Motocross is a healthy pastime that could end up making your son or daughter a world champion in the future. It can provide him with many life skills, keep him physically fit and make him a more competitive individual. However, getting him into the sport requires some planning.
To get your son or daughter into motocross, you have to first make sure that he or she has some interest in it by showing him video clips or taking them to the tracks. Once you are sure that they are sufficiently interested in the sport, it is time to get him all the right gear he needs to get practicing.
This article will detail all you need to know about getting your son into motocross. Watch out for top tips on selecting his bike and other riding gear.
Motocross, also known as off-road motorcycling, is a motorcycle sport where dirt bikes are used. It takes place on dirt, grass and mud. The uneven and challenging terrain is one of the things that make the sport what it is. Children getting started in the sport tend to begin with less challenging tracks (sometimes recreated indoors) and slowly work their way up as their experience level and skills improve.
Motocross looks wild or rough sometimes, so it’s perfectly normal to wonder if you should be pushing your son or daughter towards the sport in the first place. Like many actions sports, motocross is a sport where accidents and crashes are going to happen. The saying in the sport is, “It’s not if you’re going to crash, it’s when you are going to crash.” So with that being said, it is inevitably up to the rider and their parents if they are willing to accept the risk the sport of motocross presents.
However, there are many things the rider and support system can do to eliminate some of the dangers of motocross. Simply teaching your child to respect the dirt bike, wearing the proper equipment, and staying in the right mental state while riding can drastically decrease the chances of getting injured.
Also, the level of risk depends on the level of competitiveness you want him to attain. If he’s only going to be riding in the woods behind your house alone or the hills, the dangers are reduced greatly. If you want him to become a regular motocross racer, however, you’ll have to be okay with him taking a bit more risk.
Of course, there is no compulsion to push him towards becoming a racer. He or she can enjoy all the benefits of motocross without ever actually taking part in any real competition. Just riding up and down nearby tracks and hills can still be fun.
However, one thing you shouldn’t do is to put the potential risks of motocross front and center in your discussions with your son or daughter. Some studies show that such conversations may affect the child’s mentality, and could hold them back from ever really embracing motocross, and in some cases, other sports. It could also lead to anxiety, phobias, and self-esteem issues as they grow.
Below are just a few of the top reasons why getting your son or daughter into motocross is a good idea.
In the search for excitement, many boys and girls find solace in video games, movies, series, and animations. Most of these may be unwholesome content with lots of violence. With motocross, you don’t have to worry about your child seeing violence.
Riders are strongly discouraged from direct contact, and there’s often a spirit of camaraderie while out on the tracks. So, your son or daughter get a lot of excitement without the risk of learning any negative behaviors.
It takes a lot of physical exertion to ride a dirt bike, and your child will learn this very early in his career. This will help nudge them towards more healthy living as they grow. The healthy habits they pick up in a bid to stay in the right shape to control their dirt bike can last a lifetime.
There aren’t many kids that take up motocross, so you can be sure that when your child finds other kids on the tracks, they will start building a relationship that can become really stable. In fact, such relationships are often vital in making them take the sport more seriously.
Like other sports, no one becomes good at motocross without dedication. As your child learns to conquer larger challenges on his or her dirt bike, they build a strong work ethic that can help them accomplish a lot of things in the future.
The clutch, throttle, and brakes on a dirt bike are a perfect introduction to operating different controls, which is an important driving skill. Your child will need to learn how to manipulate these controls as he steers, which can quickly prepare him for driving other vehicles—a skill that will remain with him forever.
Motocross has been around for a while, but it is yet to reach a certain level of penetration on TV. This means that children interested in the sport have to resort to reading publications in print and online. While the bulk of the content is written for adults, there are lots of great materials for young kids. Some publications to check out regarding this could be Racer X Online,Motocross Action Magazine, and Keefer Inc. Testing.
You can also print more sophisticated motocross content for your child, after using the original content to create a kid-friendly version of its message. Once he or she cultivates reading habits, it could spread to other areas of their life, including in the classroom.
