Tips for MX Beginners by Carl Bastedo

Carl Bastedo has pretty much seen it all in the sport of Motocross. In fact, he probably HAS seen it all and seen it from its inception!

We agreed that it would be a good idea to put together a short list of the many pratfalls we, as new riders, will likely encounter. With this list, maybe some beginners can avoid the mistakes the rest of us have, no doubt, made in the past.

Carl Bastedo (left) gives new riders a list of things to look out for. | Bigwave photo


By Carl Bastedo

Between those leaving and those joining, there’s about a 20% turnover in our sport each year. Seeing as how the sport has been in Canada for 70 years there’s a lot of stuff many of us who are more experienced assume the new riders know. But how could they when they’re new to motocross?

Here’s a list that will help bring MX Newcomers up to speed: 

  • Something that happens to most riders once in their career: they forget to turn the fuel petcock on. You leave the line and run out of fuel as you approach the first corner creating mayhem (not to mention a bad result). It only happens to you once (We wish that were true!). Hopefully, knowing this will prevent it from happening to you at all. 
  • NEVER RIDE BACKWARDS on a Motocross track. Make it a habit to not even consider doing it. Get off the track if you’re going backwards to the flow of the course. 
  • When riding on the track, LOOK AHEAD. Don’t be looking down at your front wheel, you’ve already been there. Look to the next corner or obstacle. If you don’t, you’re liable to hit a rider who has crashed or take the wrong line in the next corner. 
  • BE PROFESSIONAL. Don’t ride your motocross bike up to the washroom. Always put your bike on a proper stand in your pit area. Don’t lean it against your vehicle or a post or tree. Have a stand and use it. Don’t race through the pit area or to and from the start/finish line. 
  • When you return to your pit area after a race, SHUT YOUR ENGINE DOWN. Don’t sit with your bike idling or revving it up. 
  • Always LOOK YOUR BIKE OVER before getting on and starting it. Is the chain loose? Do the brakes work? Does the throttle snap back? Are the spokes tight? Are there any loose nuts and bolts you notice? Is the filter clean enough? Did you top up your fuel, or at least have enough to finish your moto? Did you check your tire pressure? Higher for a hard-pack track and lower for a mud track; as low as 8PSI rear and 12 front for a muddy track, 2 to 4PSI more for a track like Motopark. 
  • DON’T USE TOO POWERFUL A PRESSURE WASHER and don’t use to excess. If you do you could blow all the grease out of the bearings, lube off the chain, or saturate your filter. Use a pressure washer sparingly and do not use it if not necessary. 
  • If you crash and you’re not too badly hurt, GET YOURSELF AND YOUR BIKE OFF THE TRACK. Never pick your bike up and try to get it started while still on the course if there is any chance that other riders are behind you or will come up to your position. Even Pro riders have been injured thinking they are important enough to just sit on the track trying to get their bike going. 
  • MAKE SURE THE FLAG IS THE CHECKERED. You’ll probably pull off the track once in your career while leading and getting the white flag not the checkered. 
  • DON’T PLACE YOURSELF.” Don’t look down the start line and see riders you don’t think you can beat and determine where you think you’ll finish. 
  • DON’T LOOK BACK to see who is coming. Keep looking forward.
  • Never move off your line so another rider can pass. They can see where you are and know what you’re doing. HOLD YOUR LINE. Don’t move over, they could run you over. 
  • STAY FOCUSSED. Don’t worry if a rider runs into you from behind or clips your rear wheel. They will most likely be the ones who fall, not you. Keep looking ahead, keep going forward. 

Of course, there’s a lot more for you to absorb but these points should help with the learning curve. Most importantly, don’t be nervous about talking to other riders at the track who may have a lot more experience than you do. It’s a very friendly group and we really are all in this sport together, as they say. 

You’ll quickly understand what everyone goes through when battling out on the track and they will understand the challenges you’re going to face as you get started. 

Enjoy the Ride.