99 percent of dirt bike races are won at the start. Now, I don’t know that to be a factual statement, but without a good start and getting a jump on the rest of the pack you’re going to be spending precious time and energy navigating your way around competitors. The key to a good start is keeping you and your bike’s weight low in order to make sure you get as much power to the ground as possible and you are headed in the right direction. In order to keep the frontend low and help prevent it from sky rocketing once the gate drops most riders will install some type of start device on their motorcycle.
Dirt bike start devices or launch devices come in a variety of styles and the way in which they operate, but the basic premise is that you there are two parts: a fork collar and the lock mechanism. The fork collar mounts around the fork tube and the lock mechanism is mounted to the fork guard. It then usually takes two people, the rider and their mechanic/coach/trainer, to help push or pull the frontend down so that the lock mechanism will catch on the collar and keep the frontend compressed.
This two person operation is just one of the things that Pro Taper eliminated when it created its newest part, the Self Engaged Launch Assist (SELA). Still in the prototype phase and not available to the general public, the SELA is unique not only in the fact that it only takes one person to set, but unlike most other start devices this one unit fits all the popular large displacement dirt bikes.
Pro Taper’s SELA features a hinged fork collar and a twisting lock mechanism that turns in like a corkscrew or a helix as Pro Taper describes it. When ready to start a race all the rider has to do is turn the locking knob on the fork guard and then slowly ride and grab the front brake so that the frontend will dive and the collar will pass by the locking mechanism. Then once they start and the frontend compresses again the mechanism unlocks and the suspension works as normal.
The hinged design on Pro Taper’s SELA fork collar not only makes it possible to fit around the forks of various dirt bikes, but it can also be installed without having to remove the front wheel and fork tube. This design makes installation much quicker and easier, and according to Pro Taper, with the addition or removal of the appropriate spacers the collar will fit all the big dirt bikes from the major manufacturers. So that means if you buy another bike you can just transfer the SELA over to the new bike and don’t have to spend money on another start device.
So to sum it up, the SELA is a start device that one person can operate, is easy to install, and takes the guess work out what part will fit your bike. Currently the SELA is being tested by professional racer, Dean Wilson and Pro Taper says they hope to have the start device finalized and ready for the public later this year. We caught up with Pro Taper’s Paul Perebijnos recently and he walked us through the SELA. Check out the video below and let us know what your think?