Freestyle motocross is a form of extreme sport, in which riders attempt a series of stunts and tricks on motorcycles rather than racing each other. These tricks are often performed at speed and sometimes in the air, creating an element of risk but also providing unique opportunities for personal challenge.

Razi Salih is a fan of extreme sports and has taken part in freestyle motocross as well as other activities such as snowboarding and sky diving. The emphasis in freestyle motocross, or FMX as it is more widely referred to, is more on achieving personal goals and overcoming challenges than on competing with other riders.

There are, however, a number of FMX events in which riders are awarded points from judges for their performance of a series of stunts and jumps. Some of the records currently held for competitive motocross can be found in the embedded infographic.

Main Events

There are two main categories of competitive motocross events that take place. The oldest is the freestyle event, in which each rider is asked to perform two individual routines, each of which may last anywhere from 90 seconds to 14 minutes.

These routines take place over a pre-set course featuring a variety of jumps at varying angles and lengths, providing opportunities for the rider to show off their own unique style and tricks. Judges award points for this event based on the difficulty of the tricks accomplished and the number of variations used.

The second, newer type of event is known as either Big Air or Best Trick, in which riders are asked to perform two jumps from a ramp, usually over an area of over 75 feet. The jumps are evaluated by the judges based on the originality, difficulty and style of each trick, with the highest score for a single jump for each rider compared to determine the winner.

Stunt Training

As with most extreme sports, motocross carries an inherent risk of injury. Practicing stunts safely therefore requires starting small and working up slowly. The PDF attachment offers some tips for beginners looking to get into motocross for the first time.

Some motocross clubs feature specially designed areas for practicing tricks, with ramps and landing areas constructed to minimise risk to the rider should they fall. While elite motocross riders will rarely use machines with less than 250cc of power, newer riders or those practicing brand new tricks will more likely use bikes with a smaller engine, around the 50-75cc mark.

Moving up to bigger engine sizes means the rider can gain more speed before leaving the ramp, meaning the bike will remain in the air for longer. This allows more time to incorporate impressive moves into the stunt before hitting the ground.

Evolution of the Backflip

One of the most impressive and trickiest to master stunts in motocross is the backflip. At one time, it was considered that this particular stunt was impossible. It was achieved on record for the first time in 1991, when Jose Yanez performed a backflip much as he would on his BMX: flipping into the Salt River and killing the engine before hitting the water so the bike did not get damaged.

In October of the same year, Yanez performed the first ever ramp-to-ramp backflip. By 2002, the backflip had become an integral part of the X Games, with riders performing variations that left judges unsure how to score them.

Motocross requires specialist safety equipment for all riders, from beginners to competition winners. The short video attachment gives an overview of the types of equipment required to get started.