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Motocross is a form of off-road motorcycle racing held on enclosed off-road circuits. The sport evolved from motorcycle trials competitions held in the United Kingdom.[1][2]


Motocross first evolved in the U.K. from motorcycle trials competitions, such as the Auto-Cycle Clubs's first quarterly trial in 1909 and the Scottish Six Days Trial that began in 1912.[1][2] When organisers dispensed with delicate balancing and strict scoring of trials in favour of a race to become the fastest rider to the finish, the activity became known as "hare scrambles", said to have originated in the phrase, "a rare old scramble" describing one such early race.[1]The%20Guinness%20book%20of%20m]]Though known as scrambles racing in the United Kingdom, the sport grew in popularity and the competitions became known internationally as "motocross racing", by combining the French word for motorcycle,, or [1]Camberley Surrey[[CITE|undefined|]] lly in Britain where teams from the Birmingham Small Arms Company (BSA), Norton, Matchless, Rudge, and AJS competed in the events. Off-road bikes from that era differed little from those used on the street. The intense competition over rugged terrain led to technical improvements in motorcycles. Rigid frames gave way to suspensions by the early 1930s, and swinging fork rear suspension appeared by the early 1950s, several years before manufacturers incorporated it in the majority of production street bikes.[[CITE|undefined|]] The period after World War II was dominated by BSA, which had become the largest motorcycle company in the world.[[CITE|undefined|]] BSA riders dominated international competitions throughout the 1940s.[[CITE|undefined|]]

In 1952 the FIM, motorcycling's international governing body, set up an individual European Championship using a 500 cc engine displacement formula.[[CITE|undefined|]] In 1957 it was upgraded to World Championship status.[[CITE|undefined|]] In 1962 a 250 cc world championship was established.[[CITE|undefined|]] In the smaller 250 cc category companies with two-stroke motorcycles came into their own. Companies such as Husqvarna from Sweden, CZ from the former Czechoslovakia and Greeves from England became popular due to their lightness and agility.[[CITE|undefined|]] Stars of the day included BSA-works riders Jeff Smith and Arthur Lampkin, with Dave Bickers, Joe Johnson and Norman Brown on Greeves. By the 1960s, advances in two-stroke engine technology meant that the heavier, four-stroke machines were relegated to niche competitions.[[CITE|undefined|]] Riders from Belgium and Sweden began to dominate the sport during this period.[2][5] Motocross arrived in the United States in 1966 when Swedish champion, Torsten Hallman rode an exhibition event against the top American TT riders at the Corriganville Movie Ranch also known as Hopetown in Simi Valley, California. The following year Hallman was joined by other motocross stars including Roger DeCoster, Joël Robert, and Dave Bickers. They dominated the event, placing their lightweight two-strokes into the top six finishing positions.[[CITE|undefined|]][7] Motocross began to grow in popularity in the United States during this period, which fueled an explosive growth in the sport.[[CITE|undefined|]]

By the late 1960s Japanese motorcycle companies began challenging the European factories for supremacy in the motocross world.

During the late 1970s and early 1980s, Japanese motorcycle manufacturers presided over a boom period in motocross technology.

The sport evolved with sub-disciplines such as stadium events known as supercross and arenacross held in indoor arenas. Classes were also formed for all-terrain vehicles. Freestyle motocross (FMX) events where riders are judged on their jumping and aerial acrobatic skills have gained popularity, as well as supermoto, where motocross machines race both on tarmac and off-road. Vintage motocross (VMX) events take place - usually for motorcycles predating the 1975 model year.[13] Many VMX races also include a "Post Vintage" portion, which usually includes bikes dating until 1983.

Major competitions

The FIM Grand Prix Motocross World Championship is predominantly held in Europe, but also includes events in North America, South America, Asia, Australia, and Africa.[14] It is the major Motocross series worldwide. There are four classes: MXGP for 450cc machines, MX2 for 250cc machines, MX3 for 650cc machines and Women's MX. Competitions consist of two races which are called motos with a duration of 30 minutes plus two laps.

The AMA Motocross Championship begins in mid May and continues until late August.

The annual Motocross des Nations is held at the end of the year when National and World Championship series have ended.[[CITE|undefined|]] The competition involves teams of three riders representing their nations.[2] Each rider competes in a different class (MX1, MX2, and "Open"). There are three motos with two classes competing per moto. The location of the event changes from year to year. The United States, Belgium and Great Britain have had the greatest success.[[CITE|undefined|]]

The Maxxis British Motocross Championship is the main UK off-road competition and organised into classes of MX1 and MX2.

A "Veterans" series was introduced in 2009 with just two rounds but the demand for places was so high that from 2011 the Veterans series will have three rounds, held over six races.[18]

Sports derived from motocross

A number of other types of motorcycle sport have been derived from Motocross.

Freestyle Motocross (FMX), a relatively new variation of supercross started by the South African champion, Marco Urzi, does not involve racing and instead it concentrates on performing acrobatic stunts while jumping motocross bikes.

