Style Check: Race Starts

Getting out of the gate well

· 3 minutes read

You may have seen this video floating around social media recently and, well, it got us thinking… What makes a good start?!

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Let's be honest, starts are everything! Whether it's a local race or the FIM Motocross World Championship, your race start will dictate how your weekend goes! Here we analyse the form of some of the world's best riders to see how they get out of the gate first and nail that holeshot!

Gate Pick: Let's start with the simple one, gate choice. Generally you want to be taking the shortest and most direct line to the first corner, but this will obviously vary from one track to another. This will give you the best chance of being out front for that holeshot and is a great option if you are not necessarily the most confident starter.

Form: Lean as close to the bar pad as possible on hard-pack track, so that your upper body weight is distributed over the front of the bike, but for softer/sandier tracks a more centred position will be better. A holeshot device such as the X-Trig holeshot device can help here as this allows you to get your front fork down, for better balance, and better pressure on the rear-wheel!

Keep both feet connected with the ground in front of the foot pegs to balance out the bike, as this will prevent the bike from springing sideways once the throttle is engaged. When in position you should concentrate on the gate, some will prefer to look at the neighbouring gate or the pin but I would suggest focusing on your own gate.

Tyre choice will also have a huge impact on torque and speed down the start straight, paddle tyres such as the Pirelli Scorpion will help in those softer/sandier conditions but will wear quicker in harder conditions. The Michelin StarCross 5 meanwhile is a great all-round tyre for soft and hard conditions.

Clutch Work: Release the clutch, to the point where it bites and the bike starts to roll then twist the throttle and lean into the bike to keep the front-end down. A clutch that provides a smooth and responsive feel is crucial here to make sure you get that biting point right, the ProTaper Profile W-Hotstart clutch lever is one of the best on the market.

If you happen to feel the front-end lifting try dabbing the clutch in a little to control it. It may feel natural to release the throttle, but this will just drop the front-end and you'll be left staring at the opposition as they head into the first corner! Keep the throttle pinned and just feather the clutch until the bike position is controlled. Tim Gajser did exactly that in Trentino a few weeks ago, as his quick-thinking saw him recover from a wheelie and enter the first turn in third place!

Weight Distribution: Weight distribution is key. Opinions may differ on the form of the rider behind the gate, but what is clear is the need to shift body weight to the rear-wheel for additional drive after the gate has dropped. Track conditions will dictate just how important this is as multi-time world champion, Antonio Cairoli, showed at Ottobiano two years ago, a sand track where traction off the start can be difficult.

The Italian was hanging so far off the back of his KTM 450 SX-F he was looking through the gap between his Renthal handlebars and front-brake wire! Needless to say he holeshot this race and went on to win. Where the track is tackier you can can get away with a less aggressive distribution to the rear wheel and use the gears to short-shift and get that speed through the rear-wheel quicker.

There you have it, everything you need to know to get out of the gate and chase down that race win!  What other tips have you picked up over the years? Comment on our social-media channels and tag @24MX. We would love to hear from you!

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