Tuesday Tip: Gravity Game

Conquering Tricky Off-Camber Turns With Ricky Carmichael

What do freeway off-ramps, NASCAR ovals, and motocross bowl turns have in common? They’re all banked inward, toward the rider or driver, to help ease cornering through the simple laws of gravity and physics. With the aid of a slight slope, vehicles are able to make it around corners more easily and with more stability, because the slope acts as a cradle of sorts, keeping the rider angled into the turn rather than away from it.

Sometimes, though, track designers make things tricky by placing turns on the sides of hills. The result of these off-cambered corners is the tendency for the bike to keep going down the hill instead of around the corner and back up, and the outcome can be pretty ugly. Without the proper angle, a normally simple 180-degree turn suddenly becomes a major struggle to even keep the bike in, let alone go fast through. For this episode of Skills, we headed straight to the Champ himself, Ricky Carmichael, for his race-winning advice on the hardest turns in motocross. Of course, a man like RC needs no introduction, so we’ll let Ricky get right into it¿


“On almost all off-camber turns, you’ll be coming down a hill, so braking is always going to be involved. You need to be prepared for the upcoming corner a little earlier than normal, because if you wait too long to brake, you’ll encounter wheel sliding from the locked-up wheel, and it will throw your bike sideways. Instead, do your braking on the downhill before the turn and be ready.”


“By the time I enter, I’m sitting down and leaning into the corner hard. I try to lean the bike over a little more than I normally would in a rut like this, and as you can see from the photos, I’m pretty low at the apex; my bars are almost on the ground. This will get easier as you get better and more confident on off-cambers, and you’ll soon find that the farther you lean into it, the faster you’ll be able to go.

“A huge must of off-cambers is to heavily weight the outside footpeg. Your bike will be pushing down the hill, but it’s your job to use plenty of leg and foot pressure to battle that gravity and make the bike go where you want it to go¿back up the hill.”


“As with all corners, look as far ahead into the approaching rut as you can, and keep a finger on the clutch to ease with power delivery. Throttle control also comes into play here. Be smooth, because too much acceleration will cause your back tire to spin; then you really have problems. Brake early, weight the outside peg, lean her over and get back on the gas smoothly, and you’ll be out before you know it!”