Technology in Motocross
by The "Professor" Gary Bailey
Professor Bailey here with an update on some new technology I'm stoked about. It's been a while but man, this retirement thing (or semi-retirement or whatever it's called) is just not working out. I did manage to stop teaching large group classes and change my focus solely to individual one-on-one instruction with a few select riders. But even that keeps me working more than I planned at this stage in my life. My wife has forced me to take a few vacations but my phone keeps ringing and I keep saying yes, so I guess I am not retired. Why? Because I love what I do. Over the years I've always said that I will continue coaching until it's no longer fun and man am I having fun! It's hard to say whether I get more enjoyment out of teaching or from seeing a rider improve. Either way, retiring doesn't seem to be an option just yet.
I’d like to take a few minutes to talk about technology. It’s crazy how things have changed over the years; both with the motorcycle and rider technique. It's a snowball effect. As the bikes get better the riders get better. Then, as the riders get better the bikes evolve even further and the cycle goes on and on.
With new technology there are so many ways to check how things are working on the motorcycle. Technology makes it possible to monitor the motor, the suspension, traction, you name it and there’s an App for that or a technology to help make everything better. But today’s technology goes beyond bikes. The more technology we have the quicker riders can learn how to go faster. It's about learning quicker so that you can get faster sooner. Every rider wants to get faster right now and the parents want the same for their kids. Everyone's looking to be the next Ryan Dungey. That's why everyone's trying to find the magic place to send their kids to get the most information so that they get faster sooner. But it’s not really about where you send your kid as much as it is what you do with this new information. And yes at 72, I may be an old dog but I like to stay up to date with new technology.
Gary Bailey's newest client, Cycle Trader Yamaha's Luke Renzland.
Photo: Simon Cudby
Let's start with video. Video has been around for years and is one of the best tools for a rider to use. The problem is few use video to it’s full potential. Video has been around since the 1980s where I was one of the first to use it to study rider technique. I got the idea from football and I started using it with my son David. David and I perfected the process and it gave him a huge advantage to be able to study other rider's technique. We had to shoot video old school and used whatever we could piece together footage. At times I even lugged around a fifty-pound television camera around the track. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. Today there are so many helmet cameras, smart phones and recording systems available that there is no excuse to not be using video analysis.
You can never have too much information to learn how to go faster and video is still one of the best tools at a rider's disposal. That is why all professional motocross teams use video at the races. Throughout my son David's entire career, thirteen years with Travis Pastrana, nine years with Cooper Webb, and many others, video is still one of the best tools in my arsenal. For almost every rider I coach, I use video to review what the rider is doing, both right and wrong, as well as other riders on the track. If a rider can see video of himself riding and then see video of someone that is better or faster, it makes it easer to understand what the rider needs to improve.
Beyond video there are now a lot of great things going on with GPS tracking devices that tell you which lap is the fastest and the rider's line. And depending on the device, this can be accurate down to the inch! You can also determine your speed at any location on the racetrack as well as lean angles, G-forces, jump height and other important data. Some of it is just for fun while other data is key to getting everything out of a particular rider. I think this is all good information; but not alone. I still like to have video so that I can study the rider through the entire lap and see exactly what he was doing that made a particular lap faster or slower. It’s not enough to just know which section or lap was faster. A good coach wants to see the rider’s body position and the timing of everything that made a particular lap the fastest. The key in coaching is not only the ability to determine what happened but more importantly how it happened. GPS data along with video technology allows a good coach to do just that.
With video and GPS data in hand I can now instruct my rider, both at the track and away, as to elements of his riding that are both good and bad. With that I can formulate a plan and we can head to the practice track with very specific goals in mind for that day. And now comes the best part. The new technology of “on the spot” communication systems as a teaching tool.
In my opinion, without a doubt, the best new tool for teaching a rider is a rider/coach audio communication system called Uclear. The great about this system is that I can communicate directly with the rider while he's riding! This gives instant feedback to the rider which is a true game changer for me. With this rider/coach communication there is no waiting for the rider to finish the lap or finish a section and come back and talk. It's an instant fix or at least an instant attempt to fix the problem and make the change immediately. Talk about a timesaver.
What's even better is the system is a two-way communication device so the rider has the choice to talk to me with a microphone mounted in the helmet. Even if you're just doing section timing or lap timing you can instantly communicate with the rider with the Uclear system. And the rider can tell you what is going on from his perspective that the coach might not see like a problem with the bike or something on the track.
The technology is so good that even on the track or starting line with the noise of 40 bikes the rider and coach (or mechanic for that matter) are still able to communicate with little to no problem. Oftentimes I can talk to my rider from across the track better than when he is standing right next to me. And if I have several riders on the track at once I can communicate with all of them through the Uclear unit.
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Finally, from a rider safety standpoint, there is no better way to warn a rider of impending danger than with verbal communication. At many tracks on practice days there never seems to be enough caution flaggers, if any at all. So as long as you can see your rider, you can warn him if someone has crashed in front of him or if you see other dangers like a bike problem or a spectator crossing the track. NASCAR spotters have been doing this for years and now the technology has come to motocross.
If you are a coach or mechanic or just a dad trying to help your rider, two-way communication with Uclear is the way to go. It is a great way to get in the rider’s head and understand what he is feeling at that very moment as well as fixing things on the fly. I can tell you for sure, once you try the Uclear system you will love it and wonder what you ever did without this device.
But Wait....There's More
The Uclear communication system is not just limited to the motocross track. It is also a very capable device for those of you who ride street bikes. If you have a street bike, put the Uclear device in your street helmet and enjoy hands free communication with the person you’re riding with, whether that person is on your bike or riding beside you.
Uclear also works great while on the trail. GNCC, WORCS, Desert riding or just enjoying the trails with your buddies, Uclear is a great way to stay safe and ride together. If someone gets slowed or there is problem on the trail, Uclear is the best way to communicate any problems. If you are the slow one in the group, never worry about being left behind again!
Uclear uses Bluetooth so connecting it to your smartphone is not only easy but convenient as well. Imagine being able to answer your phone or listen to your favorite music while riding. You may think that answering your phone while on the track is silly but think how convenient it would be to pull off the track and take an important call without having to ride to the pits, take off your helmet and find your phone. The more I use this new technology, the more uses I find for it. I even use mine on my headset when I'm out cutting the lawn to listen to music and take those important phone calls because apparently I’m not retired yet.
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And finally, a shout out to Luke Renzland, #46 with Cycle Trader Yamaha. Thanks for being such a good student with such a positive attitude and willingness to put in the work. Good luck buddy!
Thank you for checking out this article. Other similar articles can be found in the archive section. Until next time, ride safe and have fun.
About the Author: After 43-years teaching full-time, Gary Bailey is in semi-retirement and only does private one-on-one coaching or with a small group of riders. Most of his time is spent in Virginia, however, he does spend some of the winter months in California visiting his kids and grandkids. If you are interested in scheduling a coaching session shoot him an email email@example.com or go to his website. You can come to the mountain or the mountain will come to you!
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.