Updated: Oct 26, 2021
The Rise & Fall of Motocross in America.
I believe that by looking back and recognizing what the changes were and fully understanding what the effects that each change had on the overall direction of the sport that we can address them one by one and fix a lot of the issues in the sport, and for the ones we can't fix we can find creative ways to address them and still find ways to help grow the sport.
In the early 1990's several kids in my neighborhood and myself had small dirt bikes. Back then we could ride right from our houses directly to each other’s houses as well as on some trails near the neighborhood where we lived, we would also make little tracks in nearby fields. This was the normal way of life at that time in most cities and states all across America. And I lived in a suburb of a large metro area not way out in the country. We started out on small mellow bikes like Honda XR80’s and Kawasaki KD80’s, then my friends and I moved up from mellower bikes to racing versions such as Honda CR80’s And Kawasaki KX80’s, and then we all started racing. And then from there we moved up to 125’s.
It was then that things started to change in our area it was somewhere in the mid 1990’s, All the fields that we used to ride in turned into neighborhoods, businesses, schools, and golf courses.
Also Corporate farms bought up a lot of land in some parts of the country, (Urban Sprawl) Now in some states there is almost no land that isn’t privately owned or being farmed. It also became more & more taboo to ride even a short ways down the street to get to riding spots like we had been able to do previously and somewhere along the way it dried up completely.
Now days unless you live in a very rural area or way out in the country, you must have a truck or trailer to get your bikes to tracks to be able to use them, you have to go to tracks that are far and few between and in some cases hours away from populated areas.
My belief is that unless you grew up riding dirt bikes and remained into it and got your kids into riding and racing, Or have a very persuasive friend or family member that is into it and gets you into it that the chances of people choosing to get into motocross racing in its current form and going to buy a bike that is $5000 dollars or more and $1000 plus worth of safety equipment, Helmet, Gear etc.
The chances of that are very slim, who would buy an expensive bike with almost no places to use it?
These are just some of the reasons why dirt bike sales in the USA have declined so dramatically from the 70’s 80’s 90’s to now. a lot of people also blame the change from 2 stroke to 4 stroke and
I do believe that played a part however I don't personally think that it is the sole reason for the decline. I believe It is a combination of things.
Another big change from the 1970’s when they were selling the most dirt bikes and the largest number of people were trying racing they were racing much mellower easy to ride easy to learn on types of bikes and the size of the jumps and the speeds were a lot less.
Also people's perception of the danger was a lot less, now it is considered an extreme sport. Knowing all of that, I think we need to change with the times and I think there are things we can do to help turn this ship around.