Believe it or not, a large percentage of racers don’t turn the throttle wide open. They think they do, but they don’t. If your racing career has stalled out, you’ve plateaued, and you can’t seem to make the next leap forward in speed, perhaps it’s time to re-evaluate your right wrist. Here are some tips.
Measure your arms: With your bike on its stand, climb on board and sit down in your normal riding position. Reach out and grab the throttle. Does it feel comfortable? Can you reach it? Do you have slack in your arm? Are you stretched out?
Give it a twist: Once you are comfortable with your position, give the throttle a twist. Don’t exaggerate the movement, just turn the throttle the way you normally would. Did it go all the way to the stop without your elbow dropping? Did your arm feel as comfortable with the throttle on as it did when you were sitting there? Did you feel the need to re-grip?
Finesse your grip: Your throttle isn’t a baseball bat, tennis racket or jungle gym. It’s an active mechanism. Don’t grab hold of it like your life depends on it (even though it does). Try to hold the throttle with a light touch. Don’t jam your hand onto the grip so hard that there is pressure at the base of your thumb.
Watch that elbow: Once you have adjusted your grip to a kinder and gentler feel, practice positioning your palm on the grip so that you have enough rotation of the throttle housing to get the slide pulled all the way up without dropping your elbow or kinking your wrist. You may have to start your grip higher up on the arc of the throttle housing to get full pull. Find that sweet spot and learn where it is.
Open the door: Try to visualize your throttle as a door knob. Don’t reach out and grab it like an orangutan (with all four fingers lined up across the barrel). Instead, tilt your elbow up and slide your hand down the throttle grip as though you were reaching for a door knob. Your hand will be positioned at an angle, with your index finger closer to your body than your pinky finger. Once you have mastered the door knob grip, you will turn the throttle with a twisting motion of the wrist, instead of an up-and-down motion of your arm.
Apply what you learned: After spending 15 minutes in the pits, go out on the track and start riding. Try to keep your right elbow up, concentrate on gripping the throttle barrel in the optimum location and practice turning the throttle like a door knob. But, don’t expect it to feel natural. The most important thing about your first practice session is to make sure that you turn the throttle wide open (even if you have to drop your elbow, grit your teeth and betray your prehensile roots).
Turn it to the stops: You’ll be surprised how much faster your bike is once you start turning the throttle all the way. Concentrate on what the bike feels like with the slide pulled all the way. You’ll be surprised to discover that you have not been using all the power you had on tap.
Now that you have spent some personal time with your throttle, it’s time to put the whole package together.
(1) Sit on your bike again and place your hands on the grips. Loosen the bar mounts and rotate the bars. If you aren’t getting full throttle rotation, try nudging the bars forward a few millimeters (this makes it easier to get rotation). If your arm is too outstretched, try moving the bars back a few millimeters. Choosing the correct bar bend, position and sweep plays a role in effective use of the throttle.
(2) Concentrate on the door knob technique and, by all means, loosen your grip. Holding on tight is counterproductive.
(3) Whenever the conditions allow it, turn the throttle wide open. Amazingly, the average rider can knock almost a second off his lap times by re-evaluating his throttle control. If you are like most riders, you aren’t turning your throttle far enough.
(4) Don’t even think of turning the throttle unless you mean it. Full throttle requires a major commitment. You can’t be willy-nilly. Learn how the throttle works, what it does to the powerband, and then try to hit the sweet spots. Time spent twizzling the throttle is time wasted.