What gear for starts?

What gear works best on starts for the 426, 1st or 2nd? I haven't got to try mine out on a track yet because of the weather,but it seems to have a tall 1st gear.

When first got the 426, I couldn't get consistent starts by using second gear, but a slipping, flakey clutch was the real cause.

After I replaced the clutch, I've been starting in first and have holeshot nearly every moto in my last 16 starts (of course, that's not a great accomplishment, considering the other spodes I race against :) ).

I've actually had to work for the holeshot the past few motos, so maybe I'll try second again, if on concrete or loose dirt. Or maybe it's time for new plates?

Starting in first may not be the absolute, fastest way to the first corner, but it will prevent the two stoke guys from getting the jump, and squeezing you out 15 feet from the gate. If there's no one on either side of you, it may be an opportunity to try a second gear start (you'll need more RPM's for second).

You could try both, and see which works best for you. In any case, good starts are rare when the clutch starts to "slip" a little, and you may not notice it until it finally goes into "perpetual slip" mode.

[This message has been edited by holeshot (edited 12-31-2000).]

I too started with 1st gear starts for a while. Once I went to 2nd gear starts, I'm getting to the 1st turn at the head of the pack usually. Haven't had the holeshot yet but it'll come. The 2nd gear starts definitely require a deft clutch use.

I always use second gear for starts, with a 50T rear. At one race with a short start, I never upshifted to third, and went through the first turn with a nice lead. If you don't holeshot with the F's, you are doing something wrong, or you are not trying hard enough.

if you're gearing is stock, use 1st, i run 14/51, and 2nd is best, although try both with a stopwatch on you and see which is consistently quicker

TMX AND MY DOGS BITE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


For a concrete start, use 2nd, on dirt it depends but I still almost always use 2nd. I almost always get the whole shot too... that is unless there's another 426 with a good rider...


I always use second.

Climb way up on the tank, get over the gate(sure the 2 smokes have a small jump on you)and really concentrate on giving it full throttle.

I get a huge holeshot every time! Im a Vet expert, so race against savvy riders. Just make sure once your over the gate the throttle is twisted to the stops. On alot of starts you wont even have to shift.

i use 2nd for starts...its consitantly faster...just keep that right hand pinned...if the front wheel starts to wheelie sklightly slip the clutch itll bring the wheel down, but dont ever let off the throttle.and you should school em...unless your on a fairly stock 400 in the expert class...then the 2 smokes, or anothe yz pilot will get ya...but the thumpers make such awesome tractable power that starts are easy..just practice them about 3 or 4 times, then go around the track, dont do too many practice starts in one day though youll kill the clutch. ok im out. bye.


I have a '98 YZ400 and last time out I decided to practice some 3rd gear starts. My bike has stock gearing on the rear and one tooth down up front. It was probably all in my head but it seemed like the 3rd gear starts were faster for me and I definitely didn't need to shift before the first turn - no wheelies either. I hesitate to do this regularly though for fear of breaking something internal. Has anyone experimented with 3rd gear starts and what are the possibilities of messing something up doing so?

I've heard of guys doing third gear starts on their YZF, by holding the throttle wide open so it bounces off the rev limiter (clutch pulled in). I can't afford to put new fiber plates in my 426 for every two practice starts, so I won't try it.

The clutch is getting grabby on my 426, so first gear starts are the only way to go right now. I'll be replacing the plates (again) soon, and if that fixes the grabby problem, I'll go back to second gear starts (maybe).

No practice starts though.

I tried 3rd gear starts a few times, it works but you'll get behind at the drop. It feels like you're on a rocket once you're under way and I don't usually need that much speed at the local tracks so I almost always use 2nd and let it rev to the moon...


I allways start on 2:nd.

1:st is to short and jumpy and if You get the right feel of the body position/throttle/clutch combo You will be in holeshot heaven......

On a "normal" straight You will only have to shift gear once and all the 2-strokes will have to shift mmmmmm well about 346 times.

That saves You a lot of time!!!

Once You get the feeling in your spine You will be unstoppable.

In that “How to start your thumper” article in one of the mags recently (Dirt Bike or MXA I think) didn’t both Shane Watts (400 EXC) and Hawkins (WR) say they used first gear for most starts? Maybe Hawkins runs a YZ? I’ve ridden a WR and I can’t imagine starting in granny-gear first on that bike (but I’m not Randy Hawkins).

Also interesting was that Watts used the kickstarter, not the button, for race starts. He said it was faster (I’m sure he would know)…

I’ve never used anything other than second (western-style hare scrambles and desert races though). I usually run 14/47 on my YZ 426. Lean forward, feet in front of pegs, hit the limiter and dump the clutch. Then I usually lean back a bit before I upshift.

I read another “How To Start” article where, I think it was Windham, used the lug on the back heel of his Alpinestars to make the first upshift after the gate dropped. I tried this and it was pretty awkward, it would probably only benefit you if you started in first.

The first year I had the 400, I only started in 1st. After coming off the CR250R, it took me awhile to master 2nd gear starts.

I have now done every start this year in 2nd, with plenty of holeshots in the Novice class. I've never tried third, nor will I, and I've never had a clutch problem.


hick .......

where you from?

maybe we have raced in the desert b4?

dead engine starts out there and 400 is very tricky to start in gear so i usually start it in neutral and as soon as it is fired i do my first reaction which is usually slam it into first and speed shift the rest of the way to 70mph.................

Paul in AZ; sounds like you are new to the competition thing, that's cool. The reason you feel faster in 3rd is probably due to the smaller front sprocket. You are prabably close to 2nd with stock gearing. You must have a good feel for acceleration. Good luck!

I would not try 3rd ger starts. It will tear apart your clutch in a heartbeat. I have friend that tried it on his 520sx and had to replace the bxsket becuse the stock one got mangled from third. I wouldn't do this again.


P.S. He used to race YZs so he knows how this effect them too.


Originally posted by g4racing:

hick .......

where you from?

maybe we have raced in the desert b4?


I’m from New Mexico, I race a few of the NMDRC events every year.

Yes I hate dead-eng. starts and nobody has been able to give me a satisfactory reasoning for their use. So far I’ve been lucky with nothing but first-kick starts (knock on wood). I always start it in 2nd gear, pause a half-sec and then gas it and dump the clutch (on my KX I’d do the same without the half-sec pause).

I warm my bike up fairly well and kill it at the starting line in gear with clutch pulled. I try to keep the clutch in until the start, another (very fast) YZF pilot gave me this tip, this seems to make it easier to kick.

I just raced a GP at LACR yesterday. The other classes have dead engine starts, but the OTMX club gets to have live starts. I think dead engine starts are pointless also, and it is an unfair handicap against four strokes.

Holding the clutch in reduces or eliminates clutch drag by holding the plates apart and allowing oil to penetrate between them.

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