Intro And Photos By Garth Milan
If there’s one thing that you can count on in motocross, it’s that any kind of elevation change on a track will undoubtedly be the roughest section of the entire course. If you’re going uphill, you’re forced to deal with gnarly acceleration chop and rolling whoops that are the result of countless rear tires delivering all 50 of their thumper’s horsies as they power up the crest.
Of course, going back down is no better. In these situations gravity is acting in the exact opposite way it did going up, and in place of rough acceleration chop you’re left with deep, hand-numbing braking bumps to tire you out. Don’t get us wrong, we’re not complaining about these staples of the sport; they’re all part of the fun and challenge of racing MX. All we’re proposing is that if you can go even faster through them or even avoid them in certain circumstances, why not learn how?
So with that we grabbed our buddy Nick Wey, his works RM250, and our camera, and asked Wey to describe to our readers his technique for charging down big hills with even bigger bumps on them. The specific hill we encountered during our photo session with Nick was plenty steep, plenty dry, and plenty rough—just the kind of decline that really allows for a lot of time to be made up when executed perfectly. Remember, downhills like the one pictured involve lots of speed and risk, so take your time perfecting Nick’s techniques before you pin it down the Widowmaker!
On The Edge
“Downhills are always the bumpiest parts of the track, so the most important tip I can offer you is to be smart about your line selection. Study the track in practice and figure out the most common lines that most riders are taking down the hill. These will be the areas that will develop the biggest potholes and stutter bumps, so you want to steer clear of those sections. Instead, look for smoother lines that will still set you up properly for the next corner but are a bit less rough.
“The best place to start looking for these smoother lines is on the far left or far right of the downhill. Most riders tend to stay more towards the middle of the track, which is why these parts get so bumpy so fast. If the corner entrance at the bottom requires that you go through the rough stuff, at least try to pick the smoothest way through, then stick to that line throughout the moto. This way you’ll know where the bike is going to kick so you can stay more consistent and be ready to brace yourself for the impact of the hits.
Smooth Equals Fast
“When hauling ass down hills, always keep your momentum and don’t make any sudden changes to your speed or direction. If you decide to jam on the brakes or change lines halfway down the hill, gravity will take over and get you into trouble quickly. Instead, be smart and hit the hill at a fast enough speed to still go fast but not be out of control.
“Keep your body positioning neutral on the bike, with the rule being the steeper the hill, the more you keep your weight back towards the rear fender. If you are way up towards the front of the bike, your braking won’t be as effective and you’ll risk going over the bars.
“The last thing to remember about going down steep downhills is to get rid of the beginner’s tendency to drag the back brake. Instead, switch to using more of the front brake’s power. Too much back brake will cause your rear end to slide sideways and swap, plus it’s not as efficient at stopping you as your front brake is. Of course, don’t go locking your front wheel up down a steep hill; use practice and common sense to discover just how much front brake you can apply while still keeping the bike under control. Once you find this sweet spot, you’ll be flying down!