Moto riding for an MTBer, Part 1

Hey Lee,

I just got an RM 125 that I plan to use a lot at the MX course in Berthoud. I have never ridden a dirt bike before and I was wondering how the dirt jumps feel with throttle? What are the similarities to regular dirt jumping? Do you hold the throttle all the way up the lip and is there any “pumping” that you do? Once in the air do you always let off the throttle?

Also, when railing berms, or turns in general, do you let off throttle?

Later, Jason

The more you click, the more I can post. Lee Likes Groceries dot com!


Welcome to the world of braaap. It’s a one-way ticket to midnight. Call it … heavy metal!

I’d love to do an ebook on moto tips for MTBers. The sports are so similar, yet there are a few key differences (like an engine — duh!).

In general

Never having ridden a moto, pro DHer Steve Wentz was jumping my CRF250R in about two hours. Once you can ride a bike well, it’s all about throttle control.

Since you’re a MTB DHer, think of the throttle in terms of downslope. If you’re riding a bike down a 10% slope, the acceleration is pretty constant, right? The slope determines your speed; you stay loose and ride it out.

With your moto’s throttle, you want to be as smooth and constant as possible. Whacking the throttle open and closed upsets your moto’s chassis and makes random things happen, especially on your 2-stroke Suzuki RM 125. That thing is very mellow until you hit the powerband — around 8,000 rpm — then WHOA!!!

So always roll it on smoothly, and try to hold it constant. From there, just ride it out.


Darren, 4th gear pinned to … up … and off the lip. This is right by the entrance at Berthoud.

If you’re jumping rhythm on a bicycle, you should apply constant downforce from the landing, through the trough and off the lip. This connection gives you power and control. If you back off and unload your bike, random things happen — like getting bucked.

Same idea on a moto. As you approach the jump, roll smooth throttle and keep it there. Do not back off; this upsets your chassis. Hold the throttle however open you need depending on the jump, say at 1/2. Pump the lip as you would on a bike. Leave the throttle open until you take off. When you’re airborne, let off the throttle. I learned this from Darren Murphy at PUSH Industries, and it made a HUGE difference. Constant throttle.

Tip A: To get extra boost, blip the throttle a little extra as you leave the lip. This is like pumping a dirt jump extra hard. Say you’re rocking 1/2 throttle from a corner to the face. Right at the top of the lip, crank it up to 3/4 for a sec. This drives your entire bike into the face and levers your rear wheel into the ground for more downforce, hence more lift.

Tip B: If your front end is too low in the air, give it some throttle — braaap! The gyroscopic force raises the front end.

Tip C: If your front end is too high in the air, dab some rear brake. Same principle, opposite effect.


Darren says: Hold steady throttle and surf it out.

This is super-simplified, but it’ll get you going. Again, think in terms of riding a downhill turn on a bike.

– Take the same line you would on a bike.

– Slow down before the turn.

– Initiate the turn. On a bike you’d coast on through. Don’t brake in the turn, right?

– On a moto, as soon as you initiate the turn, smoothly roll some throttle. This settles the bike and accelerates you out of the turn. Motos handle SO MUCH better while on the gas than while coasting. It doesn’t take much — maybe 1/4 or 1/2 to begin with. Roll some gentle throttle and ride it out. Chopping the throttle on and off makes the bike very sketchy!

Respect the throttle. Honor the engine. They are your best friends, and they can be your worst enemies. Be gentle. Be consistent. Have fun.

Me, Lee, on my 250. What’s not to love?

Whatever you do, don’t do this:

33 more moto stories:

7 replies
  1. jason smith says:

    A side note is jumpng a four stroke vs a 2 stroke are quite different on longer jumps as well as steep lips. The 2 stroke will be more prone to sky wheelie of death syndrome or lawn dart prone depending on how steep the lips on take off are. I have found the four stroke to pretty much be a stable sled on the track it doesnt do anything surprising or unexpected. Be cool on the 2 stroke to get a feel on smaller stuff before launching the big dipper.

  2. Todd says:

    Congrats on the bike. 125’s are one of the funnest bikes in the world to ride! They are light and can be incredibly fast. A 125 requires a lot more aggressive, on-the-gas riding than the modern four strokes or even the bigger two strokes. But there is no better feeling than railing a berm with a 125 engine wrapped to the max underneath you. SWEET!

    The only thing I would add to Lee’s advice is that you should practice using the clutch to help you deliver smooth power and to get that extra braap off the face of the jumps. The powerband on a 125 can be pretty abrupt, but you can control that power with both the throttle and the clutch. If the power hits a little too strong (or not strong enough) in a particular section, just feather the clutch a little and you should straighten right out.

    Hey Lee, how about some mountain bike tips for the motocrossers around here. I am fairly new to the mountain biking scene, but used to race motocross for years. I find that my motocross riding style does not always work best on a mountain bike. For example, I find myself too far over the front end of the mountain bike through corners, off jumps or through rough sections. On a motocross bike, you want to stay over that front end and let the bike catch up to you as you apply the power. That doesn’t work so well on a mountain bike. A post like this in reverse would be really helpful!

  3. leelikesbikes says:

    Great question.

    I was just riding along, thinking I should do a couple ebooks: Moto for MTBers, and MTB for Moto Riders.

    I’ll write up some tips when I get a chance. In the mean time, just browse my Skills/training section …

  4. Darren says:

    LOL!! Now if we could just get Lee out to the track during the summer months so that you’d have some fresh pictures without me wearing all my winter garb! Missed a good one today….Berthoud was perfectly groomed and temps in the 70’s….oh my! Good stuff Lee…we’ll see you this winter! 😀


  5. jason paxton says:

    Thanks to everyone for the tips. If my boots get in to Elite Motorsports today, then I will be out at Berthoud trying some tables this weekend. I’ll get back with how it goes.


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