PHOTOS AND INTRO BY GARTH MILAN
If you've ever been to a Supercross race, then you know that there are several different ways to get past the whoops. Some riders will double and triple-jump their way through the peaked monsters, while others simply pin it and hold on 'til the end. Of course, TWMX knows our average reader isn't lucky enough (or fast enough) to be racing on these kinds of tracks anyways, but you'd be surprised by how many amateur tracks are now incorporating tricky sections like this into their regular motocross layouts. As SX becomes increasingly popular and bikes become more advanced, local tracks are looking more like Anaheim than ever before.
We caught up with Team Yamaha's Chad Reed during a recent Supercross testing session at Yamaha's private facility in Corona, CA, to find out how the fastest man in Supercross deals with what every rider on the planet struggles with–the whoops. Take it away, Chad…
“The first thing I do before I even enter a section of whoops, especially in Supercross, is determine whether it will be faster and safer to blitz my way through them or jump through them. On the majority of tracks that I ride on, charging straight through them, but staying on top the entire time, is the quickest technique. The decision is based off of how deep the set is, but even more importantly it's based off of the gap in between each whoop. The closer they are to one another, the easier it is to bomb them. If whoops get too spaced apart, though, you must jump through them, which is usually the slower way.
“If the whoops are close enough together to stay on top of, and you've made the decision to blitz them, the scariest part is to make the commitment and enter with speed. Believe it or not, I enter most whoops in fourth gear, and some guys even shift up to fifth! If you enter in a lower gear your back wheel spins and your motor revs to the moon, which in turn causes your suspension to load.
“Once you've made the commitment, come in hard–it's the only way to stay above the whoops. Get on the balls of your feet, lean back slightly, and hold on tight! Simply maintain your speed and momentum, while at the same time using your lower body to keep the bike as straight as possible, and you'll be out of them before you know it.
“I don't enter pinned or even on the gas that hard, but I'm still going fast because I've up-shifted. In most cases I come out of the turn before the section hard and on the gas, build my speed and revs, and just before the first whoop I'll let off slightly. Once I'm in, I steadily roll the throttle on and go as fast as possible while still maintaining control. If the bike starts swapping sideways on you, don't make too sudden of an adjustment. If you try locking up the brakes or gassing it even more, things can get ugly. Just back off a bit on the throttle until you're going straight again and carry on like before. Don't forget to look ahead, and always be completely comfortable with your bike's setup and handling before you try this technique.”