We wanted to create a beginner’s guide to building a motocross track at home where you can ride around all day long for free.
After all, who wants to haul up their bike, gear and camping equipment for a few nights away. If you have the fortune of having a few acres of land available, then building your own backyard motocross track is certainly appealing.
Now, we’re not talking about building the next AMA super track ready for competitors and 20,000 spectators by next weekend. That’s quite the overkill. We simply want you building your first motocross track at home.
How to Build a Home-Based MX Track
It’s quite an exciting proposition to construct your own dirt bike track in the backyard. When your buddies come over one afternoon and check it out, you can have the pride and admiration that you built this thing yourself.
The best part? It isn’t hard. Just follow these steps and constructing a dirt bike track at home is pretty easy:
1. Seek Neighborhood and Local Government Permission
One of the biggest concerns is the noise of your dirt bike going around and around for hours each day. Needless to say, you’ll want to consult with your neighbors first.
They are going to want to know how you plan on reducing noise and what hours you plan on riding. We propose 10am to 3pm as a guideline as this is when people are at work and also when the sun is at the highest point in the sky. There’s nothing worse than having the sun coming straight into the goggles at 50 miles per hour.
The noise issue isn’t just one that affects humans but livestock and pets too. No one wants their dog barking for hours each day because your dirt bikes are disturbing their peace time.
Pro-Tip: Electric dirt bikes are becoming quite affordable and KTM sells a seriously powerful machine. You can buy one of these and use it as a selling point.
The other main issue is dust. You don’t want to be whipping up dust and having it land at your neighbors house. If you’re in a dry area, then you’ll need a dust management plan.
2. Draw 5 Potential Designs on Paper
By knocking out some potential designs using traditional pen and paper, you’ll be able to let your imagination from your childhood run wild. Our recommendation is a design that is quite compact, given that you probably don’t have much space.
There should be a couple of long sections out the side with some tight technical loops in towards the middle. Add in some table tops and whoop sections, and you’ll have some good idea as to what you’ll want to build.
Also consider the orientatoin of your track. If it’s primarily windy in one direction, then keep this in mind so you can have the back to the wind in the fastest sections of the track and can reach quick lap times, while you’re pushing into the wind in the tighter corners.
3. Finalize 1 Motocross Track Design with Variations
While your final motocross track design is what you’ll be setting out to build, we recommend adding in some variations. These variations allow you to modify your track over time by adding in new corners or shortcuts, or even closing off particular sections.
Essentially, you’ll want a dynamic track that you don’t get bored of. Whereas you may be riding at your local MX track often, you’re not riding there enough to get bored. Your track at home will be great for the first 3 months before you’re pretty well over it.
By having these track modifications in place before you start construction, you’ll be able to retain much of your natural landscape. We don’t want to simply kill all the bushes and scrubs, do we?
4. Hire a Front-End Loader and Bobcat
While some people say that you can build a motocross track with just a bobcat, we believe that you’re going to need two machines. The front-end loader should do the bulk of the work given how heavy the bucket at the front is. Further more, the bucket is heavy and is ideal for compacting the soil in certain areas and has enough reach to build a decent-sized table top.
If you hire both machines from the same company, they’ll only charge you one pick up and delivery fee. Plus they might even give you a discount on hiring out both machines at the same time. Remember to ask for any additional attachments they may have such as a grader blade for either machine. These will save you a ton of time.
Aim to hire both machines for 48 hours at the same time. These will be advertised as wet hire (includes fuel) or dry hire (excludes fuel) so it really depends on how much you need it. Most of these machines are used in construction sites yet they sit idle on weekends, so this is where you’ll get the cheapest rates. Aim for Friday afternoon to Sunday afternoon.
Now, couldn’t you just use an excavator to build a motocross track? Not really. While you can, this will be a very slow experience given the size of the bucket that it has. Also, their tracks (the things that make them steer) will keep ripping up the MX track you’re trying to build. Excavators are better suited for digging trenches and that isn’t what you’re trying to accomplish here.
5. Hire Some Beer Buddies to Finish It Quicker
So you’ve committed to hiring two machines but there’s only one of you. Well, you’re either going to be working all day and night before the machines need to go back to the depot, or you’re going to need to rope some buddies into the mix. Pay ’em with beer, of course.
Remember that your buddies may need to be licenced to operate these machines and this depends on your state. At worse, someone could just be using a hose around the track construction to keep the dust down. Try and segregate the machines by letting the bobcat do the lighter work and away from the front end loader.
Your buddies will probably just be as excited as you are to get this all finished and looking sick. Needless to say, you’ll want to offer them unlimited riding opportunities too and being the first crew to use the track late on Sunday afternoon.
6. Use a Shovel to Edge the Corners, Then Start Riding!
While we marvel at where we have come in 100 years as humans, and the developments in the earth-moving space, you’re going to want to finish parts of your MX track construction off with a shovel. This is especially at the top and bottoms of your jumps, cleaning the edges on the corners and levelling out the whoop sections.
Shovels will become a routine part of your track maintenance and probably something you’ll whip out daily to fill in the rutted sections. Sure, it gets a little annoying but get yourself a good quality shovel too that doesn’t break when you need it the most.
You may also want to buy a backhoe in the future if your savings allow for it. They have an excavator arm at the back which also allows for fence-post construction borers. The front bucket has enough capacity for routine track maintenance including padding down and moving soil.
Tips for Track Construction Success
Now you have the basic process down-pat, let’s share some tips to ensure you have a great time:
- Consider the types of soils you’re working with. Sand is very different from loam and gnarly rocks, which is different again to mud.
- Don’t put the landing of jumps near trees or buildings. This is a dangerous situation if someone stumbles coming off a jump and hasn’t got full control yet of their dirt bike. You can just imagine exactly where they are going to go.
- Slow water drainage is a big issue with most soil types. You’d hate to be waiting 3 days for the track to dry out, so consider installing some sub-surface water drainage ponds when using the earth-moving machines.
- Use an old rubber conveyor belt at the start of any jump. You can find these on Craigslist or Gumtree. This stops ruts from developing. While tempting, it’s also tricky to use these in corners as they move around way too much.
- Find some old tyres for the corners. These are both a great idea to keep your track from prematurely wearing out as well as for safety to provide a soft landing if you come in too hot and bounce.
- Go in reverse as much as forwards. This way you’re able to spend less time doing maintenance and more time riding, plus you get to experience 2 tracks in 1.
- Don’t use star-pickets for fencing. These are highly dangerous for MX riders even when they’re capped. Instead, get yourself some soft plastic fencing.