Tips and Tricks
Weighting the Outside Peg
So it is clear that weighting the outside peg in this situation helps a great deal but how much weight is enough without wasting energy? Too much weight will not only waste energy but it can also cause other important techniques to be roosted away. You see while sliding through a corner it’s important to keep all your body weight on the seat and outside footpeg; no body weight on the handlebars. While doing this your body movements would be pivoting form the seat in order to maintain the center of balance. This technique allows your upper body to remain loose for good upper body movement; a very important factory to maintain control. If you were trying to put too much weight on the outside peg (like half of your body weight or more) your upper body would also have to tense up in order to hold yourself there.
The proper amount of weight you should put on the outside peg is just enough to comfortably maintain good upper body movement. So it’s more like a little pressure down on that outside peg. Let the rest of your weight remain on the seat and keep your upper body loose enough to move and go with the flow. If you just take 15 pounds from the seat and put it on the outside peg; that’s a difference of 30 pounds from high to low; that’s the difference you need to keep up some good speed and momentum through the corner. You don’t need to weight the outside peg when there is good traction through the corner; especially when there is a berm (rut) in the corner. In this case just keep your weight on the seat and of course keep your foot on the outside peg. This will save your energy and allow your upper body to remain loose for good movement.
Sometime it’s even beneficial to weight the inside peg; that’s right I said inside peg. This is if you plan to keep both feet on the footpegs. This technique works really well on slippery higher speed corners that you would take standing up. By weighting the inside peg the CG is placed even lower and this extremely low CG will anchor the tires in traction like a plow cutting through a furrow. Just make sure you have the ball of your foot on that inside peg so it doesn’t wind up around the back of your neck.
These techniques have proven to work well for many, many riders, I hope it also works well for you and gives you that extra speed and control you’re looking for. Visit www.gsmxs.com for free Technique DVD Previews and to order online. Christmas specials currently running 50% off.
Riding Bermed Corners
Let’s get the terminology right so we’re all on the same track. Just what is a rutted corner? Well of course it’s a corner with a rut in it. Instead of a straight rut it’s an arched rut. Most pros call these type corners bermed corners. But some beginners get bermed corners confused with banked corners. So when you think of a bermed corner think of a rutted corner. There are different types of bermed corners. Some have a hard berm, some a bumpy hard berm and then there are the beautiful cushion berms. That’s the nice soft topsoil that gets built up as a nice soft cushiony berm. I’m just going to cover hard berms in this riding tip. I’ll cover soft berms in a later riding tip.
When entering a bermed corner verses a flat corner the biggest difference is making sure both the front and rear wheels check into the beginning of the berm. When entering a flat corner you want to drift slide the bike into the corner. If you do this too much as you enter the berm the rear wheel may miss the berm and slide out. One thing that will work in your favor here is that when there are bermed corners the ground is going to be on the softer side so you’ll be less likely to be drift sliding as much into the corner anyway. Soft ground also means bigger braking bumps so make sure you get your butt off the seat and stand up.
As we’ve been learning so far your control comes from two categories; maintaining the center of balance with your body movements and using a combination of all five controls (front and rear brakes, clutch and throttle and the gear shift). In order to pull off smooth, fast bermed corners it takes a combination of these two main categories and the individual techniques that go into them.
Here’s the list of techniques for bermed corners. Then we’ll take a closer look.
- Look ahead and see the beginning of the berm as soon as you can. - As you approach the berm stand on the pegs with your body position working from the rear of the M/C, downshift into the gear you’re going to use through the corner and slow down with the front and rear brakes. - Now that you’re in the beginning of the berm look out and over the arch of the berm so you see where it’s going. Don’t just look out in front of your fender. Look out around the berm. - Once your rear wheel is in the berm you can pull the clutch in and lock up the rear wheel if you want maximum braking in the berm. - At the exit dex (where you go from braking to accelerating) come off the brakes as you begin to accelerate with the clutch and throttle. - Continue to look ahead and stay on the line you want out of the corner.
