Starts are sort of like gun fighting. A gun fighter has to be quick on the draw but at the same time he has to be smooth and have a good aim in order to hit the target before the target hits him. In motocross you also have to be quick and at the same time you have to be smooth with your clutch and throttle control and your body movements. If you mess up at least you won’t get shot but you may get run over in the first corner. There are three important aspects of the start. The single most important aspect of the start is the clutch. Excellent clutch control is the key. The other two aspects are throttle control and body movements. Let’s look at each one separately and all the detailed techniques that go with them.
Following are all the techniques that go into clutch control.
You have to hold onto the grip and control the clutch independently. This is true for when you’re riding on the track as well, but for the start clutch control is even more important then when riding on the track. Therefore I teach using your three outside fingers on the clutch while you hold onto the grip with your index finger. This way your three outside fingers will allow you to have good strong clutch control while your index finger can pull your body position forward as you shoot out of the gate. If you didn’t use any fingers on the grip you couldn’t pull and hold yourself forward. Or if you only used one finger on the clutch you wouldn’t have good strong clutch control for a perfect start.
With your three outside fingers on the clutch pull the clutch in and select first or second gear. Then let the clutch out until it just starts to engage. Then pull it back in just the slightest bit under engagement. This is where you want to hold the clutch. This way it will begin to engage as soon as you start letting it out. With this clutch setting technique you will know that the bike is in gear and your clutch will be set and ready, not too far out and not too far in, but just right for the real thing hole shot. It’s very important to control the clutch all the way out. Don’t just start slipping it out then let it go. And don’t release the clutch in a jerky motion. When done correctly it’s just one controlled smooth release all the way out. You are pretty much holding the throttle in one position according to traction and feeding the power to the rear wheel with the clutch. You see, when you feed the power to the rear wheel with the clutch the response is instant. If you rely on the throttle the power has to go through the carburetor and the response at the rear wheel can be delayed and not as actuate. Even after you are pretty far out of the gate, if the front wheel starts to raise slip the clutch a bit to bring it back down. Control the clutch all the way out at all times during the start. There are usually ruts behind and in front of the gate. Make sure you are lined up straight in the rut. If you are a little crocked or the rear wheel is not all the way down in the center of the rut you are going to get sideways and loose a lot of time right from the get go. It helps to prepare the rut before you set your bike in there. Kick the dirt around and make it smooth and packed. Build up a little ramp at the front of the rut where it meets the gate so you get better traction as you spin over the gate.
While seated in the proper position, grab the handlebars with a lot of over grip. This is important so you can keep your upper body open and work from over the handlebars not behind them. This will allow you to get more of your body weight up and over the front of the bike enabling you to keep the front end down more effectively. This open body position will also give you better leverage for moving your body position from side to side across the handlebars, which will give you the control to keep the bike going straight out of the start. This body position will also give you better leverage factors between your body and the motorcycle. If you fail to do this and start with a low grip you will have less control.
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