Climbing Hills the Fast Way with Josh Grant
Let’s set the record straight, once and for all: Climbing hills on dirt bikes is NOT just for rednecks with extended swingarms on bored-out CR500s. Real motocross tracks feature elevation changes quite frequently, and being able to power up them correctly can make the difference between winning and losing, due to the torque-robbing nature of a steep grade. Besides fighting gravity, you’ll also be battling the terrain, as uphill sections are generally wide-open, leaving them littered with heavy acceleration bumps and holes.
There’s a technique for every movement in motocross, and climbing hills on a track is no different. We asked Amsoil/Chaparral/Honda team rider Josh Grant how he manages to fly up the steep, rough hills of Cahuilla Creek with such incredible efficiency, and he told us that it’s all about staying light and keeping the rear wheel on the ground, amongst other things. We’ll let Grant take it from here...
Traction Is Everything
“Whenever I go up a hill, the biggest thing I’m trying to accomplish is keeping the rear wheel solidly on the ground, grabbing traction the entire time, instead of letting it skip and hop all over the place. A good rule to remember is that if your back tire is bouncing off the ground on acceleration bumps, you’re losing time.
“To prevent this from happening, first of all you need to be in the correct gear. Try to stay in as high a gear as you can pull without having to clutch it too much. You don’t want to be in a low gear, because when you are too high in the powerband and into the overrev, your rear suspension begins performing incorrectly. You also won’t be taking full advantage of the engine’s power.
“You need to be in an area in the power where there is enough torque to allow you to wheelie your front end up and over a bump or hole if you need to. Keep your finger over the clutch in case you need a quick burst of power.
Stay Back And Hold On!
“Once in the right gear, stand on the pegs with your butt back and over the rear fender to keep that front end light. Keep your elbows bent and ready to absorb the bumps as well as to help pull the front end up if need be. I compare the feeling to that of a BMX bike; if you stay light on your feet and soak up bumps with your upper body, you can manual over obstacles that would normally kick you around or even off of the bike.
“As you could imagine, going up a hill is going to take a heavy twist of the throttle thanks to the laws of gravity, so make sure to have a good grasp of the right grip before pinning it. You don’t want to be going up a steep, rough hill with only your fingers on the grips, trust me! The last thing to remember is to squeeze the bike solidly with your knees. This will prevent your upper body from wearing out, and also help stabilize the bike over bumps when climbing.