Top 10 Greatest Motocross Riders of All Time

The Top Ten
1 Ricky Carmichael

He was the best in a field where he had to consistently hold off another of the fastest riders ever (Stewart). Both were the fastest ever, period. Stewart was probably faster technically, but RC was faster on a more consistent basis because he was the smoother and smarter rider.

Both were fun to watch, but if you matched these two against any riders in motocross history, they would come out 1-2. You got the feeling RC could pass Stewart pretty much at will most of the time. RC was the greatest ever.

2 James Stewart Jr.

Critics and detractors are everywhere. Stewart is one of the best riders out there, yet many people don't recognize his efforts. I grew up watching him ride like a real champ. Bringing the "Bubba Scrub" to life has made the new generation of riders much faster than anyone could have imagined.

Keep it up, Bubba. You are definitely my idol. Seven.

Fastest guy in history around a Supercross track, period. Second in all-time Supercross wins, only behind Jeremy McGrath. Has untouchable moments in motocross. Invented the "Bubba Scrub," which is now a requirement if you're going to be a top pro. Showed us where the known limits of the motocross bike are and then pushed those.

3 Ryan Villopoto

Ryan picked up the bike later in his years and rode like he had been riding since he was seven. If he could have continued racing, he would have won the most championships back-to-back. Villopoto may not be one of my favorite racers, but in my eyes, he's the best.

My favorite has always been Davey Millsaps, and I'm very surprised he did not make it on this top 50 list.

R.V. is the man. He started to bring that talent that lets you test your own limits, even if that means breaking bones. Then RV became the hungriest guy on the circuit and won back-to-back titles, showing everybody what's up! Plus, winning a cool million dollars at the Monster Cup in Vegas!

4 Travis Pastrana

First person to double backflip, first person to tandem backflip. He landed a backflip with three people on his bike. I've seen the guy dislocate his shoulder on a bail, relocate it himself, get back on, and keep riding. The guy's got so much dedication it's just nuts.

Don't ever stop, Trav. Screw this list, dude, you'll always be number one in my eyes, and I'm a thousand percent sure I'm not the only one. Millions of people think the same thing. You made a huge impact on freestyle MX, and that legacy is yours to keep forever.

5 Jeremy McGrath

Know the history of your sport before you vote Emig and Henry above this guy. Does anyone else remember how elated Emig was to beat McGrath in the last Supercross of 1996, a season in which McGrath had won every previous race?

For that matter, the placement of eight of the ten racers above him is questionable. In terms of number of wins, consecutive wins, etc., McGrath was the man until he retired.

He was absolutely untouchable. His motocross/Supercross performances increased the sport's popularity in the nineties at a time when motocross hype was waning. Also, his trick jumps, like the nack nack, paved the way for what we now know as freestyle.

Thank you, Jeremy. I bought a lot of tickets to watch you kick ass. Worth every penny.

6 Ryan Dungey

This guy is amazing. He won back-to-back Supercross and Motocross championships in 2015 and a championship in 2010 in his rookie season. He has overcome many challenges, and despite being underrated and criticized by some, he never lets that hold him back.

He always gives his best effort and does an amazing job. He has consistently been a top-five rider throughout his career unless he has a very bad crash and does not finish (DNF).

He is an amazingly fast rider. He won a 450 championship back in 2010 in his rookie season. He is one of the fittest riders out there and one of my favorites. He beats all the competition there ever was. I hope he will move up on the charts as his career goes on.

7 Stefan Everts

Super fast, super smooth. I raced with him in the British championship, and in deep sand his feet never came off the pegs once. His stand-up style worked for him because of his superb balance and control. Best rider I've ever seen.

Best ever, period. Most world titles say it all, and at a time when there was real competition. If you want to be considered among the best, you can't stay stateside like most of the riders above.

Beat Stewart hands down at the '06 Des Nations and didn't really have to try. In my opinion, the only guys who could run with Everts are Carmichael, Cairoli, and possibly Dungey due to his smooth riding style.

8 Chad Reed

I don't know why he's below Stewart. Chad is a class act and one of the few that could beat "Dirty Stewart" - "when he doesn't crash, he wins." I love to watch him race, especially in the 2000s when Dirty Stewart would do everything to run him off the track, including running into him, and Chad just gave it right back.

The only rider to come to America, win, and win often. But better yet, he is the GOAT's most respected competitor. Ricky Carmichael always watched for 22 because if anyone was going to challenge for the win, it's Chad Reed. Legend!

9 Ken Roczen

Ken Roczen is the reason I'm confident in myself. In my opinion, Ken Roczen is the best rider in the whole world. He won Anaheim and had a horrible crash there as well. He never gave up and kept believing in himself. He rides with confidence.

In my opinion, Ken Roczen should not be this low on this list and should be number one. I love Ken Roczen.

A very decorated competitor, he will possibly become the greatest motocross rider of all time. He is very quick and picks his lines around the tracks perfectly.

He crashed super hard and loves the spotlight so much that he decided to race again. And he is super fast and trains incredibly hard for what he has achieved.

10 Roger DeCoster

DeCoster is widely acknowledged as the most renowned racer in the first 50 years of motocross. His racing achievements are truly astounding. He secured five 500cc Motocross World Championships and achieved a record 36 500cc Motocross Grand Prix victories. He was part of six winning Belgian Motocross des Nations teams and earned four Trans-AMA Motocross Championships.

