The first motorcycle race was held a few years after the first motorcycle was invented. It was held in France and covered about 400 km. Various types of motorcycle racing have evolved from that first race – road, track, off-road, and speed trials. Offshoots of these include hill climbs and drag racing.
These events are held on public roads such as the Isle of Man TT, track racing on purpose-built tracks, also used by motorcar racing, and off-road events are held on paved public roads as well as on gravel, such as the Dakar (this event shares the route with cars and trucks sharing). Speed trials are held over measured distances on flats, usually salt flats, where bikes travel at very high speeds attempting to break personal records and world records. Hill climbs are over short distances up steep hills such as Pikes Peak in Colorado in the USA. What used to be a Europe dominated sport soon caught on, and events have gained popularity all over the world.
Motorcycle Grand Prix.
There are three categories to this sport include Moto GP, Moto 2, and Moto 3. At first, only 500cc two-stroke engines participated, but this was gradually taken over by more massive four-stroke engines, which then became the standard for this category in 2003. In 2007, motors up to 800cc were allowed, and in 2012 this was upped to 1000cc.
Originally 600cc 4 stroke engines were specified (before this 250cc two-strokes were the norm). Since 2011, only Honda manufactured controlled four strokes were allowed. As of 2019, these Honda motors will be replaced by Triumph engines. Only Dunlop tyres and steel brakes are allowed, but this will change in 2019.
Since 2012 250cc single cylinder four strokes will be the only engine allowed in this category (with a max bore of 81cc). The ages of the riders are also controlled: up to 25 for first-time riders and 28 for all other riders and the minimum weight for rider and bike is 148kg.
Superbike World Championships started in 1988 and racing is held on surfaced tracks, mostly shared with motorcar racing. All bikes used in the contest are production bikes that have been modified. The Formula One World Championships were scrapped in 1990 as Superbike races took over in popularity. The bikes were Ducati, Honda and Aprilia which had 1000cc engines and these raced against 750 2 cylinder Japanese bikes – Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki and Kawasaki. In 2003 the 750cc bikes disappeared from the tracks entirely, and motorcycles of between 800cc and 1200cc became the norm.
Ducati dominated superbike racing, and in 2004 organisers made some changes, only allowing Pirelli tyres at the cost of Dunlop and Michelin which were considered the best tyres by the riders. Partly because of this ruling the Motorcycle Manufacturers Association pulled out of the Grand Prix.