In the world of motocross racing, there's nothing more important than speed. Whether you're riding on a fancy new bike or a Frankenstein beast with all sorts of crazy add-ons, you can literally leave your competition in the dust by applying a few fundamental techniques, putting in a little research, and maximizing your fitness.
Do you want speed? Then you need to go hard on that throttle. Sure, there are moments when you might need to back off for a second, but if you're continually finding that you have more juice left in your motor, especially when a competitor is sneaking up on your tail, then you're not pushing it hard enough. Try to keep your throttle at the limit the majority of the time, and you'll definitely see an increase in your speed around the track.
Check out the book "How to Ride Off-Road Motorcycles" by Gary LaPlante and Lee Parks for more advice on getting the most speed out of your bike.
In theory, the motocross track is a series of obstacles and turns. Nevertheless, you should try and think of it as a seamless course where everything is connected. When you see every single obstacle separately, you're missing out on those connecting stretches where you can use your power and speed to get ahead. When you look at the track as one unit, you optimize every single inch of dirt. Watching motocross videos like Top Three Drills to Improve Lap Time can help you develop this thought process.
Verbalize Your Needs
You know what's great about MX? It's super loud. That means you can amp yourself up with positive self-talk and clear verbal instructions, and no one will be the wiser. Yell that you need more power and shout at yourself to brake hard into the turn. You can use this technique to motivate yourself and improve your response time on the track. Improve Your Motocross Skills — The Age of Motocross, Season 2, Episode 1 is a super informative video that offers other great tips for building that track speed.
Make Every Turn the First Turn
You know that adrenaline you have going into the first turn where you give it all your power and focus? You need to do that on every turn. Don't lose your focus or momentum as you make your way around the track. Think of every turn like you do that first turn, and attack them with all of your power. Get a solid grasp of all your turns with the book "Dirt Rider's Motocross Riding Tips" written by the editors of Dirt Rider Magazine.
Fight Smarter, Not Harder
Some motocross racers spend the entire course worrying about who's going to pass them and when. Guess what — you don't need to think about it unless there's someone literally on your bumper. Instead, devote that mental energy to keeping your elbows up, your weight in the right place, and your hand on the throttle. You'll keep yourself ahead and only devote that time and energy to defensive driving when you really have to. Use this video, Top Five Motocross and Dirt Bike Practice Tips With Kris Keefer, to get into the right mindset.
Know That Third Gear Is Best
Third gear is best, no question. You'll get more power and more speed with a half-throttle than you would at full-throttle in second gear. Do your best to stay in third gear for as much of the race as you possibly can, and you'll start seeing more speed in no time. Read the holy grail of bike performance, "Motocross and Off-Road Performance Handbook" by Eric Gorr, to learn more.
Walk It First
When you walk the track, you (obviously) go slower than you do on your bike. You'll notice details about the track and its terrain that you might otherwise miss, even on a slow ride. Take the time to walk the track, and then watch and see what other riders do during their races. You might get lucky and find a better line that trims time off of your run and gives you the advantage. If you want more tips like this, read Matt Doeden's book, "Motocross Freestyle (To the Extreme)."
Use the Flat Turn
Flat turns are the bane of every motocross racer's existence. It's too easy to slide out, especially on crazy dry or wet dirt, so riders tend to come off the throttle and lose speed. However, if you use your weight and placement right, you can keep your throttle turned up and use the turn to your advantage. You'll want to weight the outside peg through these flat turns, meaning you thrust your body weight away from the bike (which is leaning into the turn) to provide a counterweight and stability through the sidewalls. Try it out and see what happens.
For more turning tips, watch Five Motocross Drills That Will Drastically Improve Your Dirt Bike Riding.
Time It Out
Run time drills every week to help you get a sense of how you're improving. Of course, new tracks can throw any rider for a loop, but if you can increase your speed gradually on a consistent course, then you're building the underlying skills and strength necessary to kick it up on new tracks. Check out Motocross Practice Drills for other options you can speed test, too.
It's no secret that the best motocross riders are super fit. Cross-training is absolutely vital if you want to have the strength and stamina to make it through the race. Here are a few of the best exercises you can do to get your body ready for the demands of the track:
- Cycling: Riding a bike helps you build endurance, stamina, and the big quadriceps and hamstring muscles you need on your MX bike.
- Planks: A strong core and back are vital for keeping you centered and stable on your dirt bike. Planks help build strength in your front and back core.
- Strength train with your body weight: Use your body weight for strength training rather than weights. You're not lifting anything other than yourself out on the track.
- Yoga: It's important to maintain your flexibility. Tight muscles lead to strains and sprains, but with a little yoga in your workout regimen, you'll see a looser body with more control.
"Motocross Fitness: The Ultimate Home Training Guide for Motocross Athletes" by Rodney Womack, CSCS, is an awesome guide for motocross fitness training.
Improving your speed takes dedication. Use a combination of physical and mental techniques, along with tons of practice, to start seeing improvements in your performance.