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MD Readers Respond: Rossi vs Carmichael In The Eyes Of History

On March 7, I wrote an article entitled “Rossi vs Carmichael In The Eyes Of History“. In it, I asked our readers whether they thought Valentino Rossi or Ricky Carmichael would be remembered as the greater champion. Here is what some of our readers had to say:

  • In roadracing Rossi appears to be the best now, unless something
    happens to his win streak this year.
    But Carmichael has done more things than any one before him has done.
    He has controlled dirt racing like no other racer ever ! He doesn’t just
    win, he DOMINATEs. On top of that he’s a perfect gentleman, not some
    egotist. The guy is so polished in his interviews I’m just amazed.
    I wonder if some day he will try roadracing ?

  • Can’t speak much about road racing because, although I have bot a new sport bike every two years at heart I’m a die hard motocrosser. I’m 42 years old and am a sales manager in a motorcycle shop, I’ve been around motorcycles all my life and followed motocross for a very long time, however I do pay some attention to road racing.

    Although I enjoy watching the likes of Kevin Windaham, Chad Reed, and off course MC, and Stewart; Carmichel is not pretty to watch, his elbows are down, he sits in the middle of the bike around turns, he charges whoops hanging of the back of the bike and is out of control sometimes, however his will to win can not be matched by any athlete I have ever seen (including the likes of Jordan) he makes any adjustments that makes him win, if motocross was as main stream as stock car racing he would be considered the greatest athlete of all times. Record for record alone you have to go with RC.

  • It’s not even close in my eyes. Rossi is a once in a life time deal and Ricky although being one of the best to ever ride a dirt bike is not the talent of a Rossi. That being said I hope Ricky proves me wrong and Rossi continues with his amazing ways. We are fortunate to live in these times but I said the same thing when Kenny and Freddie were racing. Jay Springsten, Chris Carr, Mick Doohan, Eddy Lawson, Wayne Rainey, Jeremy McGrath and the list goes on. Someone will surpass them and I just can’t imagine how, but they will. At 48 I hope I’m around to see it.
    Please don’t forget the guys who never got a shot at the top for one reason or another. If you love racing and are a true fan there is no “I hate Matt” or “Hopkins should have never got a ride”. Watch, Enjoy and respect them for who they are and what they do.

  • I live in Israel and ride dirt bikes (Mostly enduro), and enjoy your site very much.

    I also write about off road for an Israeli online magazine (

    I’d just like to mention some more things about the “greatest rider” debate.

    You forgot to add the PR factor into the equation – Though Ricky and Rossi might be the greatest riders in terms of achievements, riders like Jeremy Mcgrath and Travis Pastrana are going to be remembered. Why travis and Mac? (Who stood on the top of an AMA championship only once) – They are the ones who elevate the sport in terms of public knowledge. It’s just like asking how come Michael Jordan is remembered as the greatest, though there (Arguable) were and still are some better B/B players.

    Rossi is much closer to that in terms of getting the Moto GP series more attention throughout the world, but still – More people worldwide will know who Travis is (After the 2001 puma campaign, for instance).

    And, the final factor is the nation factor. Rossi is a household name in Europe, while Ricky is in the states… Hour differences and parallel series (World SBK, AMA SBK etc.) make live broadcasts even harder.

    Anyway, just my 2 cents…

  • You ask a complex question. Obviously, we’re comparing apples and oranges. Both participate in bike racing but the racing part is worlds apart if not the bikes as well. One might ask another question: Do the numbers alone tell all the story? I’m a road racing fan, myself. As impressed as I am with Rossi, it’s difficult to think of him as being greater than Agostino or Mike Halewood. Conditions were different in their time. Bikes were not as sophisticated as they are today. They demanded more a rider in the way of stamina and perhaps sheer determination to keep the rubber side down. I mean to take nothing away from either Rossi or Carmichael. We just have to understand that their disciplines are different and it takes a different set of circumstances to win a championship in either case. To be honest, I’m nowhere as interested in motocross and what goes on there as I am in what’s happening in road racing. I’m pretty sure that many who are interested more in motocross probably feel the same disinterest in road racing. I think were both aware of what’s happening in the other’s camp in a general sort of way but we well might think of either motocross of road racing as “real racing”. The accomplishments of both these guys are awesome. They both had me when they realized they loved motorcycles. May both continue to do their best and dazzle the heck out of us in the process.

