Riders have found just about every way to have fun in the dirt, from spending a great day riding at the track or trail, to competing in an organized event. Most are introduced to the sport through family or friends, and so their first taste is usually what’s offered them. Often, riders stick with what they are first shown because it’s their “first love” with the sport, because it’s the best type of riding in their area, or simply because that’s what their friends do. But even if you’re already participating in one discipline, it’s great to branch out and try others.

A different type of riding might suit your style better, or more importantly, you just might have more fun. And that's what this sport is about: enjoying your time, getting outside, and putting some thrill into your life. If you're brave enough to ride, or even compete in one of the many types of dirt bike racing, be bold enough to try something new.

Motocross

Often called "MX," motocross is what most people visualize when they think of dirt bikes. It's high speeds on rough, natural-terrain tracks also covered with man-made jumps, berms, and various obstacles. Most tracks have open-practice days and race days. Races begin with riders in a row and a starting gate is dropped—usually one that falls back toward the riders and is segmented so that any racer trying to jump the gate early gets hung up in it while the other racers take off. A motocross race is actually made up of two races, called motos. Professional motos are 30 minutes plus two laps long. Amateur motos usually last between 12 and 20 minutes.

enduro
EnduroShan Moore

Enduro

Enduro racing takes place on a course unfamiliar to the racers that usually weaves through wooded areas. Riders start out by row, usually with four riders per row, and leave the start area at one-minute intervals. Traditionally a timekeeping event, today the pro enduro series and many local enduros just link special test sections (timed) with transfer sections (not timed), and the lowest combined time for all the day's special tests wins the class.

Grand National Cross Country

In “GNCC” each class starts together in a dead-engine start, and the course is a trail loop several miles long. Amateurs usually race for two hours; pro riders race for three.

World Off-Road Championship Series

”WORCS” is similar to GNCC but incorporates a motocross track into the course. WORCS events take place on the West Coast, while GNCC events stay in the East. The WORCS pro classes race for two hours; amateur races are shorter.

Colton Udall
Grand PrixMark Kariya

Grand Prix

”GP” courses are very similar to WORCS racing, but races are usually shorter, at about 45 minutes.

Hare And Hound

Sometimes just called ”Desert Racing,” these events are high-speed desert races that can be point-to-point or long loops. Starts are dead engine, with all the riders in a row.

Supercross
SupercrossShan Moore

Supercross

”SX” is similar to motocross except the tracks are built inside stadiums, jumps tend to be slower but launch the riders higher, and events are run at night under the lights. The race format is timed practices, qualifiers, and one points-paying main event. The main event is 20 laps for the 450 class, 15 laps for the 250F class. Lap times are usually right around one minute each. This is a ”pro only” sport because the jumps and whoops (successive bump sections) are so technical and dangerous.

Arenacross

Arenacross is similar to supercross except that the tracks are smaller so that they fit into arenas rather than stadiums. Starts are also similar, but the narrow tracks have a two-row start, with both rows leaving together from behind a single gate.

Endurocross

Sometimes referred to as "EX," EnduroCross combines enduro and arenacross elements. The temporary tracks are small like an arenacross track, but the obstacles are all offroad based: logs, water, sand, and rock gardens. The racing is done with a starting gate and qualifying system much like supercross. Pro main events go for 12 laps, with lap times about one minute long. Don't let the short duration fool you; this sport is very intense and requires excellent fitness as well as bike-handling skills. The events also hold amateur races on the same track.

Trials

Trials is a finesse event where riders must navigate obstacles that seem impossible—boulders, cliffs, waterfalls, streams, etc. They accumulate penalty points for any time their foot touches the ground. Getting through a section without touching is called "cleaning a section."

McNeil found the finish-line jump
FreestyleMark Kariya

Freestyle

"FMX" is a contest of midair tricks judged for style and difficulty. Riders jump from steel or dirt ramps and usually land on large dirt mounds. Freestyle is a specialized form of jumping, and riders usually perfect new tricks by jumping into huge pits filled with foam blocks. Freestyle has developed subcategories like Best Whip, Speed and Style, and Step-Up (high jump on a motorcycle).

There are other two-wheeled racing disciplines: Vintage racing is old guys on old bikes, though young riders on old bikes are allowed, too. Rally racing is multiday or multiweek events that test high-speed riding ability, navigation skills, and endurance. Hill climbing involves long-swingarm machines racing straight up insane hills. Flat track is large dirt oval racing with high speeds, and speedway is similar but on a shorter oval, with more-specialized bikes. Pit bike racing is “adults” on small, modified kids’ bikes racing on miniature supercross-style tracks...And then there’s the most popular type of riding—trail riding. This is not racing; it’s just having fun riding your dirt bike around on the trails you have available to you.