Moto. Photo: Remi Desclaux
WHAT IS IT? Motorcycles are two wheeled machines, the wheels traveling at high speeds via a small, but powerful engine that runs off petrol. Dirt bikes are used mainly on dirt, while, funnily enough, road bikes are mostly used on roads. Dirt bikes are usually ridden on motocross tracks, a purpose built circuit with obstacles like ramps, jumps and berms. Surfers and motorcycles have long gone together, the bike being the cheapest and most reliable form of transport throughout the waves havens of South America, Africa and Asia. Dirt biking however is not about transport, it’s about thrill. High speeds and big jumps make this a hobby for those who want fear and big shots of adrenaline in their non- surfing lives.
WHAT THE FUCK HAS IT GOT TO DO WITH SURFING? Surfers have often tried to replicate the fear and adrenalin that surfing big waves produces and dirt biking does that better than most. Although without the similarities of snowboarding or skating, there are very few feelings like having a massive powerful throbbing engine gurgling just below your testicles. Brands like No Fear and later DC, Fox and Monster grouped the different tribes together and most surfers have a few mates that are into their petrol as much as their pintails. Trendy surf/moto brand Deus Ex Machina is the brainchild of ex Mambo head honcho Dare Jennings, is based on vintage motorcycle culture.
WHO DOES IT? The Pipe specialist and freesurfer Ronnie Burns famously died on a dirt bike in Hawaii in 1990, but that hasn’t stopped many of Hawaii’s best surfers in their passion for dirt bikes. Sunny Garcia, Nathan Fletcher, Kalani Robb and Ian Walsh are fanatics. “When I make my mind up to go riding I don’t care how good the waves are, I’m going riding,” Garcia told Motorcyle USA recently. “I’ve driven past Backdoor and Pipeline several times looking at them and thinking, ‘Look how good the waves are but I’m going riding’”. In Oz Gary “Kong” Elkerton is still sponsored by KTM and Julian Wilson has a few tricked up 125s in his garage. Meanwhile, on the more sexy side of brooom brooom, pro logger Harrison Roach has spent the last two seasons trawling through Indonesia on a customised Yamaha, inspiring a whole new crew of hipster road bikie surfers.
WHAT’S RIGHT ABOUT IT? The helmets are pretty cool and few hobbies provide such an intoxicating mixture of speed, adrenalin, carbon monoxide and bruised a-holes. When I just want a bruised a-hole though, I’ve got other options, cheaper on petrol.
WHAT’S WRONG WITH IT? It’s an expensive hobby with a ridiculously high injury rate. It seems that falling onto hard packed dirt whilst traveling at 70 miles per hour tends to be associated with various internal reorganization. Environmentally dirt bikes tend to wreak a fair bit of damage on the natural forests and dunes where they are often used and the fuckers tend to break down on three out of every four rides. They are also quite noisy, stupid, and kinda… horrid.