MOTOCROSS RACING THE BEGINNERS GUIDE copy

This motocross beginners guide is aimed at riders who want to take part in traditional style classic 1960s / early 70s type scrambles & events that cater for the later, long travel rear suspension twinshock machines. We will also look at racing the machines that were built  between 1980 & 1989, water cooled, monoshock rear suspension, evolution or “Evo” bikes. 


The Beginners Guide To Competing In AMCA Classic & Twinshock Scrambles

Ok, so you want to start racing in AMCA classic scramble events, fantastic ! Now the hard work & spending of money begins.

Question 1….What type of bike should I buy & how much will it cost ?  A lot of riders don`t need to ask this question because most riders choose a machine that A…they always wanted when they were young or B…they want to relive their youth before it`s to late by getting a bike the same as the one they raced back in the day. These are probably the best sorts of reasons, because don`t try & fool yourself, you will be spending a lot of time & money on your new toy & a large dose of sentimentality will ease the financial pain considerably.

Pretty much all AMCA classic scramble events cater for machines up to 1973, so if you want to maximise your choice of events to enter choose a bike that will be eligible to race in one of the following classes, pre 1960, pre 1965, pre 1968 or pre 1974. Quite a lot but not all events run pre 1977 & twinshock classes. The general definition of a bike eligible for the twinshock class is this “The machine must have two rear shock absorbers, drum brakes both front & back with an air cooled engine” so you are looking at bikes from 1978 to about 1983, exceptions are made for the early mono-shock Yamahas that were made during this period & you do see bikes such as the early 1980s air cooled / drum braked Honda CR480 & Suzuki RM500, that have been retro fitted with a twinshock rear end, as long as the bike has been converted with in the sprit of the era, they are allowed to compete. Some AMCA events but not very many, do run an evo class for newer water cooled monoshock bikes made between 1981 to 1989 but at the time of writing this guide, if you want to race an evo bike your choice of suitable classic AMCA events will be very limited indeed.

When it comes to the question of how much will you have to pay for a suitable machine that will last a season of racing with out falling to bits completely, then all I can say is this, at the time of writing in 2015, based on what I have seen machines sold for over the last few years it`s fair to say you will have to go shopping with about £2500 to £3500 in your pocket to stand a good chance of getting some thing clean, tidy & race ready. If your heart is set on something like an immaculate, fully sorted & ready to race BSA B44 / B50, classic Triumph 500 Twin, CCM or Maico 490 then you can easily be talking about double the amounts already mentioned. You will see a lot of cheaper bikes for sale but do take into account the extra cost involved for repairs & restoration, it`s not uncommon to spend £120 on just replacing swing arm bearings & bushes on some 1970s Japanese bikes , or over £700 on having both wheels rebuilt with new rims, spokes & tyres etc , what about £500 on a new pair of rear shocks built to your weight & riding style, you could find slightly cheaper shocks but you could also spend nearer £1000 if you want real quality suspension units. Even if you do all the work yourself, use second hand parts etc, the money & just as importantly the time it will take you to put together a good solid, reliable & safe bike will really mount up, so take all this into account if you go looking for a cheaper bike or one that needs a lot of restoration work. If you do decided to buy a more expensive & so called ready to race bike, remember this, unless you know & can really trust the seller, take nothing for granted when viewing a potential purchase, you can kick the bike up & rev it all you want, pull, prod & poke at everything on it but until you get it out on to a proper motocross track & the engine, transmission, gearbox & suspension are all under load & being worked hard you will not know exactly what you have bought. One last point, when deciding what make & model of machine to buy & race, do your home work first & check out spare parts availability here in the UK, some classic motocross machines such as ones made by Husqvarna & Maico are well catered for here at home but others are not & spares can be hard to find. It`s true to say that almost anything can be found either new or second hand on the internet today but the extra cost of import duty on top of the original purchase price & shipping costs from places like the USA can make your eyes water, so be warned.

Question 2….Riders kit, what type should I buy ?  A quick look at the gallery pages on this website will show you what type of riding kit most riders use, more often than not it`s bang up to date modern motocross clothing, especially in the helmet, boots & body armour departments, some riders try & find modern race pants & shirts with a simpler or all black design to try & create a more period look. Some of the classic scramble lads still wear proper leather race jeans with a classic plain cotton ruby type shirt but rest assured, underneath they will still wear the best modern body protection they can afford. The bottom line is buy the best quality kit you can afford, especially when it comes to your helmet, boots, body / back armour, knee, elbow & neck protection and don`t ever ride your bike unless you are wearing all of it !!!

Question 3…How do i enter an AMCA classic / twinshock scramble ?….You can do this by one or two different ways, firstly you can join an AMCA affiliated classic scramble club, one that actually puts on & runs classic / twinshock scramble events. You don`t have to join the club nearest to where you live, or attend weekly club nights but most will expect you to help set up & run the clubs classic scramble event. Any club that is affiliated to the AMCA and puts on at least one event a year can issue it`s members with an AMCA racing licence application form that the member fills in & post off, along with a cheque to the AMCA head office, they will then be issued with a “classic” racing licence. On your licence will be your licence number & your bikes unique racing number, Once you have this it`s just a simple case of going to the AMCA website, looking at the list of classic scramble fixtures, printing off an entry form to the event you want to enter, fill it in with your name, address, licence & racing number, along with the your bikes make, capacity, year manufactured & the class you want to race in & then post it off along with your entry fee to the organising clubs race secretary. Joining a club is a very good idea, especially if you are new to the sport, you will quickly make a lot of new friends who you can meet up & camp over with, at all the different race meetings around the country, they will also be a gold mine of useful information.

