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Distorted beliefs: Is Sportbike Freestyle Riding Really A Motorsport?

In this world of specialisation where everything has a defined set of rules and meaning to it, a new set of regulations are in accordance. This article is supposed to define a new book and question some predated beliefs. Stepping in the time machine to see how racing as such came into existence, may give one an understanding as to why this sport is a beginning of something new. The recent articles got respectable response but a couple of people still end up posting pictures of them trying some stunts (not tricks in this case as there was no controlled environment as well as lack of safety gear). This is illegal as well as dangerous and not the sport on any front. We heavily condemn such hooliganism.

So leaning back onto the objective of this article, the acceptance of Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) as a motorsport is yet to come by.

Flamingo Circle Wheelie
Flamingo Circle Wheelie by Rohitesh Upadhyay

How is Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) a Sport?

According to Cambridge dictionary,

“Sport is defined as a game, competition, or activity needing physical effort and skill that is played or done according to rules, for enjoyment and/or as a job.”

Hence, Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) can be defined as a sport as it requires physical efforts and practiced skill to perform particular tricks just like in gymnastics. There has been an official championship by the name XDL which has had an Indian, South African and an American leg. There are parameters and rules based on which the championship is conducted and winners are declared.

No hander circles by Atinderjeet Nahal, an XDL India Champion 2014
No hander circles by Atinderjeet Nahal, an XDL India Champion 2014

Why Stunt Riding cannot justify this activity as a sport?

According to the Cambridge diction again,

“Stunt is an exciting action, usually in a film, that is dangerous or appears dangerous and usually needs to be done by someone skilled.”

Since, we are discussing the real and not the reel life here, the tricks are being done by athletes in controlled environment and under apt qualified supervision which translates that Sportbike Freestyle Riding is not a stunt. A biker accelerating on the ramp to jump over 10-12 buses is a stunt. There is that very reason why Parkour or Freerunning is a sport and not just a run over some random obstacles. This activity of course has seen its presence in films where the actor in the film might use a trick such as wheelie to impress the actress in the film or conduct an action sequence of the film. What people don’t realize is that there is a lot of behind the scenes, duplicate rider availability, stoppie contraption machines (which can be edited for movies), safety counters, VFX and other arbitrary factors involved. This is exactly why even after any actor training for a year to play in a biopic of an athlete cannot take his place in the real sport.

Kick Lock Circle Wheelie
Kick Lock Circle Wheelie by Rohitesh Upadhyay

The unit of this sport which is usually misquoted as stunts is supposed to be preached as tricks. The athletes perform tricks using motorcycle. Another point of concern is the justification as to why Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) is much appropriate a term compared to Streetbike. This sport is not confined to any particular class of bikes, like sports bikes, naked bikes or cruisers. The word ‘sport’ in Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) can be an argument referring the activity as a sport rather than Streetbike Freestyle Riding which pertains to ‘street’ as a term. Since the activity is supposed to be legally practiced in controlled and permitted areas and not on streets and public roads, hence Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) justifies the sport and the desired meaning. Also not referring the sport as ‘Stunt Riding’ will make people understand that there are more technicalities to this sport than a mere fluke for perfecting a movie’s action sequence for the upcoming Oscar awards.

How is Sportbike Freestyle Riding (SFR) a Motorsport?

“Motorsport or motorsports is a global term used to encompass the group of competitive sporting events which primarily involve the use of motorised vehicles, whether for racing or non-racing competition.”

Cross Footdown Ralf Lui Circles
Cross Footdown Ralf Lui Circles by Atinderjeet Nahal, an XDL India Champion 2014

It is much more of a surprising factor that people in automobile journalism and automotive field themselves do not understand and conceive this as a motorsport. Such an ideology can be simply challenged by these instances. When XDL landed on the Indian shores back in 2014, it was held as a full-fledged championship with a comprehensive and properly defined format under the affiliation of Federation of Motorsport Corporation of India (FMSCI). Even the likes of motorsport such as Formula 1 are organised under their banner in India so anyone trying to defy this sport should look how the XDL India championship took place. FMSCI is by large the only motorsport body recognised by the Government of India, Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports for promotion and governance. It functions to standardise the rules and regulations for any motorsport activity across the length and breadth of India.

Seat Stander no throttle hand circles
Seat Stander no throttle hand circles by Atinderjeet Nahal, an XDL India Champion 2014

FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme)

What is of utter importance is that FMSCI is a member of FIM (Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme) which is the global governing body of motorcycle racing. It parallelly is also involved into non-racing activities that promote the sport, safety parameters and supports relevant public policy.


A recent development also hails from the land of Europe. The European Street Freestyle Riding Cup is being organised in tandem with FIM Europe from 2018 onwards. FIM Europe has sanctioned a yes to the specific format of tournament to be organized in Europe for European riders only. If this happens, it will mark a golden page in the history of motorcycle motorsport literature.

The FIM congress held between 30th June to 2nd July 2017 in Rome has to be a significant set of dates for Streetbike/Sportbike Freestyle Riding genre as those crucial talks will determine the future of this burgeoning sport. This in respect is shaping the sport in its right spirit and hopefully will police the perils which currently plague the activity and athletes in name of culture.

They say four wheels move a body but two wheels move a soul. The continued emotion exists amongst those handful, soul-fueled entities who twist the throttle, balance the raised wheel to add another line to this beautiful ode in motion.

Concluding the write up, there is a small piece of responsibility for everyone. The riders who are in this sport or are just taking it up should realise that they are inspiration to many and that is something they should endorse responsibly and sincerely. Dedication is what gave this country Sachin Tendulkar and Milkha Singh. Riders should embrace that and how those legends respected the sport as a religion to achieve the undefinable. They should avoid streets and respect road rules as well as cater to safety of their own self too. They should also avoid any practices of tobacco, drugs or alcohol in any form. It is the will of a person and sheer focus which will help him/her achieve success. Just like in any other sport. The corporates should respect the skill that riders have and push it in its natural state rather than just using it as money minting marketing activity. The masses need education, supporting the right person after understanding the difference between ethical riding and being bonkers. Fuel for thought!

— Gaganbir Singh

Disclaimer: This article was prepared or accomplished by it's author in their personal capacity. The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not reflect the view of Motorbikes India or it's owners.

The views and opinions expressed on this web site are soley those of the original authors and other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Steve Gerweck, the GERWECK.NET staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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  1. Gaganbir Singh


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