December 28, 2021 5 min read

Dirt biking and motocross are often used interchangeably. For one, both activities require riding a dirt bike or an off-road motorcycle. Both also require a lot of stamina.

But there is more to these adrenaline-raising outdoor events than meets the eye, making them slightly different from the other.

Motocross is not entirely the same as dirt biking. Although it is a form of dirt biking. However, it is more specific to a racing event held in an enclosed motocross racing circuit. Dirt biking, on the other hand, encompasses all trail riding outside the race.

Using one dirt bike for the same purpose could have several consequences. So, stick around and find out how different motocross can be from general dirt biking.  

Motocross

What Is the Difference Between Motocross and Dirt Biking?

Dirt biking is a general term that refers to riding dirt bikes or off-road motorcycles. Hence, on a technical stance, motocross falls under dirt biking.

However, motocross has established its own identity despite still being anchored to dirt biking.

Simply put, motocross is a specific event under dirt biking. It differs in various aspects particularly on the following: venue, type of dirt bike, and rules.

Venue

Motocross is held in an arena or on a racing circuit with tracks designed with obstacles and changing terrains. The layout contains jumps, hills, drops, turns, step-ups and downs, and whoops.

Generally, the purpose of the terrain design is to allow competitors to show their utmost performance on the tracks.

On the other hand, trail riding does not require any specialized venue. You can ride your dirt bike on designated off-road terrain.

Motocross track

Dirt Bike

Since motocross is a guided sport, dirt bike manufacturers designed motorcycles based on their physical demands.

Therefore, there are key differences between a standard dirt bike used for trail riding and a motocross dirt bike. With that said, bringing a trail dirt bike to a motocross race can affect your performance or the types of maneuvers you can do.

Established Rules

As a sport, motocross relies on specific rules and guidelines. These include safety, eligibility, classifications, penalties, point system, and equipment. Racers are classified according to their age and their level in the classified hierarchy.   

With trail riding, however, rules are not exactly structured or go beyond standard motorcycle riding. 

Furthermore, it doesn’t demand a lot of requirements except of course those concerning safety and precaution.

There is also no specific age limit for those who wish to ride their dirt bike on the local off-road terrain. Naturally, you will have to secure a parent or guardian consent and ride with a group to avoid any future problems with authority.

Still, these all depend on the rules your city or local area established regarding off-road motorcycle rides.

Motocross racing

Motocross Dirt Bike Vs. Trail Ride Dirt Bike

Here’s a key difference between motocross and dirt biking on any off-road trail. Of course, we’re talking about the type of dirt bike or motorcycle you ride on.

They may look the same, but there are vital differences between dirt bikes used for motocross and the ones used for trail riding. Take a look at these distinctive features.

Tires

Dirt bikes are known for their atypical form which includes their knobby tires. For motocross dirt bikes, these attributes depend on the type of terrain.

Special tires with a specific number of treads and paddles are required for tracks filled with sands, dunes, or muddy ground. Overall, each competition provides a guideline on the general equipment suitable for the competition.

However, in general, motocross dirt bikes have smaller tires compared to motorcycles made for trail rides. This way, the weight is lighter, and maneuvers can be executed without too much trouble.    

Suspension

Given the nature of motocross tracks, specifically, the number and rapid encounter with bumps and hills, suspension for dirt bikes used in this sport need to hit the sweet spot.

The shocks responsible for the rebound and compression should be fast enough to prepare for the next bump, but not too fast to avoid any kicks.

On the other hand, a regular dirt bike for off-road trails often has a softer suspension for comfort. The shock system is also in place considering common terrains have uneven ground or extreme obstacles. But, it could have fewer details than that of a motocross dirt bike.

Gas Tank Capacity

Off-road dirt bikes usually have bigger gas tanks. You could even have an extra reserve portion. This design was intended to maximize the time of the rider on the terrain avoiding the need to refill the tank constantly.

Off-road rides often take longer. Sometimes the area is quite remote, and fuel can be inaccessible. Hence, you will need to have a bigger reservoir on your dirt bike.

With motocross, a larger gas tank can simply take up the space and add more weight. Since there could be a nearby gas pump within the venue, there is no need for a larger gas tank capacity as you can refill anytime.

Motocross bikeTrail Bike

Can You Use a Motocross Bike for Trail Riding?

Riding a motocross bike on a trail is not impossible to do. You can choose to use it on an off-road terrain similar to that of a racetrack.

However, on the chance that the available trail near you is too long or contains even more challenging obstacles, it is still best to stick to dirt bikes made for trail rides.

Furthermore, you might be facing several disadvantages when you continually ride your motocross dirt bike on uneven trails.

Motocross dirt bikes, whether they are 2 strokes or 4 strokes, are made for short but strong bursts of brakes and acceleration. This is because motocross circuits have close and rapid jumps in their layout.

Moreover, some motocross dirt bikes still use kick-starters instead of electric starters. Also, since the gas tanks are commonly smaller, you might find yourself refilling every now and then during long rides.

What Are the Other Types of Dirt Bike Riding?

Dirt biking has evolved over the years. It may have started with good ole trail biking, but the adrenaline rush delivered by this outdoor activity was translated into the beloved sports we know today.

But motocross is not the single dirt biking sport you can enjoy. Take a look at these other dirt bike riding competitions.

  1.      Supercross

This dirt biking competition is held in a packed space like a stadium. The tracks are tighter than that of a motocross.

Supercross

  1.      Arenacross

Arenacross takes place in arenas, a smaller version of stadiums. It is closely similar to supercross in many aspects including the showmanship and guidelines except it is even more condensed.

Arena Cross

  1.      Enduro

Enduro dirt biking refers to riding trail dirt bikes on long-distance terrains. The paths are usually very challenging and take a long time to pass through. There is also enduro racing which involves a competitive streak within an official track.

Enduro

  1.      Freestyle

Freestyle is a form of motocross that feature riders doing impressive stunts and jumps such as the backflip.

Freestyle Motocross

  1.      Hare Scramble

This type of dirt biking sport is held on a wooded and rugged terrain. The obstacles are mostly natural objects and dirt lumps occurring in the area.

Harescramble Racing

  1.      Trials

Motocross trials are all about showing remarkable dirt biking skills like balance and throttle instead of speed.

Moto Trials

Summary

Dirt biking is a general term and motocross sits under its umbrella. This is critical whenbuying a suitable dirt bike and its accessories.  It might be tempting to ride the same dirt bike for a motocross competition and trail riding, but it could cause significant damage in the long run. 


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