Torito’s Quick Tips:
I am definitely no Kevin Windham when it comes to riding and when I first started I was plagued with a few sets of issues that are very common in new riders. It is easy to blame the bike, suspension or find other excuses but you will never solve the problem to your struggle. Here are a few basic tips that really helped me improve my riding so you can get them down and focus on more advanced techniques. For you fast guys hang tight as we will be having Justin Buckelew give some awesome tips soon! This is a quick guide of some core fundamentals new riders may be lacking.
Use your legs: Do you point your toes inward and grip the seat with your knees? If the answer is no, work on this! This plays a huge part in staying in control of the dirt bike and helping reduce arm pump. This will also help you stay in control and straight when jumping which is always a good thing. Stand up and point your toes outward and squat down-notice your knees went outward? Keep your toes pointed inward and this will assist with gripping with your knees.
Stand up: Watch a Pro National and see how much riders sit down. The answer is going to be not very much. It is easy to get lazy and try to ride your seat as much as possible. You are in far better control of your dirt bike standing and now have your legs as an additional form of suspension to better absorb impacts and obstacles.
Weight the Front Wheel: No WP forks don’t suck, your suspension isn’t clapped out and the track is groomed fine and other people are nailing the turn. If your bike’s sag is set within ball park settings for you corners can be done! You just need to put weight on that front wheel. This is another benefit of standing. Its easier to press forward and place your weight high up on that tank to get that front wheel to bite and turn. If your weight is too far back you won’t have enough weight on the front tire and your bike will “push” instead of track.
Bike Adjustments: Modern dirt bikes aren’t cheap and come with a host of options to customize and tune them to your liking. The only issue is people rarely torque bolts to spec or play with options available to them for free! First things first go to a reputable shop and have them set your sag. Then break in your suspension with a couple of hours before making adjustments to it, but don’t be scared. Keep track of the adjustments you make to the settings in case you find one you really like. Adjust your bars, levers, shifter, brake height and just enjoy the process of making a dirt bike yours.
Preparing to Ride: Before every ride I have a routine and you should too. Check your tires, bleed your forks, lube the chain and check slack. These simple things help you get a better feel and connection to your dirt bike and riding conditions. You remove variables such as air pressure and fork inconsistencies when you do simple maintenance. This helps you become a better rider by learning how to feel what conditions are like through your dirt bike and helping you figure out how to adjust for them.
Warm Up and Exercise: Motocross is a very physically demanding sport that if you want to get competitive at it or just improve your experience you need to prepare for it. Running, mountain biking, and any form of cardio will greatly improve and be beneficial to your riding. Not only will you have more endurance to practice better form but the improved oxygen flow will help mitigate the dreaded arm pump as well.
These simple and basic techniques are part of the core fundamentals to good riding. There are many more techniques that will come as you develop your skill and learn yourself through seat time. Have people watch you and always be receptive to any form of tips and instruction. If you go online you will find a multitude of drills that you can note and practice on your next track day.