Who are the best motocross riders ever?
Motorcross has seen incredible riders come and go in the sport and thus makes it quite a task to pick out the top-15 most famous motocross riders in the sport’s history.
However, a few have still made a distinguishing difference between the top pros and the regular pros. Also, a few have significantly impacted the sport, not just by racing but outside the racing sphere, and has thus, recorded jaw breaking achievements.
SportyTell takes an extensive insight into the sport to rank the top-15 best motocross riders of all time, based on their performance and accomplishments. Read on.
The Best Motocross Riders of All-Time
15. Jean-Michel Bayle
- Years active: 1986–1992
- Teams: Honda
Bayle, a former French professional motocross rider, was one of the most successful dirt bike riders in his era. He was the first rider to win all AMA motocross championship event. He also won the FIM 125cc Motocross World Championship and the 250cc Motocross World Championship. In 2000, he was inducted into the AMA Motorcycles Hall of Fame for his success and recognition in the sport.
14. Harry Everts
- Years active: 1970–1982
- Teams: Puch, Bultaco, Suzuki
Father to one of the best famous motocross racer, the famous Stefan Everts, Harry of Belgian nationality is mostly known for winning the FIM motocross world championship a record four times in his career from 1970-1982. In 2013, Harry Everts was named FIM Legend for his achievements in motorcycling. He was a phenomenal figure in his active years in the sport.
13. Torsten Hallman
- Years active: 1957–1971
- Teams: Husqvarna, Yamaha
Torsten Hallman was one of the top leading figures in the motocross racing sphere in the 1960s. He won the 250cc category four times. His rivalry with fellow racer Joel Robert was one of the exciting sparks in the sport. The duo often finished second or first to one another in the world championship between 1964 and 1968.
Aside from his racing achievements, Hallman also impacted the development of motocross as a sport. He was instrumental in introducing the game in the United States. The year 2000 saw him been inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his recognition and role in popularizing the sports. He was named FIM Legend in 2012.
12. Heikki Mikkola
- Years active: 1969–1979
- Teams: Husqvarna, Yamaha
Mikkola was a fierce, determined, focused, intense, and ardent motocross race rider of Finish nationality, which earned him the nickname “Flying Finn.” When he won the first 500cc Motocross World Championship in 1974 in a historical fierce cycling battle against the then-defending World Champion Roger DeCoster, he became Finnish first Motocross World champion.
Heikki Mikkola followed his victory two years later with another win in the 250cc World Championship, becoming the first cyclist to win both the 250cc and 500cc Motocross World Championship. He went on winning two more 500cc World Championship before retirement. In recognition of his achievements, Mikkola was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2006.
11. Joel Smets
- Years active: 1989–2005
- Teams: Vertemati, Husaberg, KTM
Although Joel Smets currently is a racing Sports Director for KTM motorcycles, he once competed in the motocross racing sphere. Between 1989–2005, he emerged Motocross World Champion five times. Injuries plagued most of his career, but that didn’t stop him from racing on to victory. His 57 recorded career Grand Prix victories place him fourth among all Motocross world championship competitors in history.
10. Georges Jobe
- Years active: 1979–1992
- Teams: Suzuki, Kawasaki, Honda
Late Georges Jobe was most famous motocross riders known for his 1987 500cc championship victory as he won riding a privateer Honda CR500. He was a five-time champion in his riding days. Jobe won FIM World 250cc Motocross Championship in 1980 and 1983. He followed up this victory by winning the FIM World 500cc Motocross Championship three more times, 1987, 1991, and 1992, totaling his championship victories to five.
Jobe’s memorable broad “double jump” in the 1984 500cc British Motocross Grand Prix, held at Hawkstone Park, Shropshire, England, is one remarkable cycling performance that will live in the minds of dirt bike racing fans for centuries to come.
9. Eric Geboers
- Years active: 1980–1990
- Teams: Suzuki, Honda
The late Belgian professional Motocross racer and racing driver was prolific in the racing sphere. In Eric Geboers’ 10 years racing career, he became the first Motocross racer to win the World Championship in the 125cc, 250cc, and 500cc categories. For his recognition and achievement in the motorcycling, he was named FIM Legend in 2011, thus, joining the ranks of the greatest motocross riders ever.
