Motocross is one of the most ultimate off-road sports activities and dates back as far as the early 1900’s, some sources suggest that it started in the UK branching out further into Europe and into Canada.
A bit of history
Over the years the popularity grew and inevitably the US took the lead when it came to involvement into motocross with the AMA circuit still being the top professional circuit in terms of prestige and money. When it all started, things were very different, the tracks were very basic, the bikes were almost the same as what you would see on the roads too. Essentially the bikes were just tweaked a little bit rider had some extra protection and were sent on their way!
The bikes themselves were reasonably ‘basic’, most were between 50-250cc around the 1950’s and whilst reliability was ‘ok’ on the road you can only imagine some of the trouble the riders would come up against when racing these things off road. Overheating was one of the most common issues, body work and even frames wouldn’t hold up to the punishment they were put under, even so the sport continued to grow.
In the 1970’s there was a major growth spurt, mainly down to the interest and involvement from the US bringing with it an increased focus on research and development into the bikes and their ability to perform as tracks became more and more technical. Work was needed to improve the reliability of the bikes as well as their safety, especially when it came to the safety of the riders and the spectators coming to watch these ‘supermen’ hurtle around the dirt tracks, over bumps and jumps at great speed.
Fast forward to today and the evolution is truly amazing, companies like Yamaha with the Yamaha YZ450F monster edition which is a sheer thing of beauty. Using a 4 stroke 450cc engine, fuel injection, the latest in suspension technology and advanced racing technology from Yamaha, super strong chassis and framework, a perfect example and tribute to the years of innovation that have gone into the sport.
A quick look into the history and at the bikes of years passed compared to the Yamaha might make your jaw drop, it can be very hard to see where the similarities lie. That and comparing the tracks that used to be raced upon compared to today, no wonder so much time and effort was needed to evolve the equipment, it’s a wonder how the riders manage to do what they do.