Now for a more in depth understanding. As you’re approaching the corner, as early as you can, spot the beginning of the berm and aim about six inches to the inside of it. This way you can check into it as you get there and you won’t overshoot it. Spotting the berm early not only lets you set up for it better but also gives your depth perception longer to work so you can come into the berm at maximum speed. One thing you have to get really good at is controlling your speed and momentum all the way through the berm. This is done by first controlling the front and/or rear brakes and then by controlling the clutch and throttle. Remember, this is where half of your control comes from. The other half comes from maintaining the center of balance with your body movements. Make sure to keep the bike leaned over the correct amount for the speed you’re carrying. While your front wheel is in the berm you can use the front brake as much as you need to. It won’t slide out because it has traction down in the berm, like a slot car. But don’t use the front brake if the front wheel starts to come out of the berm because that would make the front fold or slide out real quick. As soon as you are able let go of the brakes and begin to exit the berm with the controlled use of the clutch and throttle. Let your finger slip off the front brake as you open the throttle. Don’t let go of the front brake before that time. This doesn’t mean that you have to drag the front brake or even use it all this time but you should at least keep your finger on it in case you do need to slow down a little more. Remember, that slowing down in this situation with the front brake not only slows the M/C down, it will also shorten the rake and trail making it turn sharper. Man, do the controls of the M/C give you more control or what? This is almost like magic.
If you have the bike leaning over too far for the speed you’re going you will have to step with your inside leg in order to keep the bike up. If this situation is really bad you may get one or two step attempts in before you fall over to the inside. If the bike is not leaning over far enough for the speed you’re carrying through the berm the front wheel will come out of it (to the outside). This is why you have to lean over the right amount and continue to control your speed and momentum.
The two mistakes mentioned earlier of not leaning the bike over far enough or leaning it over too far are the most common mistakes for amateurs along with not using the controls properly. Most beginners will use the brakes to slow down for the bermed corner and then as then just about get their front wheel in the berm they will let go of the brakes. They are not accelerating yet with the clutch and throttle so they end up coasting at the most important part of the corner, the exit dex. The only control they have at this point is their body movements that have just turned into a statue since they just have given up the other half of their control, the front and/or rear brakes and the clutch and throttle.
Another thing to be aware of as you pass through the exit dex and begin to use the clutch and throttle is that you are going to be picking up speed which means you’ll have to lean the bike over even more. Make sure your inside leg is in a position that allows you to do that. In some berms the bike will lean over so far that the clutch lever will drag in the dirt. If you have your inside leg in the way it will limit how far you can lean the bike over. Make sure you either have your knee behind the handlebars so your knee can come up behind the handlebars or you have your leg up very high and straight so it can still fit between the ground and the handlebar.
Like any of the aspects in motocross (jumps, whoops, starts or corners) riding bermed corners really well takes a lot of practice time. So don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t come to you as soon as you expected. Understanding the proper techniques is the first step, being able to do it correctly at a slower than maximum speed is the second step and doing it repeatedly day by day, week by week, month by month is the final step that will allow you to do it really well.
For more detailed visual techniques check out my Motocross Technique DVDs, see free DVD previews and much more at; www.garysemics.com.
Getting the Most Out of Morning MX Practice
Get there early enough so you’re not rushed and make sure you have your goggle, gear, bike, and everything else ready for practice. This way you can take your time and sign up and walk the track before your first practice. When walking the track think about what lines you’ll be trying and what obstacles you probably can and can’t jump.
When it’s time for your practice and it’s the typical short practice time, try to gradually work up to a comfortable but fast speed. Make it a point to jump any obstacles that you’re going to be jumping in the race early so you can get comfortable and confident on the bike and with the track. Once you figure out the fastest lines try some other lines so you have some options. This is probably about all the practice time you’ll have. If there’s another practice, like a late practice, take advantage of it and get back out there. After the break from your first practice this will help you get more familiar with the track as it changes.
After practice and before your first moto find a place where you can relax and not be disturbed. Close your eyes and visualize going around the entire track in your head. Make it as real as possible and keep your speed fast but realistic. Make at least two full laps. If possible go out and watch some starts and races before yours. Knowing that track as well as possible before your race will defiantly improve your chances for a good result. On all but walking the whole track, repeat the process before your next moto. It also helps to warm your body up with some light calisthenics and stretching before practice and your motos.
