The History of Dirt Biking & Motocross

TMS Parts has the history of dirt bikes here for ya!

The Rich History of Motocross Racing

In 1894 German inventors Heinrich and Wilhelm Hildebrand and Alois Wolfmüller invented the world’s first motorcycle in Munich. This first iteration of a motor bicycle was meant for ease of travel, and it performed the job well. Soon, though, riders began to have more and more fun with these motorcycles. They made different variations of street bikes, and eventually, offroad bikes. These early single-cylinder motorcycles quickly gained popularity and the world’s first motocross event was held Surrey, England in 1924. The rest is, as they say, history! But if you’re unfamiliar, here is the history of dirt bikes and motocross.

The History of Dirt Bikes

the history of dirt bikes

Motorcycles and the dirt bikes that evolved from them have been around for more than 100 years. Their history involves a rich tapestry of daring riders and innovative inventors.

Gottlieb Daimler and Wilhelm Maybach

Even before the Hildebrand brothers and Wolfmüller created the first motorcycle, another German inventing team created the Reitwagen. The Reitwagen, German for “riding car”, was actually much closer to what we would think of as a moped. 

However, Daimler and Maybach were the first folks to create a gasoline-powered bike. Their original invention, created in 1885, set the stage for what would eventually evolve into the dirt bikes we know today.

check out the history of dirt bikes and racing

Siegfried Bettmann

The invention of the dirt bike that we love today is often attributed to German-born Siegried Bettmann. Bettmann founded a company who you may have heard of, the Triumph Motorcycle Company. Bettmann is also attributed as the first person to modify the road bikes invented by Daimer and Maybach in 1914.

Bettman modified his dirt bikes only slightly from the original design of the Reitwagen. It had a lowered frame to facilitate a lower riding position and had a semi-automatic lubricator. This did make the bikes a little better at handling rougher terrain than the first motorcycles. However, it would take a few more decades before we see the kinds of motocross bikes we know today.

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Soichiro Honda

Post World War II, motorcycles were seen as something only for the rougher crowd. There was no real popularity of motorcycles (or dirt bikes for that matter) among the civilian population. A young Japanese man by the name of Soichiro Honda wanted to change that. 

Honda could easily envision a world where motorcycles were no longer just for thugs and troublemakers. That’s why he established Honda Motor Co., Ltd in 1948. Throughout the 1950s, the popularity of motorcycles surged in Japan, and soon abroad. 

The bikes were incredibly popular. So much so that people didn’t want to just ride them on the streets anymore. They wanted a motorcycle they could take to the lake, down unpaved roads, and generally explore with. 

Honda met this demand by making motorcycles with stronger suspensions to handle uneven roads. Additionally equipped with much larger tires with better tread patterns to grip the dirt and keep the bike steady. Honda was building off of the ideas of Bettmann. However, it was his motorcycle that was popular enough to warrant further innovation into off-road motorcycles.

yamaha and the dirt bike gold standard

Yamaha and the Dirt Bike Gold Standard

Honda did a lot to popularize the use of motorcycles by civilians who eventually took them off the streets. The Yamaha Motor Corporation took this rising popularity and solidified its presence in the public consciousness by perfecting its offroad use.

Yamaha released the DT-1 trail bike in 1968 and flew through its initial production of 12,000 models. It was the first motocross bike to truly fit into the frame of how we know them today. Yamaha improved upon Honda’s innovations by providing more ground clearance, block-pattern tires and more forgiving suspension. 

The DT-1 would forever change the world of motorcycle racing by giving riders the real advantages they needed off-road. But where did motocross racing come from? Let’s take another step back.

The History of Motocross Racing

the early years of motocross racing

The term motocross is a portmanteau of the French word for motorcycle, motocyclette, and cross country. By its official definition, motocross is a form of racing for off-road motorcycles on enclosed, off-road circuits. Of course, just like the dirt bike itself, it took us a little while to get there. 

The Early Years of Motocross Racing

The earliest forms of motocross racing weren’t actual races at all. The Auto-Cycle Union, the governing body of motorcycle sports in the U.K., was founded in 1901. In 1906, they began holding time trials where motorcycle riders would compete for the best times completing off-road obstacle courses. Racers would travel over various types of terrains for dozens, and sometimes hundreds, of miles. Of course, they were using the earliest motorcycles, which simply couldn’t cut it.

They were the first folks to begin trying to make these modifications to their bikes. Modifications that led to Bettmann’s innovative designs just a few years later! The early years of motocross racing is an important piece of the history of dirt bikes.

scramble races are a part of the history of dirt bikes

Scramble Races 

Competing for the best time and bragging rights wouldn’t be enough for these racers forever. Soon they were itching to take the next logical step: racing. This led to the first dirt bike races, referred to as “scrambles”, in  Camberley, Surrey, England in 1924.

