Capturing the Beauty of Motocross in Tehran

Why you should care

It’s colorful and captivating. And women are doing it too.

  • POPULATION
  • SPOKEN LANGUAGE
  • GDP PER CAPITA
  • CAPITAL CITY
Geo facts & figures

Motocross is off-road motorcycle racing on a closed dirt trail with sharp turns and jumps. It first began in the U.K. in the early 1900s, after which the sport grew in popularity around the world. The first motocross races in Iran took place around 1980 and champions were sent to Japan for training and coaching courses. Thirty years ago, the Motorcycle and Automobile Federation of the Islamic Republic of Iran joined the International Motorcycling Federation, cementing Iran’s place in the international motocross arena.

Bikes have either four-stroke or two-stroke engines — which are illegal for use in regular traffic, but that doesn’t always stop riders from biking to the track. Alternatively, bikes can be kept in storage near the local circuit or towed from home. There are motocross tracks all over Iran, and with the exception of a few in Tehran, most have lax upkeep and safety standards.

Some riders are hobbyists, while others take their passion to professional levels. Motocross equipment is prohibitively expensive for many Iranians; a lot of riders rely on sponsorship to pay for gear and competition fees. The sport is expanding rapidly in Iran, and more women have been showing interest: Iran’s first women’s motocross race took place in Tehran in 2009. Women, however, are barred from obtaining any kind of motorized bike license, and their motocross presence is currently visible in only a few of the capital’s circuits.

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Brothers fill the tanks of their motorcycles before practice at Azadi motocross tracks in Tehran, Iran.

Source Photographs by Ali Asaei for OZY

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Practice at Azadi motocross tracks.

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Motocross participants range from all ages, and can start young.

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The sport can be physically challenging. Riders must rest to gather their strength and refuel.

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Riders practice at Azadi motocross tracks.

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From left: 74-year-old Mohammad Badieh Neshin, a pioneer of motocross in Iran with 55 years’ riding experience and 40 national medals; 40-year-old Javad Bidi and his son, Abolfazl, 10, who started riding when he was 4.

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Airborne riders.

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Young riders play games and talk with their coach at the end of the day.

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Riders on their way home from practicing at Azadi motocross tracks for the upcoming women’s race.

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