When you’re on the starting line clear your mind of everything, be ready for anything and distracted by nothing. Take some long slow deep breaths and relax your body and mind. View the race as an opportunity to challenge yourself, ride to the best of your ability and have fun in the process. Don’t think about what place you might get or who’s there or anything accept trying as hard as you possibly can to ride the best race you’re capable of riding from when the gate drops until you get the checked flag. If you do this and enjoy the process the result will take care of itself.
Anticipaiting the trailhead
For sure now, as you are driving your vehicle to the trail head, the moto track, or your favorite practice loop out in the bush you have a lot of “anticipation”. Same goes for when it’s mid morning and you’ve got heaps more hours to go being either stuck in that office cubicle, or digging trenches, or what ever it is you do before you can jet out of there and go roosting. But that’s not the kind of “anticipation” I’m talking about here….
Instead, what I mean is the ability to “anticipate” the situations and conditions that are approaching on the trail ahead – whether it be a nasty uphill, a rutted out corner, a bog hole, or any other of the multitude of difficult trail situations out there. By paying acute attention not only to the previous trail but also the environment and topography you are approaching you can gain a pretty good understanding and judgment of what that next trail situation is that you will be forced to conquer before you have even seen it.
For example, let’s say that back down the that moist, slippery clay trail that you are roosting there was a spot where the soil on the trail changed to a lighter color, and a sandier composition and therefore you experienced plenty more traction for the short portion of trail. Well, further up that trail as you are slip sliding around approaching that next tight corner and you see that the soil starts changing to that lighter shade of color, you can fairly certainly say, due to your “anticipating” that you are going to have much more traction in this next corner than the previous slippery ones. This means you will be able to decide to safely carry more speed into and around that particular corner. Now that is a good thing because at that same time you had noticed the trail you had been traversing along was in the bottom of a gully, with somewhat steep side walls that been “closing in”. Again, you could pretty much “anticipate” with near 100% certainty that following the next corner you will be faced with an abrupt hillclimb to conquer. Thankfully your “anticipating” has given you a better chance of cresting the top of that rise, not only because you were somewhat expecting the hill and ready to attack it, but also because you carried more speed and momentum around that previous corner.
“Anticipating” and trail experience go hand-in-hand together – they complement each other and the more you have of each the better and more correct your decision making judgment will be on the trail.
Generally it is hard to see and know what is around that next corner – it is that situation where your “anticipating” skill will give you the most benefit on the trail. Currently we are filming Volume #2 in our Advanced series of DirtWise Instructional DVDs, which focuses on an in depth analysis of cornering, braking and tight tree trail situations you will deal with. “Anticipating” has been a big part of this filming – not only does it apply to so many of the trail situations that we will show how to successfully conquer, but we also have a lot of “anticipating” in getting it finished and on sale in early September so as you guys can view, learn, and fast track your skills improvement from it!!!
5 Free Tips To Help You Ride Faster & With More Control
Here are 5 free riding tips that will make you ride both faster and with more control. Please read twice through. Read the first time to familiarize yourself with everything and a second time to understand and apply. There is a lot of information here. To be sure to get the most benefit and increase your speed and control, while reading your second time through take your time and apply each technique one at a time.
I really enjoy helping people to enjoy riding their motorcycle. I am confident that these tips will help you increase your speed and control, as I have helped numerous people in the past nine years of schools. Please feel free to contact me through my website email if you need any further assistance. I am here to serve you in conquering your riding/racing goals.
1. Look Ahead - Most riders, especially beginners do not look far enough ahead. They are focused on the ground in front of the front wheel, when they should be focused further down the trail or the track. Exiting a turn you should be looking straight down the trail/track in front of you to the next turn. If there is an obstacle in that straight away, such as a log, divert your attention back to the log and deal with it as needed. Be sure not to fix your eyes on the obstacle because it can throw off your timing. By looking further ahead you can carry more speed and momentum and you’ll be ready for obstacles the trails or tracks throw at you. In practice get in the habit of coming out of a turn and looking down the straight away to the next turn. In a little bit of time you will carry more speed.