For the very first time, folks were using their motorcycles specifically designed to be taken off-road and racing them. Riders instantly realized this is what they were looking for. The sport remained very popular in England throughout the early 20th century. Motorcycle clubs continued to spawn and the sport was gaining a lot of popularity.

FIM Championships

FIM Championships and the United States Introduction

The world motorcycle governing organization, the FIM, introduced the European Championship in 1952. This race featured 500cc bikes racing across varied terrains, and it became a yearly event. In 1962, the FIM’s World Championship featured 250cc dirt bikes which were much lighter and easier to ride. European motorcyclists began touring the United States in the mid-1960s, introducing the sport to enthusiastic Americans. They instantly fell in love.

Americans loved it so much they were quick to begin organizing their own events. The United States did not truly begin adopting the dirt bike until over half a century after it’s creation. However, we were the folks to hold the world’s very first motocross event at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972.

Dirt Bikes and Motocross Racing Today

the history of dirt bikes and motocross racing

That was all it took to get America hooked! Since this introduction and first motocross event, the popularity has never died down. Dirt bike racing was not an American invention, but now you can’t find a bigger fan base.

We are a nation that loves to push the envelope and stretch the imagination of what’s possible. The history of dirt bikes and motocross racing almost exclusively comes from a place of innovation. It’s no wonder we took to it so heavily and never looked back!

TMS Parts Shows You How to Winterize a Motorcycle

how to winterize a motorcycle

How to Store your Bike until Next Riding Season

It’s officially the saddest time of the year: time to think about putting your bike into storage. For some of us in the sunniest states, it’s not something you need to worry about. For the rest of us living in a winter wonderland, storing your bike for the winter months is essential. There are a few schools of thought as to the best methods for winterizing a motorcycle. However, not all of these methods work equally well, and we want to dispel the myths. So if you’ve never done it before, or you want to see if you’ve been doing it right, here’s everything you need to know about how to winterize a motorcycle. 

Simple Steps for Winterizing Your Motorcycle

Here are a few simple steps for winterizing your motorcycle. Follow along to give your bike the best protection until those temperatures start to rise again.

take your motorcycle inside

Keep Exposed Metal Safe – Take it Inside

The best advice will always be to keep your bike inside a temperature-controlled environment like a garage. The main reason for doing so is to protect against condensation. Condensation can cause corrosion and rust that will ruin the integrity of your motorcycle.

Of course, not all of us have access to a temperature-controlled garage. One great alternative is to rent a storage unit for your bike. Many are temperature-controlled. Even if it’s not, your bike is far better off sitting inside a storage unit than parked on the street with a tarp over it. 

It’s going to save you from damage caused by condensation and one other thing. One of the biggest enemies to your stored motorcycle is going to be animals like field mice, rats, and more that are looking for a warm place to sleep. Keeping your bike inside doesn’t just keep the cold out, it keeps the critters out, too. 

Also, make sure when your bike is ready for storage that you seal it up. Plug up any hole (like your exhaust) with anything you have handy to keep animals from making it their winter getaway.

fresh lube oil and a coat of wax is how to winterize a motorcycle

Fresh Oil, Lube, and a Coat of Wax

Using a motorcycle-specific soap, wash down your bike. Get off all the dirt, bugs, and other debris it’s been collecting this season. This is going to protect the paint while it’s sitting for a while. Make sure you put a fresh layer of wax over the painted surfaces for extra protection.

Likewise, you want to treat any exposed metal surfaces with polish for the same reason. You also want to treat any moving parts with lubricant. If your bike is going to be sitting for a few months, this will help it wake up and get rolling in the spring. 

If you’ve got a chain-driven bike, don’t forget about that chain! Take your bike out for one last good ride and get the chain warm. Then when you’re ready to winterize your motorcycle, hit the chain with a fresh layer of lubricant. Doing this while your chain is still warm will help to move the lubricant throughout all of the pieces of the chain. Of course, this results in better protection from rust.

wondering how to winterize a motorcycle? winterize the fuel system too

Winterize Your Fuel System

There are two methods for protecting your fuel system. The first is to simply empty your tank entirely. Left sitting for a long time, gasoline can turn into a dense sludge that your bike won’t be able to ignite. It can ruin your fuel tank and potentially your bike.

