Motocross Over: MX Gear Has Bled Over to Pop Culture

As a lifelong motocross fan, I’ve been witness to it for 30 years. What is the “it” I am referring to? Crossover. More specifically the influence of motocross’ uniqueness on other sports and fashions.

In the 1990s the most obvious bleed over was within mountain biking. This came as no surprise though, since cycling has long been used as a form of cross-training for motorcycling athletes in general…I’m guessing it has something to do with the two-wheel factor. The ’90, with its frosted tips, goatees and Airwalks, began to see front and rear suspension making an almost direct (and sometimes too literal) transfer from MX to MTB.

At first the products were crude, then overbuilt and then downright hokey. Today, thanks to weight constraints, deep pockets and an enormous market, mountain bike suspension has greatly surpassed its MX origins in design and innovation. Nevertheless, if not for motocross (which bred bicycle motocross, aka BMX, which then bred mountain biking), MTB suspension would still be in the stone age.

Around the same time that motocross was transitioning from being simply a new sport into a real industry, Geoff Fox opened a new MX brand. It was the late 1970s and the brand was called Moto-X Fox. Along with his brother, the duo made two different products: 1) Specialized air suspension components that were off-the-shelf and far superior to the coil spring shocks available at the time; 2) Racing apparel that were lighter and more stylish than just about anything available at the time. The brothers eventually went their separate ways and the clothing portion evolved from Moto-X Fox into Fox Racing, and is popularly known simply as Fox today (but is of no relation to the media giant).

Fox Racing has been one of the few MX brands to transcend its origins and establish a recognizable presence within pop culture, yet also remains a premium brand within the sport of motocross. On Monday, motocross took another big step into the mainstream when the supremely popular street brand, Supreme, announced a collaboration with Fox, available 5/10/18…aka today! Rather than simply creating some logo adorned street tees, the two fashion forward companies have created three full colorways of gear, with everything except for boots. Hell, they even have chestprotectors and goggles.

From pants to helmets, the gear, while new to the streetwear world, is really not far off from some of Fox’s most popular kits from the ’70s, late ’80s and early ’90s. With clean lines and poppy colors, Supreme outfitted Chino (dirt bike wheelie artist signed to the Dreamchasers team under rapper Meek Mill [who just launched an initiative drawing attention to issues with the US prison system]) in order to tease the fresh threads on Instagram.

The news has been popping up all over the fashion-sphere and has received generally positive acclaim before the gear officially becomes available next week. However, the MX community certainly seems to have mixed feelings about the announcement.

On one hand, there is the affirmation that motocross is cool, desirable, and is finally getting some long overdue mainstream attention. On the other hand, since Chino is known for riding wheelies on the street, and not for really anything MX-related (despite being on a purpose built motocross machined [Kawasaki KX450]), there is a sense that Supreme and Fox are misappropriating moto-culture simply to appeal to a wider audience. In truth, both points of view are accurate (Plus, if you really want to get into it, how about the countless motocross videos that use all forms of rap and hip-hop as soundtracks?). However I don’t really see a problem with the latter, especially since MX racing’s vibrant colors and protective gear have been used over and over again by pop icons for decades.

Below are just a few examples from film and TV of motocross gear that was used to make a statement while not paying proper homage to it’s dirty origins:

  1. Fresh Prince of Bel-Air

Will Smith wears a 1996 AXO Sport Pro Circuit/Kawasaki team replica jersey throughout the entire episode with guest star Billy Butterworth…I mean Willian Shatner.

2. Men In Black

Yup, Will Smith strikes again. During Agent J’s introduction to the MIB headquarters, Smith’s character wears CTK Racing pants until finally putting on the “last suit you’ll ever wear.” I honestly don’t know what CTK Racing is (definitely not a well-known MX brand), and I don’t even think the pants were really meant for the rigors of motocross, but with the stretchable yoke across the back, elastic side panels down the legs, and inner knee reinforcement, the pants were unmistakably styled after real motocross gear.

3. Judge Dredd

Not to be mistaken with the more recent, and far superior Dredd from 2012, the 1995 Sylvester Stallone flick was…well let’s just say it WAS NOT on par with Rocky. What it was, though, was a corny and dystopian vision of the future that fell somewhere between Bladerunner and an Archie comic. And, of course, no Hollywood sci-fi over budgeted and creatively lacking film would be complete without someone donning motocross boots on the street.

For some reason, Tinsel Town seems to think boots with low breathability, composite shin plates, plastic toe guards, metal buckles, steel shanks, full grain leather and synthetic gaiters that wrap around the top of the calf will somehow be comfortable and fashionable in the future. At least that’s what they envisioned for the entire force of “judges” including Sly. Apparently when he said “I am the law,” he was referring to his authoritarian fashion sense. The costume designers added a whole bunch of extra material, but the boots are still undeniably MX footwear (likely Hi-Point Pro GP boots, or Alpinestars Supervictory’s). The boots used in Dredd appear to be more road racing oriented, but the misappropriation still applies.

4. Rihanna’s Fenty/Puma Spring 2018 Collection

Back in February, Rihanna’s fashion brand Fenty announced it’s new Spring line of clothing. The collab with Puma has several motocross-styled pants along with racing inspired clothing and even high-heels. However, unlike the other above pop culture references, Rihanna had no problems showing off the MX-roots of the new colors.

Let’s see…two major fashion brands openly drawing direct influence from motocross racing. Is MX officially cool now?!

Away from MX inspiration, action sports crossovers pop up constantly. I was recently invited to Luxottica’s 2018 Spring preview press event in Manhattan and witnessed quite a few brands that seem to be taking design cues from the world of adrenaline junkies.

Versace’ Tribute Visor appears to draw influence from the sporty stylings of Oakley’s eyewear. photo: Bayo Olukotun

I was there to view the new Oakley offerings, but while I perused the displays, I could not help but notice the sporty stylings of some other luxury brands. Single lens offerings from Versace, Valentino, and Prada all stood out to my moto-trained eyes. The Versace Tribute Visor’s truly appear to draw influence from Oakley’s original Blade and more recent Radar.

The similarities end with styling, though, as Oakley’s well-known lens technology promises to do much more than simply protect your eyes from harmful UV rays.

The new Prizm tech enhances vision across lighting spectrums, allowing athletes to see in less than favorable scenarios.

The latest alms from Oakley come in the form of the Flight Jacket, which removes the top frame of the sunglass, allowing far less obstruction for cyclists while in the attack position.

The new Flight Jacket removes the upper part of the frame for better visibility for cyclists. photo: Bayo Olukotun

Of course, Oakley is yet another company that draws it’s origins from motocross racing. Jim Jannard began selling handlebar grips out of the back of his van at motocross races in the mid-‘70s. The products were extremely popular and he next took to MX goggles, which gave the company some of it’s largest success, transitioning into a variety of other sports. I doubt, however, that Jannard (who more recently also started a small company you have have heard of called Red Digital Cinema Camera) or Geoff Fox ever imagined that their passion projects would one day move beyond the hay-bale-lined boundaries of the MX world into mainstream consciousness and fashion.

Follow Bayo Olukotun on Instagram (bayodome) and Twitter (bayodome).

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Bayo Olukotun

Freelance photographer/writer. Published on Huffington Post, RedBull.com and more. Loves coffee, dirt bikes and beer but is perplexed by the IPA craze.