I would also recommend working in some sprints lasting from 2-3 minutes on a mx track or woods track to bring some cardio conditioning into your riding. Also, remember when working on fundamentals, try to do everything both sitting and standing. This will help you better understand how the bike reacts in different situations when you are sitting or standing. You should also work on fundamental drills at 50-75% of your actual pace. It is extremely hard to learn or perfect something at your speed. You are training your brain how to react physically over and over so that you don’t even think about it. It needs to come natural to you. The quality of your practice is important. Slow down work on your form and proper use of all the controls both sitting and standing and the speed will come a lot easier.
3. Braking Point- Another way to increase your speed is to change your braking point entering a turn. This is done easiest on a small track where you can have a buddy observe you. Let your buddy mark your current braking point with a large orange cone. Have your buddy place the cone where you actuate the brake pedal. Then get a lap time to start with. Next have your buddy move the cones closer to the turn forcing you to brake later for the turn. After spending some time working on this after moving the cones closer to the apex(middle) of the turn and finding your limit. You will know you have found your limit, when you begin to overshoot the turn. Now take another lap time. I guarantee that your lap time will have dropped. Spend at least once a week working on this along with fundamentals.
4. Proper Braking- It has been said that it is not the fastest guy, but the guy that slows down, the least. Proper brake control is crucial to riding fast. I believe that a lot of riders over brake. It is important to understand that the front brake is 65-75% of your braking power. It varies because of soil conditions if its muddy or soft you might want to use less front brake than in perfect conditions. Most beginners have issues with the front brake because they are not confident in using it. It is important to remember that most of all your braking is done entering the turn. So use of the front brake should be done when the bike is upright. You should not be using the front brake when the bike is laid over or you are in the apex of a turn. The front brake should be controlled with one to tow fingers (either your middle or pointer or both). Front brake is a slight squeeze. You want to find where the lever gets hard and do not try to squeeze passed that. Your trying to slow the motorcycle down but not lock up the front wheel. Drills for proper use of the front brake will take some time. Set up a small turn track in an open area and do laps allowing only use of the front brake. After some time you will have mastered proper use of the front brake. Now onto rear braking. It is important to have proper brake pedal adjustment. You want the pedal height to be ¼ to 3/8 of an inch above the foot peg. Use of a straight edge can help with this adjustment. Once you have the height adjusted now you want to adjust the free play. You want the pedal to get hard as it gets level with the foot peg. Now that you have the brake pedal adjusted properly, you need to understand something else that is essential to brake control. Alot of riders have a bad habit of pulling in the clutch then mashing on the rear brake. They have to pull the clutch in because they push on the brake pedal so hard that the bike will stall if they don’t. This is a mistake because you lose all forward momentum and have less control over the motorcycle and the rear wheel is sliding.
You do not want to lock up the rear wheel. You want to slow it down, but not lock it up because once you lock it up you lose all the momentum you gained in the straight away. The next step is to learn to actuate the brake pedal. This is done by holding your knee, inner calf and inside of our foot tight to the bike over top the brake pedal then find the brake pedal and apply pressure to it. This is one of the most important variables in proper brake control. If you have your leg away from the bike and apply pressure to the brake, you are more prone to make the mistake of locking up the rear wheel. So keep your leg tight to the bike when actuating the brake pedal. You should only pull the clutch in when you are in tight technical situations. Learn to slow the motorcycle down using the front brake and rear brake without pulling the clutch in. When you pull the clutch in the bike is now free wheeling, which means coasting faster. This now means you have to brake harder. With the clutch out you now also have engine braking so you don’t have to brake as hard and you can still keep a positive sense of momentum by keeping the wheels turning but still slowing the bike down. Be patient this takes practice but you will be faster
5. Bike Set up- First off I would like to start with things I see on most students bikes at schools that limit their ability and control. Most people have their bars adjusted too far back. When adjusting your bars you should put your bike on a stand and sit on your bike and stand and find a happy medium between both. Most people make the mistake of adjusting their bars from a seated position. So then when they go to stand it’s not comfortable. The proper riding position whether you are sitting or standing is your head forward over the handlebars with your elbows up. This puts weight on the front wheel, which makes it easier to control. A lot of riders use bar risers for all types of reasons; the most common is tall guys. The high bar raisers creates an issue because it forces the rider back off the front end and makes it harder to keep your elbows up where they should be. I have found this especially common when conducting schools. For instance, a tall guy will come to me with high bar raisers saying he has issue with the front end riding over a berm a lot of the time. Where the rider sits further back on the bike, this unloads the front end and squats the rear pushing the front end out and over a berm. Once we eliminate bar riser the rider now can get up over the front end easier and has less of an issue riding up over the berm. If this sounds like something you might have an issue with then give it a try. Also, to take it another step further, I would recommend a straighter lower handlebar.
