In the world of extreme motorsports, FMX Freestyle Motocross stands alone. In this high-adrenaline sport, competitors aren’t racing each other but hoping to catch the eye – and high scores – from the judges with big tricks. They go airborne on purpose and the bigger the air, the better the score and the greater the opportunity to pull off difficult stunts.
Riders most often use modified motocross bikes with after-market parts in an effort to lower the weight while improving performance. Engine and mechanics are stock and similar to a racing model, but these bikes have very strong suspensions and high quality tires. Many riders make specific changes to the bikes with their anticipated stunts in mind: shortening the width of the handlebars to make it easier to put their legs around them for a trick known as “heel clicker,” or adding a steering stabilizer to keep the front tire running straight when a move requires them to let go of the handlebars.
Riding gear is the same as what MX racers use, including helmet and goggles, gloves, boots, jersey, chest protector and MX pants. Most drivers supplement this gear with elbow and knee pads, or add body armor pieces to protect their chest and legs when they perform dangerous maneuvers like double back-flips.
Freestylers practice their big-air tricks with help from a foam pit. These can vary in size, but are normally a rectangular box filled with shredded and cubed foam. The rider takes off and jumps from a ramp, executing a softer and safer landing in the pit. Ramps are usually made out of metal so the lip is consistent.
There are two main types of events: big air and free style.
Big Air is where the rider gets two jumps, usually covering more than 75 feet, with takeoff from a dirt-covered ramp. Judges evaluate the style, originality and difficulty of the tricks performed and they score the rider on a 100-point scale. The highest score of the two jumps counts, and top score wins.
Freestyle is where riders perform two routines that last up to 14 minutes over a course consisting of multiple jumps of varying length and angles. Many courses cover about two acres. Judges are scoring on a 100-point scale, and looking for variation over the jumps and the number and difficulty of the tricks the riders perform over the course.
As the sport continues to grow in popularity and riders are challenging themselves with ever more complex tricks, there are notable Freestyle events all over the country.
Freestylers’ skills are on display at events including Red Bull X Fighters, Night of the Jump, the X Games, Big X, the Moto-X Freestyle National Championships and the Dew Action Sports Tour among others.
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