Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki – the motorcycle manufacturers from Japan have dominated Freestyle Motocross (FMX) in the past few years, with the only exception to the rule coming from Austria in the form of KTM.
The set-up of the bikes is essentially left unchanged between training and the competition. To meet the high demands of FMX there are, however, certain modifications that have to be made to the standard bikes before they’re ready to lift off with their riders.
1. Front fender. For purely optical purposes many riders cut the front fender shorter to give their bikes the typical FMX look.
2. Undercarriage. The undercarriage includes the forks and shock absorbers. These have to be adjusted for hard landings to absorb as much of the impact as possible when landing long and high jumps – especially when riders make miscalculations and end up landing too far down the slope or coming up short.
3. Number plates. Some riders cut the number plates on the side and add grip tape (from skateboards) to the fork in order to get a better grip while doing tricks such as the Cliffhanger.
4. Handlebars. All FMX riders use oversized handlebars, which – unlike standard MX handlebars – have no struts between the two brakes. That gives the riders more room for tricks such as the Barhop, Candybar and Dead Body.
5. Seat. Part of the foam underneath the seat’s leather is removed to give the riders more room to operate when performing tricks such as No-Footed Cans and also to reduce the danger of getting caught up in mid-air.
6. Footpegs. Most riders choose wider footpegs to achieve a more stable position during tricks. These also help distribute forces from the impact of landings across the foot.
7. Handholds. Handholds can appear in different forms. One of the favorite methods among riders is to put holes in the side of the plastic. Other riders integrate part of the handholds into the bike. These grips are needed so that the riders do not lose contact with the motorcycle during "seat grab" tricks. Furthermore, many riders use grip tape on the inside of the handholds to increase grip.
8. Rear fender. Many riders shorten the rear fender to have more room for tricks on this part of the bike.