How To Ride Motocross In Muddy Conditions; Proper Dirt Bike Mud Preparation Set Up Tips
Throughout the history of professional motocross racing, there have been a handful of select riders that can repeatedly win at muddy events. One reason is because they have tremendous riding talent. But another reason, is that these winning mud riders learned how to ride both fast and smooth in deep mud. Take Kevin Windham for example. Windham is known to be an incredibly talented mud racer …with numerous muddy victories, including Daytona’s infamous 2008 ‘mudfest’.
Proper bike set up and correct riding strategy are very important. Learning good mud riding skills is critical to be a successful motocross racer, especially considering that mother nature isn’t always going to cooperate. Scoring well at a mud soaked track can make the difference between winning or losing a season’s championship title. So take note of these simple but effective mud riding tips. Learn the proper bike set up tips listed below. Instead of avoiding your favorite practice track during thunder storms, take advantage and practice your mud riding skills. You can quickly become a better mud rider and have an edge up on your competitors when that unexpected muddy race day arrives. If you can master the concepts below, be ready to blast through mud soaked berms to claim your podium finish. As always, there’s no guarantee what may happen on a muddy race track, but practice and preparation will surely make for faster, safer, and better results in the mud. Cheers, Chronic MX.
- Side Lines: Avoid riding through the middle of the track. Choose the side ‘lines’ of the race track, where the ground is usually higher and drier. The middle is almost always going to be deeper and slower.
- Look Forward: Look ahead as much as possible. By keeping a forward focus, you can pick high lines well in advance for smooth transitions around the track. Be sure to look away from the areas you are trying to avoid. Avoiding deep areas helps prevent losing momentum. You’ll need to be sure your vision is unaffected, so use the best goggles, with tear-offs or a roll off system. Have a clean pair of goggles nearby with your crew if needed, and a small towel tucked into the side of your pants.
- Keep Momentum: Mud riding is all about momentum. Like pushing a car up a hill, you want to be focused on maintaining as much momentum as possible.
- Legs High: Keep your legs up ‘high and dry’. It may feel un-natural to ride this way, but by keeping your legs high and your feet off the ground, you save energy because your boots stay lighter and drier. You’ll save energy too, because of less resistance from heavier soaked boots, dragging you down.
- Ride Smooth: The fastest mud racers ride their dirt bike’s through the mud like a stock car racer drives a stock car. Stay smooth on the power and light on the brakes. Avoid square offs and hard deceleration. Instead, ride smooth, consistent, and slip the clutch if needed, in order to keep momentum going.
- Positive Mindset: The mind is a powerful tool, especially when racing in deep mud, ruts and rain soaked tracks. Stay positive and focused on winning or finishing. Don’t quit or psyche yourself out. Riding in the mud is just like hill climbing. Stay focused, positive and let your mind see your way to the finish.
- Front up: When watching professional motocross riders race through the mud, you will notice how most of them ride wheelies through deep puddles, especially puddles right after the jumps. Keeping the front end up high is a good strategy to keep you and your bike as dry as possible.
- Stay Greasy: Spray either non stick cooking spray or a silicone based product such as Mud Off to the undersides of the fenders. This prevents mud from collecting underneath the greasy fenders. Instead of sticking, the mud simply slides off the greasy surface. You can also coat other areas of the bike such as the number plates. Note: Avoid spraying brake rotors.
- Protect Radiator: Many bikes overheat from a lack of air flowing through the radiators. Use foam, duct tape, or even pantie hose to prevent mud from blocking the air flow through the radiator. Mud can easily cause the shrouds to become blocked.
- Let Her Breathe: It is critical that the bike be able to breathe. Mud and water can clog all those vented spaces, coat the air filter, and even get sucked into the engine. Seal the side air box intakes with duct tape. Stuff foam in the air-box sear surrounding the air filter for extra protection. Filter skins and Franks filters are good too.
- Shed Weight: Place foam inside the frame under-guard, to prevent that hollow, empty space, from filling up with mud.
- Controls: Be sure the clutch and throttle are well protected from the elements with a good set of hand-guards. Lube cables well and wire your grips to ensure that mud wont interfere. You might also consider using brake rotors that have a larger brake surface.
- Tires: Be sure you are equipped with the best possible mud tires. This will make a huge difference in performance. Traction is critical. In a recent product review ( http://chronicmx.com/mx-tire-shootout-best-motocross-dirt-bike-tires-product-review/ ) we had good success with both the Michelin S12 and the Michelin Sand 4 in deep sand or thick mud. A wider tire can also make a difference. Tire pressure is also key. In our post about the best dirt bike tire pressure: http://chronicmx.com/best-tire-pressure-for-dirt-bikes-motocross-and-offroad/ we recommend lower pressure of 12 psi front and 10 psi in the rear, for optimal tire pressure in muddy conditions.
- Stiffen Suspension: Extra mud covering your bike will add enough weigh to drastically affect your suspension settings. Imagine gaining 30 pounds of extra cargo just prior to hitting the track. So stiffen the compression to help counter that extra weight.
- Loosen Chain: An incredibly large amount of dirt and mud are sucked into your sprocket while riding in deep mud. This forces more tension on the chain. If the drive chain becomes too tight it can snap. So loosen it up a notch or two on your chain adjuster.
- Cover Footpegs: Several companies sell foot peg covers that help eliminate mud from collecting at the joint of the foot pegs. This is important to prevent your pegs from getting jammed into a closed position. It is also important to be sure that your foot pegs are sharpened with a file to maintain a solid grip on slippery boots.
- Seat grip: It is important to have a ‘tacky’ seat when riding in rain and mud. Today’s stock motocross bike seats are already pretty decent, and come in a material that helps prevent you from sliding off the back of the bike in muddy conditions. However, when riding in extreme mud conditions, many riders still choose to switch their seat cover for one with pleats to ensure extra grip.