We’re in the heart of Supercross season and last weekend’s Daytona Supercross had one of the deepest sand sections that we’ve seen all year. While Moto Tips about how to ride Supercross would apply to very few of our readers, we thought we would ask SGD Unlimited’s Cade Clason for some general tips about riding in the soft stuff.
“There are lots of different kinds of sand,” he said. “Daytona’s black sand is actually really good; the more they water it the better it gets, and that’s what most of the track at the speedway is made of. The section in this photo, though, is from the beach sand section and that was the worst. There was no traction and we had no control of the motorcycle while we were in it. Sand that you’ll find at a local motocross track, though, is a lot thicker with more hold up and more traction, which provides more forward momentum.
“I’d say the most important thing when riding and racing in the sand is to try to be loose and fluid on. the bike. Free moving…you cannot ride super stiff in the sand. You do, though, need to grip the bike with your knees to maintain control of the bike and keep it straight and tracking forward. Keep your upper body loose and be ready for the bike to move around beneath you.
“Body positioning in the sand is different, too, as you need to lean back further for traction. Keeping your weight over the back of the bike will help keep it driving forward. Another key aspect of sand riding is keeping your feet on the pegs a lot more than you usually would. If you put your foot down or take a dab in a sand corner, your boot will drag down into the soft stuff and throw you off balance or upset your body on the bike. Keep your feet on the pegs and out of the sand as much as possible.
“Another thing to be very conscious of is your braking. The sand will slow you down naturally, so use that to slow down for the corners. The rear brake, especially, will make you have a choppy stop-and-go flow or lack thereof. Do not overuse the rear brake in the sand- actually, try to reduce its use – and you will gain more control. You don’t wanna overuse the front either, and you have to be careful how you apply it as it will have more of a tendency to wash the front end in the sand than in hardpack.
“When it comes to gear selection, you want to ride a gear higher than you normally would in the sand because you don’t want bike revved out in the sand. The pull is what keeps you moving forward and tracking straight at all times, so you don’t want your rear tire digging into the sand and pulling you down. Lugging your bike in a taller gear is easier on the bike and allows it to get up on top of the sand and handle better at the same. time. Simply put, you can’t ride old-school-Justin Barcia-style in the sand.
“In corners, keep in mind that momentum is the key. Make big and round arcs in the corners…don’t stab it into the corners and square them off. Big hooks in corners will drag you down and cost you time with your rear wheel spinning. Concentrate on your flow; make big, nice, round lines. Look further ahead than you would normally, as the sand has ever-changing conditions.”