skip to Main Content

18 Great Dirt Bike Facts

Dirt Bike Facts

Dirt Bike Facts

1. Dirt biking actually began in the early 20th century as an offshoot of motocross racing.

2. The sport was first introduced to the public through a bicycle magazine called “Le Motocycliste” in France in 1912, and it quickly gained popularity with rural farmers and ranchers who wanted dirt bikes for their cattle-herding abilities on land that was too hard to bring horses across.

3. Some historians suggest that the sport was invented in the San Joaquin Valley of California by Charles E. Van Depoele, who designed the first off-road racing bicycles called chariots.

4. Early dirt bikes could reach speeds of 18 mph, they were powered by 49 cc single cylinder engines.

5. An American named Roy Walker and a Frenchman named Andre Michaux independently designed similar vehicles around the same time in the 1950s – they both used a “singles” engine model which is rectangular in shape with an open crankcase that does not enclose the crankshaft and cylinders.

6. In 1957, Honda Motor Company introduced its first motorcycle called a “dirt bike”.

7. One of the first dirt bikes to use a four-stroke engine was the Triumph, which was introduced in the United States in 1960, and came with a 49cc engine.

8. The motorcycle & tuning magazine “Modified Motor Cycle” started as a monthly publication and became a weekly publication in June 1971. This publication was founded by brothers Richard & Robert Brown, who gained their first bike at the age of seven and started racing at the age of fifteen.

9. The first major modification to have done to a motorcycle was replacing the engine with a larger displacement unit which was installed by Bill Lovick on his Norton at the A&P Auto Parts store in Hammond, Indiana.

10. In the past, there were events called “scrambles,” in which motorcycles vied for positions while scrambling up a slope and then raced each other back down. These events inspired eight-time motocross champion Bud Ekins to create the first modern motocross event which was held in 1956 at Carlsbad Raceway in California, with a reward of $1,250.

11. Dirt biking has evolved into a highly competitive sport worldwide and it is estimated that there are over 20 million riders worldwide.

12. A “drome” is a very lightweight (150 pounds) dirt bike with a 4 stroke motor. There are also bigger version of these bikes with engines ranging from 140cc to 250cc, these can go at speeds up to 100 mph!

13. You are able to compete in events like, motocross or four wheeler racing in the United States or Canada.

14. Dirt bikers also participate in endurance races which can be called “grueling races” because they last for 6 hours or more.

15. When you ride a dirt bike, you will need to have a license if you want to ride on public land where all of the trails are open to the public.

16. Dirt biking is actually a pretty good workout and has health benefits.

17. A pit bike is a mini dirt bike.

18. The AMA Supercross is currently ranked as one of the fastest growing sports in America. The first championship was held in 1975 and was known as “Super Pro” (which was replaced by “Pro” in 1989). There are over 4 million spectators that attend each year at every Supercross event worldwide. Supercross courses are set up in stadiums and last roughly an hour. Supercross events are held in the winter season, which is the off-season for motocross racing and tend to draw a large crowd due to the short amount of time each event lasts.

Brief History

Facts About The First Dirt Bike / Dirt Bikes

The first time dirt bikes were ridden on a race track was in the late 1940s. The sport began to develop in the early 1960s, when promoters in California organized races that allowed for jumps and spills. The first riders began adding increasingly larger engines to their bikes, until they had miniature motorcycles with 50cc engines. Around 1967, a few of these modified motorcycles took part in racing competitions, and young people began to see them as a fun way to travel through the woods. As these races took place on private property, participants did not need a license or any kind of special permission to participate. Races were usually held on Sunday afternoons. Back then, the races were called scrambles, as riders had to navigate their way up and down hills and rocks as they made their way around the track.

In 1967, Bud Ekins created the first organized motocross race in the United States at Carlsbad Raceway near Los Angeles. The race was a huge success and drew over 4,000 spectators. In 1971, motorcyclists from all over California came together to create an association that would promote the sport in a more formal setting. They named it the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA), and met in Reno, Nevada to come up with more specific rules for racing.

1970s

The first four-stroke dirt bike was manufactured by Benelli in 1972. The bike had a 50cc 2-stroke engine and it was called the Mototribu. There were several other manufacturers of 4-stroke bikes in the following years, and in 1974, the first production bike with a 4 stroke engine was sold—the Honda CR110M Elsinore.

In 1975, Mert Lawwill began to work on developing a street-legal version of the motocross bike. His motorcycle company developed an off road motorcycle, cutting off both the front and back of the bodywork to lower the weight of the vehicle so that it could be used on easier terrain. This allowed the rider to move up and down hills and rocks more easily, without getting stuck. In 1978, Honda released the first official vehicle for this type of racing—the MB5. It was a 500cc bike that had a 4-stroke engine. In 1979, Yamaha began to manufacture motorcycles specifically for off-road racing.

In 1976, the first ever endurance motocross race took place in Taft, California after two years of discussing the possibility of such an event. The ten competitors that took part in this twenty-two mile race were on varied types of bikes and had no way to communicate with each other as they rode around trying to make their way from checkpoint to checkpoint.

During the 1970s, companies like Suzuki started to manufacture robust motocross bikes that could withstand the harsh nature of off-road racing. This gave racers an extra edge over their competitors, giving them a big advantage against other dirt bike racers as well as being able to ride longer on two tanks of fuel than most conventional off-road vehicles could handle. Some riders would then use this extra power to pull wheelies or even fly over jumps.

1980s & 1990s

The popularity of motocross increased during the 1980s and 1990s, with the sport’s popularity peaking during the Supercross era. The biggest motocross series is now in America, where Vans has sponsored the Monster Energy Cup Series since 1999. There is also a European championship, inspired by Supercross and held on circuits in France known as the Red Bull Supermoto Championship, and the Motocross world championship, which is held in different countries across Europe at varying times throughout each year.

2000s

In September 2012, the International Olympic Committee announced that motocross was one of eight sports that had applied for inclusion in the 2020 Summer Olympics. The committee announced in June 2013 that an exhibition event would be offered in the 2020 summer games, with five IOC members voting each time to indicate interest in adding any of the proposed sports to the Olympic program. Motocross and golf were not chosen, which led to criticism from motocross sponsors such as Monster Energy and Red Bull. Motocross is now being looked at for inclusion into 2024 Summer Olympics (Paris).

The association with the International Olympic Committee has allowed motocross to have a much larger professional circuit than it previously had, and it has also increased the potential for sponsorship. With the help of companies like Monster Energy and Red Bull, who have become the biggest sponsors for motocross in the world (without actually sponsoring a race), there are more opportunities for riders to be sponsored by major companies who want to promote their products.

Great Dirt Bike Facts

With these dirt bike facts and history, you are now a bit more knowledgeable on the topic of dirt biking and motocross. Here are a few extra:

  1. Dirt bikes are actually relatively safe (assuming you are wearing the appropriate safety gear).
  2. Most dirt bikes are not road legal.
  3. Dirt bikes originated in the UK.

Enjoy these facts and have fun on your dirt bike!

Brett

Over the years, I have grown a passion for dirt biking and all the joys it brings. Now I want to share my knowledge with as many people as possible.

Back To Top
×Close search
Search