  • It will be the same for Ricky and Rossi as for most riders that has been good
    enough to be “the best ever”. I´m more into roadracing than motocross, but I
    guess the thing is similar.

    Once Agostini and Hailwood was the best riders ever, and guys from the past
    like Surtees, Kalén (of Sweden) and others that rode in the years of stiff rear
    suspension was all but forgotten. Then the two strokers showed up and Phil
    Read, the great Barry Sheene and King Kenny the 1:st were at the tops. They got
    dethronized by Fast Freddie (who also once was the greatest of all time) only
    to become Fat Freddie when Lawson, Rainey and Doohan reigned. And now we got
    Rossi, and those slightly behind him, who want to – but can´t – put him out of
    the rostrum.

    It will propably allways be one rider that has the skill to outmanouvre others
    under most conditions, even on a slower bike. But since there is no possible
    way to compare with the heroes of the past, I think it´s both unfair and
    useless to determine who could take the ultimate title of “the best rider

    In my eyes it´s like rocknroll. the best music was not made in a specific year.
    It was made the year you were 17. Ask Ronnie James Dio, Black Sabbath, ACDC and
    Van Halen. They all made their best music in 1983, since I was 17 then
    (tihihi). And racing heroes are allways biggest when you´re 12. So Barry will
    allways be “the man” in my world, and for those who are 12 years old now, Rossi
    will be – for ever and ever – “The greatest roadracer of all times”.

    In twenty years we will see another rider humiliating the competition. But then
    it will be on a bike (and at speeds) that we cannot imagine today. Propably
    Rossi wouldn´t even know how to ride that bike, if it was handed out now, and
    his mechanics wouldn´t know where to pour in the fuel (if any is needed). We
    will just have to wait, see and finally say; -I told ya so! Thats what I will

  • Wow! What a tuff decision. But, I have to go with
    Ricky on the basis of the two perfect seasons. And
    the MX de Nations win. Still would of loved to see
    him and Bubby and Kevin go at it for last years MX
    de Nations to put icing on the cake though.

  • Great little article on today. I think that Rossi has
    a good chance to be dubbed ‘The Best driver ever’. The reason for this
    might not even be his unbelievable skill on a racing bike. The main
    reason is that MotoGP is just sooo much bigger than motocross. More
    people know him. Even people who have no interest in racing know who he
    is and even his number ’46’ has become synonimous with this champion.
    He is definitely up there with Swansch and Foggi, probably more famous
    than both combined by now. Look at Stefan Everts; he rocks on his bike;
    seriously. But still he is confined to the relatively small area of
    motorcross and its fans. Rossi has become a brandname by know, just
    like iPod. Maybe Carmichael will go down as the better driver by the
    ‘in-crowd’, but Rossi will always be more popular with the masses.

  • i would say Carmichael is the better,due to the fact that i think road race
    machines have a greater bearing on the outcome of the race,lets not forget
    rossi took his A1 team boss and technical staff with him to yamaha,the ones
    that doohin built for him
    i think the bigest looser of all is the person at honda who let rossi and
    then carmichael leave,DOOOOOHHHH

  • Rossi will be remembered in the same way the world remembers Agostini, Roberts, Spencer, Lawson, Rainey and Doohan. All multiple champions at the world level. Rossi’s place in history is assured regardless of any future accomplishments. If not already, it’s likely he’ll be considered the finest road racer of his generation and possibly of all time.

    With Carmichael, there is little doubt he is currently the finest motorcrosser in the world and of his era. What’s different is that Carmichael competes on a national level. The AMA may be the premier motorcross series in the world with the best riders, but his exposure at a world level is far less than that of Rossi. I don’t doubt that in N. America, he’ll be talked about in 20 years time and beyond, maybe even more than Rossi.

    On a global scale, people won’t talk so much about Carmichael because they won’t of heard of him. From Albania to Zambia, you’ll probably find people who know who Valentino Rossi is. Do you think they know who Ricky Carmichael is? I live in the UK and occasionally read the motorcycling press. Despite this, the only reason I’ve heard of Ricky Carmichael is because I read Carmichael’s fame may be great but it’s also highly localised.

