought to kick off the New Year, why not start with starts?

Each gate on the starting grid is different.  Not because of the position it is in, but the rut behind and outside of the gate.  At amateur events, you will see that some of the ruts right out the gate sway back and forth.  You want to try and avoid these if you can because this side to side movement robs you of the crucial drive out of the gate.  So, you want to find the straightest rut possible.

I have seen people prep their gate a million different ways.  And it is funny because it is almost like a religious ceremony!  This is really trial and error.  I like to get all of the loose dirt out and then stomp it down.  However, if it gets too deep, this will cause your front wheel to pop up and this will force you to slip the clutch; resulting in less drive from your back wheel.  Others prefer to drag dirt in the rut with their boots, and then pack it down.  Like I said, it is all trial and error to find what works for you.  However, the main idea to keep is to make sure your surface is as hard as possible.  The more rocks and loose dirt you have, the less traction you will get.

Another important aspect of choosing a gate is the way it lines up with the first corner.  Some think that the shortest line to the corner is the best.  This is not true.  You want the straightest line to the first turn.  This will allow you a solid drive to hold the gas wide open.

When you have everything prepped and the card goes sideways, technique comes into play.  You want to start with elbows squared up and head over the bars.  Your butt should be in the slight dip in the seat and both feet on the ground (or blocks).  This helps keep the rear from swaying side to side.  Keeping the clutch out just enough to get the chain tight will ensure a quick jump.  You want the bike to almost creep forward.  Throttle application is something that you have to play with.  I always liked to have about third of the throttle open and as the gate dropped, I poured it on very smoothly.  Too fast and the rear will spin.

Everything should be one, smooth motion.  Apply more gas as you let the clutch out.  DO NOT dump the throttle.  You might think that you will get a better jump, but you will just bog down.  As you exit the gate, it is a good idea to keep both feet down until you have to shift up.  I never liked shifting with my heel as I have almost blown up my engine doing that.  Don’t do it!  This whole process takes a lot of practice and requires a trained touch.  Once you find your routine, keep with it and you will be pulling holeshots like Andrew Short.

Posted on Jan 06 2011, under Riding Techniques | 4 Comments »

4 Responses to “Starting Right”

  1. That’s all good technique for dirt starts but concrete start pads require a totally different approach.

  2. Josh you are completely right. Correct me if I am wrong, but more weight needs to be towards the gas tank. And, obviously, the concrete needs to be swept as much as possible.

  3. For beginners only. Practice launch always in first gear. try to get control, traction and go strait forward. Launch in first gear is really difficult and you will learn to control wheel spin, maximize you traction, also you will need a lot of trotted and clutch control. Furthermore, you will learn each gear sweet spot how to change gear faster. first learn to stand, walk, run and then you will fly. And do not buy a motocross bike and go to races right away, go and have some fun first enjoy riding, learn and then you may consider go racing.

  4. This is very true. However, for those who are ready to race and want to perform well, first gear is probably not the best idea.

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