Supermoto uses motocross bikes converted for racing on tracks consisting of three sections: flat dirt, dirt obstacles, and paved road. The bikes have special road-racing tires with grooved tread to grip both the pavement and dirt. Some tracks for these race events have jumps, berms, and whoops like motocross tracks. For special events, the Supermoto track may incorporate metal ramps for jumps that can be disassembled and taken to other locations. Supermoto races may take place at modified go-kart tracks, road racing tracks, or even street racing tracks. There are also classes for children, such as the 85 cc class.

Supermoto began in the US the late 1970s when TV journalist Gavin Trippe envisioned a racing event that would prove who the best motorcycle racer was. From 1980 to 1985, he organized a yearly event called "The Superbikers", which pitted the top riders from three disciplines, flat track, road racing, and motocross against one another on modified bikes raced on special tracks on the television show. Its first exposure to a wide audience came on the American television program ABC's Wide World of Sports

Throughout the United States and the United Kingdom there are many quad racing clubs with enduro and quadcross sections. GNCC Racing began around 1980 and includes hare scramble and enduro type races. To date, events are mainly held in the eastern part of the United States. GNCC racing features many types of obstacles such as, hill climbing, creek and log crossings, dirt roads and wooded trails.

The ATV National Motocross Championship was formed around 1985.[19] ATVMX events are hosted at motocross racetracks throughout the United States.

Supercross is a cycle racing sport involving specialized high-performance off-road motorcycles on constructed dirt tracks with steep jumps and obstacles. Compared to regular motocross, supercross tracks generally have much shorter straights and tighter turns. Professional supercross contest races are held almost exclusively in professional baseball and football stadiums.

The supercross season takes place during the winter and spring months, with races in a different city every weekend.

Sidecar racing, known as Sidecarcross has been around since the 1950s but has declined in popularity since the mid‑1980s. This variant is common in Europe, with a few followers in the United States, New Zealand, and Australia. The premier competition, the Sidecarcross World Championship, is contested on European tracks only and almost exclusively by Europeans.

Motocross sidecars are purpose built frames that resemble an ordinary motocross-cycle with a flat platform to stand on attached to either side and a handlebar at waist height to hold on to.

It is very physically demanding, especially for the passenger.

The major frame builders today are VMC, BSU, AYR, EML and Woodenleg.

Pit bikes are small motorbikes that participants in powersports events use to ride around the pits, which are the staging areas where team support vehicles are located. More recently, they have been used in races held on either supercross or motocross tracks. Numerous performance and aesthetic upgrades are often applied to pit bikes.

Originally, there was only one way to acquire a pit bike.

Pit bikes are powered by 4-stroke, horizontal, single-cylinder engines ranging anywhere in displacement from 49 cc to 195 cc. A typical pit bike is usually a small dirt bike, but it has become common to be able to buy pit bikes with street-style wheels and tires.

Pit bikes are frequently heavily customized with decorative add-ons and performance-enhancing parts.

Pit bikes also have their own separate competitions held with classes generally corresponding to wheel size.


  • TM (Italy), TM holds the largest market share for motocross bikes, outside the major six.

Manufacturers that have ceased production

Governing bodies

Motocross is governed worldwide by the Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme (FIM), with federations in many nations.

  • Australia – Motorcycling Australia (MA)
  • Austria – Osterreichische Automobil, Motorrad und Touring Club (OAMTC)
  • Belgium – Federation Motocycliste de Belgique (FMB)
  • Brazil – Confederação Brasileira de Motociclismo (CBM)
  • Canada – Canadian Motorsport Racing Corp.(CMRC) and Canadian Motorcycle Association (CMA)
  • Czech Republic – Autoklub České republiky (ACCR)
  • Denmark – Danmarks Motor Union (DMU)
  • Estonia – Eesti Motorrattaspordi Föderatsioon (EMF)
  • Finland – Suomen Moottoriliitto (SML)
  • France – Fédération Française de Motocyclisme (FFM)
  • Germany – Deutscher Motor Sport Bund (DMSB)
  • India – Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI)
  • Ireland – Motorcycle Union of Ireland (MCUI) – NB covers the whole island
  • Italy – Federazione Motociclistica Italiana (FMI)
  • Latvia – Latvijas Motosporta Federācija[22] (LaMSF)
  • Lithuania – Lietuvos Motociklų Sporto Federacija (LMSF)
  • The Netherlands – Koninklijke Nederlandse Motorrijdersvereniging (KNMV), Motorsport Organisatie Nederland (MON)
  • New Zealand – Motorcycling New Zealand (MNZ) and New Zealand Dirt Bike Federation
  • Norway – Norges Motorsportforbund (NMF)
  • Poland – Polski Związek Motorowy (PZM)
  • Portugal – Federação Motociclismo Portugal (FMP)
  • Russia – Motorcycle Federation of Russia (MFR)
  • South Africa – Motorsport South Africa (MSA)
  • Spain – Real Federación Motociclista Española (RFME)
  • Sweden – SVEMO
  • Switzerland – Federation Motocycliste Suisse (FMS)
  • Thailand – Federation of Motor Sport Clubs of Thailand (FMSCT)
  • United Kingdom – Auto-Cycle Union (ACU), with other separate bodies like the Amateur Motorcycling Association (AMCA), ORPA, BSMA, and YSMA.
  • United States – American Motorcyclist Association (AMA)

See also

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