Dirt Bikes – The Complete History

Waylon Brown

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Dirtbikes have been around for a long time originally just being motorcycles used in trial competitions. The first competition with dirtbikes was in 1912 for the “Scottish Six Day Trial”. As time went on the sport got increasingly popular and boomed in the 1930s. However the first “dirt bike” to be designed and made specifically for not only dirt, but almost all terrain wasn’t made until the 1970’s. It came as Yamaha’s DT1. It had 21-30 horsepower coming from a two stroke engine. While it was far from perfect, it set the stones for future models and was the beginning of the bikes we see today.

There are mainly three things that make different types of bikes. The bikes CC (the engine’s cubic centimeters) can range from 50 to 450, from 25 mph to 125 mph and effects how smooth and powerful the bike is, though it’s not the absolute power decider. Then there is if its a two stroke or four stroke, different but not better or worse than each other, mostly about rider preference and type of terrain the bike will be on. Finally, the producer of the bike. There are many different companies that make dirt bikes but the ones that are most common are Yamaha, KTM, Kawasaki, and Suzuki. They each have their own things they are known for but all make good bikes. The main cc for racing is usually 250 or 450, but there are many bikes for different riders. 50, 125, 150, 250, and 450. Of course there are more but these are the most common. Meant for riders as young as 3 years old.

One common misconception about dirt biking and racing is that it’s easy and doesn’t count as exercise. Studies have shown however that professional racers have been known to be equally or even more physically fit than NFL players. What most don’t realise or consider is the fact that the bikes in motocross, typically 450s, are over 200 pounds and not only that plus your own weight but also the added G-force from jumps and landing being up to 3G, or three times our usual weight. It’s mainly countered by the bikes shocks and the riders legs and spine but not only that but also on two wheels, while trying to go as fast as possible, and avoiding other riders. Not only is the physical strain one of the most intense sports has to offer but also the mental toll that is required to race/ride. The rider has to constantly reevaluate his or her situation at every tiny bump and turn. That and actually reacting to sudden changes that happen all the time means a focus that not everybody can handle. If you are off balance for even half a second it can mean a painful crash and end to your race.

Travis Pastrana got his first bike at the young age of 4 and even then, he showed great skill on the dirt. His parents invested in his interests and although he had numerous accidents and crashes that left him hurt he always made a point to get back on the bike and try again and improve. Born in 1983 he is 34 years old and has won championships and X Games gold medals in several events, including supercross, motocross, freestyle motocross, and rally racing. Pastrana can ride anything, anywhere, anytime. Motocross, supercross, freestyle, desert, flat track. The man can do it all and do it the best. The skills he has on any dirt bike is unmatched.

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