Motocross bikes and electric bikes, what do they have in common? Which one is better? Do they even compare?
Former Motocross Champion and Electric Bike Inventor Speaks His Opinion
Hi, I’m Jim Turner, a former two time motocross champion and inventor of the Optibike Electric Bike. I understand, perhaps more than anyone in the world, the advantages and disadvantages of the the two type of bikes. In this post I will discuss the differences and similarities of riding an electric bike and a motocross bike and why the electric bike can be great for so many people. You can watch a video on my background and how I came to develop the Optibike below.
Motocross: Most Exhilaration Ever
In my teens and early twenties, I was a professional motocross racer. From 16 to 24, I raced professionally, won two national championships and raced in the world championships in Europe. It’s probably the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done. It’s just unbelievable the feeling you get. It gives you adrenaline, but it’s risky and your body takes a lot of abuse, even when you don’t crash.
Even Crashing Can’t Keep Them Away
When my friends crash in a race and they’re hurt, they don’t want to race anymore. Their first response is; “I’m never doing this again because I’m in pain and I don’t like that”. Then two weeks later they’re out of pain and back racing because they remember the experience and they want to do it again. But for some, the injuries accumulate and MX riding and racing is no longer an option.
I Designed the Electric Bike to Be An Alternative for Fun and Exhilaration
After a motocross racing career and while I was an engineer at Ford, I began to wonder if an electric bike could give a similar exhilaration to motocross but in an easy to ride vehicle that was safer. A vehicle that you could jump on anytime you wanted and ride out your front door and have great time and exercise in less than an hour. You would get some adrenaline but not spend all day transporting a motorcycle to the track or trails. It wold cost less to ride and maintain too.
“And that was one of the reasons I got into electric bikes, because I saw the similarity between electric bike is a crossover between the traditional
bicycle and a motorcycle.”
I designed the Optibike, an electric bike that could be easily integrated into one’s life. Ride it to work, go trail riding, get total exercise and have as much fun as you want.
I still loves motocross and recently resumed racing after a 25 year retirement.
As I Grew Older, it Was Harder to Ride Motocross
I realized as I got older with a family, motocross was harder to do. You have to load the bikes up and drive to a track, which might be an hour and a half away and you’re unloading again. You’re getting dressed in a lot of gear, protective gear, and you’re riding. Then you’re repeating, you’re loading everything up, you drive home and then you unload. So you have a full day and you might only ride for an hour or two. So as life gets busy for most of us and for me too, I didn’t have time to do that anymore. In addition, many people have injuries that stop them from riding MX anymore, so the electric bike is their only option now.
The Electric Bike is Easy to Ride Anytime and Anywhere
“I’ve been a biker and I’d love to do dirt biking. In order for me to do dirt biking, I’d have to put my bike in a truck or trailer, haul it fifty miles and then ride for a few hours. That’s a real pain. This thing I can ride anywhere, anywhere! I can ride it in the park, I can ride it on the sidewalk. I can ride it on the street. I can ride it wherever I want to go. And that’s not true with other motorized vehicles, you know. And, plus, you get the exercise.” Carey
Have Adventure, Don’t Kill Yourself
“You get to be our age, you know, you don’t want to kill yourself. You want to be able to have a great time, get the exercise and feel like a kid again. And this gives you the opportunity to do that. I like to ride early. I get up by 7:30 in the morning, I’m on the bike and I’m coming around the four or five different trails that are right out the front door that are great. And turn every time I ride into an adventure.” Andy
Why is an Electric Bike Better than a Conventional Bike?
Many people ask why not just ride a conventional non-powered bike instead of an electric bike. This is a good question and there a several reasons.
- If you are riding on the trials, the electric bike is faster so you get a more dynamic experience that is more like a motocross bike.
- The electric bike can travel faster, so you can get to a trial faster and easier. This gives more time for riding.
- It is easier to climb long hills, so you have more fun on the downhill parts.
- The electric bike is easier on knees and hips, so more people can ride.
Motocross: The Most Physically Demanding Sport?
It is often said based on several studies, that Motocross is the most physical demanding sport in the world. There is some disagreement on this, but most riders have their heart rate at 95% max in the 195 beats per minute, during a Supercross. Top riders in the Tour de France in a 30 minute time trial will have heart rates in the 173 range. It is thought the reason the Motocross riders can sustain higher heart rates is due to using more muscle groups in their bodies. Normally the higher heart rates would cause the rider to go anaerobic and lose power, but because the muscles in motocross are constantly changing, the motocross rider can ride with a higher sustained heart rate. By adding a motor to a bicycle, the riders attain higher speeds and use more muscle groups when riding on trials, similar to a motocross rider.
Downhill Bike Racing More Like Motocross
Downhill bicycle racing has become very popular. Riders use ski lifts to take them to the top of the mountain and then race down using gravity to create their speed. This downhill riding is more like racing motocross as more muscle groups are used then with just conventional cycling on the road. The electric bicycle allow riders to ride both up and down the hills and come closer to the motocross feeling of exhilaration. Riding downhill or faster on trials stimulates the vestibular system and this energized the body and improves balance.
Top Motocross Coach was Former Professional Bike Racer
There are so many similarities in physical demands between motocross and bicycling. Aldon Baker is regarded as the top motocross trainers in the world. Aldon has coached motocross greats, Ryan Dungey, James Stewart, Ryan Villapoto and others. Aldon realized the similarities in the two sports and crossed over from bicycle racing to coaching motocross. Many pro motocross racers use mountain bikes and electric mountain bikes (EMTB) to train on. They are able to get a good cardiovascular workout without the damage from riding their motocross bike. Pro MX riders can not get enough physical training during the week by riding their MX bikes alone, due to the high rate of injury from practicing on the MX bike.
Which One is the Winner?
So, an electric bike versus a motocross bike. How do they compare? I love them both. Let’s see how they compare in several areas.
Both bikes gives you a great workout, but with an electric bike it’s easier to get exercise every day. A motocross bike may bang you up more and strain your back, and knees more. Often people find it too hard to ride motocross anymore due to injuries. Riding the electric bike on the trails lets them still get thrills and exercise.
A motocross bike can be ridden on trials and on a track. It gives an amazing amount of exhilaration. The electric bike is easy to ride to the trails and also gives a lot of fun and exercise. The Optibike R15 is a very fun and fast bike to ride off road.
An electric bike is always ready to go, which means no loading and transportation; an electric bike is your transportation. You can ride to the trials on your electric bike and get in a half hour ride. With a motocross bike there is a lot of time to load up the bikes, drive and get dressed. Motocross bikes also take time to maintain and burn through gas and tires faster.
No doubt, a motocross bike is more exhilarating, but an electric bike can give you plenty of excitement and adventure. You can ride up downhill courses on an electric bike and rip down and get more speed than a regular bike on trials. It is closer to a motocross bike than a regular bike in feeling. You get some of that adrenaline rush.
Both bikes can push the limit, but heavier and more powerful motocross bike can be more dangerous. The speed and energy in the motocross bike means that crashes can cause more damage, that’s why so much safety gear is required. It is easy to twist knees on the motocross bike and shoulders often get more damaged with falls. The heavier weight of an MX bike and the higher speeds means more energy is dissipated in a crash, so it is easier to get injured than with a bicycle.
The electric bike is much less expensive per hour ridden than a motocross bike. I haven’t done any calculations, but it probably only costs a few dollars per month to ride an electric bike for 20 hours, while a motocross bike would be hundreds of dollars.
An electric bike versus a motocross bike, let’s call it a draw and go have some fun. The MX bike has a higher rate of exhilaration, but comes with a higher potential for injury when you fall.