Motocross riders come in all heights and weights, and riders of certain sizes certainly see some pros and cons to their body dimensions. Kyle Chisholm is very tall and very thin, so we decided to ask the SmarTop/MotoConcepts/Honda rider about how these two traits impact his riding on the track. Never short on words, the 250 class racer was more than willing to explain his technique.
Pros & Cons
Being taller on the track, I think it for sure helps in the whoops. You have leverage on the bike to move around and work it. I don’t think that you have to move as much because you’re bigger.
On the flipside of that, it’s a disadvantage at the start and if the track is tight or rutted. On the start, if your legs are long they dangle and are in the way, so it’s hard to get them up to shift. If it’s a tighter track or has lots of ruts, your feet get caught in things because you’re not as compact. It’s not easy to get in and out of the tight stuff with your feet and legs. If you go to lay the bike over in a turn with your leg out, there’s more hanging off of the bike to touch the ground and throw you off balance.
For a taller guy, there is more distance between your butt and the seat, even when you’re squatting down to get through the whoops. For a shorter guy, they may only have a few inches of clearance when in the attack position, so if they get bucked they will get hit in the butt by the seat. That can set you off course pretty quickly. But if you’re taller, you have more room if there is a mistake.
If you ever look at a taller guy going through a tricky corner, you’ll see their foot is next to the front axle. But for a shorter guy, it’s about even with the front of the frame. So to think about the weight of your leg moving around or being used for balance, that’s a lot. There is give and take.
I try to be more aware of things, especially if a track is really rutted. I know to keep my feet in the right position by staying on the balls of them and not pointing my toes out, so they don’t catch on anything. You have to keep your legs up so they don’t just drop down. I know to be aware of all those things when I’m riding.
I think everyone should stretch before they ride, short or tall. It’s always good to do a warm-up, because if you tried to run fast in the gym without some sort of warm-up, you’ll feel winded or something quicker. You always feel better when your muscles have warmed up. Stretching is important and it’s a big help.
A lot of guys run, even taller guys, run cut subframes and seats. I’ve always run a standard seat, footpegs, and subframe, but I will use taller bars or bar mounts. It’s all just trial and error to find something that you like.
I get frustrated when I watch a guy like Jeremy Martin or another shorter guy. The majority of them look like they are working the bike and are being aggressive. But then you see a taller guy, not all of them, but they don’t look like they are going that fast. They don’t move as much and sometimes look awkward. Sometimes I’ll feel like I’m working the bike, but then will see a video of it and it looks like I’m just trail riding! My theory with that is if you’re shorter, there’s not as much front to back or side to side leverage on the bike, so you have to move more and put more energy out. If you’re taller, you can move just a little bit and the weight transfer is much more.