The second method is to fill your fuel tank and add some fuel stabilizer to the tank. You want to put your motorcycle into storage with the gas tank at about 90% full if you choose this method. This is going to prevent condensation from forming in your tank. Adding a fuel stabilizer and letting it run through your bike’s fuel system will keep your fuel fresh and healthy.

time to do some work!

Fresh Oil and Filters

Nothing fancy here. You just want to be prepared for that first spring ride. Along with your fuel, you don’t want your old oil to get stale sitting around for a few months. You can prevent that from happening by changing your oil and filters. This is going to keep the inside of your engine happy and healthy.

Check Your Levels

To give your bike the full treatment, you really want to change your brake fluid, clutch fluid, and transmission fluid if your bike uses them. At the very least, you want to top off those levels to make sure your bike is ready for the first spring ride. 

Remove the Battery

This is another simple one. You just want to remove your battery and make sure you store it in a cool, dry place. If you have an older battery, you might want to think about picking up a battery tender. That way you can make sure your battery keeps its charge over winter.

keep your tires good by figuring out how to winterize a motorcycle for the cold weather

Keep Your Tires Protected From Flat Spots

When you finally winterize your motorcycle, it’s going to be in one place for a long time. During that time you want to take the stress off of your tires. Use a center stand (not your kickstand) to elevate your bike. Getting your tires off the ground will keep them from forming flat spots where it’s been sitting. 

If you don’t have a center stand, put a rug or piece of plywood under your tires. This will help prevent those flat spots and will also keep your tires from absorbing moisture from the ground.

how to winterize a motorcycle for a better spring ride

Winterizing Your Motorcycle For a Better Spring Ride

Winterizing your motorcycle can take some work. However, don’t focus on the work. Focus on how much easier it’s going to be getting back on the road in spring. If you properly winterize your motorcycle, getting it running when the weather gets warmer will be a snap. If you’re planning on doing a little early riding, make sure you check out our tips for winter riding and stay safe out there!

TMS Parts’ Tips for Mudding with Your ATV

TMS Parts' Tips for Mudding with Your ATV

What you Need to Know Before You Go Out Mud Riding

Summer is generally considered the prime-time of the year to get your ATV out on the trails. The weather is nice, trail conditions are good, and you’ve got the most sunlight you’ll get all year. But just because the sun has now started setting earlier doesn’t mean you need to put the ATV away just yet! Sure, you probably shouldn’t go riding in the rain, but hitting the muddy trails after a good rainfall is just as much fun as summer riding! But before you take a serious spill, we have some tips for mudding with your ATV!

What you Need to Know Before You Go Out Mud Riding

What’s the Difference Between Normal Riding and Mud Riding?

When you take your ATV out on the trail in the summertime, the dirt is nice and dry. Your tires can easily cut through the dirt particles and grip into the earth propelling you forward. Now let’s think about that same trail when you want to go mudding with your ATV. 

When water sinks into that same dirt, the water acts as a bonding agent. The dry dirt, made of billions of small particles now becomes a much less permeable mass of mud and water. You lose traction in the mud because the once coarse particles are now both slippery and bonding to each other making a terrain that’s much harder to penetrate. 

Tips for Mudding With Your ATV

Tips for Mudding With Your ATV

Mud Tires

Most ATV’s come stock with all-terrain tires. The tread designs in these tires give you the ability to grip on to dirt when you’re offroading as well as the pavement when you’re on the road. This makes it easy for you to get your ATV to different trails without needing a trailer or truck to tow it.

It also means you’re losing out on more traction in the mud. If you’re planning on doing some dedicated mudding, you definitely want to consider investing in mud tires. The long treads of the tires do a great job of digging down into the earth for those coarse particles to grip on to. It will give you better throttle response than you’ve ever felt when mudding with your ATV.

Tips for Mudding With Your ATV

Snorkel Kit

Part of the fun of going mudding is hitting those deep mud pits. But when you’re ground clearance level is about up to your shoulders, your ATV isn’t having as much fun as you are. If you want to hit those puddles that are deep enough to cover your exhaust, you really want to think about a snorkel kit. 

There are a few important components you want to make sure are getting the proper air intake/exhaust with your snorkel kit. These most essential parts are your airbox and your clutch kit, specifically the belt housing intake and exhaust.