In some sports, members of a team can all be winners. In motocross, only the winner of the race gets all the accolades. This means that your child will be able to see other people feeling sad for not winning, and take on board how everyone is reacting to the loss with respect and dignity. They’ll also learn to congratulate winners.
You, as the parent, can offer support and encouragement, helping them to do better than the last time, while at the same time reminding them to focus on having fun first and foremost.
Your son or daughter most likely won’t win his first race, so when he does finally win, the feeling of defeat he or she has previously experienced will also teach them how to gracefully accept their win. They’ll most likely be friends with some of the other kids, so learning how to stay respectful even in the excitement of winning is a good lesson that will again help them in other facets of life.
Now that you know more about the benefits of motocross and how safe it is for your son or daughter, here’s a closer look at how you can get them involved.
Before you start seriously considering signing your child up for motocross, you need to take them to a local track where they can watch other riders. You get bonus points if you can find a track where people of his or her age are riding.
This stage is important because you don’t want to start spending money on getting your child the right gear, only to find out that he or she has no interest in the sport later on. Showing them videos on TV will not have the same impact as seeing the bike riders live. Is he or she scared by the sound of the bikes or intimidated by how fast the riders are moving?
If he or she is visibly excited and can’t stop talking about his experience, take them to a few more races, then progress to the next stage.
Once you are sure that your child loves motocross racing, it is time to start looking for the right bikes for your son or daughter. Below is a guide for the right type of bike to get for boys or girls of various ages.
If your child is aged 3-8 years old, you should consider getting then a Yamaha PW50. This bike is an entry-level option, and your child doesn’t have to worry about changing gears just yet. Once the bike comes on, they only have to worry about twisting the throttle and moving. The bike comes with an adjustable throttle, which means you can control its top speed and acceleration.
This model is a top choice for many, and the trusty design has been serving upcoming motocross champions for more than three decades. If you don’t want to go with this brand, you can choose other models that offer the same twist and go mechanism. The focus should be on teaching your child the basics. Don’t forget to get an option that is the right height for child.
Once your son or daughter has mastered a bike like the Yamaha PW50, the next step is to get something a bit more powerful, like the KTM SX50. It still has the same twist-and-go mechanism, but it is more suited to conventional motocross tracks. The bike’s seat height is 7 inches higher than the PW50, and the engine is a bit more advanced.
The bike models above are two of the most popular for this age bracket. However, there are other similar dirt bikes. Below is a comprehensive list of models to consider for your son or daughter if they are at this age:
Once your son or daughter gets to this age, he or she is ready to start riding bikes with a bit more power, gears, and a higher seat. This is known as the 65cc class. At this stage, there are lots of possible bike options to choose from. Most of the 65cc bikes at this range use pre-mix fuel and come with a clutch.
At this stage, your child is ready for more serious learning. Mastering the clutch is one of the biggest challenges he’ll have to face, but you can be sure that he’ll figure it out with a few hours of practice. Some of the popular dirt bikes to go with at this stage include:
If your son or daughter is at this age, you can go straight to getting them an 85 cc dirt bike. It is a big step up from the 65 cc class as they are powered to win races. The seat height at this level is around 35 inches, and you can find big or small wheel variants to match your child’s height.
Most of the popular brands, including KTM, Yamaha, Husqvarna and Kawasaki all have 85 cc bikes. Go through them and choose the option that ticks all the right boxes for your son or daughter.
The right dirt bikes for children aged 15 years and older are the 100/125 cc 2-stroke dirt bikes and the 250 cc 4-stroke options. The exact one you’ll go with will come down to the weight of your son or daughter. Generally, you should start them with the 125cc 2-stroke bike and then gradually move to the more powerful 4-stroke options.
If he or she is heavier and taller than average, a 250 cc 4-stroke will make more sense. These are powerful bikes that are easier to ride but very demanding. You’ll need to ease them into riding it. You can reduce the seat foam a bit if the seat is too tall for him or her.
