Resources 8 Mar 2018

Advice: Hard-pack flat turns

CDR Yamaha's Dylan Long on how he approaches these corners.

The hard-pack flat turn is one of the most challenging aspects of motocross riding. Although a quite simple concept, making your way around one of these turns at speed is not so straightforward and requires multiple aspects to come together at the right time. In this Advice post, checks in with CDR Yamaha’s Dylan Long to find out how he approaches them and to find out some of the techniques he likes to use to ensure the fastest lap-time possible.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

1. Bike settings:
Suspension plays a big part and you obviously need to have that set-up really well for hard-pack, aside from the fact that a hard-pack track is one of those things that you also need to ride a lot. Tyre pressure has a lot to do with it, because you can’t just go around a hard-pack flat turn with 20psi – for example – in your tyres and expect to do it very well.

2. Corner entry:
I actually brake fairly early compared to usual and then get off the brakes before I am turning. I want to be keeping the momentum, that rolling momentum all the way around the corner. I want to be out pretty wide and then start slowly coming in, almost how road racers do their corners. It’s pretty much a typical thing you want to do for most corners really, but the reason road racers do it is because they keep their momentum and speed. If they come straight up the inside and then had to turn really sharp to make the turn on that hard slippery surface, they’d just wash their wheels out and crash. so you want a nice flowing entry and to carry your momentum throughout a hard-pack flat turn.

3. Line selection:
You do want to keep that flowing momentum as I mentioned, but if there is a little groove or something that you could bank off to get you up straight and out of the corner, that is ideal. If you’re coming out of the corner and your back wheel starts spinning up, you’re losing time there whenever your wheels are spinning, so if possible, it is good to use a bit of an edge or a rut to bump off and get you up out of the corner and to carry some speed down the straight.

Image: Jeremy Hammer (Foremost Media).

4. Body position:
You definitely have to be up on that outside edge of the seat and your outside elbow needs to be up nice and high. You also need that weight on the outside peg and your body position in the centre with your head over the cross-bar. That’s a pretty standard thing having your head over the cross-bar, but on a hard-pack flat turn, if you lean slightly back it’s just going to put so much more emphasis on the bike sliding or moving. If you’re sitting a bit too far forward your back wheel is also going to light up and just spin, you need that mid balance with your head over the front so there’s a lot of traction to the ground. Your body position definitely plays a big role in a hard-pack corner.

5. Throttle control:
You want that smooth bottom-end power and with the new 2018 Yamaha YZ450F having the new Power Tuner App on your phone, it’s just awesome. You can come in after practice and you can tame it out on the bottom and make it a nice smooth throttle delivery. You could also run a gear taller, but it just depends how good you are with throttle control. If you come around a corner in a lower gear and you hit a bump and your hand hits the throttle, in a lower gear it will snap straight away and want to spin up. In a higher gear, if you go to wrap that throttle on, it’s not just going to take off from you, it will be a nice, steady delivery. If you could hit the corner in second gear, we’ll probably do it in third because you can get on the throttle because it’s not going to spin up and get out of control. You’re looking for that smooth power to the ground all the way out of the corner.

6. Corner exit:
As I was saying before with how the road racers do it, if you listen to their throttle as they exit a turn, it’s the amount of throttle to grip ratio. If they’re three-quarters around the corner and they think, ‘yep, I’ve got it’ and they wrap it on, it will still slide out on them, so it’s just about that gaining slow throttle all the way out, but enough that you’re going to get grip. You could practice at home on a hard-pack corner and see how hard you can get on the throttle without losing traction, but you need to be patient.