The other way of entering events is more costly & means more forms to fill in every time you want to race. As before, it`s just a case of going on to the AMCA website & downloading / printing off an entry form to the event you want to ride at, filling it in & posting it off to the race secretary of the event but because you do not have an AMCA classic racing licence you will have to pay the normal entry fee plus an extra fee on top for a special one day licence to cover you at that event. Some riders like this way of doing things because they don`t want to get involved with a club but I think they can miss out on the camaraderie that being part of a club creates. A lot of riders do prefer to join a club, get involved & help put something back into the sport but at the end of the day, the choice is yours. One last point to mention, most clubs set a cut off date for receiving entries about a week before the event is due to take place, so any rider who wants to enter after that time will be charged a late entry fee, this will be on top of your normal entry fee & on top of your one day licence fee, so the message is get organised & post off your entry form & cheque early !

Question 4…What happens on race day ?…..If the event is quite a distance from where you live, then it looks like you will probably have to camp over on the Saturday night, quite a few riders do this, a lot of clubs don`t charge for camping but if they do it`s usually only £5 for the privilege. Once race day dawns the first job is to sign on at race control, don`t forget to take your race licence with you if you have one, if you have entered in advance by post then it`s just a case of signing next to your name & number on the sheet. If you need to pay for your entry & sort out a day licence, then there will be a form to fill in & money to hand over etc.

Next walk the track, some riders will tell you they don`t bother, they will find out the layout when riding round in practice. This is riders speak that really means “I am to bone idle to do it”. Walking the track not only shows you the general layout & a chance to pick the smoothest lines but gives you the opportunity to prod & poke about, looking for hidden dangers in the longer grass or spotting those really wet & boggy areas that are best avoided at all costs.

Before you know it they will be calling all riders down to the start line for the practise session. How the practise session is run varies from club to club, some times the practice session may be open for 45 minuets or more, 30 or so riders will be let out on to the track at a time to do 3 or 4 laps, then they will be signalled to leave the track & the next group will go out. Some times you can go straight back to the start line & queue up ready to go again for another practice session, you may be lucky & have enough time for 3 sessions, it all depends on how much time to club has to play with. If there have been delays & the club need to get on with the racing program, each group of riders may only get one session, so it`s best to be fully kitted up with the bike ready to go when they announce the practice session is about to start. Remember that the practice session is for checking out the track & your bike, not for out & out racing, so take your time.

Once you have got the practice session under your belt you will probably be feeling a little more settled. Give the bike a quick check over to make sure all is ok, clean your goggles & then waite for the announcer to call your group to the start line for it`s first race of the day. When you get down there, lined up on the start, keep an eye on the guy with the sign board stood half way up the start straight, when everybody is ready he will hold up the sign showing “15 seconds” this means get your bike in gear & build the revs up, he will then turn the sign board round to show “5 seconds” this means the starter is about to drop the metal gate or release the elastic rope any second now. If you are still a bit nervous, just hesitate for half a second when the gate drops & let the other riders go, they will soon pull away, you can then avoid all the first corner chaos.


The Beginners Guide Evo Motocross Racing

 Only a few short years ago, just like twinshock bikes, no body wanted these 1980 to 1989 “Evo” machines, they were old hat & out of date, it seems like only yesterday when you could purchase such things as a 1985 KX or CR500`s for just £750. Most of the 125 & 250cc capacity machines from the same period ended up in the hands of young lads who used them on local fields & generally ran the things into the ground, proper care & maintenance was a foreign language to these guys. All that plus the added complexity of the water cooling system, disc brakes, power valves & rear suspension linkages can make restoring an “Evo” bike very complicated, time consuming & more importantly, expensive. So think hard before you commit to a restoration project. The condition of a lot of these originally sold here in the UK when new machines, can be so bad, that over the years several off-road bike breakers have told me that they don`t bother with bikes that have lived in the UK all their life, they would rather go shopping for bikes to break, in places like the USA because they stand a better chance of finding tired but unmolested machines.

Luckily, as far as my poor fingers are concerned, a lot of what I typed above regarding classic & twinshock racing also applies if you want to try your hand at racing a later type of machine built between 1980 & 1989. Have a quick read through all the hints & tips above, a lot of them are just as relevant to Evo racing. As mentioned there are not too many AMCA events that cater for Evo Machines, so you will have to team up with an organisation like “The National Twinshock Championship”. This successful series has been running for quite a few years now & races under the “IOPD” licence system, along with a twinshock group it runs an “EVO” class at all it`s events. They run meetings once a month from about May through to September. There are quite a few other national clubs, organisations & championships to enter once you go looking but they all follow a similar pattern, you can either buy a racing licence through them & register for the season at the beginning of the year, then pay to enter the events as & when you want to do them, or you can just tip up on the day & pay to race, as long as they have spaces left !  You don`t normally have to provide a marshal but they do always seem to be one or two short on race day, so any volunteers are always warmly welcomed, they do get paid something for their trouble & a free lunch, as far as I under stand. One thing I have noticed over the last couple of years is more & more organisations are now turning to “Transponders”, a small black box that you hire for the day. It`s  zip tied onto your bike & each time you cross the finish line it sends a signal to a computer that records your lap time & race position.

Ok, so you have your bike sorted, it`s safe, it`s  good enough to get through pre race scrutineering & reliable enough for a seasons use. You have all the right kit to wear & you have either a tent, van or caravan to camp in on the Saturday night for all those events that are just too far from home to drive to on race day. It`s all up to you now, go get um !………I hope you have found this guide helpful, all the best,  Mr J

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