This will also help you be able to get over the front end more and be more comfortable sitting and standing compared to a set of sweep back and high bars. I often loan out straight low bars (Pro- taper Suzuki low) to a lot of students to try before they purchase. All students have returned them and purchased them after trying them.
Another thing that is often overlooked is static sag in the rear shock. If the static sag in the rear shock is incorrect it can also affect the balance and turning of your motorcycle. If you have too much static sag in the rear shock it could cause the bike to push in turns if the static sag is too little it could cause the rear to sit high and because of this the front end may knife and feel unstable. I prefer anywhere from 32-38 mm of static sag. Let’s discuss now how to set your static sag. First put your bike on a stand and measure from the axle to a fixed point on your rear fender. Then take your bike off the stand and push p and down on the rear shock then let the shock rest with the rear wheel still on the ground measure again from the rear axle to the same fixed point. As mentioned your should have a difference of 32-28 mm between the two measurements. If your measurement does not fall in between 32-28 mm you will need to adjust the preload on the shock by turning the huge spanner nut on top of the spring. If you have too much static sag, you will need to tighten the spanner nut down on the spring. If you have too much static sag, you will need to loosen up on the spanner nut. Be sure to mark the spanner nut with a magic marker so you can easily keep track of the number of turns you put on the spring. Usually one complete turn on the spanner nut it equivalent to 2 mm of difference. If even after all of this we are still having either a front wheel push issue or a knifing (tucking). Then we may need to move the forks up or down in the fork tube. For instance if the front end keeps riding up high in the berm and pushing over it then you need to push the forks up in the tubes. Moving it up 1/8 of an inch at a time makes a huge difference. If the front end keeps knifing under you then you need to push the fork tubes down in the triple clamps. Be sure to not move further then level with the fork cap.
Another thing I noticed that limits a rider’s control over the motorcycle was that their levers are unevenly positioned on the handlebars. For instance the clutch lever may be super low and the front brake lever may be high. You should be sure that levers are positioned the same. They should be angled so that when you reach for them you can keep your elbows up and not have any uncomfortable kink in your wrist. Also some issues with levers arise when riders cut their bars too short and the levers end up being positioned on the bend of the handlebar. When cutting your handlebars be sure that you have all the proper room for your levers. You can do this by simply sliding the levers as far over as you can without them being on a bend. I do not prefer cutting this much off.
I only cut a ½ inch off of each side. Then after putting hand guards back on I am back to the original length. I have no problems getting through tight trees and still have plenty of leverage. Too short of handlebars also limits control over the motorcycle because it compromises your body position. Riders with too short handle bars have issues with keeping their elbows up where they should be.
I have given a lot of useful information here. As mentioned earlier, I suggest that you read through this a few times to be sure you have a grasp on the material and get the full benefit of it. I may have discussed something you do not have an issue with, but I believe that I have made you understand it better. When I started doing riding schools over nine years ago, it made me a better rider. In order to teach you, I had to think about what I did and put it into words. It also made me reevaluate some things I do that needed to be changed so I could increase my speed and control. That was like I said over nine years ago and in that time I have conducted a lot of private and group classes. Just about two years ago I wanted to reach more people so rather than putting out another long video that loses your interest and isn’t explicit enough, I decided to have an online school where you can learn body position, riding techniques and how to practice from your PC no matter where you live. I have over 46 instructional 2-4 minute video clips that are accessible to you at anytime. You can watch over and over until you fully understand and then go out and practice it on your bike. This definitely gives you tools for better quality of practice, which all my online students have told me.