What is the Difference Between Motocross and Supercross? - Risk Racing

March 05, 2021 5 min read

I love the ability to push myself and my dirt bike to the limit. There are plenty of disciplines that let you do this. Two of the most prominent are motocross and supercross. At first glance, they can seem similar. Here are the most significant differences between the two.

Supercross is housed indoors in a stadium, while motocross is outside. Because of this, motocross tends to have longer courses. Riders will be tested on different skills. Supercross has a greater emphasis on timing, while motocross focuses on endurance. The supercross season will last longer, featuring 17 events to motocross’ 12. However, there are 24 points paying motos in motocross, and only 17 in supercross.

As we’ve seen, a lot separates these two sports. To really differentiate the two, let’s take a closer look at the differences between motocross and supercross. 



 

 

Are Supercross and Motocross the Same Thing?

If you’re new to the sport, supercross and motocross can appear similar. Both have riders on a dirt bike attempting to complete a course. MX & SX both have obstacles that they will need to jump over. But they are not the same thing. 

One of the biggest differences is where they will take place. Supercross is primarily based in an arena, though parts of the course might extend into the parking lot. These are complex tracks requiring tons of dirt. But they don’t take long to complete. Often, a crew can build them in justfour days. On the other hand, motocross will be outdoors, and the tracks are fixed in place. 

They also have a different way of setting up the obstacles. Both courses will be engineered and sculpted to form an exciting track. While supercross will be entirely manmade, a motocross course will use natural terrain, like hills and slopes. Other parts of the track, like the jumps, will be man made. 

Motocross courses also tend to be much longer. It’s not uncommon for a motocross course to be over one and a half miles. This ensures that there will be longer straights, letting the riders go faster. It also guarantees that there will be longer lap times. Typically, this will be around two minutes. There might also be longer jumps.

On the other hand, a supercross course is built to take place within an arena. Because of this, the turns will often be tighter, and the speeds will be lower. However, the lap times will be shorter. Typically, they will take between 45 seconds to one minute to complete the lap. 

The other significant difference is when each sport takes place. The supercross season is typically at the start of the year. Because many of the same riders will compete in supercross and motocross, there is a two-week break. Then, the motocross season will begin in the middle of May.

Finally, these sports will be testing different skills. Motocross has a longer race. Because of this, riders will need to focus on their endurance. It also has a unique strategy element, as the riders need to pick the best line to pursue. In supercross, the riders will need to focus on getting the timing right. The tighter turns will force them to focus on technical skills. 

How do Motocross and Supercross Competition Seasons Work? 

Motocross and supercross competitions tend to operate very differently. Motocross has two motos. Where the rider places in each race will determine whether or not they win the overall event. For example, a rider can win in motocross even though they came in second in both races. There are 12 events per motocross season. Whoever has the most points at the end of the season will win the series. 

In supercross, there is only one race. It will last for 20 minutes plus 1 lap. Whoever wins the race will win the event. Like motocross, riders receive competition points depending on where they place. There are 17 races in the supercross season.

 


 

Why is it Called Motocross?

Motocross has a long and interesting history. Originally, it began as a club where riders would compete to beat a personal best time. However, as time went on, the club wanted to see who was fastest. Because of this, there started to be organized races.  

It’s believed the first race was held in 1926. At the time, though, the sport was known as amotocyclette. The wordcyclette is cross-country in French. Over time, though, the name would be changed to motocross. More rules would be added, the type of bikes used would change, and today’s sport would emerge. The excitement that comes from riding around the track, though, will always remain.

 


 

What is the History of Supercross?

While motocross is an older racing form, supercross is a newer sport around since a little after the mid 20th century. It was started by Mike Goodwin in the 1970s. His idea was to create the Super Bowl of motocross. 

Mike’s vision was to create an exciting event for spectators. So, he booked out the Los Angeles Coliseum, the home of the Super Bowl. He added a complex track. Because it was held in a stadium, spectators would be able to see the whole track. He even invited celebrities like Steve McQueen, who enjoyed riding dirt bikes throughout his life.

The event became a success. It went on to other famous stadiums, like the Rose Bowl. Today, it’s still drawing in thousands of people who want to see the exciting action.

 



 

What are the Biggest Supercross and Motocross Events?

There will often be smaller versions of motocross and supercross held by clubs across the world. However, at the professional level, two events are the most popular and attract the most talented riders. 

First, you have the Monster Energy Supercross. This is approved by the American Motorcyclist Association and the FIM, Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme. In most cases, this is seen as the premier event. Because it is more spectator-friendly, it tends to attract more people to each event. While motocross is still important, supercross will make the most money for the riders. The winner of the series could make around $3 million, plus a lot more in sponsorships.  

The motocross season will start later in the year. Typically, there will be a two week break. Lucas Oil Motocross is the biggest event. Both supercross and motocross tend to attract the same riders. 



 

Are 2 Strokes Allowed in Supercross?

One of the most important things that the rider cares about is the type of bike they will be using. There are two types of motorcycle engines. You can either use a two-stroke or a four-stroke. Each has positives and negatives. 


Historically, two-stroke was the most popular. They used to be heavily used in motorsports, dominating both motocross and supercross. However, this changed in 1998. The AMA decided to encourage riders to switch to four-strokes. Today, in the Monster Energy Supercross, basically all the bikes are four-strokes


In the motocross world, fans still love to use two-strokes. Because of this, the Lucas Oil Motocross recently announced a two-stroke competition. This comes as sales of two-stroke engines are growing around the world. As they continue to make a comeback, they could be featured more heavily in motorsports, but not in the premier classes.

 



 

Final Thoughts

Supercross and motocross are the most popular form of dirt bike sports. They attract the best riders around the world to compete. But they are not the same. The many differences between them ensure that they will test different skill sets. It’s also what makes each sport feel unique, ensuring they both continue to captivate audiences around the globe.


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