  • Out of those two it would have to be Rossi, as he performs regularly on the world stage, and wins. If Carmichael had won a few more races in the world championship, and been world champion a few times, he would be remembered a bit more outside of the USA. His career path has led to huge stardom in the USA, but I would suppose less outside of it.

    And then there is the contention that Rossi is the best ever……

  • SX/MX makes for a great show, but don’t carry the heartstopping speeds that make for lore. The ‘best ever’ handle twenty years from now will still come from the ranks of dirt track and road racing. It’s pretty hard to come up with an ‘Indy Mile” like race amongst the long-travel set. Valentino has his 10 second penalty from 2003, and then his Honda to Yam thingie….stuff of lore for sure!

    No dissing Ricky C. The man is surely the best ever on an MX machine of any brand there is. And he seems to be getting better! Scarry, huh? Everybody hopes this Bubba kid will show him something, but my guess is RC steps it up as needed…just like Valentino does. Those two just have nobody close to them.

    PS: Jeff Ward might get a piece of that handle 20 years from now if he wins another SM title or two. I don’t think anybody can deny they are shocked by his remarkable performances in SM.

  • I am a fan of moto GP so I would have normally jumped and say Rossi but…

    Not that I am a real fan of him I have another contender for you – Stephan Peterhansel

    My reason? Simple one, Rossi is a specialist after all meaning he ride only on tarmac, and Ricky although he must cope with a bigger variety of terrains is still “only” a super\motocross ride.

    In comparison for them both, Stephan in his career as far as I know won enduro races, Dakar’s, and many other forms of off-roading, what I mean is that he was not “limited” like the others in his abilities…

    If there is no other option I would choose Rossi because of his successful (and fast) transition between the different categories and because I believe that if you compare the readiness of the Yamaha when he moved over there in comparison to the Suzuki of Ricky it seems the Suzuki was a much more ripe bike.

  • Comparing Valentino and Ricky is like comparing apples and oranges. Their respective disciplines are too different to be able to choose one over the other.. Valentino is the greatest road racer ever to date and Ricky is the greates off road racer ever to date.

    It sure is fun being able to watch both of them during the same time period

  • Ricky’s first perfect season outdoors was one of the most amazing accomplishments in any professional sport, and to do it twice is even more remarkable. The number of competitive riders capable of winning on any given day, and the chances to DNF are the same in AMA 250 motocross and in MotoGP. So while it’s not out of the question, until he does a perfect season, Rossi will be 2nd in my mind to Ricky

  • While it’s kinda hard to truly compare riders of two totally different disciplines, I’d have to choose Carmichael. The big reason for me is the two perfect seasons. 12 wins in a row, twice! And if you look at it from the perspective that they actually race twice at each event, he actually won 24 races in a row. TWICE. That, and the fact that he has yet to lose in a national series since 1997. Eight time national champion (so far) and a couple of supercross titles in there as well. His accomplishments and drive to be #1, even after all the winning he’s already done, makes him the best. IMHO.

  • First, both are great champions! I would have to give the nod to Carmichael, only because the sport of motocross carries such a high risk of injury on a day to day basis. If Ricky continues at this pace, it will be some time before someone exceeds his standard, only because it is tough for those guys to stay healthy!

    Valantino, is absolutely beautiful to watch and he has enormous talent, but there will be more talented to come along in the next 20 years.

    What a great era to witness!

  • It comes down to who has faced the toughest competition. Carmichael
    dethroned McGrath and basically sent him off to retirement,
    whereas Rossi never had to face Doohan. Both riders’ current competition is
    tough(Biaggi/Gibernau for Rossi, Windham/Reed for Carmichael)
    But Carmichael didn’t win his championships on what the experts regarded as
    inferior equipment as Rossi did in 2004 on his YZR-M1.
    That single feat is what people in 20 years will remember Rossi as the
    greatest by.

  • Two perfect seasons——- Carmichael

  • Interesting you bring this up. I’ve thought of this often since Ricky’s first perfect season. I don’t think most fans will ever really appreciate what Ricky has done. If you have ever raced or even ridden motocross you know it is impossible to do what he has done twice. Valentino on the other had has a world stage and this gives him more of a mystique, his skills are unmatched and he is beautiful to watch. My opinion is that roadracing is a bit more unobtainable than motorcross to most people therefore more romantic and envied. Valentino will be the one most talked about and admired. I love watching him and Moto GP but to me Ricky has proven that he is the greatest motocross racer that there has ever been. you can never say never but two perfect season is unfathomable.

