Breakdown: Riding Technique

Breakdown Riding Technique

May 5, 2015 3:00pm

1. Ryan Dungey is shown here in New Jersey on the over/under jump. Due to the steep takeoff and landing, coupled with the ruts, this was a tricky jump. In this photo, you can see that Ryan is on the right side of the jump face and beginning to lean to his left. He’s doing that in order to get his back end to drift to the right once he goes airborne, thus setting him up better for the left-hand turn afterwards. If he can land on the right side of the downslope with his back end slightly to the right, he will enter the turn at the optimal angle. He’ll then be able to hug the next turn very tight, just as he did in the heat race to pass Ben LaMay. Supercross involves a lot of geometry, and this is a great example.

Photo: Cudby

2. This turn looks more like an outdoor national than a supercross, but that’s what East Rutherford ended up with. Dungey has great form here (shocker) and is missing the deep inside rut. Notice how high he had to lift his right leg to clear that rise of dirt. His weight is on the outside peg a bit here to increase rear tire traction and keep his body above the aforementioned dirt rise. This is a split second before he grabs a handful of throttle to accelerate.

Photo: Cudby

3. Here’s Marvin Musquin showing what hard work can bring. This title was a long time coming for the likable Frenchman. He was heartbreakingly close in 2013, losing to Wil Hahn in Vegas by a handful of points. However, this has been a heck of a year for Marv thus far.

Photo: Cudby

4. Here, Musquin rolls over the single that led to the start straight in Jersey. The idea here was to carry as much speed over the jump while leaving the ground for the least amount of time possible. Those two things are hard to combine, and the genesis for the scrub technique. He isn’t really scrubbing here, per se, but he is leaning the bike over in order to get back to the ground quickly. He’s also making his turn early so when he lands, he’ll be heading in the right direction. Many riders were jumping too far in a straight line and then having to make a hard right turn once they landed, costing them valuable time.

Photo: Cudby

5. Here is the same jump as above, but from behind. You can see that Marvin is leaving the jump far to the left of the main rut and is positioned to turn on the downside of the jump, which will allow him to turn on the downside of the jump and accelerate in a straight line down the following start straightaway. The same concept applies here, as he’s avoiding unnecessary airtime and keeping his wheels on the ground so he can accelerate. Marvin is a very technical rider and is very good at simplifying a racetrack. Braking early here in order to make a straight line out of the next section is a great example of that.

Photo: Cudby

6. Weston Peick is shown here in the same turn as the two previous Musquin photos. He’s on the outside, just as Musquin was, in order to straighten up the next section and maximize acceleration. The one variable here is that Andrew Short is sneaking up the inside, and knowing that Weston will slow a bit to set up on the jump, he could try to beat Weston to the apex and make a block pass.

Photo: Cudby

7. This appears to be the section along the stadium wall where many riders crashed all day. This is clearly not the ideal technique, but with the ruts and deteriorating conditions, it was common. Also, Peick is winning the semi according to the scoreboard in the background so he is getting the last laugh.

Photo: Cudby

8. Eli Tomac is shown in the first turn of the track, just beginning to accelerate. This turn was loose and flat, leaving many riders in a controlled slide around it. He’s floating the rear tire, much like a flat tracker would do. Notice that his inside foot is down, which he can use as a rudder to keep his balance and control his lean angle.

Photo: Cudby

9. This is in the same turn but earlier in the turning process. Tomac’s technique is less ideal here, as he is leaning further outside than he would want to. Leaning outside is going to steer him to the right and lessen his ability to accelerate. Ideally, he would want to lean to the inside and be hard on the throttle.

Photo: Cudby

10. Tomac is entering a typical supercross berm in this photo. Many riders would already be on the seat by this point, which would be fine as well. Ryan Dungey and Kevin Windham both come to mind when thinking of riders who sit earlier in their turning process. It’s just a difference in technique, but when done correctly, both are poetry in motion. If he stays standing, he’ll need to accelerate soon to maintain that lean angle.

Photo: Cudby

11. Here he is accelerating as mentioned above. Most riders would avoid standing all the way around this turn, as it is tough to do. Eli has such a mountain bike background that this is a more comfortable technique for him than most. Mountain bike riders seldom sit, and watching Eli closely, he emulates that on his CRF450 as well. Standing up while leaned over that far is not easy to do.

Photo: Cudby

12. This photo shows Eli on his last lap en route to the main event win. He is low on the bike, pushing the bike into the ground in order to accelerate down the landing. He’s also leaning to his left, most likely to angle into his choice of the next rut. Also, his left leg is squeezing hard against the bike in order to position it precisely where he wants. Moving the bike with your knees and legs is crucial for riding in ruts.

Photo: Cudby