Here¿s a motocross riddle for you: What do you get when you mix moist, loamy dirt with a flat corner and a parking lot full of riders tearing through it all day? Why, huge ruts, of course!
There¿s no reason to fear these grooves, however, if you know the proper way to shred through them. In fact, when negotiated correctly, the ruts offer a much faster and more calculated means of cornering. You and your bike are able to go quicker through turns with grooves because there is less chance of the rear wheel sliding out into the classic ¿speedway¿ position.
We recently bumped into Team Kawasaki¿s Michael Byrne during a day of testing at Perris Raceway and asked the Australian fast guy to explain his technique. Here¿s what Byrne had to say¿
¿This 180-degree left-hand rut follows a long and fast straight, so I¿m coming in very fast and trying to do all of my braking at the absolute last second. Before the rut started I was standing, but as soon as I begin the corner I make the transition from standing to sitting. You¿ll notice that I¿m sitting very far forward, with my butt towards the front of the saddle. At the same time, I keep my outside elbow up and out to allow for any adjustments I might need mid-corner.
¿You can also see from the photos that until nearly the apex of the turn, I¿m still on my front brake and I also have a finger on the clutch. As soon as I begin to exit, the finger comes off the brake but remains on the clutch so that I can keep my motor in the sweet spot and fly out faster.
¿My inside leg is straight out and up near the front wheel, which helps me keep my balance and stability and acts as a last resort if I lean the bike over too far. Keep it out like this and don¿t let your foot drag behind; that is an easy way to get hurt. The outside leg should be applying pressure to the outside peg as needed to keep the bike stable.
¿Past the halfway point, notice that I really start to shift my weight to the outside of the saddle. My butt is actually hanging off of the right side. The reason for this is to distribute the weight correctly on the bike and also allow me to lean it over as far as possible to maintain speed without letting my leg drag on the ground because the bike is too horizontal.
¿As you let off that front brake, make sure to have a steady grip on the throttle and start your exit. I come out of this corner wide open, even using the clutch because the next straight is a fast one again, but all the while I use a steady throttle application. Don¿t just pin it, or you¿re going to lose control of the front end. It¿s okay for the bike to start sliding sideways a little towards the exit; you want to protect that inside line and not drift too far out to avoid getting passed.
¿Keep practicing these techniques, and next thing you know you¿ll be railing through turns just like this. Remember, when performed correctly, all of these movements I¿ve described come together as one. Continue looking as far ahead as you can and don¿t let yourself become intimidated by the rut. If you don¿t stare at the dirt directly in front of you, you¿ll be out of there before you have a chance to get into too much trouble!¿