  • Carmichael or Rossi, who is the better champion?

    I say put them on Super Motard Bikes and find out! Give them a few weekends practice and then let them have at it. That’s what Super Moto is for isn’t it? I think that would be a race we all would love to see.

    But in reality they are both great champions and will both be talked about for generations to come.

  • I think Carmichael will be considered the greater champion and rider. He has exhibited almost complete domination of the competition year after year. While changing manufacturers too. My opinion is that Carmichael is a much more aggressive and driven person than Rossi.

  • I think the solution to the question might be found in a theoretical scenario: Have RC and Rossi swap bikes and determine who is able to perform best on unfamiliar turf. I would guess that we would find RC going rather fast in slick tires while Rossi was having greater difficulty with some of the moves required to traverse the MX track. My point being that RC is going very fast in his sport which is more difficult to master on any level. Rossi is a brilliant racer. RC is top.

    I’m not a motocrosser. But I do realize that MX is probably the most demanding sport on the globe.

  • They are both great champions in their own right. Comparing them is like an apples and oranges comparison. They have different spacialities and if each chose the other’s type of racing, and applied themselves, I believe they would still be great champions. The qualities that make them great riders come from inside them.

  • That is a very hard call. I have followed both of the riders throughout their careers and they are both extraordinary. I think that they will both be remembered equally for their greatness. It all depends on what part of the world you ask the question in.

  • Excuse me for my poor English, because my native language is not English; but Flemish. You see I’m a Belgian.

    This may clarify some arguments I will state here. But ! Let me assure you first off all that I’m not a fan of Stefan Everts !

    And I will try not to be biased when it comes to Everts or RC.

    If you ask me who the greater champion is between Valentino Rossi and Rucky Carmicheal your answer has got to be Rossi.

    I cannot believe you guys are even comparing the two.

    If you want to compare “all time greats”, you at least have to compare two guys who ABSOLUTELY dominate their sport at a WORLD level !

    In the case of Valentino, I absolutely agree. What the guy demonstrated these past few years is truly unbelievable. And this against the very best in the world !

    Even after switching from Honda to Yamaha.

    When you say Ricky Carmicheal has dominated the MX world the past years, I do not agree. The guy is off course very gifted, he has incredible talent and has won everything there is to win in the States. However, he did NOT do this at world level, against ALL the best in the world.

    Okay, he did beat Stefan Everts – and I know this may sound as a poor excuse – but let’s not forget that Stefan just had to come in to make sure Belgium would win the Motocross the Nations, and that is what Everts did.

    Saying Carmichael is the very best in the world, would be like saying that Mat Mladin is the very best in the world. He also has dominated AMA recent years, remember ?

    So, what I’m trying to say is, that until Ricky makes the step to race the MX World Chamionship and takes the title year after year, against the very best in the world (preferably switching makes like Rossi did) you can not say that he is at the same level as “the doctor”, nor can you consider him the best of the MX world. He may be, but we don’t know for sure, do we ?

  • The answer to who will be remembered as the best ever, will depend largely on recognition based on total population. Valentino Rossi is a world renowned champion who will be exposed to even more people this year by coming to the United States and China. Even people who are not fanatical followers of Valentino can not ignore his incredible skills and talent. In addition, Rossi presents a fun and lovable demeanor, enhancing his following.

    This does not detract from Ricky Carmichael’s championess. Unfortunately, I think motocross fans tend to be a more fickled lot. Since RC is such a focused and determined racer, he tends to intimidate and put off many fans. Although, it appears that under the tutoring of Roger D, RC is improving his public presentation and increasing his popularity with motocross fans.

    Overall, from a global view, a larger number of people who follow motorcycle racing will remember Rossi’s greatness. The legend established at the end of Valentino’s racing career, will grow by the number of people who watched him win. As my father told tale of Kenny Robert’s legendary battles with Freddie Spencer, my son and I will reminisce of Valentino Rossi’s races against Max Biaggi.

