Welcome back to our series on mastering motocross racing starts. In this second installment, we focus on the critical aspect of preparing your start gate, a technique often overlooked but vital for a great start. With insights from pro supercross racer and The Moto Academy founder, AJ Catanzaro, we delve into the nuances of optimizing your gate setup for maximum performance.
Ensuring a Clean Gate and Surface
The first step in prepping your start gate is to ensure it's free of dirt clumps and debris. This is crucial to avoid wheel spin at the start. You're permitted to use tools to clear the gate, and a brush can be handy in removing any lodged dirt. Additionally, sweeping the cement area to remove all dirt enhances traction, further optimizing your start.
Warming Up the Tires
A lesser-known but effective technique involves warming up your tires. A few quick spins on the cement can heat the rubber, improving grip. This practice, observed in both amateur and professional races, can make a noticeable difference. Remember, the goal is to warm the tires without causing excessive wear.
Prepping the Dirt
The most time-consuming part of gate preparation involves managing the dirt. Start by filling and packing the rut as smoothly as possible. Additionally, dig out the area where the gate drops. This minimizes the bump your bike experiences when the gate falls, especially critical for smaller bikes like 50s, 65s, and 85s, as hitting the gate abruptly can disrupt bike stability and rider position.
Positioning and Balance
Both feet should be on the ground in front of the foot pegs for balance. If you can't touch the ground, use blocks or rocks to ensure even balance. Avoid the common mistake of placing all your weight on your feet while waiting at the start line. Ideally, keep 99% of your weight in your seat, using your feet only for balance.
Using Hole Shot Devices
Hole shot devices are invaluable tools for keeping the front end of the bike down during starts. Set these devices slightly lower than factory recommendations. In Supercross, these are set very low due to the high traction on metal grates. This inexpensive accessory can significantly impact your start, keeping the front end down until you hit the brakes at the first corner.
Preparing your start gate in motocross is an art that combines attention to detail with strategic planning. Whether it’s ensuring a clean gate, warming up your tires, or setting up your hole shot device, each step plays a crucial role in achieving that perfect start. Remember, consistency in preparation is key, whether you’re racing on dirt, cement, or metal grates.
For more comprehensive training and to join a community of enthusiasts, visit The Moto Academy Club And don’t forget, you can also train in person with AJ Catanzaro. Check out The Moto Academy Tour page for more information:
Stay tuned for the next part in our series, where we'll continue to build on the foundation of successful motocross starts.