Cooksey Straight To The Point: Riders Need To Take Accountability For Their “Setup” 10

Chris has dialed in his laptop to get the speed he's looking for. Do you feel the same as he does?

Cooksey Straight To The Point: Riders Need To Take Accountability For Their “Setup”

Justin Cooper struggled during the fourth round of The Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Outdoor Series. It all started in qualifying. Cooper took a nasty spill and from there he changed his “settings” prior to the first moto. During the first moto he grabbed the holeshot but dropped to sixth. That's not a horrible finish, but at the previous three rounds he'd won the first moto, so sixth was disappointing. Before the second moto he made more changes to his settings and fell further back, unfortunately when a rider starts chasing settings it can send their confidence into a tailspin. 

Having a motorcycle set up to a rider’s liking is incredibly important. I get annoyed when riders use poor setup as an excuse, acting like it is someone else’s fault. Factory riders have everything to make their motorcycle suit their needs. Riders need their motorcycle set up to match their individual riding style, size and track conditions (both dirt composition and obstacle size). When a rider says their settings are off I believe they made a mistake leading up to the event. If their motorcycle doesn’t make them feel comfortable, they need to look in the mirror because testing and bike setup is the rider’s responsibility. 

Dirt bike racing is different than other motorsports because the biggest variable is the rider. All six major brands produce motorcycles with the potential to win races. Teams can give riders almost any characteristic the rider demands. If a rider doesn’t feel comfortable it’s their own fault. During Supercross Ken Roczen said he needed to learn how to ride stiffer settings because it was safer. Translating his statement, he liked how softer suspension worked, but if he made a mistake the stiff suspension wouldn’t put him on the ground like the softer suspension, so he changed his riding to accommodate stiffer settings. Bike settings are a series of tradeoffs, whether it’s sacrificing performance for safety or changing the power curve. Adding power at one RPM usually requires sacrificing power at another RPM. Riders can change everything, so if they aren’t happy with their settings, they need to look in the mirror. 

There are always exceptions, like when engineers or teams rely on dynos rather than riders’ input, but for the most part every racer is responsible for their own settings. Many times, similar to Justin Cooper at High Point, riders don’t have the ideal settings for the specific track and conditions. Sometimes it’s better to ride a setting that isn’t ideal rather than chasing settings. Riders can compensate if they know exactly how a bike will react. When teams and riders start making multiple changes, riders lose their feel and are worse off than staying with the original setting. Once a rider loses their feel they start “chasing” and it can destroy their confidence. 

Competing in both motocross and Supercross takes an ability to ride and knowledge to develop motorcycle settings. When a rider says their “settings” are off they are probably right but let’s not forget it’s the settings they chose. Getting the correct settings is part of the game, so when a rider can’t find them it’s not necessary the team or motorcycle’s fault. A rider blaming their settings is the same as a golfer blaming a club choice for a bad shot. The club was definitely wrong, but the golfer made the choice. Losing a race because bike “settings” are off is often perceived as out of the riders control, but being a great racer requires the ability to communicate with your team to get the best settings.

Follow me @chriscooksey61 on Instagram and Twitter and @Cookseymedia on Facebook.

Chris Cooksey is life-long motocross enthusiast, racing professionally in arenacross, motocross and supermoto. Chris obtained his degree from Arizona State, majoring in business and communications. After college Chris immersed himself in the business and social media aspects of the industry. Chris enjoys sharing his opinions. Sit back and enjoy the view from his perspective.


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