Compiling a list of the best dirt bike riders is no easy feat since greatness is not always subjective, but we’ve looked at titles, victories, and popularity to give you a glimpse at some of the most prominent figures in the motocross world. Below you’ll find a list of famous dirt bike riders that will forever have a place in motocross history.
One of the most famous motocross riders in the world is Ricky Carmichael since he is regarded as the all-time greatest in the motocross world by critics and fans alike. He earned most of his titles in the early 2000s, and he won the Supercross championship 5 times, the AMA Motocross 7 times, and took first place in 48 Supercross races.
During his early career, Ricky struggled with injuries, and his riding was inconsistent, but it didn’t take him long to find his stride. Hard work and training paid off since he ended up being known as the most physically fit rider of his days. He is also known by fans as a very kind and humble person.
His career in motocross lasted for only 10 years, from 1997 to 2007, and this makes his record that much more impressive since it is very difficult to earn that many trophies in just 10 years. His unparalleled success got him the nickname of “The GOAT” (Greatest of All Time), so his place on this list cannot be disputed.
He is also the only motocross racer in the world to win premier-class Supercross championships with three different manufacturers.
As the son of the well-known motocross racer Harry Everts, Stefan Everts got on his first bike at the young age of four. He followed in his father’s footsteps and managed to surpass him and become a legend in the motocross world.
While being world champion 10 times is a feat that speaks for itself, what made Stefan very popular was his smooth and efficient riding that was beautiful to behold. He also holds the record of being the only rider to become World champion on all the four Japanese manufacturers, Yamaha, Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki.
He also received the Belgian sportsman of the year award 4 times in a row, 2001-2004, and once again in 2006. He retired from motocross racing in 2006, but his legacy lives on.
James “Bubba” Stewart
Similarly to Stefan Everts, James Stewart was introduced to the motocross world at a young age by his father, who was a renowned motocross enthusiast. At the age of 4 years, he entered into his first motocross race. He got into his first 125cc Supercross at the age of 16, and he finished it second.
Currently, with 18 wins, he holds the record for the most wins in the 125/250cc regional Supercross series. However, he is also known for being a messy rider, and his crashes and injuries have left him with just 2 AMA championships.
Throughout his career, he managed to get an impressive 196 professional wins, as well as 7 amateur titles and 84 amateur wins before the age of 17. He went on to become the first motocross rider to get his own TV show with “Bubba’s World”, the show that helped to bring motocross into the public spotlight.
Stewart is undoubtedly a key figure in the motocross world that history will never forget since he has changed the sport and revolutionized riding styles and techniques. On May 17th, 2019, he announced his retirement.
Robert Hannah, most commonly known as Bob Hannah, was one of the most acclaimed motocross racers in American history. Many consider him to be the first real superstar in motocross history. He stepped into the arena for the first time in 1976 when he was 19 years old.
In the first three championship seasons of his career, he managed to win an impressive 18 out of 31 main events. He would have undoubtedly won even more titles were it not for some unfortunate injuries that prevented him from competing for the 1983 Supercross title, despite dominating that season.
Even so, throughout his 13 years of career, Bob has managed to be successful in 70 AMA national championships and win 7 Motocross national titles. He was a speedy racer, and because of that, he got the nickname “Hurricane”. In 1989 he retired and stepped out of the arena for good, but not without leaving a lasting mark in the world of motocross.
In the 1970s, Heikki Mikkola was regarded as one of the best riders in the world, and even to this day, his legacy still carries on as he continues to be considered as one of the greatest motocross riders of all time. His hard and aggressive riding style earned him the nickname of “Flying Finn”.
He won four world championships, and he felt most at home riding the larger 500cc bikes of the seventies. The 1974 season saw him battling rival Roger De Coster, and he managed to finish it victoriously. After the 1974 season, Heikki Mikkola continued to ride for another five seasons before retiring.
Some of his career highlights include winning three 500cc championships in 1974, 1977 and 1978, winning a 250cc championship in 1975, and finishing in the top 4 for every year from 1970 to 1978. In 2006, Heikki Mikkola joined the motocross hall of fame.
The 1990s saw Jeremy McGrath as the indisputable “King of Supercross”, a nickname he got for his tricks and jumps that made him a favorite among the fans of this sport. In 1991 and 1992, he managed to dominate the 125cc Western Regional Supercross Championships, and then in 1993, he slowly moved up to the 250cc class.
Throughout his career, he ended up winning 9 supercross titles and 2 motocross titles. He would have won more motocross titles were it not for the formidable Ricky Carmichael who managed to deny them from him.
Even so, Jeremy McGrath has still managed to gather 89 career wins in motocross. He got very close to a world title in 1996, but a wrong jump led to an injury that ruled him out that year. Though retired, Jeremy is still a fan-favorite and continues to compete in various types of motorcycle racing, as well as the occasional stock car racing.
What sets Travis Pastrana apart from the rest of the riders on this list is the fact that he hasn’t won as many titles, but if that shows anything, is that having a list of the best motocross riders based on titles alone is not fair. Currently, he has 3 125cc motocross titles and multiple gold medals in the X-Games.
Time and time again, he has proven his talent in the arena. Another thing that sets him apart from other riders is the fact that most of his time is spent not on the ground but in the air. Not only is he skilled in motocross, but he is also an excellent stunt-rider.
As a natural stunt performer, he enjoyed performing stunts during motocross racing to keep his fans at the edge of their seats. However, he is not a man to be satisfied with only one sport since he is also a Rally and NASCAR racer and competes in various other activities as well.
Roger De Coster
Roger De Coster is a Belgian professional motocross racer who managed to log more than 35 wins, including 5 motocross world champion titles. Along with Heikki Mikkola, he dominated the world of motocross in the 1970s with the Suzuki team. He was nicknamed “The Man” as he always dominated each race physically from start to finish.
By 1975, Roger De Coster had established himself as the greatest motocross rider of the 20th century. He got the title of Belgian national champion 9 times, and he won the Trans-AMA motocross series 4 times.
De Coster was also known as a multipurpose rider since he was also experienced in the trial and endure. Moreover, in the arena, he was known for his smooth and controlled riding style, and in 1994, he was inducted into the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
With 57 wins and 5 world championship titles, Joël Robert is regarded by many as one of the top 10 best motocross riders of all time. He was a natural talent since, during his lengthy career, he didn’t receive any proper training from anyone. Compared to many on this list, he started his career rather late, when he was 17 years old.
Despite the late start, he managed to become one of the greatest riders in the world. He would have probably ended up winning even more races and titles had he not suffered some debilitating injuries during the last 5 years of his career, including a tough knee injury.
Today, Joël Robert no longer rides in the arena, but his influence in the world of motocross continues. He currently serves as a sports director for the KTM Red Bull Factory team.