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Tips & Tricks

Maximum Grip

You will hear dozens of different opinions on the internet as you search for the best way to ride.

Some of those ideas will sound right, while others seem a little off.

The other day I heard a top racer (who is also a coach) say something really interesting that might be a springboard to helping us, because he has something to say about traction in turns that I will add my two cents to.

This guy races top level AMA MX along with some GNCC and Enduro so he has more than a one-track mind.

I really like how he applied his experience with rocks and tree roots to MX.

He was basically saying that he will take the load off of his front wheel when it might slide out.

This is gold, because the mindset in motocross is often the opposite. Until you learn better anyway.

Rather than moving your head forward when the front wheel might wash out (like you might naturally want to do), we should do the opposite for that crucial moment.

Unfortunately he then went on to contradict himself.

He added that he would put all the pressure he possibly could into the front wheel when there was a lot of grip in a turn.

My response to his second statement would be to ask, "Why?"

This is how I see the issue of grip;

  • In a straight line, where the wheel is unlikely to slip sideways, you can add more pressure to add grip to a wheel but even then you have to be careful e.g. if you came across a slippery patch while braking hard

  • The wheel is quite likely to slip out more than you want when turning, so to put more pressure on a tyre that is leaned is only going to make it want to slip out more

  • Adding more pressure to a front wheel when there is lots of grip is only going to make you push harder on the handlebars for no reason

My thoughts are that the rear tyre can be used to turn a bike as well as the front. If there is a lot of grip then why not save energy and use both wheels to turn by keeping the pressure on them more even?

I feel that the main thing is to have more pressure on the tyre that already has the most grip, and less pressure on the tyre that has less grip.

If there is grip for both, then save your energy!

This can be a moment-by-moment thing. For example I used a hole to turn in during the Helter Skelter race that the Tauranga MCC held last year, where I put pressure on the front wheel while I leaned over and turned in the hole then on the rear wheel while it was in the hole. There are different ways to put pressure on a tyre. The main ones are;

  • Slowing down puts pressure on front wheel, speeding up does the opposite

  • Moving your head forward while sitting will put pressure on front wheel

  • Suspension tuning and tyre pressures can also have an impact

The best way (in most situations) to control weight on a wheel is to stay standing up, bending at the waist. The majority of your weight will be on the foot pegs which is the lowest you can get it, while you can do incredible adjustments to which wheel gets the attention by moving your head forward or bum back.


It was just a short clip, and I obviously haven't spoken to him about that so I am sure there is more to his comment.

At least I hope that this will get you thinking, and some of us talking more as we sort out truth from "fad".

Happy riding!


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