This extremely popular sport (formerly known as scrambling)
is also perhaps the most dangerous of the off-roading categories.
As many as 40 riders race against each other on a circuit
which is roped off, and which includes spectacular jumps
and humps. Duration can vary from 40 minutes for international
Grand Prix events down to about 10 minutes for local club
events. Let's look at the bikes themselves. They have visibly
'knobbly' tyres which come in various compounds for muddy
and hard ground, for grip and to keep the bike driving.
They also have long-travel suspension to absorb the rough
terrain. These highly specialised high-revving motocross
bikes tend to be water cooled, and because of the high speeds
reached have extremely efficient disc brakes fitted front
and rear. Riders as young as 7 can take part in competitions
with organisations such as the BSMA (British Schoolboy Motorcycle
Association), ACU (Auto
Cycle Union), the YMSA (Youth Motorcycle Sporting Association)
and the AMCA. Yamaha,
Honda and Suzuki all produce automatic 50cc-engined bikes
for kids, and KTM and Kawasaki produce a geared 60cc racer.
The most popular form of motocross is Supercross. This
first appeared in America, and takes place in enclosed stadiums,
with various heats leading up to a grand final - often televised.
The bikes are basically motocross machines with a stiffer,
uprated suspension to deal with double and triple jumps,
and a sharper powerband engine to increase acceleration
out of the corners so that they can reach top speed quicker
before taking off over the jumps.
Getting started in motocross can be achieved in a number
of ways. Several manufacturers and organisations run training
sessions where you can try out the sport. If these aren't
run in your area you can always just go out and buy a bike
and take it down to a practice track. This isn't recommended
unless you really are confident in your abilities or have
some relevant experience.
To start racing you will probably need to join a club.
Motocross racing in the UK is largely controlled by two
organisations: the ACU and the AMCA. If you ever buy the
Trials and Motocross News you'll see that these organisations
are constantly bickering, but the relative merits of each
one can probably be measured by which organisation has a
club closest to you. To see which clubs are around, get
a copy of Trials and Motocross News (published every Friday)
and you'll find reports and listing for all UK meetings.
Note that some meetings are open to club members only, others
are open to anybody and still more allow you to join a club
for the day of the race. Note that some club meeting insist
that you have to provide a marshall to be allowed to race,
so make sure your girlfriend/best mate/mum are available...