In another article we recently wrote titled, “What’s a Good Age to Start Motocross?” we cover the same idea as above with dirt bike suggestions by age categories except we give kids electric dirt bike suggestions.
Once you’ve got the bike sorted, the next thing to do is to get all the necessary gear he or she needs to keep protected while riding the bike. Crashes are bound to happen regardless of the bike speed. This is especially true if he is just learning how to ride a bike for the first time. So, what are the most important bits of gear he needs?
This is, without a doubt, the most important piece of gear for your child, and you need to pay a lot of attention to its design. There are lots of fancy designs in the market that do not offer enough brain protection for the user. You should look at top models like the Fly Racing Formula, 6D, or something similar, which ensures the child is protected from all angles in the event of any fall.
A child’s developing brain needs all the protection it can get. So, even if you don’t intend for your son or daughter to get into competitive motocross racing, you still need to ensure he or she is protected even when they are riding out in the backyard.
Gloves protect your child’s fingers from scrapes and scratches during a fall. When picking one, you need to consider options like fitting, flexibility, and weight. The gloves typically come in a wide range of sizes, colors, and styles, so finding one that fits shouldn’t be much of a hassle. However, you should ensure that you pick one that offers the best grip and control for the child.
Gloves that come with wrist-fastening are the best as they ensure it won’t pull off the hands. You should also watch for silicon finger-grips and thumb-coverings to prevent chafing.
When it comes to hand protection, there are additional accessories that will help ensure your child’s hands stay blister-free and protected. Risk Racing’s Palm Protectors simply go under the rider’s gloves to help eliminate blisters throughout their rides.
The standard dirt-bike rider boots are scaled-down by manufacturers and available for kids of all ages. Again, each boot comes with its unique design and riding-style, so you’ll have to be intentional with your choice. Motocross bike boots will provide the support and protection for riding, but don’t expect them to be comfortable for walking around more than a few yards.
Getting the size right is important to ensure proper protection. It also ensures your son or daughter can focus on riding without any foot discomfort.
You should know that picking the right fit goes beyond just knowing your child’s measurement. Sometimes even when the numbers line up, the boots won’t fit nicely. This is why you should talk to a reputable dealer for a selection of boots you can choose from.
Don’t forget to take into consideration the scope of motocross you have in mind for the child. Casual riders can afford to be laxer with the boot selection, but racers can’t. When you’ve got the boots, be ready to change it in less than a year as kids aged 15 or under have feet that grow really fast.
Due to the nature of the surfaces used in motocross, flying rocks, dirt, and debris are not uncommon. Quality goggles ensure that your child’s eyes are protected at all times. Even if he isn’t going to race regularly with other riders, dirt getting in his eyes while he is practicing alone can still lead to accidents.
Motocross jerseys and pants are designed to protect the skin from bruises and scratches. Just like with other accessories, each design will come with its set of features. However, you shouldn’t lose sight of the big picture, which is your child’s safety.
For the best products, only stick with popular motocross jersey brands. The cheapest options may not always be safe.
When you’ve secured the dirt bike for your son or daughter and got them the right gear, it’s time to teach him how to ride. Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect that they jump straight into motocross racing, so you’ll need to find a practice race track. Find a clear spot in the woods or hills near you or any other location that is good for motocross.
Learning a dirt bike is easy on most surfaces. However, if your son or daughter is at the age where he has to learn with bikes that have smaller wheels, you need to find a surface that isn’t very bumpy. Smaller wheels make the ride very difficult, and your son will end up feeling every bump.
The best surface to learn on with a small wheeled dirt bike is a rut-free practice track or a smooth grass field.
If you want your child to do more than just some fun motocross riding, you need to get him or her competing as soon as he has gotten the hang of his or her bike. Registering your child at a local club where they’ll see other kids and race against them is a good way to take his learning to a new level. It’s at this stage that they will get the skills to compete at the regional level.