  • absolutely, it is sometimes hard to appreciate things until after they occur but what these 2 have done and are doing is unbelievable, they have both proven that they can change bikes and still dominate, and they both have many years to still do it . They are both so good and make it look so easy its hard to remember how good there competition is when they repeatedly make them look silly. In both classes they race in you can argue all day about who is and has been 2nd best , who would have won championships ,beacause everyone else is so close. They could both get hurt tommorow and they would still be considered one of the best ever , if they both stay healthy there will be no doubt.

  • Best ever! it’s not a question. RV and RC are the best now. Why go ever? Are
    you ever or are you now? Question authority and dare everything. Leave
    definition to the dust counters and the hype in hyperbole. Every time I ride
    my bike it’s the best because it’s now, not a memory or a metaphor. it’s
    live. If you catalogue the past and future and that gets you off then ok for
    you with your history of important definitions but history teaches us to
    move on what has been as in MOVE and where are you going with this question?

  • Talk about the never ending argument! Will roadies and dirt rats ever agree?? That aside, I try and look at all things in the sport but must admit I am a dirt biker. So I would have to say that RC will be looked at as a fierce competitor that will be talked about for a long time. RC has all kinds of attributes of past champions from other sports as well. His mind games with K Dub as of late (Schwarzenegger, Ali), his ability to hold it together when constantly on the edge and make your competitors know they ARE going to get passed (Ernhardt), his insane training and testing regimen. His intensity for the game is so extreme, I think it holds him very high above the other riders. Also the number one thing above all else is how extremely smart he is. After a knee injury he takes a whole season off to heal properly which had to be eating away at him watching Reed run away with his supercross #1 plate. Stepping up his training regimen to a whole new level because he knew Reed was coming back to retain the championship. His goal is domination not just winning one race or one season. His master plan is to dominate the sport and completely decimate his competition, making a mark in history. He is taking his gift and talents and putting them to the best use possible. Not letting his fame and fortune ruin or tarnish his values. From the outside looking in I don’t know if I could say the same for Rossi. I know he is very talented and very fast but I don’t think he is of the same thread as RC. Hey maybe one day they will both take up supermoto and we will have a clash of the titans! How cool would that be??? Supermotobowl???

  • Rossi! End of discussion.

  • They are both great champions and neither should be chosen over the other as the greatest ever. By watching them each work in their respective sports it’s easy to see the talent and the unmistakable qualities that makes them champions. No justice will be done by choosing one. They are both the greatest.

  • I think what we need is a Moto-Triathlon. That would help us determine who the best overall rider is. Break it up into 3 stages. Stage1 = Drag race. Stage2 = Road race. Stage3 = Supercross (or motocross…some sort of off-road race). Invite the top racers from the different series and see who comes out on top… Lowest aggregate time wins. I think that would be awesome! I’d love to see the riders competing “out of their elements”. Then we would know who the best overall rider really is. Of course these guys are worth so much money that they probably wouldn’t be allowed to compete, but it would be awesome if they did.

  • Carmichael by far. I would wager that back to back perfect seasons will never be repeated.

  • I don’t know much about Motocross. I do know Rossi hasn’t ever had a perfect season, let alone two of them. I have no doubt that both riders are the best their respective classes have ever seen. The real question then is:

    Is it harder to win a championship in Moto GP or in Motocross? You could take it further. Is it harder to have a perfect season in Motocross than it is to win a Moto GP championship?

    My gut feeling is that the competition is much stiffer in Moto GP.

    The easy answer is both men with be talked about for years to come.

  • rossi. there are many dominant riders for off-road motorcycling, but only one for on-road.

  • Both are extremely talented and gifted riders. But, Carmichael hasn’t raced against the worlds best year in and year out like Rossi. Rossi is a god, Carmichael is merely the best motocross rider ever.

  • There is no comparison! Supercross and Motocross have a top speed 70mph on smooth straights, but most of the racing is between 30 to 40 mph. Off road is a skill like tumbling or gymnastics you must be precise and practiced. This is not to diminish the physical effort involved or the skill in either to be proficient.

    MotoGP or roadracing is a delicate balance at high speed. Going from 190 mph and then braking for a 40 mph corner while maintaining balance under acceleration out of that corner is a skill far above riding dirt. There are very few Nicky Hayden’s, Bostrom’s, Kenny Robert’s, who can do both.

