Intro And Photos By Garth Milan
Every red-blooded motocross racer loves to catch air on his or her dirt bikes¿that¿s what half of us bought our bikes for in the first place. But in certain circumstances, jumps aren¿t so much fun. The type we¿re talking about here are the uphill variety; the kind with no landings that completely rob you of any forward momentum you previously had by preventing your bike¿s rear wheel from laying power to the ground while you¿re in the air. Of course, once you land things can get even worse when you bounce to the ground, swap sideways, and watch the rest of the pack blaze past while fighting your way to the top of the rise.
What we¿re trying to say here is that uphill jumps are tough, especially when you don¿t perform them correctly. When used with proper body positioning, however, throttle control and clutch techniques can make all the difference in the world when dealing with these obstacles. When these factors all come together you can actually gain time on your competition up hills rather than lose it.
TWMX recently sat in on a Team Suzuki outdoor test day, and we watched rising star (no pun intended) Broc Hepler do his magic on this steep and choppy hill climb with a nasty single jump laying smack dab in the middle. Although there was an alternate line going around the outside of this particular ramp, Hepler was so adept at soaking the jump up that it was actually faster for him to air it out rather than power around. We¿ll let Broc explain his tricks from here¿
Make Your Decision
¿On this fairly steep uphill, there were two lines. By going inside you had to deal with the single jump, but you saved yourself from hitting all of the huge bumps on the outside, as that was where most riders were going. I not only made the climb a shorter distance, but I also avoided a ton of huge bumps that would wear me out and slow me down by choosing the inside.
¿With the decision made, I square off the turn at the bottom and take the straightest, most direct route possible to the top. As I¿m powering up the hill, I try my best to pretend that the jump isn¿t even there. This particular lip isn¿t that steep, so I don¿t even have to chop the throttle much on the takeoff. Of course, if the jump you¿re trying is bigger or steeper than this you might need to slow down a little before leaving the face to prevent from getting too much air. You¿re better off just keeping your speed and momentum off of it rather than trying to slow down in hopes of a smoother landing, `cuz you ain¿t getting one either way!
¿Once in the air, keep your body in a neutral position on the motorcycle. I tend to whip my bike sideways a little off the lip to help scrub some speed, and when I land I always land with the rear wheel first. Not only does this get your power back to the ground sooner rather than later, it also helps prevent your front wheel from washing out on the slick uphill that you¿re climbing.
¿Another important thing to remember is to always grip the bike as tightly as possible with your knees. You should always do this anyway,, but it¿s particularly important on an uphill jump like this because your bike is naturally going to want to get squirrelly when landing. I also give the clutch a little stab when I land to get the power back up immediately. Keep all of your movements smooth, use your knees and elbows to help soak up some of the impact, and you¿ll be flying up those hills!¿