8. Roger de Coster
- Years active: 1966–1980
- Teams: ČZ, Suzuki, Honda
Roger de Coster was a dominating figure in motocross in the 70s. He was the sport’s face, winning five Motocross World Championships and peaking a record of 36 500cc Grand Prix wins. Coster’s expertise, achievements, and excellence in the sport led to him been dubbed “The man.” Of notable interest, he, as a team manager, guided the first American team to its first Motorcross Des Nations victory in 1981.
Roger de Coster, who is currently the Motorsport Director of KTM and Husqvarna North America, was named an FIM Legend in 2010 to recognize his achievements in motorcycling.
7. Joël Robert
- Years active: 1960–1976
- Teams: CZ, Suzuki, Puch
One of the most talented natural riders the sport has ever witnessed was Joël Robert. He made his professional debut in the early 1960s in the European motocross championship. In 1964, while riding for CZ motorcycle, he won the 1964 250cc world championship becoming the youngest rider to clinch the title. 1968 and 1969, he repeated the feat. Upon switching to Suzuki, he won the 250cc Grand Prix championship in 1970, 1971, and 1972 recording 50 motocross Grand Prix victories throughout his career.
6. Tony Caroli
- Years active: 2002–present
- Teams: Yamaha (2004–2009), KTM (2010–present)
Antonio “Tony” Caroli, an Italian professional motocross racer first stormed the racing scene in 2002 and 2005, won his first FIM Motocross World Championship in the MX2-GP class. He went on winning it again in 2007. After switching to the Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, he continued his victory ramp, defending his title successfully in 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. In total, he won nine FIM Motocross Championships. Tony Caroli is one of the most successful motocross racers in history.
5. Ricky Johnson
- Years active: 1980–1991
- Teams: Yamaha, Honda
Ricky Johnson won his Motocross title at the age of 20, in the 1984 250cc class national championship. He earned an invitation to the US Motocross team, which competed in Maggiora, Italy, and won a clean sweep with the US team. 1987 saw him dominating the sport and clinching the 250 and 500 titles. Sadly a wrist injury cut short his prominent success in the Motocross sport and led to his retirement at 26.
At the time of his retirement in 1991, Johnson was the all-time Supercross victories leader. Eight years after retirement, Ricky Johnson was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the Motorsports Hall of Fame of America.
4. James Stewart Jr
- Years active: 2002–2019
- Teams: Kawasaki, Yamaha, Suzuki
Stewart is arguably the fastest Motocross racer the sport has ever witnessed. His extraordinary speed, combined with great athleticism and vigor, earned him the nickname “The Fastest Man on the Planet.” In 2008 he swept through the AMA Motocross season, winning every single race. Only one other rider achieved this feat, Ricky Carmichael, during his undefeated run.
James Steward Jr has to his name, 5 FIM World Champion titles in Motocross of Nations competitions, and 3 AMA Motocross Champion titles. He recorded the best rookie season with ten wins in 12 Motocross races.
3. Bob Hannah
- Years active: 1976–1989
- Teams: Yamaha, Honda, Suzuki
Hannah was one wild rider and always seems on the brink of losing riding control, but far from what his aggressive driving style may suggest, he was still in balance and control. His laid-back riding style earned him the name “Hurricane Hannah.” He was the face of American Motocross in the late 70s and early 80s.
In his career, which span 13 years, Hannah won 70 AMA National Championship and 7 Motocross National Championships. He is one of the most successful Motocross racers in the world. In 1999, Bob Hannah was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame.
2. Ricky Carmichael
- Years active: 1997–2007
- Teams: Kawasaki, Honda, Suzuki
The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inductee is considered by many to be the greatest motocross rider of all-time (G.O.A.T.) for his phenomenal achievements. He recorded a total of 150 wins in his 11 years stint.
Ricky Carmichael is the only Motocross racer to record an undefeated season, a feat he repeated thrice. He won the AMA 450cc motocross national championship seven times and was named AMA Pro Racing Athlete of the Year five different occasions. Throughout his career, he was sponsored by Kawasaki, Honda, and Suzuki.
1. Stefan Everts
- Years active: 1988–2006
- Teams: Suzuki, Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki, KTM
Stefan is undoubtedly the most successful and the best motocross rider of all time. His achievements and awards are endless. Ten times he emerged World Champion, he recorded a whopping 101 Grand Prix victories, winning 3 GPs every day. He is the first and only rider to be crowned World Champion on all four Japanese manufacturers.
Everts was named Belgian Sportsman of the year five times and also won the prestigious Lifetime Achievement award. Stefan Everts is the word GREAT itself, and, beyond incredible in the motocross racing sphere.
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