Riding Tips: Gate Selection

Doug “Doctor D” Dubach Riding School

It’s important to carefully study and gain every advantage possible when choosing your starting gate. Always walk to the starting area before your moto and watch a few starts to become familiar with the Flow of the First Turn, the Traction Available, in front and behind the gate and Gate Timing, Board and Pin.

Flow of the First Turn:
Where you should line up is often predicated by how the first turn flows. Where are the riders who are holeshotting lining up, where can you carry the most momentum, brake the latest, etc.  Obviously, lining up on the inside is a natural but it is not always the best.  The slope of the dirt, the amount of traction available, tightness of the corner, and, importantly, where you mentally feel lining up gives you the best advantage; all these must be taken into consideration. Can you line up next to the box?  This can give you extra room in case you don not get of the gate well.  This also allows you to have room to catch up without getting pinched by a rider on both sides.

Traction Available:
After studying the flow of the first turn, determined areas on the gate that provide the line into the first turn, narrow your focus.  Study the area in front and behind gate.

Look at the rut out of the gate, its vital to select the straightest and smoothest exit find the straightest rut with the hardest dirt

If Concrete, look for an area that is scuffed up, as opposed to smooth, as this will give the tire the best grip. Get on hands and knees to scrub concrete:  Did you simply sweep off the concrete with the same dusty, oil and gas soaked broom that’s been near the starting area since Dubach was an amateur? Wipe the concrete clean with a towel or even your gloves, removing every bit of residue; you’ll be amazed at how much dust can be removed with this little extra attention and the improvement to traction.

If Dirt, fill in level as best as possible with the tackiest dirt.  With dirt starts again prepare the surface where your rear wheel will be driving out of the gate. Kick some dirt into the rut left from previous starts and stamp it down firmly. This will give you a harder more tractable and smoother surface up to the base of the start gate If fill dirt is at a minimum, try to fill in at least the first 12” or so behind where the gate falls to build smooth ramp approach, toward the gate.  We want to avoid the hit, the jump, and keep the front tire on, or as close as possible, to the ground.

Gate Timing:
It’s important to have a clear picture of how the gate functions.  Understanding the mechanism and timing provides that split second advantage to get a jump on every else. If the gate timing, the drop, is quick, line up as close to the gate as possible and keep an eye on the top of the gate.  As a general rule, if the gate falls slower, look at the pin on the gate to the left or right and use this as your reaction point.  Look for variations in gate height and select the lowest possible height.  At most local tracks there are inequalities between gates and the small advantages are the few extra inches you need out of the gate putting your handlebars in front of the other racers.