RIDING TIP: Starting From A Stop in Jerome Arizona

July 29, 2020 Tags: , ,

Starting From a Stop in Jerome, Arizona

This was a first for us.  The owner of the school wanted to break away mid-week and go to Northern Arizona to hold some meetings with some staff members.  One of the days we decided to migrate from Flagstaff where we were staying to hit up Sedona for breakfast and Jerome for some coffee.  And, if I’m to be honest, I was promoting Jerome so I could stop in at the Puscifer store to pick up some cool merch (mission accomplished).

While in Jerome, we rode around at a very slow pace due to tourist traffic and found ourselves having to make several starts from a stop while on a hill.  That’s when it hit me.  Being a flat lander in Phoenix, I rarely get the opportunity to practice my starting out on a hill technique.  Along the way I got the bright idea to share what I know with all of you.

puscifer images


We found ourselves in stop-and-go traffic which meant we would have to stop on a hill with the beak of our bikes pointed upwards.  As I came to a stop, I would use both brakes if I felt I could easily balance the bike and myself on just my left foot.  While I prefer using the rear brake to prevent me from rolling back down the hill, I occasionally find myself needing both legs down as the camber of the road made just a left leg down only stop feel somewhat less stable.  This meant I would be using only the front brake.  I could imagine that “gravitationally challenged” individuals with shorter inseams or those with taller steeds may need to scoot off the seat a bit to get an entire foot down.


As traffic would lunge forward, I found the need to use the following elements:

  • Vision long:  I felt more stable if I kept my head and eyes up on the horizon.
  • First Gear:  It might seem elementary, but I caught myself at one point starting out in second.  I was able to make it work, but starting in first gives us the best chance of being successful against the effects of gravity.
  • Friction Zone / Steady, Slightly Elevated Throttle Above Idle:  I talk a lot about needing to have excellent command of your Friction Zone and Throttle during our slow speed maneuvering videos.  It is especially helpful to have command over these two elements when taking off from a hill.  I started with a steady, slightly elevated throttle above idle for a few reasons.  First, elevating the throttle gave me a wider margin with which I can operate the clutch.  By holding the throttle steady, I elminate a variable the brain has to concentrate upon.  Humans are poorly equipped for multi-tasking, so eliminating a variable allowed me more mental bandwidth to focus on clutch control and brake usage.
  • Brake Use:  Not only would I use the brake to prevent me from rolling back down the hill, I would also gradually and progressively release the brake(s) as I manipulated the clutch and throttle and felt the bike moving forward.  If I needed to use the front brake, I found myself using two fingers to control the front brake and two fingers wrapped around the throttle.  Gradual, precise use of either brake was necessary for a smooth take off.
  • Steps:  Also on occasion I found it more stabilizing if I kept both feet on the ground and power-walked a few steps to gain some momentum before bringing my feet up to the foot pegs.  No shame in that game…stability is what is important here, not looks.



Getting ready to tackle starting on a hill is as easy as getting your bike onto some flat ground and practicing all of the elements I wrote above.  Really and truly, there is no need to find a hill to practice…initially.  Make sure you have a good clutch/throttle/brake relationship on level ground before trying to perfect a start from a hill.  From there, find a baby incline and work on that.  Progress gradually until you’re tackling hills with greater inclines.

When you feel confident enough I’ll meet you in Jerome; coffee is on you!

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Bill Seltzer Yamaha FJ-09Bill Seltzer has been a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach since 2003 and a Total Control Advanced Riding Instructor since 2011.  He currently serves as the Marketing Director for TEAM Arizona and is a member of the Arizona Strategic Highway Safety Planning committee.  Have questions or comments about the article?  Email him: Bill@MotorcycleTraining.com


  1. Mike Lee 4 weeks Reply

    The first time I tried to take off on an uphill was in Globe, Az. The stupid light changed in front of me. I was holding the bike in place with the foot brake. When I tried to leave I stalled the bike. I did not release the rear brake enough to allow the bike to move. This article gives me more information on how to manage uphill starts. I have actually used the two finger method. I am also a flatlander from Phoenix and I love riding in the north country.

    • Thank you for sharing your experience Mike! We love hill country especially in the summer too! Thanks for reading our riding tips. Cheers!