One of the most anticipated events of the year, the 2018 Red Bull Straight Rhythm, did not disappoint. When the energy drink brand first announced that the unwound SX race would be limited to just two-strokes in 2018, the  interest from the industry and fans was almost overwhelming. What’d we see and hear at the track? Read on…


Red Bull’s massive connections through the world to other brands means their events always have support from companies outside of the action sports circle. At the RBSR it was hard to miss the massive callouts from auto maker Kia, vacation group Go RVing!, auto tire maker BF Goodrich, and chemical company WD-40. Will the standalone bring big dollars into MX? We certainly hope so, because the sport would benefit from a cash influx…


We haven’t seen races this close in quite some time. Riders had to hit their marks over every obstacle in the half-mile track and any mistake in the 45-second run could have been the difference between a win and defeat. Is there one single factor that led to the close racing? We can’t say for sure, because there were plenty of run away wins in the 90s when two-strokes were the only bike to race.


Just because this was an exhibition event didn’t mean that KTM and Husqvarna took it easy. The manufacturer made sure that their fleet of factory bikes were built and maintained with the same level of detail as their four-stroke steeds and plenty of effort went into developing engines and suspension to suit the needs of the riders. We were told that Dungey and Morais had spent a good amount of time in the saddle, but McElrath and Smith had only a few hours of riding in before the RBSR.


We get why a few big riders didn’t show up. Brands like Honda and Kawasaki no longer produce two-stroke motorcycles, so why would they have Ken Roczen and Eli Tomac line up on one-off pieces of equipment? We know you, the race fan, thinks it would be the coolest thing ever but racing at this level is a massive marketing tool and there is no return for putting a guy on a bike that’s not for sale. Then there are guys like Jason Anderson or Zach Osborne and Rockstar Energy, who have a long offseason of work ahead (Anderson and Osborne) and a sponsor that doesn’t require-encourage them to show up at a competitor’s event.


Do you realize how cool it is that so many riders lined up for a special race on equipment they’re unfamiliar with, all in hopes of making some money and getting the crowd amped? The RBSR is like if the NBA’s All-Star weekend put a mix of retired and active pro players in canvas Chuck Taylors and made them hoop it into a wicker basket. It’s great that moto is still able to have fun and bring so many stars together for a special event.


Props to Red Bull not only for putting on the race, but making it lucrative for riders. The purse payout is impressive and a guy can easily make a few thousand bucks for a few passes down the track. We heard the winner’s prize in the 250 class was in the range of $20,000 and that racers were paid well all the way down the bracket. Moto needs more money paid out to the racers that make the show worth watching…