Top 10 dos and don’ts for Red Bull Straight Rhythm

The definitive list of tips and tricks for the most unusual motocross race on the calendar.
Jame Stewart races Ken Roczen at the Red Bull Straight Rhythm 2015 super cross race in Pomona, CA, USA

James Stewart and Ken Roczen go head-to-head © Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
By Eli Moore on 26 September 2016

Red Bull Straight Rhythm is the weirdest motocross race that ever has happened. It’s an event that takes the formula for a cookie-cutter race and throws it in the garbage. For the racers it’s a breath of fresh air, but also a nerve-wracking change compared to normal race strategy. This race is different, so the formula to win is different. Here’s some of the dos and don’ts to winning at Red Bull Straight Rhythm

Watch Red Bull Straight Rhythm live on October 22 on Red Bull TV
Ryan Dungey and Marvin Musquin tackle a whoops section at Red Bull Straight Rhythm in California, USA
Monster whoops at Red Bull Straight Rhythm © Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

Do: Be dialled in the whoops
With no turns, the Straight Rhythm track basically boils down to jumps and whoops. Whoops are a make-or-break feature on any supercross track. Even some of the best riders in the world struggle in them. Also, as we saw with RJ Hampshire’s wreck in 2015, they can bite pretty hard.

Don’t: Override the track
Straight Rhythm demands fluidity. Over jumping or coming up short almost definitely means a race loss. Hitting the sweet spot on every landing and skimming the whoops like a majestic deer cavorting through a wooded meadow is a must.

Do: Pay attention to the bracket
This is the only bracket race in professional motocross. It’s the one time when simply going on the track and riding as fast as you can may not be the best move. As seen in 2013 in the amazing Best-of-16 race between Travis Pastrana and Josh Hansen, though each rider had the potential to get on the podium, the winner was doomed to face the untouchable James Stewart in the quarterfinal, which meant the end of the road.

Don’t: Forget about brakes
You were probably thinking that since there’s no turns, there’s no need for brakes, right? Wrong. The ‘speed checks’ at Straight Rhythm require braking, unless a rider wants to launch himself into orbit, and precise braking is as essential as speed in this event. Get some fresh brake pads on that bike.

Do: Pin it to the finish
Red Bull Straight Rhythm races are always close battles. That’s why we do this race. It’s a bad move for a rider to ease off the gas in the late stages of a race because the odds are, the guy on the other side of that line is holding it wide open. As Ryan Dungey did to James Stewart in 2015, a last second comeback is completely possible at Straight Rhythm.

Don’t: Pace yourself
It’s a sprint. There’s no saving energy, there’s no halfway peak. This is flat-out Supercross racing for 60 seconds. Plan accordingly.
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Dungey Roczen ride the whoops at Red Bull Straight Rhythm 2015
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Do: Scrub
Ever since James Stewart blasted on to the scene throwing his bike sideways on jumps to stay low, scrubbing has been a staple skill in supercross. A good scrub means getting power to the ground quicker, which means more acceleration, which means more ultimate speed. According to our math, that equals winning.

Don’t: Over scrub
Straight Rhythm is not for the overzealous. Scrubbing is important, but as soon as you are landing sideways and crossing lines, you’ve done more harm than good. Scrubbing too hard doesn’t even look cool, anyway.
Malcolm Stewart and Matt Bisceglia race from the start at Red Bull Straight Rhythm 2015 in Pomona, CA, USA

Matt Bisceglia and Malcolm Stewart head-to-head © Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool

Do: Get the start
Nine out of 10 experts agree that in a sub-60 second moto, the start is important.

Don’t: Go over the line
In Straight Rhythm, as in bowling, going over the line is a big no-no. It’s what cost Ken Roczen a shot at the 2015 Red Bull Straight Rhythm title. Stay in your lane, and all will be fine.

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