Launching your bike off the starting line at maximum speed not only looks impressive, it’s also an essential part of racing a dirt bike competitively.
Getting out front of the pack early will give you a huge competitive advantage.
Do it right and you will avoid battling the traffic into the first turn.
And you don’t have to eat a helmet full of dirt from the roost of other riders.
#1 Buy a practice gate and practice your holeshot as a daily drill to perfect your launching technique.
#2 Try a holeshot device to assist your launching technique.
#3 Choose the line you will take to get you to the first corner.
#4 Prepare the ground ahead of the start gate to remove deep ruts, rocks and other obstacles.
#5 Make sure you are sitting forward and your elbows are pointing upwards and your feet are on the ground. You can also try placing one foot on the left peg as well.
#6 Make sure your gaze is either directly ahead of you or on the starting gate next to yours. Don’t focus directly in front of your bike.
#7 Put your bike into 2nd gear 5 seconds before launch so you don’t overheat the clutch.
#8 Throttle up to about 75% and when you launch, feed the power to the bike smoothly with the clutch. Don’t just dump the clutch otherwise you will get too much wheel spin or the bike will flip.
#9 Keep that weight to the front of the bike and avoid the wheelie. The front wheel should be slightly off the ground but no more than that. Stay in 2nd gear all the way to the first turn.
#10 Keep a positive mental attitude, visualize getting the holeshot and ride aggressively.
As with all dirt bike techniques, getting holeshot requires a good plan, good technique and plenty of practice.
Getting ‘holeshot’ is when a rider launches the fastest and gets the 1st position into the first turn of a race.
In this article I will be revealing my 10 tips that I use to launch my dirt bike for the holeshot position.
Every dirt bike rider has slightly different techniques but the principles are all the same.
Once you get the basic strategy down, you can then modify them to suit your own personal launching style.
#1 Practice, Practice, Practice and Use a Starting Gate!
Simply put, the more you practice at launching your bike off the start line the better you will get at it.
Practice your launching technique as a daily drill. Eventually you will get so good at it that it will become second nature.
Buy a motocross practice starting gate! These things are awesome and will get your mind and body used to using a professional gate.
I recommend the Risk Racing Holeshot Practice Starting Gate!
This very cool piece of gear is electronically controlled by the rider or by the trainer so you practice your gate drops whenever and wherever you like.
Here is a good demonstration video from Risk Racing.
#2 Try a Holeshot Device.
A holeshot device is like a clamp that is connected to your front fork and holds your front forks down when it is engaged.
You engage the holeshot device by pushing down the front forks and pressing in the button on the fork.
The device will automatically disengage when you brake on the front wheel when you are approaching the first turn.
To see the holeshot device in action, here is a great video from monster energy supercross.
The holeshot device is designed to give you a perfect racing position on your bike.
It will also absorb the G forces of your bike that are normally responsible for lifting the front wheel off the ground.
Technically you should be able to rev as hard as you want and the front wheel won’t lift off the ground, providing perfect traction.
There’s quite a bit of debate about the holeshot device as some pros use them and others don’t.
But the general consensus is that they work well and will improve your launch from the start line.
The Works Connection holeshot device is a professional grade device that will give you the edge on the competition.
Holeshot devices can be tricky to install. This video will show you how to do it properly. I recommend watching this video before purchasing the above holeshot device.
#3 Choose your Line.
If you are riding for fun and not racing, this one isn’t so important but it’s still good to know.
The first step to getting holeshot is to choose the line that you want to take into the first turn.
For me that is always the inside line. It’s a lot easier to hold off riders on your outside and make a sharp turn to stay out in front.
Each motocross track is different and so it will be up to you choose the line that you want to take.
If you are racing and you get a qualifying time, then usually you will get to choose your gate.
If you qualify, you will want to choose a gate that is closest to the line you want to take.
#4 Prepare the Ground.
The rules will usually allow you to prepare the ground in front of your gate.
If the ground is made up of really powdery dirt or soft wet mud, then don’t bother doing this as it won’t make much of a difference.
If the ground is hard dirt, filling in the rut in front of you and packing it down with your boot will help get the right traction on the back wheel.
Also, if there are big chunks of dirt or rocks, make sure you kick them away or pack them down.
Any obstacles will kick the rear wheel up and will disrupt your momentum and your chance to take the lead will be gone.
#5 Position on the Bike.
The way you sit on the bike before launching is really important.
The correct position is to sit forward on the seat to keep your weight on that front wheel so it doesn’t pop up under extreme acceleration.
You will have your head leaning over the cross brace and your elbows will be pointed towards the sky.
I like to keep both feet on the ground but you can also have your left foot up on the peg so you can keep your foot on the gear lever.
I think both ways are just as good and it just comes down to personal preference.
#6 Where to Look.
If there is no gate then your gaze should be directly ahead and toward the line that you will be taking on the track.
If you are starting from a gate then your gaze can also be looking forward or watching the gate for it to drop.
Don’t watch the dirt or the gate in front of you as the front mud guard will block your view. Instead, watch the riders’ gate next to you as you will be able to see it clearly.
Try both techniques of looking straight ahead or watching the gate and see what works for you the best.
#7 Put your Bike in Gear at the Right Time.
When you are lined up on the racing line you will receive a 5 second alert to tell you that it’s almost time to race.
When I get the 5 second board, this is when I put my bike into 2nd gear.
If I put the bike into gear before this, I find that the clutch gets too hot and sensitive.
When this happens I find it harder to feed the power using the clutch and the clutch feels like it’s either on or off.
#8 Clutch and Throttle Control.
Time for take-off! Just before the gates drop, throttle to ¾ of the way open.
When the gate drops, feed the power to the bike smoothly with the clutch, releasing it in a smooth motion.
Dumping the clutch will create too much wheel spin and will stall your launching speed
Feeding the power in is the much better approach.
You will find that 2nd gear will carry you all the way to the first corner so no need to worry about further gear changes.
When you are launching forward, keep your body in the same forward attack position and moving with your bike, with your legs tucked in next to your bike.
When the back wheel has gained full traction and is no longer spinning, place your feet up onto the pegs but remain in the forward position.
The G force of the launch will want to pull your body back into the seat but resist the temptation to slide backwards.
#9 Avoid the Wheelie.
Although wheelies look really cool, they are bad news on the start line.
The rider that pops the wheelie always ends up in last place!
You need to stop that wheel from popping up off the ground by keeping your weight forward and feeding the power to the bike with the clutch.
Ultimately the front wheel should be off the ground only slightly but if it raises up too much you will need to adjust the clutch to reduce the power slightly.
#10 Keep a Positive Mental Attitude & be Aggressive.
Another trick that the pro racers use is keeping a positive mental attitude by visualizing the top spot coming into the first corner.
Coming into a race you can’t have any doubt about the result, you need to KNOW that you are going to get the first spot and you have to believe in your own abilities.
Positive aggression is also a really important tool in my opinion.
Video courtesy of Justin Barcia
Having an aggressive attitude toward the start and the race in general is really important if you want to stay competitive.
You won’t be winning a race if you have a negative or passive attitude toward the race or your racing.
The best way to develop strong belief in your riding abilities and properly visualize a great result is to practice, practice, practice!
Getting the launch right is a really valuable skill to learn, especially if you want to begin to race dirt bikes. Use my 10 tips to getting holeshot and you will be launching like a pro in no time.
Have you used the holeshot device? Does it make you faster off the start line? Let me know in the comments below.
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