It’s not until you look back at footage from years gone by that you realise just how much the technology of sport has advanced. It’s not so long ago that athletes ran on cinder tracks and there was no such thing as research into improvements for bikes or other sporting equipment. Nowadays though sport is big business, and some of the technological advancements which help the likes of Usain Bolt stay at the top of his game filter down to those of us who take part in sport on a more casual level. One of the sports with the highest investment in advancements is motocross.
We take it for granted when getting on a motocross bike that the ride is going to be as comfortable as possible. Not so in the olden days, where riders had to get around the course on a rigid frame with no springs or “give” in it whatsoever. This sort of bone shaking ride must have been uncomfortable at best, and the lack of suspension also led to a higher number of accidents and parts breaking due to the constant jarring and vibration. Suspension has changed all of this and the advances in suspension on a motocross bike means that riders all over the world, on all sorts of bikes, are enjoying a smoother ride than ever.
Years ago, motocross bikes were cooled using air cooling systems. These systems were the height of technology at the time, but during a motocross event bikes and riders push themselves to the limit and overheating became an issue when the bikes were pushed too far. The advent of water cooling systems on motorbikes was seen first in the motocross industry. As water was a more efficient way of cooling than air, riders were able to go faster and harder than ever before. Gradually, water based cooling systems started to be adopted by more manufacturers and these are now the industry standard for motorbikes.
We’ve moved on considerably from the days when bikes were mad from heavy steel or iron, and now you’re more likely to find aluminium, titanium or carbon fibre panels and components on your bike. Although these sorts of materials were not developed exclusively for use on bikes, the fact that they were strong and lightweight was hugely appealing and now many manufacturers use advanced materials on their bikes, whatever the price point.
Safety is always a prime consideration when riding a motorbike and when you compare the brand new 2014 Fox helmets range with a vintage helmet, the difference is clear. Old helmets were designed just to cover the top of the head, and did not offer the jaw and facial protection which you get with modern designs. Vintage helmets were made with the best materials available at the time, but modern advances mean that equipment like the 2014 Fox helmets are so much safer and lighter than old-fashioned items. If you’re one of the many vintage motocross enthusiasts around, don’t be tempted to go vintage with your helmet too.
Morag Peers is a keen writer, sports enthusiast and busy mother of three
Photo Credits: Wikipedia