Last Updated on December 29, 2022

Desert motorcycle racing is a form of high-speed dirt bike racing that takes place in the desert.

It is also known as desert motocross or off-road motorcycle racing for it is a variant of off-road desert racing on 2-wheel vehicles such as dirt bikes. The sport involves riding motorcycles over rough, sandy terrain and through difficult obstacles such as rocks, cacti, and dunes.

Riders must be able to navigate difficult terrain and maintain their motorcycles in harsh conditions, while also sustaining a fast pace for long periods of time. Desert motorcycle racing is often held in a series of events, with riders earning points based on their finishing position in each race.

The first official desert motorcycle race was the Baja 1000, held in the early 20th century in Mexico, from Ensenada to La Paz. The sport then quickly became popular across America, Africa and the Middle East.

Today, desert motorcycle racing is a popular and competitive sport that attracts riders of all skill levels from around the world. It is governed by organizations such as the International Motorcycling Federation (FIM) and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), which set rules and regulations for the sport and provide safety guidelines for participants.

Desert motorcycle racing events are held in various locations around the world, including the United States, Mexico, Australia, and Morocco.

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Desert Motorcycle Riding
Desert Motocross Racing

Desert Bikes

The best types of dirt bike for desert racing have a 2-stroke engine and are optimized for high performance on sandy trails and dunes. Enduro racing wheels and tyres are also used to race in the desert.

Here are some gear modifications which you can do to your bike for increasing its performance on sand:

Best Dirt Bike Tires for Sand Dunes


Maxxis Maxxcross Desert IT

KENDA Parker DT K772

Pirelli Scorpion MX Soft 410

Best Chains for Sand Dunes

Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - Regina Gold-X
Regina Gold-X
Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - Regina Gold-Z
Regina Gold-Z
Best Dirt Bike Chain for Sand Dunes - EK MVXZ X-Ring
EK MVXZ X-Ring

Motocross Races

Some of the most popular desert races in America are branded Best In The Desert, which is also the longest off-road race event organizer in the US. Every year they organize around five dirt bike racing events in the Nevada desert.

The Dakar Rally, tradionally held in the Sahara Desert (in some years moved to South America or the Middle East), is one of the most recognized desert races in the world, and open to both 4-wheeled vehicles and motorbikes.

Red Bull Knock Out is an off-road dirt bike race held in the Netherlands on the beach of The Hague. While technically not a desert race, it is one of the toughest endurance motocross race in Europe.

Video: Epic Sand Dunes Freeriding

History of Desert Enduro Racing

The sport has a long history dating back to the early 20th century, when motorcycles were first used for transportation and exploration in desert and other off-road environments.

One of the earliest recorded desert motorcycle races took place in 1922, when a group of American adventurers rode motorcycles from Los Angeles to New York City as part of a publicity stunt. The race, known as the “Cannonball Run”, covered a distance of more than 3,300 miles and took place on a variety of surfaces, including dirt roads, sand, and gravel.

In the 1960s, the first official desert motorcycle race, the Baja 1000, was held in Mexico. The race was organized by the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) and ran from Ensenada to La Paz, covering a distance of approximately 1,000 miles. The Baja 1000 quickly gained popularity and became an annual event, attracting thousands of participants and spectators from around the world.

Since then, desert motorcycle racing has evolved into a popular and competitive sport with a wide range of events and classes, including cross-country racing, enduro, and hare scrambles. Desert motorcycle racing is now held in various locations around the world, including the United States, Mexico, Australia, and Morocco, and is enjoyed by riders of all skill levels.


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