Once you think he or she is ready, do a quick search online to find local groups he can join. Group leaders and club owners will help your child to grow and also recommend the best competitions for him or her to get into. In the early days, he’ll start on flatter tracks before progressing to those with lots of jumps.
The total cost of getting your son or daughter into motocross will amount to between $5000 and $10,000. The exact amount will come down to his age and your unique product choices. If your son or daughter is 4-5 years old, you’ll need to buy three to four bikes before he is ready to compete in teenage events. It will also mean buying the main accessories multiple times over the next decade.
The dirt bikes can cost around $1,650 to $5,000 for brand new options (depending on the type and your child’s age). Good, fairly used bikes will typically cost around half the price of a new one, but you need to be careful when going with this option. You don’t want to get a bike that is only barely useful.
Dealers or other families looking to upgrade their child’s current bikes are always the best places to look for a used dirt bike. You can also talk to people at your son’s or daughter's local club. They tend to know how you can get a used bike that is still in top condition.
The pieces of gear like helmets, jerseys, and gloves shouldn’t cost more than $500-$700, with the Fly Racing helmet accounting for more than 50% of that cost. Again, you can choose to go with a used helmet to keep the price down, but be sure that it hasn’t been battered and beaten to the point where it will no longer offer your son or daughter full protection.
Aside from getting the bike and the necessary gear, you also have to consider the cost of joining clubs, paying membership fees at private racing grounds, and all such expenses.
If you have a van or truck that can fit the bike, all you need to do is find someone who will give a hand to lift it or get a ramp setup that would allow you to walk the bike up safely when your child needs to practice or race. You’ll need to keep it properly harnessed to ensure it doesn’t fall over and get damaged on the way. For more info on transporting and securing your bike check out this other Risk Racing article here.
Alternatively, you can buy a hitch-carrier that will fit on the back of your car. Talk to your local car parts dealer for a cost-effective option.
Your child's dirt bike will need to be maintained from time to time. The electric or gearless models need very little maintenance, but as you go higher up the bike chart, maintenance needs begin to change.
The engines on kids’ dirt bikes are very reliable and will rarely develop any problems, especially if you got one with a 4-stroke engine, but you have to be prepared to spend a few hundred dollars on maintenance when it does break down. A 2-stroke engine, on the other hand, will require more regular maintenance. When it breaks down, you can fix it on your own by watching a few videos online.
The air filters have to be cleaned regularly as well, and this can be done in a few minutes and a great job for your child to learn. It will give them the basics of being a good mechanic and teach your son or daughter to use basic mechanics tools.
The tires on the bikes will require changing from time to time as they wear out frequently. With these, all you need is a set of tire irons and some spanner wrenches.
For parts like the chain and sprockets, the replacement rate on them will be in more of a visual sense than a specific time table. Once the sprocket’s teeth are starting to wear down and are beginning to look like shark’s teeth, it’s time to replace them.
For the chain, if you are unable to tighten it anymore and the slack cannot be taken out, head online or to your local dealer and grab a new one. Other parts that need to be changed as they start to wear out include the wheel bearings, the dust seals, and the brake pads.
Thinking of how to get your son or daughter into motocross may sound extreme to people on the outside that see the sport as wild and rebellious, but now that we have seen some of the benefits, you should be even more convinced to go for it. It’s a sport that will help him build essential life skills and experience.
However, you must ensure you are allowing your kid to develop at his or her own pace. Don’t push him or her too hard or mount pressure on them unnecessarily. Even when he or she loses a race, don’t scream or get angry. Provide him or her with the encouragement he or she needs to avoid pushing them away from the sport completely.
Otherwise, just enjoy the sport with your son or daughter. Let them ride, smile, and have fun regardless of the location, event, or finish position. In fact, get a bike for yourself and enjoy riding with them. Dirtbike riding and the sport of motocross is truly a family sport. Mom, dad, brother, and sister alike can all enjoy the thrills that dirt bikes have to offer!
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