Rev Up: Jump

Rev Up: Jump

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Hello, everyone, and welcome to the Rev Up. Sometimes the comment section produces some good ones, and following my cornering column a couple weeks ago I saw the phrase, “Jump for show, corner for dough” and got a chuckle out of it. That saying bodes true for the most part, but the demands of today’s racing requires the rider to get the knobbies off the ground quite a bit. Jumping has changed in the past ten years and before that it really changed from what we saw in the ‘80s. Of course the leaps and bounds in chassis and suspension technology has coincided with the progression in talent and what we see on the professional supercross tracks today is simply astounding. Sometimes I watch the top ten pro guys hit jumps and the only comparison I can think of is that of a Jedi. Then again, I don’t think even Luke Skywalker could throw a scrub like we see around town today. It’s amazing what they’re doing against physics and they’re getting better and better at it. That said, only about two percent of the racers in the world can hit jumps like that so I wanted to slow it down a bit for us mortals and talk about some normal jumping banter.

I’ve noticed that the most popular jumps around local tracks are camel backs. Most of these are step ups that you can over jump all the way to a second backside, which allows the A and B riders to fly all the way over. A lot of times, there is a corner fairly close to the landing zone and making it to the inside line can be tricky. In this case let’s say that there is a left-handed 180 corner following the landing of the big camel back. Much of the trickiness comes from these types of jumps being mostly blind which forces you to do a little trial and error on over and under jumping the obstacle until you find the sweet spot. Sometimes even then it is hard to make the inside line upon landing with so much speed.

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Believe it or not, you can do your own tiny version of this.
Simon Cudby photo

A trick I use requires a three-part effort. First off (and once I have figured out how hard to hit the jump cleanly) I use an outside to inside sweeping motion, from the right to the middle portion of the landing. This will automatically get your bike pointed towards the inside line and begin the process of getting set up into the rut. Secondly you’ll need to figure out how to hit the jump fast enough to clear it, yet softly enough to allow you to set up for the inside. While Justin Barcia and James Stewart hit jumps like these wide open and use their scrub to slow down, guys like us can perform a watered down version. You can scrub a substantial amount of speed by simply pressing the suspension down with your hands and feet and letting the bike absorb into your attack position. I try to stand as tall as possible on the face and just bend my arms and knees as the bike decompresses and lifts off. You can turn the bars and even throw a little whip to aid this maneuver, which will begin to offer the sensation of a real scrub.

Lastly, I intentionally try to come up a little short on the landing. The bikes have incredible suspension these days and you can case stuff pretty hard without upsetting your flow too much. That said, you don’t want to “case it” as much as you want to try to slide your front and rear tires across the crest of the landing. You have to be careful applying the brakes, and as you practice you can jump harder and get on the binders with more force. The goal is to use those three steps effectively enough to allow you to gather yourself for corner entry. I spend most of my practice days working on this action and it can be frustrating when you muff the section, but nothing feels better when you nail it, then rail the proceeding corner.

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This? Maybe not.
Simon Cudby photo

Another popular encounter at the practice tracks are jumps that get lipped out at the top and force you to preload early and over that indentation at the peak of the take off. I’m one of the last guys to do this and I’ll wait and wait to blip the throttle off the lip until it is obnoxious to the point I’m forcing myself to not preload. Again, the pro’s today just hit that stuff wide open and do a burnout on the face almost dragging their bars on the take off. And yet again, you can perform a less gnarly move and replicate the effort. The first step here is to go sit on the side of the track and watch the pros do it first. Pay attention to where they hit the jump and when their tires leave the ground. While you won’t likely be sideways and almost upside down like they are, you will be using almost the same marks for your attempt. The key is to get your speed earlier than normal for the jump. Really gas it hard up to the bottom of the jump and again, press down with your hands and feet. Try to remember where the badasses were lifting off, and once you feel like you have reached that point, get light on your bike. By “light” I do not mean to yank up on the bars and lift your feet off the pegs and up the sides of the frame. In fact, your feet should never leave the pegs. Start by rolling your shoulders forward and the natural transition of your body weight will lift you up and over the lip.

Be very careful here and concentrate on simply getting over the lip first. It’s fine to not be able to clear the jump all the way in this manner, just start hitting it harder and harder once you feel comfortable with your preloading effort. Once you feel comfortable you can begin doing a little cross up off the face which gets your tires over the cupped out lip even better.

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These dudes make it look way easy.
Simon Cudby photo

While jumping is fun, it is also the most dangerous part of riding a motorcycle. Most of the harder crashes take place on the bigger jumps, so it is all up to how you feel when practicing the moves I’ve just written. It all kind of goes back to that phrase I liked, “Jump for show corner for dough.” This isn’t a disclaimer when I say that you need to take it or leave it with the advice this week. You are the only one on your motorcycle when you’re on the track and only you can make the choice to hit the jumps the way I described. Unlike the corners, jumping requires a different commitment and has more extreme consequences. Be that as it may, if you use your head and work in progressive increments you can use these tools to your advantage on the track. The key is to PRACTICE them. Don’t just do laps and float off your favorite jumps the same way every lap. Do a little thinking and practice making the bike do what you want it to. It’s definitely the time of the year to be riding as the fall is here. Everyone have a good time on their motocross bikes this weekend and be safe.

Thanks for reading, see you next week.

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