Updated: Oct 26, 2020
I Love the sport of motocross and everything dirt bike related and these days I have a strong desire to advocate for the sport.
As we all know the sport has been in decline in participation at the grassroots level for a long time.
I started going online more and more surfing the internet to read about motocross starting in the early 2000's it was my escape in life, but somewhere in the past ten years I switched from reading for enjoyment to really researching and analyzing the sport finding the things that changed over the years.
I studied moto like it was my job, I have thoroughly researched everything about motocross and its history, and now I feel like I truly do have some answers.
It Seems the MIC is looking for some answers as well, they hired the centouric group LLC to do research.
I would love to have a conversation with the MIC and the group that they hired, does anybody have any updated info on how the research is going? are they still working on it?
I have done a massive amount of research on this subject and There are several reasons for the decline in participation, its a rather complex issue but the Same things come up over and over when talking about it, So what went wrong?
Well it was almost a perfect storm of challenges.
These are the most commonly talked about reasons why the sport of MX is Declining in no particular order.
1. The rule change allowing double displacement 4 strokes, that lead to the masses primarily racing four strokes instead of two strokes.
The four Strokes pretty much took over.
The previous 250 class became the 250/450 class, and the 125 class became the 125/250 class.
This rule change and the evolving technology changed the face of the sport.
The four strokes are faster have more torque get better traction and are easier to ride fast on. What's not to like right?
Well there are a few things.
1.They are heavier
2. They are more expensive to buy but they are more reliable as well, but when they do need maintenance or break they are much more expensive to fix.
3. being easier to ride fast is a double edge sword because at higher speed the crashes are more dangerous. and the severity of the injuries has definitely gone up over the years!
Personally I really wish they hadn't mixed the two and that they had left a 125 class that didn't allow 250f's, and a 250 class that didn't allow 450f's, and instead had given the four strokes their own separate classes in addition to the classes that there already were.
I think that is pretty universally agreed-upon now 125's are very fun to ride and a perfect stepping stone for kids coming up from 85cc bikes. But with the rules allowing 250f's to be able to race against 125's it makes it so if you want to be competitive in racing other people of your same skill level you have to have a 250f to be competitive which discourages people that want to race from buying 125's.
I believe even now that every motocross race all across the country should have separate 125 classes AB and C that don't allow four strokes, give the four strokes their own classes. If you aren't doing this now Start immediately, everyone knows that combining the two was a mistake so let's fix the mistake. It gives kids moving up from 85's more options as well as guys that want to race 125's but want to do so against other 125's and not against 250f's, I have done a lot of research and surveys and there are a lot of people that want this. If your club doesn't have a 125 only A,B, and C class you are missing out on a lot of potential growth.
2.The economy/Rising Costs:
with costs rising faster than people's earnings, a large sector of lower middle class and under have been priced out of the sport in its current form.
This one has affected me personally the most. I have had the desire but not the budget for years, with a family and kids I literally couldn't afford to race.
And it's not only the cost of the bike it's also gear, gas for the bike and truck, fee's to ride and race. for me personally even at time's I have had a bike in recent years, for example I bought a cheap 2003 CR125 last summer on craigslist and still couldn't afford to race because all my money that was coming in was going to other bills family needs housing costs etc.
So I do agree that rising costs is why the sport lost a whole bracket of people in the middle class and under with the change from 2t to 4t. and with the changing economy.
Also in my opinion even guys that maybe still had an older bike in the garage and thought about racing but feel a little bit embarrassed with having to race against brand new 250f's or 450f's would it still be fun sure, but people do care about their image. It doesn't seem like it was the same feeling in the past, if a guy had a 20 or 30 year old 125 and came to race against newer 125's it wasn't as drastic, but now they would be lapped very quickly and probably be embarrassed so they just don't do it. perhaps adding a couple vintage classes to local races could help increase participation also. I think it would.
Also some cheaper, simpler bikes, They exist they just aren't being focused on, but we can change that some times its more fun to race slow bike fast than a fast bike slow.
3. Legal issues: Land owners being sued had a nationwide effect and led to many places being off limits, Dirt bikers started getting chased off land, both public and private. Lawyers licked their chops and lawsuits start to proliferate.
The motorcycle industry had made no provisions whatsoever to handle the glut. No land was purchased and set aside. No informational booklets were given to purchasers of new dirt bikes to tell them how to handle themselves. Bikes were loud and noisy in fact, the industry was literally first forced into using mufflers by magazine tests.
(I have a plan to create more riding areas on public, City and County owned property like Fairgrounds and industrial areas)
4. Environmental eco-freak groups Like The Sierra club and Earth first are enemies of dirt bikes. Rick Sieman said "We have never counter-attacked our enemies. We know who they are, and it now becomes a matter of priorities. The days of sitting back and hoping that your favorite riding area will be open next week are over. We either fight back or risk losing it all."
They have their opinion and we have ours, what they are doing better than us is organizing, people want to be part of a group, and people want to get behind a movement,
I have a plan to create a Motocross Movement, will you get behind it ?
5. The Tracks:
The tracks have become much more extreme going away from the natural terrain tracks of the 1970's, they now have a lot more and a lot bigger jumps, It happened somewhat gradually over time as the bikes evolved and became more and more capable, but now to be a beginner on some of these tracks is a bit intimidating. it's... like going to your local airport 'Prepare for liftoff!..
