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Motorcycle racing has continuously evolved from the early days. During those times, two or more motorcycles were raced against each other to prove who had the better machine or who the better rider was, minus all the guidelines and safety protocol of modern day racing.
The goal is still the same but the form of sports has evolved drastically. Motorcycle manufacturers have been making motorcycles specially to race or rather purpose built.
Let's take a look at the top forms of motorcycle sports that are held in different parts of the world. Some are well known, some are nothing short of punishment, whereas a few look like a waste of cash and time, but are equally important for one reason—it's motorcycle racing!
The story continues in the next section. Click through the slides for more:
The story continues in the next slide.
1. Motorcycle Grand Prix (MotoGP):
The MotoGP is the highest form of motorcycle racing. Motorcycles that are used are prototypes that are not based on production models. Motorcycles used in this sport are purpose built racing machines.
In the MotoGP class, 1000cc motorcycles are used, whereas 600cc motorcycles and 250cc four-stroke motorcycles are used for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes respectively.
2. SuperBike Racing:
"WIN ON SUNDAY, SELL ON MONDAY". As the saying goes, Super Bike Racing uses highly modified production model motorcycles for racing. Only four-stroke motorcycles are allowed to race, while four-cylinder motorcycles have to be between 750cc and 1000cc. Twin-cylinders have to range between 800 and 1200cc. This form of racing is very popular among manufacturers as it helps them promote their products.
3. Super Sport Racing:
Super Sport Racing uses highly modified production model motorcycles again, but engine capacities range between 400cc and 750cc, depending on the number of cylinders. The rules and regulations are much tighter compared to that of SuperBike Racing.
4. Moto Cross (MX):
Motocross is an off-road racing event. It is conducted outdoors, on enclosed circuits made of mud, sand and gravel. It is a very demanding sport that will be held in any weather condition. KTM, Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha and Suzuki are five of the biggest manufacturers that regularly take part.
5. Supercross (SX):
Supercross is a similar form of racing to Motocross, that is held indoors. The track is made of dirt again, but has shorter straights, more jumps and is much more technical compared to Motocross. Both these sports used motorcycles that are very different. These motorcycles have longer travel suspension and are very light.
6. True Road Racing:
True Road Racing are races that are held on public roads that are closed or barricaded. One of the very famous True Road Racing event is the Isle Of Man TT. More such races are held in Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, the Czech Republic, New Zealand and Macau.
7. Endurance Racing:
Endurance Racing tests the ability and durability of man and machine put together, instead of sheer speed. These races can either be set to cover a certain distance in laps, or cover a certain distance in the given time interval. Endurance races take place mostly in surfaces other than tarmac. One good example of an Endurance race is the Hare Scramble.
Supermoto is another race that evolved from Motocross. The motorcycles used look very similar to Motocross bikes but with road tyres. Dirt and tarmac sections are present in the same course. Riders drift their motorcycles when cornering.
9. Cross Country Rally Racing:
This is one of the toughest forms of motorsport itself. Riders have to cover long distances, across countries in some cases, with the help of a GPS that is provided. It is a set course. The person who covers point A to point B with the quickest time wins. These races go on for days together. One of the best examples for this form of motorsport is the Dakar Rally.
10. Speedway Racing:
Speedway racing takes place in an oval dirt ground. Up to six riders compete against each other at times. The track basically consists of four left handers, while the motorcycles have one gear and no brakes. The only way to go around a corner is to power slide.
11. Trials Racing:
Motorcycle trials or observed trials is a very popular form of motorcycle sport in the UK and Spain, with competitors from around the world. This is not a speed-oriented race but rather a race that challenges riders to overcome obstacles without placing his legs on the ground. It involves jumping up and down obstacles. The motorcycles themselves are very light, have no seat and have short suspension travel.
12. Drag Racing:
Motorcycle Drag Racing or popularly known as Sprints is all about speed. Two riders line up and shoot down a straight quarter-mile stretch of tarmac. These motorcycles are extensively modified, and some even run on nitro methane, and produce over 1,500 horsepower! The motorcycles can cover 60 feet in less than a second, reach speeds up to 200 mph in 660 feet, and cover the entire stretch in just 5.709 seconds.
13. Hill Climb:
Motorcycle Hill Climb is a sport in which highly modified dirt bikes race up a really steep hill. The fastest rider who conquers the hill is the winner. The dirt bikes are modified with longer swing arms and some even run on nitro methane.
14. Freestyle Motocross:
Freestyle Motocross or FMX is a sport where riders competitively perform stunts to impress judges. Participants perform extreme acrobatics with their motorcycles in mid-air. Score is based on style, trick difficulty, and originality. The rider with the highest score out of 100 wins.
15. Motorcycle Gymkhana:
In this form of motorcycle sport, riders compete with each other on a set course, restricted by cones and other obstacles. They have to maneuver the motorcycle with precision along the course, which has very tight turns, so speed involved in this form of racing is very low. The fastest rider to clear the course is the winner. Any type of motorcycle is allowed as long as they are street legal. They are stripped down to make them light, along with a few modifications made to improve handling and slight performance tweaks. This is a very famous sport in Japan.
16. Pocket Bike Racing:
Again, a very popular sport in Japan. In this sport, riders race miniature motorcycles around race tracks. The motorcycles used are 40 to 50cc two-strokes, that produce between 2.4 to 17 hp, and have an impressive top-end that can reach 126 km/h. The motorcycles weigh only around 23 kilograms. Both kids and adults race in this sport.
Some of the top-of-the-line miniature motorcycles made in Italy can cost up to USD 7,000 (4.42 lakh)! Think it's kid's stuff? Well, even Valentino Rossi thought it apt to learn the sport!