ASK THE MXPERTS: SIGN-UP FOR MXA’S FIVE-MINUTE MOTOCROSS SCHOOL
I am slower than dirt. I am without a doubt the slowest rider in the Vet Novice class. What is the simplest riding technique that will make me faster? I don’t want any of that technical mumbo jumbo. Just tell me how to get out of last place.
Believe it or not, the easiest thing that you can do to become faster in the shortest amount of time is to turn the throttle wide open. No, we aren’t being smart alecks. It turns out that most slow riders don’t turn their throttles all the way open. Oh, they think they do, but they don’t. Even if you can’t jump the jumps, struggle to get the bike turned, hate ruts and roll through whoops, you can lower your lap times by simply turning the throttle wide open whenever the situation presents itself.
This is the “Drag Race School of Motocross.” It is simple to learn and makes you faster overnight. Forget about emulating Eli Tomac or Ken Roczen—think of yourself as John Force. If you twist the throttle to the stops every time you go down a straight and leave it on as long as possible, you will go faster. You might overshoot a corner now and then or scare yourself, but your lap times will drop without you having to learn any of the fancy mumbo jumbo. Here are the things you have to do to ensure that you are wicking it up.
(1) With your bike on its stand, climb on board and sit down in your normal riding position. Reach out and grab the throttle. 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? Did you feel the need to re-grip?
(2) 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. Once you have adjusted to a kinder and gentler grip pressure, 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 by gripping the throttle higher up on the arc of the throttle housing to get full pull. Find that sweet spot and learn where it is.
(3) 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 doorknob grip, you will turn the throttle with a twisting motion of the wrist instead of an up-and-down motion of your arm.
(4) 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). You’ll be surprised how much faster your bike is once you start turning it 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.
(5) Now that you have spent some personal time with your throttle, it’s time to put the whole package together. First, 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 the effective use of the throttle. Second, concentrate on the doorknob technique and, by all means, loosen the grip of your fingers. Holding on tight is counter productive. Third, whenever the conditions allow it, turn the throttle wide open. Amazingly, the average rider can knock a second off his lap times by reevaluating his throttle control. If you are like most riders, you aren’t turning your throttle far enough.