I heard Brian Deegan say on podcast recently that even he wasn't sure he was gonna let his son Haiden AKA Danger boy race motocross at first because he thought it was getting to Dangerous and he didn't want his son to get hurt.
if that is Coming from an ex pro racer and pioneer of Freestyle MX ....What do you think the general public is thinking?...
People want more natural terrain tracks, and they are speaking with their wallets lately by doing hare scrambles, Vintage and pit bike racing, instead of motocross, people want less dangerous options,
I have plans that will help create more natural terrain tracks.
6. The Danger:
Let's face it its always been a dangerous sport, its part of the excitement even! But with the evolution of the bikes and tracks the level of danger is at an all time high.
if a new person wants to race motocross where does he fit in? What bike is he supposed to ride a 250f?
In some cases guys maybe even start on a 450f if that's what his buddy's ride or the others in the vet class depending on his age, but if the beginners get hurt are they coming back? Less new people is already a big problem.
Not to mention the severity of the injuries these days.
Back in the 1970's I don't think people thought there was a chance of death or life changing injuries the second they thought about motocross. These Days guys are breaking hips.
It is a dangerous sport, it always has been and always will be, but there are things we could do to help, especially to help beginners, and dads that want to get out there but don't want to go the current speeds. I believe more options are needed and I have plans that will help.
7. Public perception:
In my opinion this relates to what people have seen on TV over The years which is only the most extreme parts of the sport. Watching Travis And the freestyle guys at the X games and Watching Eli Tomac Lay it flat over the triple's is awesome and very high in entertainment value I agree,
I love watching the pro's ride and I can totally see why the media outlets would want to show the most extreme parts the biggest jumps and crashes. But people aren't looking at that side of the sport and thinking I can do that, or I want my kid to do that.
In my opinion it needs to be more relatable, we as a whole need to show that side the relatable side.
I feel like the same happened in NASCAR over time. it started as a sport that guys saw and thought I could do that but Watching a NASCAR race now not so much. Do you watch a Nascar race and think I'm gonna give that a try next month?
I believe that there are things that we could do to help, if we rally together combine resources and do some nationwide promotions. Show things that make people say wow that looks fun, I could do that! And I an working to create something that will bring us all together to work on this.
8. Lack of places to Ride:
Or Having to pay to have a place to ride every single time you ride,
if you don't have your own track or land or know someone with a private track you literally have to go to open practices and pay every time you ride, Don't get me wrong I Think its super cool that the option is there to be able to ride on a nice groomed motocross track. I am just pointing out that if that is your only option that could get expensive very quick. And some race tracks are only open on race day.
When I was a kid we would ride every single day after school at tracks we made on vacant land near our homes and there is no way that would have happened if we had to pay each time. and I honestly don't think my dad would have bought a dirt bike under those circumstances.
In our area and a lot of suburbs of bigger cities we lost most of our riding areas to Urban Sprawl. And we lost most of the open land farther outside of the suburbs to Corporate farms.
In some states in the Midwest now there is very little land that isn't privately owned, it is mostly fenced or being farmed. I personally tried to find a vacant field or any place to make a turn track last summer and I couldn't find that so now in my particular area I can't find anywhere to ride other than the actual motocross track.
9. A lot of people blame Computers iPad's, Cell phones video games, and some blame the kids themselves they say the kids are just different these days and just don't want to go outside.
This one I disagree with personally, when I grew up in the 90's we had Nintendo. sure some kids wouldn't want to ride but I think a large percentage of them would.
I don't personally think it's the kids I think they just are not being given the opportunity due to the other reasons on the list, like lack of places to ride, cost etc.,
I have a 10 year old son now and when talking to his friends I am very surprised how little kids even know about motocross these days,
and just seeing others do it also draws more people in people are monkey see monkey do type creatures and in some areas you just don't see it at all anymore.
I honestly think if you go offer a couple of 10 yr old boys the chance to ride a couple XR75's on a turn track in a field a very high percentage would want to do it in my opinion.
just riding a dirt bike for the first time isn't happening the ways it used to. So to get people to try it I believe we need to create ways for that to happen, and I believe that I have ways we can make this happen at scale all across the country.
A lot of people insist that the Four stroke era is to blame, and say that it was the beginning of the end, mostly citing cost, and while I agree cost is an issue and I know first hand that it is because it's the biggest issue for me personally.
I am still not 100% sold on that being the main issue, and it's definitely not the only issue, since the recession of 2008, most other things have bounced back, including other expensive things such as expensive Mountain Bikes and e-bikes also Four Wheeler's and Side by sides for off road. there are models that are very expensive, and selling very well, and overall the economy is up, so What does that say for motocross ?
Another area that is struggling with sales is the street bike market, bikes like Harley Davidson and Indian motorcycle.
And I think that is directly related to Motocross and dirt bike riding, think about it, it has been in decline for 30 years, those kids that grew up in the 70's and 80's riding dirt bikes got the bug, the love of motorcycles, and they are the kids that grew up and bought Motorcycles.
For almost 3 years I have studied and worked on trying to find ways to overcome the issues in the sport of motocross in order to find ways to turn things around and find things we could do to get the sport to start growing again. And I feel very confident that I found what i was looking for however I live in Minnesota which is not exactly the hub of the sport so haven't had a chance to talk to anyone in the industry yet. I am wanting to talk to people in the industry and together put some things into action that will help introduce new people to the sport of motocross and dirt bike riding in general. please join me at
If you have ideas on ways to help the sport of motocross grow that you want to share please reach out.
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