Additionally, he was a Gold Medalist in the International Six Day Trial (Enduro) and garnered numerous national championships in Belgium, his home country, including a national Trials title.

The Contenders
11 Eli Tomac

Tomac is the fastest guy in SX, and when he's on, in MX as well. Cairoli is excellent and a true champ. Herlings is the quick kid for now, but until they compete in SX, they're just fast MX riders. SX pays the most, has the largest TV audience, and is technically tougher than MX. Even though I love MX, it's second tier to the stadiums.

Eli Tomac has good potential and should eventually become a champion. However, he is always pushing himself too hard and always gets injured. He always tries his best and is my idol. Go Eli.

12 Antonio Cairoli

Cairoli is the best. His records are amazing. Sadly, Americans know very little about motocross outside the US, which is why he is not ranked higher.

Only when you are World Champion, you are it. Toni, a 5-time champion back to back and counting. And he destroyed Americans at the sandy Motocross of Nations! He's untouchable right now.

If he rides in AMA, he will win as he does in MX! Do you remember the last Motocross of Nations? On the sand, as Americans like, he won fantastically!

13 Jeffrey Herlings

If in good health, no competitor has been better in the last three years or more. Despite the floor surface, he's even faster in sand!

Without his injuries, he would have broken every record.

He is the best and will be the best for the coming years.

14 Bob Hannah

Bob had an uncanny ability to push himself beyond the bike's limit and not crash. I don't think any other rider could push as hard. Mentally, he was focused on winning like no other. A fierce competitor beyond compare. If you were there, you would understand.

Hannah was from the golden age. Those of us lucky enough to share the track with the Hurricane know that the riders who dominated during the late '70s and early '80s were in a class by themselves.

I raced a YZ 250 in 1980 and lived and dreamed of riding like him. He rode when you had to be a real man to ride those bikes, not like kids today with the latest suspension that floats over everything.

15 Rick Johnson

Ricky was my idol growing up. He was just a pure rider. The talent he had was awesome, a shame it was cut short due to injuries. He would have won more titles. Jeff Ward just about always pulled a close second anytime these two were in the same race.

The best motocrossers are the guys who used to hang on to a 500cc two-stroke. Johnson's hard riding and come-from-behind feats were outstanding. Ward is up there with Johnson, so perhaps it is a toss-up. But 500cc open class two-stroke racers had to be the best to hang on to one of these beasts of a bike.

16 Jeff Ward

Wardy and Team Green, a match made in heaven. From 125cc to the 500cc, the guy could just flat out ride. Always in the hunt and more often than not on top. One of the all-time greats, if not the best. Definitely top-five material.

I really miss the 1980s era of motocross. There were so many great riders and rivalries. Take me back to the '80s with Ward, RJ, Glover, and Bailey. I miss that era a lot.

Ward was one of the best riders I have ever seen, with over 20 years of racing in New England. On the Southwick, Mass. track, it felt like thunder when he passed me in practice. A true class act!

17 Joel Robert

This man owned the 250 class, if I remember correctly, for six championships. No special training, just an incredible gift. It's almost impossible to imagine Joel Robert today with all the training aids that accompany our pro riders. Joel Robert - the REAL GOAT!

The spark that inspired all subsequent generations. A true talent, he willed his machine through the worst conditions to wins. Roger DeCoster has Joel to thank for paving the way.

From a different era. Dominated his time. Super cool. It's hard to compare back then to more modern times.

18 Doug Henry

Doug was both the hardest working and nicest guy in motocross. He essentially sacrificed several championships by agreeing to pioneer the four-stroke Yamahas during his prime. You couldn't have asked for a better competitor or someone with a more positive attitude.

The way he came back from several devastating injuries to compete for national titles was unprecedented. His victory in his first-ever GNCC is still legendary.

By far the nicest. In my opinion, what he did after his back injury makes him the best motocross rider there is. Again, that is my opinion.

19 Ashley Fiolek

I like Ashley Fiolek because she is so good at motocross racing.

20 Kevin Windham

By far the most naturally smooth and talented rider ever!

One of the most consistent riders of all time.

21 Dave Thorpe

The most professional in preparation and hugely talented. I saw him at the age of 17 on a Honda 250, floating over bumps that every other good rider hit hard. People said he was boring to watch because he wasn't throwing the bike sideways all the time. He knew that way wasn't going forwards, which he was the best at.

He rode on the fastest bike ever made! After 1987, the 500s were slower!

This list is void if Dave Thorpe is not at the top. He's the most complete racer ever born.

22 Jean-Michel Bayle

Won everything he entered until he was bored and went road racing. Unbelievably fast and smooth. Take Ron Lechien, subtract personal demons, add Bob Hannah's desire and ego, and you get Jean-Michel Bayle.

Indoor or out, it didn't matter. He rode smoothly and fast and had a fantastic riding style. It's a great shame he turned to road racing.

This is nuts. This dude is easily top five all-time, behind only JMc, RC, and Stewart, and even with Jeff Stanton. Anyone who disagrees due to his early switch to road racing didn't see this guy dominate the early '90s with Bradshaw. It's a shame he didn't stay for a few more years, or I'm sure he'd be recognized as a clear no. 2.

23 Justin Barcia

Barcia is a sick rider. He has the style and skill. Have you seen him and Eli Tomac battling?

Even if there was no 41 on his number plate, you would still know it's Barcia because of his style.

24 Jeff Stanton
25 David Bailey

David Bailey listed this low? He should be listed no lower than number three.

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