How to properly handle steep downhills with Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM’s Wil Hahn
Intro and Photos by Brendan Lutes
If you take a look at any good, long outdoor motocross track, chances are there’s at least one steep downhill. At Glen Helen—home for the opening round of the Lucas Oil AMA Motocross Championships—steep hills litter the facility. The notorious Glen Helen downhills, or just steep hills in general, are something that takes a lot of courage and skill to navigate quickly. While out at Glen Helen testing and training, Muscle Milk/MDK/KTM’s Wil Hahn demonstrated the right way to properly descend a steep hill. With this in mind, we cornered Wilbur to find out how to bomb down a near vertical face like the one pictured here. Take it away, Wil!
1 DESCENDING: You have to pick a good line coming down the hill and it’s very important to use your brakes evenly. Depending on how close the turn is at the bottom of the hill, it’s important to figure out a good braking point. Too far away isn’t good because it isn’t fast, but too close and you could miss the turn at the bottom.
2 BRAKING: Drag your rear brake all the way down from the top of the hill. This will help you to stay in control and settle down the bike the entire way down the hill. It will also help keep the rear wheel traction to the ground, which is really important when trying to slow down for a turn at the bottom. You don’t want to use too much front brake when coming down the hill, though, it’s just too powerful and difficult to use when going fast down steep hills like the ones at Glen Helen. Plus, you don’t want the front end to tuck on you at the bottom of the hill. I usually tend to use the rear brake a little more.
3 SHIFTING: I don’t use engine braking too much down steep rough hills. I usually leave it in a higher gear until I get to the bottom, then I shift down for the corner. Going down the hill, you don’t want it in too low of a gear, because it’s going to deflect off all the bumps and not handle well.
4 BODY POSITION: I try to stay really neutral on the bike and keep my elbows up in the attack position. This will help you to be ready for any unexpected bump or hit you might take while going down the hill. You should also squeeze the bike with your legs to stay in control of an unexpected hit.