It’s something that we’re probably all guilty of from time to time, and for most people it can be their worst enemy. Riding erratically and over your head is not only dangerous to you and the riders on the track around you, but in most cases it’s not the best way to achieve greater speed. In fact, there are very few top professionals that have experienced success in the sport from riding out of control. Some may argue that a young Ricky Carmichael, or perhaps the early James Stewart bordered on having chaotic style, but both riders have come into their own and have helped to further demonstrate the part that style and technique play on raw speed.
So what’s the lesson here, you ask? Developing a smooth style can help to increase your overall raw speed, and elevate you to that next level. Here are a few tips to get you on the right track…
Stay Loose: The more relaxed you keep your body, the better you’ll have the ability to adapt to given situations and maintain proper body positioning on the bike.
Keep your shoulders parallel with the bars: By keeping your shoulders parallel with your handle bars while in corners, your center of gravity will always flow with and work with the bike, not against it.
Outside Elbow Up: While in corners, keep your outside elbow up. This will help to transfer weight to your front tire, therefore creating better traction, and hence better speed.
Lead With Your Head: By clamping onto your bike with your knees you’ll better be able to use your head and upper body to lead your direction.
Don’t Sound Fast: Try to avoid riding in too low a gear and revving your bike to the moon. Avoid being overly aggressive by shifting up a gear, riding smoother, and making less noise.
Go Slow To Go Fast: Ryan Hughes said it best… “It’s an often used cliché in racing, but totally true. Sometimes, being more technical and precise through a section will produce faster lap times than charging in wide open and out of control. Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way!”
So be patient, don’t try to go too fast too soon, and the speed will come. Take it from Yamaha of Troy’s Josh Hansen, a rider who was taught by one of our sport’s greatest teachers (His father, Donny Hansen), “If you are a beginner, concentrate on developing a good, correct riding style. Watch the pros and do what they do. If you have a good riding style as a base, the speed will come easier.”