Motocross Track Construction – Getting The Fundamentals Right!

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The best way to begin motocross track construction is to carefully select the right chunk of land. Ideally it will already have good sloping terrain and natural hills for you to work with. You’ll want to ride over the section a few times using the natural flow of the land to find the best possible route, then mark out your course using pegs and tape or spray paint. In some cases you’ll need to be able to cart in dirt to build jumps and berms.

Many people ask for motocross track blueprints not realizing that each track should be unique to the size and shape of the land, and the skill level of the riders using it.

To construct the track you will need something bigger than a garden spade… but you don’t need to hire a 20 ton digger to shape up your parents backyard either.

Bobcats are amazing machines. They won’t cost you an arm or leg to hire and they are quick and versatile. It is amazing how much dirt you can move in a day on one of these puppies if you know what you’re doing! Bulldozers are even better if you know how to operate one, but if you don’t want to fork out the cash to hire something, and you have access to a mate’s tractor with a front end loader, that will work too.

  • Get creative. Search for rolling hill tops that can be turned into large table-top styled jumps simply by shaping up the face of it. Maybe you can push a heap of dirt together near the bottom of a hill to create a step-up…

  • Use hillsides as the base for berms. This will save you a lot of time and effort in the bobcat!
  • Try to shape the track with a natural flow. Also, you may need to put in more corners than you think to lower your speed down before jumps. Unless you’re Robbie Maddison you don’t want to be hitting jumps after a 100m long straight in 5th gear tapped. And if you are having to brake hard before a jump, you’ve probably designed it incorrectly.
A rubber conveyer belt used to prevent rutting.
  • Old rubber conveyor belts or fake lawn strips are brilliant for laying down over upramps to prevent them rutting out. Keep in mind the rubber will become slippery in the wet – unless you hit them with speed of course.
  • Another thing to consider during motocross track construction is drainage. Remember that any low lying area of land, e.g. dips, valleys, bottom of hills and even berm sections will probably fill with water and turn to swamp unless there is adequate drainage.

Design the surface area on your track with a slight angle to allow water to run off to the sides. Design cutouts and channels to deflect water from the track surfaces. A little thought and attention to drainage will make a significant difference to how many days out of the year you’ll be able to ride it. Plus it’ll keep track maintenance to a minimum.

  • In this photo, tires are used to support soft sand on a bank turn.

    What type of soils are you working with? You ideally want clay based dirt for jump faces. Clay is compact and will provide a long lasting, low maintenance launch pad. Softer more loamy dirt around the rest of the course will give you a really nice surface to ride on and will also be safer if/when you stack it. Keep in mind the loamy stuff will require more maintenance and grooming – but it’ll be worth it.

  • Professional track builders rip up the earth first and use water which enables them to shape it up better. It also softens the ground making it more fun and forgiving.
  • Tip: Try blending sand, light bark or sawdust with hard dirt to lighten it up and assist with drainage. And screen out rocks unless you like eating stone-sandwiches.
  • Lastly, a good motocross track layout will ensure that it is a safe one. If you can avoid placing jumps near rocks and trees – do it. Otherwise try placing hay bales or even old bed mattresses around solid objects like trees to prevent a human kebab scenario happening. The last thing you want is a serious injury on your hands, or a prison sentence.

    Keep in mind you’ll need to be able to maintain the track to keep it in good condition. So don’t think that once you build it you won’t need the machinery anymore and you can forget about track maintenance. Rutted out, concrete-hard tracks are a great recipe for breaking bikes and bones and will have you and your mates visiting the medics more often than you’d like.

    If it’s your track… it’s your responsibility.

Jim Harmer

I'm the co-owner of Dirt Bike Planet. I live in Star, Idaho and enjoy dirt biking with my wife and two boys throughout the Idaho mountains.

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