Essential Riding Tip: Angel’s Pitcher CJ Wilson

Expert Advice -



This week on RideApart‘s Essential Riding Tip we ask MLB Angels pitcher, Mazda Race team owner, and motorsport enthusiast CJ Wilson for his best riding advice.

What’s the one tip you found most helpful when you began riding and how did you learn it?

“The biggest tip I’ve learned is to scan the road at all times for debris or potholes. We tend to ride the same roads over and over again, day in and day out, and it’s easy to space out on giving road conditions your full focus. We do the same thing in cars but cars don’t fall over when you hit a construction cone or pothole, so it’s extra important to stay in the zone when you’re on two wheels. Familiar territory can feel safer, but often leads to us letting our guard down and it’s super important to stay vigilant when we’re so exposed.”

“I learned this from driving race tracks, if I hadn’t made it in baseball I’d be a professional race car driver.” — CJ Wilson

RideApart’s Essential Riding Tip is a new series featuring real world riding tips from notable riders.

Related Links:
Safety: 10 Common Motorcycle Accidents and How To Avoid Them

Riding: 10 Riding Tricks You Don’t Know Yet

Knowledge: The Importance Of Talking To Yourself

  • Justin McClintock

    Number one riding tip for professional atheletes (who aren’t professional bikers): Hang up the bike keys until you’re done making money off your body. See: Ben Roethlisberger, Jay Williams, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jeff Kent, etc.

    • roma258

      Every single one of those dudes was either squidding or drunk.

      • Stuki

        So, hang up the bike’s keys until you are at least minimally sober…..

        • sean macdonald

          CJ is straight edge.

      • Justin McClintock

        Roma, my point is, every one of those guys lost some playing time and a LOT of money because their salary is tied to being in top physical condition and a motorcycle accident took them out of it. I won’t hesitate to ride, but I accept the risks and am not being paid to be able to do anything amazing with my body. If I was? I wouldn’t be riding for the next 10 years or so, except maybe a mini motard on my own private kart track.

    • beefstuinit

      Fun fact – Jordan racing got started because MJ used to like squidding around on a Suzuki in shorts and a tank. One day he was getting gas and some guy who owned a shop / was a racer or something started talking to him and was like dude, you’re going to kill yourself and you’ve got all this money, you can afford to have the ultimate track day setup. This snowballed into him starting a race team.

  • Generic42

    “If you think you are in a corner going too fast, just remember that 90% of riders on the street aren’t near the limits of their bikes. Instead of braking, standing it up, and going off, push harder, lean in, complete the corner go into the next one slower.”

    • Stuki

      Also, 90% of riders have sufficient headroom before lowsiding on the street, that even if they do see a manhole cover or similar sized sandy spot too late, their tires will hook up perfectly well once past it (on a dry day). So, no need to panic and run wide, even if you can’t tighten your line in time.

    • beefstuinit

      This. On the track I’ll hang off and my tires are scrubbed all the way to the edges. On the street I lean off less and use less lean angle. I’ll usually tighten my line by throwing some more weight off the bike and then add lean angle from there if needed. This is why anyone riding a sport bike with any kind of gusto really needs a track day under their belt – if nothing else to have the confidence in the machine it takes to use it properly, and thus avoid bad things happening.

      • Piglet2010

        It is also good to learn what dragging parts feels like on the track with plenty of runoff room, rather than being surprised by having it happen for the first time on the street.

  • kentaro

    Turn your head and look where you want to go when you’re turning. Easy to forget to do, but it consistently blows everyone’s minds how much easier riding becomes by doing this in every msf course (including the advanced rider course).

    • Piglet2010

      What worked for me was not consciously turning my head, but choosing a “target” well down the road to look at.

      At Star School, Pridmore taught us to tighten our lines in a corner by choosing a “target” further to the inside of the turn.

  • Ahsan

    For you more seasoned bunch, can you discuss countersteering and exactly how to go about leaning over properly? I’m always worried about the bike tipping over while I’m leaning, even though I read about how you always have more room to lean than you think.


    • Wes Siler
    • beefstuinit

      Sounds like you’re way to new to be worrying about how fast you’re going. Just go out and ride at a comfortable pace and get the basics down (like looking through corners, avoiding gravel, not hitting cars), and then you can worry about things that involve pace.

    • Matt Mason

      Push the handlebars in the direction you want to go and you’ll counter-steer. Pushing on the right handlebar turns the front wheel left and leans the bike to the right. Push right go right, push left go left. That’s how MSF dumbs it down anyway.

      Just screw around in an empty parking lot and you’ll get it.

  • TraderJoesSecrets

    “If I hadn’t made it in baseball, I’d be a professional race car driver.”

    Nice ego. If I wasn’t a hack advertising copywriter, I’d be an astronaut.

    • sean macdonald

      it’s takes an unbelievable amount of self confidence to throw a fastball at the world series.