Friday, February 15, 2008

Motorcycling


Motorcycling is not only a popular form of transportation and recreation, it is also an organized, competitive sport. In the late 1980s more than 4 million motorcycles were registered in the United States. Their uses ranged from traffic control, to special off-road races, to daily commuting. The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), which had more than 187,000 members in 1991, is the national governing body that oversees motorcycle racing in the United States. Each year about 3000 – 3500 AMA approve amateur races are held, and the AMA sponsors 250-300 races for professionals.

International motorcycle racing is regulated by the Federation Internationale Motorcycliste (FIM), which sanctions the Grand Prix series of races.

The two basic type of motorcycle races are road races and motocross races. Others include hill climbs, flat-track racing, side car racing, indoor racing and drag racing.

U.S. road racer compete in several engine-size categories; 250 cc; Grand Prix; 600 and 750 cc; Supersport; 750 cc; Superbike. The number of cylinder may differ from class to class. Road racing machines, powered by multicylinder engines, have low-slung chasis, short handlebars, and footrests near the rear wheel. The rider sits behind a streamlined windshield in a tight crouch that lowers the center of gravity. Road races are run on oval or irregular tracks with straight away that may allow speeds of up to 298 km/h (185 mph). The major U.S. road race is the 200-mi (321.8 km) event that is held annually at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona, Fla.

Motocross races are run over natural-terrain courses chosen for their ruggedness and unevenness. The machines that the races use are designed to meet strictly enforced regulations and at the same time deliver maximum power and tractability. Motocross machines are also divided into competitive categories according to engine size; 125, 250 and 500 cc are the three groups. These machines, which are powered by single-cylinder engines, have knobby tires for traction, wide-set handlebars for steering leverage, and long-travel suspension that can absorb the bumps and joints of a motocross course. The AMA sponsor Grand Prix event for motocross bikes at various sites around the country. Supercross is an offshoot of traditional motocross.

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