Dirt bikes can mean different things to different people. Some might see them as an escape from the humdrum of everyday life, while professional jockeys see their horses as thoroughbred racing machines with enough horsepower to blow their arms. In season, these competitors will line up nearly every Saturday from January through May, racing on man-made tracks built inside football and baseball stadiums — and a NASCAR supercharged track.
This spring, we had the opportunity to get up close and personal with the sport during the New Jersey Supercross, hosted inside MetLife Stadium — home of the New York Giants and Jets NFL teams. Instead of perfectly groomed turf, the field was strewn with ultra-fine features that give even the best riders a run for their money.
Keep reading for a detailed breakdown of the sport, and why you should consider watching — if you aren’t already.
what’s in a name
Before we get started, there is one big difference to make that is the difference between supercross and motocross.
- Motocross (MX) It is as grassroots as dirt bike racing. The best players in the sport got their start riding and racing motorcycles. These trails are relatively long – next to a super cross trail – with high speeds and mostly natural features built into the existing terrain. The obstacles may not be as technical as the ones you see on a supertrack, but riders tend to go faster for longer on an MX track.
- Supercross The races feature man-made tracks that are essentially a much shorter, “amplification” variation of motocross. These tracks are compact and built from dirt brought to football and baseball fields as well as NASCAR super-fast tracks. From a distance, these may look like intense motocross tracks, but the features are much larger and steeper—meaning riders take much greater risks.
To the untrained eye, all dirt bikes will probably look very similar. And you are not mistaken. However, there is much more than meets the eye. First comes engine displacement, which for the purposes of this article can be separated into two categories: 250 cc and 450 cc, both of which are measured in cubic centimeters.
- 250cc bikes It has less power and is much easier to control than the larger 450cc monsters used in the premier class.
- 450 cc bikes It is the fastest and most powerful bike in the series. Being heavier and more powerful, they prove more difficult to control and are therefore meant for the very best.
Racers on 250cc bikes are divided into two leagues, one that races on the East Coast and the other on the West Coast. Meanwhile, the fastest 450cc dirt bikes are vying for the premier championship and attending all rounds.
Although super tracks may look like distilled motocross tracks, there is a lot more to it than meets the eye. Ultra-fine special features—like the backs of dragons, whoops, quads, etc.—are sharper, which means the bikes need to be incredibly stiff to handle the most aggressive impacts. If it is too soft, the suspension can go through all of its travel (or bottom) and sent the contestant over the bars. not good. Mechanics is constantly adjusting settings (things are more complicated than just files harsh or smooth) to find the ideal setting for the rider.
When we talk about suspension setup, dirt bikes have two shock absorbers: the shock and the fork.
- fork: Those two beefy tubes at the front of the bike’s front cushion traces. Often called inverted forks, you’ll notice that the actual moving part is at the bottom and not the top – unlike what you might see on a mountain bike or trials bike.
- shock: The shocks in the rear use a spring and damper to dampen the impacts of the rear wheels. Unlike forks that are directly attached to the front wheel, the rear wheel uses a swingarm To call shocked.
Supercross race formats can be a bit of a scratch if you’re new to the sport. Fortunately, the procedures are much simpler than you might think – for seasoned supercross fans, we won’t get past the Triple Crown format. Basically, there are qualifying sessions leading up to the heat races, which determine the grid for one final event at the end of the night – often referred to as the The main event or night show.
- Timed Qualifiers The sessions help set the grid for the upcoming heat races, with the fastest riders choosing their gate first and the slowest riders choosing last. A good rule of thumb is to position yourself on the inside of the first corner – but not too far back, because you’re running for the chance to cut out.
- Heat races is the first actual competition of the weekend – shorter sprint races where the top nine finishers advance to the main event. Those behind 9th place will go to the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ) where the top 4 finishers advance to the main event.
- Last Chance Qualifiers (LCQs) They are often the most entertaining races of the weekend. Featuring mostly pirates – riders who pay their way into racing – these guys and girls have nothing to lose, which means that the races often feature pretty poor output and a healthy amount of contact.
- main events She is the big show every night, which every contestant wants to be a part of. The longest and most important race of the night, it is also the only race that awards points toward the Supercross Championship—which is awarded to the rider with the most points at the end of the season.
Why you should watch Supercross
Now that you know more about the sport of supercross, you might be wondering why you should tune in. As someone who didn’t start watching SX until recently, I can say that the race is some of the purest I’ve seen – and amazing to witness. If watching the best dirt bike racers in the world pop bars for 20 minutes (or 15 minutes for a 250 second) doesn’t put you on the edge of your seat, I don’t know what will.
For me personally, seeing riders blast through a massive rhythm section—with jumps of up to five feet, sending riders up to 65 feet in the air—is amazing. Not to mention, the consequences of getting things wrong are equally astounding. Supercross racers are absolute champions who lay down their lives and luxury On line almost every weekend. Impressive stuff.
While the 2023 Supercross Championship finale wrapped up here in the States in May, there are more SX races coming this year. the World Supercross Championship She will run six rounds from July through November this year. We will also have the last three rounds of Super Motocross Championship Ends in November – which is said to be a mix of supercross and motocross features. It must be fun!
Matt Crisara is an Austin native with an unquenchable passion for cars and motorsports, both foreign and domestic, and as the Automotive Editor for Popular MechanicsHe writes the majority of auto coverage across digital and print. He was previously a contributing writer for Motor1 after his training at Circuit Of The Americas F1 Track and Speed City, an Austin radio broadcaster focusing on the world of motor racing. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Arizona School of Journalism, where he raced mountain bikes with the university’s club team. When he’s not working, he enjoys racing sims, FPV drones, and the great outdoors.