Motocross (MX) is an adrenaline-pumping, physically-demanding sport. It is enjoyed by fans across the globe and attracts all sorts of adrenaline junkies and motorbike lovers. Unlike FMX, it is more a racing discipline than an acrobatic show off. Then again, races are visually spectacular, with up to 40 riders packed at the starting line-up.
Here are some things to know before jumping in this thrilling off-road adventure.
Rise to the challenge
In a nutshell, MX is fast-paced motorcycle racing that takes place on off-road circuits. The terrain is rather challenging, as it includes many features like hills, cambers, man-made jumps, rhythm sections technical corners and others. Some people refer to it as a BMX’s motorized big brother, although it also has similarities with FMX (acrobatic displays on the motorcycle).
All contestants must use proper equipment. The standard kit involves a helmet, goggles, gloves, a jersey, pants, body armor, and motorcycle boots. Most schools provide some of these pieces, but it is best to have your own. The good news is that there are various brands like Troy Lee Designs that provide equipment that is well designed, quality and affordable. Just bear in mind that safety is top priority and that aesthetics come second.
Setting the wheels into motions
As for the centerpiece of the sport, the motorbike, you can’t use just any random bike. We are talking about highly-specialized, off-road machines with a long-travel suspension here. Be advised: They are not road-legal. However, some models, such as Honda CRF150RB are quite beginner-friendly. They are full-fledged race bikes but have smooth power delivery.
Note that in the case of a World Championship, the size of the engine determines the class in which one can compete. In general, the dilemma comes down to going for a 2-stroke or 4-stroke bike. Weigh the pros and cons and check websites like eBay that have a wide assortment of rides.
Being in control
Beginners often struggle to get a hold of basic techniques like changing gears and clutch control. Turning can be difficult as well because it requires riders to put on the inside leg and keep it suspended above the ground. Once you manage to master these basics, however, you can progress to handling exercises and technical demands.
One crucial thing you must realize is that the sport calls for a high level of physical fitness. Inner thigh muscles are most important because they hold the grip on the motorcycle. At the same time, the overall stance is dynamic, with a lot of flexibility in the knees. The upper body is both firm and relaxed: This allows riders to properly balance, mitigate the impact of landings, and absorb lumps and bumps.
Through it all, you have to find a way to maximize your speed, which is the key to winning races. Tricks play a part, but taking into account that MX is not as flashy as FMX, they are mostly functional (taking tight corners, gaining a head start, smooth ride over bumps, etc.).
Ahead of the curve
The learning curve may seem intimidating, but there are many places and “taster sessions” that allow you can get the ball rolling. Take the example of MX Experience Track Day, which offers full off-road tuition, Honda Bikes, necessary clothing and protective equipment. Before diving in, you can also watch some video tutorials by professional riders.
Finally, those who want to visit the epicenter of MX should head to Belgium, where the bulk of pro riders live and train. There is a slew of practice venues there and circuits start at $15. Feel free to buy a ticket for World Championship events and see how the pros do it. Crowds are measured in tens of thousands and things get pretty wild.
Motocross is not necessarily a sport that is for everyone. On the other hand, those who are on the hunt for something exciting and daring should find it to be a perfect physical activity.
You can gear up, learn the ropes and start enjoying dirty weekends that are sure to leave you exhausted and exhilarated. Just push the bike gradually, as you hone your basic handling skills and your confidence grows.
Make your thighs burn and heart race. Get the show on the road and kick-start your new exciting hobby.