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Kia World Extreme Games: Is Motorcross Safe?

No fan of freestyle motocross or big air competitions could ignore the announcement for this year’s Kia World Extreme Games of the inclusion of a Freestyle Motocross (FMX) competition. In 2014 Shanghai’s spectacular skyline becomes the backdrop for the world’s baddest moto riders to backflip their way to competition gold.

Moto X ramp to ramp performances will be held twice daily and feature the tricks and kicks for the world’s best to rev their way to glory. But it’s not all high speed, high altitude risks. Competitors rely on premium riding and safety equipment from goggles to gloves, helmets to chest protectors. First-grade protection keeps the sport safe and riders can opt safety gear products to keep them in the best shape.

Helmet design

Peaking into the testing regime at one of the world’s premier helmet makers, Bell. Only through constant advances have helmets become more comfortable and less hassle to wear. They have evolved alongside the bikes and are tested at different temperatures, moisture levels and speeds at the largest test lab in the world for Bell to ensure they are fit for purpose.

The biggest test is velocity, says Miller, because motorcycles move at a wide range of speeds from snail’s pace to full throttle. Helmets are tested from low to high speed and variations inbetween, because the possibility of a rider crashing at a slow casual speed is just as great as at high velocity.

Anatomy of a ramp

Breaking down the anatomy of a great FMX ramp, Jeremy Barnardo interviewed Australian FMX legend Matt Schubring at redbull.com to find out how ramp design helps the riders. It has come a long way since the vintage days of Evel Knievel. Nowadays computer aided design enables ramps to be put together using precise physics calculations to ensure a safe take off and landing. Jumping is a science now, not just an art.

Schubring’s advice to young FMX jumpers could be applied to any area of motocross: try out your tricks on as many different sizes and shapes of jump as you can and learn from them. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.

Safe learning

Of course back that up with the correct gear. Helmets are critical. You can’t execute a safe Cordova or double grab and then nail that landing without protecting your head. Be intelligent: all of the big names at this year’s Kia World Extreme Games – including Joel Brown, Michael Noris and Pat Bowden – wear exceptional lids.

Goggles keep dirt and dust from irritating the eyes and keep your vision clear. Should the unexpected happen and you don’t execute that trick correctly then the professionals use neck braces to protect against the possibility of neck injuries.

Chest protectors are another must. They shield the chest and back and can help dissipate energy generated by a crash to protect internal organs and other body parts from impact damage. Quality motorcycle boots offer protection to the lower leg, ankle and foot, so don’t be tempted to leave these off your list.

When you see the audacious tricks performed at this year’s Kia Extreme Games – helicopters, heel clickers or superman jumps – what you won’t see is the hours of careful practise. No jump is risk-free, as the professionals well know, but with the right gear there are ways to protect your ride and make Freestyle Motocross a sport for all.

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