Eli TomacIt’s all in the knees — as Eli Tomac demonstrates.


Dear MXA,

On my bike, with my spring rates, my clicker settings, my oil height, my tires, my engine, my levers, my handlebars, my seat cover and my everything, I hang on too tightly. I don’t need to tell you what happens next. I always feel like I’m going to get shaken off. My suspension works really well, so I think my problem is mental. Since MXA test riders test more bikes in a day than I ride in a year, how do you get comfortable on a strange bike so quickly. I was hoping you could share some tips with me.

MXA test riders ride an average of 60 different bikes a year. They don’t have time to select the perfect spring rates, levers, bars or seat covers on every bike they ride, so, as a rule, they don’t worry about it. Since you seem to claim that everything on your bike is set up perfectly for you, we can forgo questioning your bike’s bar bend, lever position or grip choice.

Because MXA test riders switch bikes all the time, often between motos, they learn to forget about the different bar bends, lever positions and brake-pedal heights. They just ride. How do they do it? It is the same as a rider who gets up from a crash to discover that his handlebars are bent. When he gets back on the bike, it feels weird; but, after a lap or two, he forgets about the bent bars and just rides it. That is what MXA test riders learn to do.

But what they never forget is to stand up as much as possible, keep their bodies coiled to absorb energy and to grip the gas tank with their knees. Gripping with your knees is half the battle against arm pump and the death grip. It is especially important in the whoops, rough straights and when riding down hills. By gripping with your knees, you can relieve the pressure on your hands. If fact, you can almost let go. However, clamping your knees on the gas tank doesn’t come naturally. It is a learned behavior. It must be practiced until it becomes second nature. Some MXA test riders even tell themselves out loud to grip the tank when they head into a particularly bumpy section of track. You should try it.


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