Some other parts you might want to consider covering:

  • Electrical Connections
  • Crankcase Breather Tube
  • Differential Vents
  • Carb Vent Tubes 
make sure you're doing some upgrades for mudding with you atv

Upgrade Your Skid Plates

When you go mudding with your ATV, you’re mostly just thinking about the mud. But there’s a lot more under the surface. Tree roots, big rocks, and branches are just some of the things that are going to be assaulting the undercarriage of your ATV. Your ATV was made to be tough, but over time, a lot of abuse is going to put your ATV’s health in jeopardy

Your stock skid plates are meant to protect your frame from accidental damage. However, the stock plate isn’t as tough as it could be. Your stock plates are meant for protection against small rocks and other debris that gets kicked up by your tires. However, it was not meant to protect your against a boulder you can’t see in a deep mud puddle that you confidently hit at 25 mph. 

atv mudding for the win

Mudding With Your ATV: Go Prepared

You wouldn’t put a stock Honda civic onto a NASCAR racetrack. Why not? Because it’s going to get blown out of the proverbial water by cars that are better equipped to handle the situation at hand. So why do it to your stock ATV? If you’re making the decision to become a dedicated mud rider, you need to have the right tools for the job. When you go mudding with your ATV, you want to be prepared for what you know you’re going to encounter. That’s the way you’re going to get the most out of your mud season.

Snowmobile Maintenance Tips: Prepping Your Sled for the Winter

snowmobile maintenance tips for winter

Getting Your Snowmobile in Working Order Before You Hit the Trails

Can you feel it in the air? The cold nights, the crisp wind, winter is almost here! It’s been a great summer and fall for ATV and dirtbike riding, but now it’s time to give your snowmobile it’s time to shine! But before you hit the trails for the day with your buds, you have to make sure that your snowmobile is ready for the season. Here’s everything that should be on your snowmobile maintenance checklist this year!

snowmobile maintenance tips and checklist

Snowmobile Maintenance Tips and Checklist

One thing you want to do before starting any of this is to take a look at your owner’s manual. Make sure that you know any critical information about fluid types your ride requires, manufacturer suggestions for track tension and anything else. This will give you an idea of how things should look and feel, and it’s also going to keep you from voiding your warranty!

time to get in that garage and fix up the ol snowmobile

Visual Inspection

Before you start really getting into anything, you just want to give the entire snowmobile a quick visual inspection. You’re just looking for any sort of major cracks, dents, breaks, or anything else out of the ordinary. Take a look at your drive belt, how your rear suspension is sitting, and everything else.

Make a checklist of anything you note. Even if it’s not critical, it’s something you can get to when you have some time later on.

check the fluid levels and filters

Fluid Levels and Filters

In a perfect world, we drained all the fluids from our snowmobile in spring after the season was over. That means gasoline, coolant, and brake fluid. If you’re like me and you’re a little less than perfect, you want to drain your old gasoline at the very least. Gasoline that’s been sitting over spring and summer can deteriorate and really reduce your snowmobile’s performance.

Top off any coolant or brake fluid that your snowmobile needs. Or if you want to strive for that perfect, drain them and replace them entirely. As far as your filters go, you should be replacing them every 1,000 miles or so. If you replaced yours at the end of last season, you should be all set to go!

 snowmobiles you have to check out

Check Your Electronics

Make sure that your head and tail lights are in working order. Replace any bulbs as needed. It’s also a good idea to check your battery. Especially if you have an electric starter. If it’s not holding a proper charge, it’s time to swap it out. You don’t want to be 20 miles in the woods with a snowmobile that you can’t start.

check your skis and adjust your track

Check Your Skis and Adjust Your Track

Your skis are one of the most important parts of your snowmobile, so you want to make sure they’re ready for riding season. If you have steel skis, you want to inspect them for any holes in them. For plastic skis, you want to look for any major gouges, and replace if necessary.

Of course, your track is just as important for traction and handling. Check for any tears, missing lugs, or if you’ve studded your track, any missing studs. Then you want to adjust it for proper tension that feels comfortable for you. Take the play out of it, but don’t tighten it too much!

polish it on up and break out the grease gun

Break Out the Grease Gun

That’s if you didn’t already apply chaincase oil in the Spring. If you didn’t, no worries! Your snowmobile won’t suffer for sitting with the old oil. But make sure that you change your chaincase oil at least once every year. 

make sure you follow these awesome snowmobile maintenance tips

Polish it Up!

One final step is to just give your baby a little TLC! Clean it, polish it, get all that dirt and grime off of it and make it shine like new! The cleaner you keep your ride the better it will perform over the years.

get out there

Snowmobile Maintenance Tips for Getting Ready for Riding Season

Getting your snowmobile ready for winter doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Most of these snowmobile maintenance tips take only a few minutes, and they’re great for giving your ride a long, healthy life. There are plenty of other repair jobs you can do yourself that are also going to give you a better ride. We hope you’re snow-season, and hopefully, this gives you a little help getting there!