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Unread 09-13-2013, 11:51 AM   #1
Motorcycle News
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Ask the MSF: Riding Minibikes In Low Traction

Q: Do you have any advice for my 13-year-old son? Heís intimidated by low traction (such as gravel or muddy) uphills.

A: For a successful run up a loose or slick steep hill, there are some points and techniques to remember. First, know the motorcycle and rider limitations. With that in mind, letís work on the techniques of climbing a hill.

When approaching a hill, keep both feet firmly on the footpegs. Stand up and grip your motorcycle with your knees. Keep your upper body loose, with your weight forward toward the hill. Depending on the length of the climb, choose an appropriate gear and maintain momentum and engine revs. Typically, for a shorter and looser climb, shift to a higher gear (remember to keep up the momentum) so that your rear tire will not bury itself. For longer and steeper hills, shift to a lower gear (keeping up your momentum) and speed up before you get to the base. You need enough momentum to propel you over the hill and enough engine revs to prevent you from stalling.

When descending a hill keep both feet on the footpegs. Transfer your weight to the rear. Shift the transmission into low gear and descend with the throttle closed. Apply brakes as needed.
The motorcycle may waver in its path slightly. On wet or slippery surfaces, braking will have to be much more gradual to avoid sliding tires. A helpful reminder when riding in sand or mud is to accelerate sooner and brake later than you would on surfaces having greater traction.

Also, know what is on the other side of the hill and tell your son. Be aware of other trail users, including ATV riders, 4x4 drivers, hikers and horseback riders. Talk about the possible paths up or down the hill; help him choose the best line. Finally, get some practice on a level surface with the loose conditions. Once your son is comfortable riding on the varying surfaces, tackle the hill.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (www.msf-usa.org) is internationally recognized for its comprehensive, research-based rider education and training programs. It offers a wide range of programs, from hands-on training to online opportunities. The group's Basic eCourse (http://online2.msf-usa.org/msf/ecourse.aspx) is an interactive computer-based program that provides riders of all knowledge and skill levels with the basics of motorcyclist safety, while recognizing the best first ride is in the hands-on MSF Basic RiderCourse.

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