The thing I love about motorcycles most is the way that a humble form of transport has evolved over the years to spawn an incredible array of different sports. One of the more recent developments which I’ve increasingly come to enjoy is FMX, or freestyle motocross to use its full name.
If you haven’t stumbled across FMX yet, here is a quick rundown of the basics. FMX is a sport that has evolved from regular motocross into its own event. Unlike motocross where riders race each other around a track, FMX involves riders performing airborne tricks and stunts over a purposely built course of wooden ramps and huge dirt jumps.
These courses are usually specially built in stadiums and due to their compact nature make for a thrilling spectacle as both a live event and as a TV broadcast.
What is FMX?
In FMX, riders score points based on the difficulty and variety of tricks they perform whilst flying through the air. Many of these stunts are originally devised by BMX riders and there is currently a lot of cross pollination between the BMX, FMX and Slopestyle Mountain bike scenes as riders borrow ideas and inspire developments. However these tricks and stunts are much more difficult to perform on a motocross due to the speed they travel and how much heavier the bike is.
The riders take turns in traveling up and jumping off the ramp while carrying out tricks and stunts. The stunts are watched and rated by judges based on its level of difficulty, how original the stunt is and on the style it’s executed. The judges then rate each jump on a scale from 0 to 100.
Main differences between motocross and FMX
Although FMX uses many of the same aspects as standard motocross such as the bikes and ordinary motocross tyres, the sport itself differs drastically. Motocross tracks usually involve riders going up jumps while racing each other around, but it is only a small part.
FMX can be more dangerous than ordinary motocross as the jumps are much higher in order to give the rider more time to carry out a stunt. The stunts themselves are dangerous; riders who are unable to pull them off correctly will normally crash when they land. Falling from such a height can easily be fatal.
Stunts in FMX
Riders perform all kinds of stunts in FMX. The vast majority of these stunts are acrobatic in nature and involve the rider leaving the motorcycle in mid-flight, doing a trick and then getting back on it before landing.
In addition whips and flips demonstrate the riders’ control of the machine. Back flips are impressive enough however the biggest stunt in FMX is the front flip. Many riders have attempted it, but only a relatively small number can successfully pull it off.
The protective gear used in FMX is very similar to ordinary motocross gear. A regular MX helmet with goggles will be worn, along with body armour and MX boots.
Protective gear will help should a stunt go wrong, but it’s not guaranteed to save a life. Some riders will look at this and decide not to wear any or little gear when performing stunts – however the gear can help and is heavily advised to be used.
Although the bikes used will begin as standard motocross bikes, riders will often do modifications to reduce the weight and make it easier to carry out stunts. Modifications are often done to the handle bars to make them easier to perform stunts that use them. Using steering stabilises and to help keep the front wheel steady is normal.
FMX and freeriding
FMX originally came from the less structured sport of freeriding. It’s considered that freeriding requires more skill than FMX as it’s not done in an area designed for it or using designed ramps.
Freeriding is done by riders jumping from naturally made jumps in the land. They’ll usually have less time to complete the stunt as the jump will be smaller than on a proper ramp.
This post was written by James Harper on behalf Ride Direct, who supply MX boots and motocross tyres.