There is a lot more than the simple mechanics of the bike you need to know when starting out, or teaching someone else to ride. We gathered a few fundamentals that can carry you through primary technique to improving your lap times. And who better to ask than the pros? We caught up with the likes of Ricky Carmichael, Seth Enslow, Jeff Stanton and Mike LaRocco to see what advice they have for newcomers. What some of them had to say might surprise you.“Ride within your limits.”-Ricky Carmichael
RC gave the most surprising answer. The former Supercross Champion and winningest Nationals rider of all time is known for his “bleeding edge” riding style. Considering Carmichael’s uncanny ability to let it all hang out without crashing (at least not often), he gave us a seemingly unconventional response. His foremost advice for new riders would be to know their limits and stay within them. It’s good to push yourself, but it’s important to know where your abilities are and not ride over your head.“Grip with your knees.”-Nathan Ramsey
Ramsey reminds riders to use their legs to keep the bike quiet. This is especially good advice if you’re transitioning from a two- to a four-stroke this year–or vice versa. “Gripping with your knees helps keep the bike stable,” says Ramsey. Adjusting to the different power delivery (and engine braking) of a four-stroke will be easier if you let your lower body do the work. In the process, you won’t wear out your upper body.“The most important thing is just to go out and have fun.”-Jeff StantonThree time AMA Supercross and Motocross Champion, and Team Honda adviser, Jeff Stanton is one of the most dedicated and determined riders ever to grace our sport. Despite his no-nonsense attitude towards racing, Stanton still stresses fun as the most important aspect of riding.”You can learn the basics of the bike by mixing it up and trying different things.” Stanton says that play riding is the best way to learn technique, and you can then apply that to the track. “Sometimes when I was struggling racing, I would just go ride in the woods. It brings back the fun and it’s something different instead of just beating yourself up on the motocross track.”“When in doubt, gas it!”-Seth Enslow
The name “Seth” is synonymous with wild stunts and spectacular crashes. Seth Enslow, the man himself, was on-hand at the U.S. Open and gave us a sharp one liner typical of his nature (and yet sound advice): “When in doubt, gas it!”As humorous as this may seem, it is actually good advice. Many times when approaching a difficult section, people mistakenly slow down when they should be speeding up. Smooth forward momentum will help keep you steady from side to side. He sums up his advice in typical Seth style by saying: “Make sure your gas is on and your tank is full, then hold it wide open, and it’ll be all good!”
“Give it time, then see what you need.”-Mike LaRocco
Ironman Mike is an icon of strength and consistency in the Supercross series. Above all, he emphasizes the importance of realizing natural talent. “You either have it or you don’t,” Mike declares. It’s important to spend lots of time on the bike. Before you can make improvements, you need to know what comes naturally, and where your challenges are. “Every person is different; it depends on the individual.”“Ride with people better than you.”-Trevor Vines
Freestyler Trevor Vines was chock-full of advice: “There are literally hundreds of things you need to remember when riding, such as ride light, arms up, knees in, etc. There are lots of good training videos that can give you great tips. But a great, effective way to improve is to ride with people better than you. Watch what other people do, and see what works for them.” Trevor also reiterates Mike LaRocco’s advice: “What you need to do is just spend lots of time riding. Guys that are fast have put in literally thousands of hours on the bike. They didn’t just wake up one day and start winning.”For more riding tips, visit our online archive of Pro Riding Secrets.