    Carmichael has yet to prove his proficiency in any other motorcycle venue than dirt. Rossi has seen speed that Carmichael will never see or be proficient at piloting two wheels to achieve that speed while competing with other like machines.

    My vote is for ROSSI.

  • Answer: Rossi. No question about it.


    World champ on 125, 250, and 500 two-strokes and 1-liter 4 strokes – that’s pretty much the whole spread. Just think of the skill it takes just to ride a 500 or Moto GP bike and not wreck. Can’t take anything away from RC, but nobody has ever seen the likes of Rossi before – nor are we likely to again.

  • Mike Hailwood not only changed marques between seasons, but on the same day and in different displacement classes and still won. With Rossi’s dominance of late, the comparisons were just as inevitable as they are specious. In no sport can one compare between eras meaningfully. Hailwood would go out in the morning and win the 250cc GP, at noon and win the 350ccGP and in the afternoon and win the 500cc GP. Agostini won more GP than anyone can count. The only characterization of any competitor in any sport that has any validity at all is that he is the greatest of his era. Rossi is certainly that.

  • What would really tell us who the best is, have Rossi and Carmichael swap bikes half way through their seasons and see who does best. Better yet, let the 5 or so top riders in all the types of motorcycle racing battle it out in a race of champions.

    Who has won the most races competing on both dirt and road racing?

  • Ricky Carmicheal has won a lot of national races and a couple of international
    races. But racing every week with Stefan Everts, Josh Coppins, Joel Smets etc
    may prove to be a different story, we can speculate but we will never know.

    Valentino races with the best in the world every race. he could have a simalar
    record to Ricky if he just raced the itialian championship.

  • It has to be Rossi. They level of competition in MotoGP is so much
    higher than MX/SX. No doubt Ricky is the tops in his field but what it
    takes to win is less than what it takes in Road Racing. Small mistakes
    in SX/MX can be corrected for but you can’t away with things at

  • Valintino Rossi is a multi time WORLD CHAMPION.

    Ricky Carmichael is a multi time NATIONAL CHAMPION.

    there is a big difference.

  • I think in 20 years Rossi will be remembered as the greatest motorcycle racer of all time. His accomplishments at such a young age are almost unbelievable. Rossi has set the benchmark for all teams to attain. There is nothing Rossi can not do on a motorcycle.

  • Rossi is my answer.

    The purest of motorcycle racing is street, not dirt. World wide this is so and Moto GP garners the most attention. It is also cleaner and more reliant on pure skill verses a mishap or slip on the dirt.

    This is seen by Carmichael’s latest slips at the San Diego Suprecross, as well as Rossi’s continued winning aboard the lesser Yamaha machine.

    As a road racer, Rossi also stands to have a longer career, no doubt as a consistent winner. His exit from the sport will likely be similar with that of Michael Jordan, and be during the top of his game. Even as he bored with easy wins on the Honda, he may be seen to become bored with winning so easily period.

    If Rossi moves on to F1 racing, his exit from GP will appear as a Godly ascension to a higher calling. Who could then doubt his everlasting dominance of the sport of motorcycle racing?

  • I would say Rossi, because of a couple of factors. First, I think roadracing is in general vastly more popular and “legitimized” than supercross/motocross in the eyes of the motorcycle racing fan on the street. I think there’s a perception that roadracing is more difficult and requires more precision and dedication.

    Second, part of Rossi’s charm or legend is created by his whimsy — he doesn’t *seem* to take what he does that seriously sometimes, and it makes him appear utterly unflappable. He’s a memorable character.

    These reasons display my own biases, though; I’m not really a dirt racing fan, but I’m a huge roadracing fan.

  • I bet the roadracers/street only riders will say Rossi, while
    motocrossers/off-road riders will say Carmichael. And the majority of the
    260 million people in the US will ask if they are maybe NASCAR drivers or
    perhaps mainstream sports figures they’ve somehow missed.

