Start Gate Type and Maintaining Position in Motocross Racing - Blog 3 of 4

Start Gate Type and Maintaining Position in Motocross Racing - Blog 3 of 4

The Key to Perfect Starts: Gear, RPM, and Clutch Mastery

Mastering the start of a motocross race is crucial, and it begins with ensuring you're in the right gear. AJ Catanzaro, a pro supercross racer and the proud owner of The Moto Academy, emphasizes the importance of maintaining position when the gate drops. The secret lies in balancing higher RPM with a slow and steady clutch release. This technique ensures that when your bike begins to move, you neither back off the throttle nor impulsively dump the clutch.

Consistency is King: Clutch and Throttle Harmony

Achieving a smooth start is all about consistency in your throttle and clutch control. In some scenarios, especially on powerful bikes like a 450, the clutch might not be fully released until you're 50 to 100 feet down the start line. This controlled approach is key to a successful launch.

Positioning for Success: Feet and Gear Shifting

When you take off, keep your feet firmly wedged in front of the foot pegs. Resist the urge to bring them up too quickly. Your feet should only move when you're ready to shift gears. On different bikes, like a 250F, you can afford to wait a bit longer before shifting. Remember, when shifting, bring both feet up simultaneously while keeping your chest forward to avoid wheelies.

Navigating Different Start Surfaces: Dirt, Metal Grate, and Cement

Different starting surfaces require slight adjustments in your approach. The key to mastering these variations is to change only one variable at a time. This approach allows you to clearly understand the impact of each adjustment without getting lost in multiple changes.

Metal Grate and Dirt Starts

For metal grate and dirt starts, Catanzaro recommends maintaining a higher RPM with a slow clutch release, similar to the technique used for dirt starts.

Cement Starts

Cement starts are trickier due to the slippery surface. Here, lower RPMs are advisable, similar to what you would use when casually riding through the pit area or lifting your bike off the stand. The goal is to minimize wheel spin.

Transitioning from Cement to Dirt

A critical aspect of cement starts is managing the transition from cement to dirt, where traction significantly increases. Keep your head and body in position to avoid falling off the back of the bike as you gain traction.


Mastering starts in motocross racing is a blend of technique, consistency, and adaptation to different conditions. By focusing on gear, RPM, and clutch control, and adapting these elements to various starting surfaces, you can significantly improve your performance at the beginning of the race.

For more in-depth training and tips, consider joining The Moto Academy Club at The Moto Academy Club Page. You can also experience dirt bike training in person with AJ Catanzaro by visiting The Moto Academy Tour Page.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our series, where we'll delve deeper into motocross racing techniques!