In the world of off-road riding, there’s a kinship between riders, racers, and their crews…a Brotherhood of Dirt such as it is. And outsiders sometimes just don’t “get it” when they see us ride or even just heading to the track with our gear.
There are a lot of misconceptions about this crazy sport and the crazy life we live in pursuit of our favorite flavor of adrenaline rush. We took some time to note a few of these and while researching this feature, we found some real nuggets in our ThumperTalk Dirt Bike Forum.
So take a look at what we found to be 7 Funny Things People Say About Our Sport
Number 1: “YOU JUST SIT ON THE BIKE AND TWIST THE THROTTLE
Contrary to popular belief, motocross is among the top 10 most strenuous sports in the world and certainly in the top 5 among motor sports racing. Many other competitive sports such as football or hockey require extreme physical endurance for short periods, but motocross races can last for 20 minutes or more and this requires even more conditioning and endurance training to remain competitive.
Dr. Steven Augustine, DO, a Jacksonville, Florida specialist in action sports competition and injury and has conducted extensive research into this subject and said this about what he discovered:
“Anyone that is involved with the sport or who has ever raced knows how physically demanding it is, yet the average sports fan still believes that the motorcycle does all the work. This wide spread misconception is definitely not the case, as the results speak for themselves. This type of research validates our sport on a scientific level. It gives our sport the respect it deserves in terms of exercise intensity and the fitness demands required to compete in this sport.”
Number 2: “I USED TO RIDE A BIKE BACK IN THE DAY”
Photo: Brad Love
Lots of people who say this have no clue what a modern motocross or off-road bike is or what it’s capable of. When they rode it was on some converted streetbike/on-off machine with bald tires and confined to the backyard or worse yet the street and they shouldn’t be allowed to demonstrate their skills on your machine.
Our forums are filled with stories of inexperienced individuals with cloudy memories who rode “back in the day” being put on a big old 2-stroker and left to it…which normally results in the inevitable huge wheelie, trip to the emergency room and 15 minutes of YouTube stardom.
Number 3: “PLAYING VIDEO GAMES HAVE IMPROVED MY RIDING"
Photo: Sony Playstation Public
Although some studies have shown improved hand-eye coordination from repetitive video gaming, the fundamentals of riding a motorcycle are not addressed.
Let’s think about what it takes to ride a dirt bike:
1) Strength: Not one study has shown any correlation between sitting on the couch and building of any muscle besides some atrophy of the forearm and hand/thumb connection.
2) Endurance: Being able to stay on an off-road bike while in motion for any length of time requires endurance well beyond the casual button push.
3) Balance: A good sense of balance as well as understanding how a motorcycle responds to the rider’s input(s) takes practice and experience to master not provided by the sensory feedback provided by animated video game.
Riding a motorcycle off-road is a tremendously taxing and strenuous activity. Although it may seem that practicing making braaaaaap noises while pushing buttons could be beneficial to your riding, it’s actually counter-productive as you could be using that time to actually ride.
Number 4: “YOU THINK YOU’RE COOL BECAUSE YOU RACE DIRT BIKES”
Photo: Sean Goulart
Actually this statement has a lot of truth to it. 73% of the motocross and off-road racers agreed that they were in fact “cool”. The other 27% responded with a list including “dope”, “wicked fast”, “the best, “fastest in my class” and “Do you even ride, bro?”
Although viewed as bragging or veiled narcissism, and not proven by scientific study, these sentiments seem to indicate that the majority of off-road riders have a heightened sense of self-esteem and self-confidence, which apparently allows them to compete at higher physical level during competition.
Judging by these responses and the unanimous nature therein, this statement seems to hold some basis in fact.
Number 5: “MY (INSERT OLD RACE BIKE HERE)” WOULD GO 100”
Photo: Brad Love
This statement is commonly uttered by that “friend of a friend” who sees your bikes in the truck or garage. There is always some reference to “she was fast” or “they don’t make the old two-strokers like that anymore” and maybe a discussion about different sized powerbands…when you ask them what kind of bike it was the answer is something like “Kawazuki 350” or something like that.
OK, let’s fact check a bit. A stock 1986 CR250 will do about 73MPH at BEST with some wind, a downhill and a fearless rider, a bit more with the right (not Bonneville) gearing. But 100MPH is fiction and unless the “friends” name is Ricky Brabec or Destry Abbott…he’s probably lying.
Number 6: “RIDING A MOTORCYCLE IS SO DANGEROUS”
Photo: Sean Goulart
According to the trustworthy (not) folks at the NHTSA, riding a street motorcycle does result in more injuries and fatalities than driving a car. In 2006, 13.10 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 72.34 per 100,000 registered motorcycles. Motorcycles also have a higher fatality rate per unit of distance traveled when compared with automobiles.
But those numbers mostly (73%) involve both interaction with other vehicles (cars, trucks) and the remaining percentage were single rider accidents (slides, overbraking) and neither of these numbers apply to riding motorcycles recreationally, especially in a race track setting.
We didn’t find any studies that specifically cited off-road rider injury statistics, the New York Times said “The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington, estimated that nearly 51,000 children ages 5 to 14 are hurt annually riding all-terrain vehicles, mopeds and minibikes, with the number also including traffic accidents.
By comparison, the commission estimates that among the same age group there are nearly 81,000 soccer injuries, 130,000 baseball injuries, 172,000 football injuries, more than 193,000 basketball injuries and 340,000 injuries in bicycling.
So, there is evidence that shows that although it can be a risky sport, it’s not the most dangerous and accounts for fewer injuries than popular conception.
Number 7: “YEAH, MY BROTHER’S COUSIN WAS SPONSORED BY PRO CIRCUIT”
Photo: Sean Goulart
Fallacies about what “sponsorship” really means are rampant in motocross. Many riders are casual amateur racers who claim to be “sponsored by xxxxxx” when in reality the truth is a bit different.
Many gear companies use different channels to sell their products. They sell wholesale to distributors (Parts Unlimited or WPS) who in turn sell to retail outlets (ThumperTalk store) and this is the most prevalent “channel” or market system in which to sell their products.
But other channels exist as well. Some manufacturers enter into agreements with sponsorship aggregators (HookIt, MXSponsor) to sell gear directly to riders at a determined discount. Most of these deals don’t rely on your race resume…just pay the money, get the discount on the gear and you are “sponsored”. Well not so much! You’re really just getting a discount based on your membership to the aggregator.
The real world of high level race sponsorship programs have nothing to do with the retail channel and are based more on the trading of sponsor product exposure for free or heavily discounted product, and in many cases it includes actual salaries and cash bonus structures for the rider and the rider’s team based on success.