    Although both ride motorcycles, the disciplines are so different I believe
    it’s hard to make this type of judgment. To even make the bold proclaimation
    that each is the best ever in their respective discipline is fairly
    presumptious. Of course, it’s always fun to compare, contrast and imagine
    what if…

    In 20 years, I believe the most accurate assessment is that Rossi will be
    considered the best roadracer of his era and Carmichael the best motocrosser
    of his era. In the grand scheme of things, each are moto gods and have
    already made an indelible mark on the history of their sports. Just as the
    champions before them did.

    As a mere mortal rider, I am inspired, awed and grateful that I am
    witnessing two true masters at work.

  • The greatest has to be Rossi. Anyone who can tame over 200 hp on hard surface the way he does and can keep his head in the race so well is in my estimation the better motorcycle rider. Certainly not to reduce RC’s accomplishments!!! Great stuff. I just think that it is harder to maintain that kind of dominance on the hard surface, especially accepting the challenge of riding the Yamaha last year. Poor Max must have felt like he can’t get a winning hand, but he needs to accept that he is getting schooled by perhaps the best of all time!!!!

  • Those who are passionate about dirt and grit will say Carmichael without a doubt. Those who follow, live and breath asphalt will say Rossi without a doubt. In twenty years those of us who have a genuine love for two wheels will argue until we are blue in the face that these two men were something special to see in our lifetime. The natural ability to devote their time and energy everyday to a sport they love is phenominal. If we all had that kind of dedication to our families and communities think of what this world could be like.

    They are both without a doubt true champions in my mind. Let us watch to see which one will drop first. At that time we can have another forum. I believe your web page will still be going strong. Keep up the good work.

  • Rossi, as he is more prolific and participates in a sport watched by a greater portion of the entire world. Supercross and even the world MX scene seems to be a smaller audience.

  • I don’t think you can compare their achievements because of the vastly different types of racing they compete in. They are both the best in their respective forms of racing. Period. I think the comparison lies in the forms of racing itself. I am not up on motocross racing but I have to ask; where are the champions of the 70’s and 80’s now? 20 years later are they still talked about? I don’t know. I do know that in MOTOGP you frequently hear names such Roberts, Doohan, Schwantz, etc. still mentioned on a regular basis. I believe that Rossi will be talked of as the greatest champion over Carmichael simply because of the popularity and prestige of MOTOGP over AMA Supercross. Please realize I am talking about each sport on a global scale and that I do not mean any disrespect to AMA Supercross.

    The comparison of these two competitors though is pointless. They are both great champions whose form of two wheel domination lies at extreme opposites of the motorcycling spectrum, which in my opinion, are too far apart for a direct comparison.

  • In 20 years time Rossi will be spoken as the greatest rider ever. Carmichael will barely register when motorcycle history looks back to today in the year 2025.

    I feel in many ways Carmichael’s records in the dirt eclipse Rossi’s achievements on the pavement. But the reality is Carmichael’s achievements are not reported in the press globally.

    Yes, Carmichael’s achievements are motorcycle news in the USA and Canada. But not in England, Spain, Germany, Holland, Italy, Brazil, Japan, Czechoslovakia, Australia… and do I need to go on with every motorcycle mad country on the planet? But Rossi’s are.

    Rossi is a global phenomenon in the world of 2 wheels. How many countries have MotoGP coverage on television — and during prime time and on major networks, I might add? How many countries and continents does MotoGP visit? How many street legal motorcycles are sold compared to off-road only? (America and Canada are the anomaly when it comes to off-road sales; think of just the number of street motorcycles in China alone!). Sadly, Carmichael’s coverage is significantly smaller globally. And Rossi’s potential appeal is so much greater.

    And we have not even spoken of his natural appeal, charm and charisma. Or his enormous fan base, often seen at the races with waving 46’s and a sea of black and yellow.

    I’m not agreeing that history’s interpretation on motorcycling will be fair. It’s just Rossi’s is seen and adored by more people, and history will reflect that. And he will be the one spoken as the greatest rider ever.

  • It’s a joke? Can’t compare motogp with cross. Rossi has no equal for now. Excuse my bad english.

  • l Ricky Carmichel is the fastest moto-x’r I have seen in my day.I rank him above Roger DeCoster and Bob Hannah.His 2 perfect seasons highlight why he is the best.He has the skill and determination.I read a quote by him that said”all I care about is being the fastest motcross rider” and boy does this atitude show.

    Rossi is argueably the greatest.There are a lot of great road racers,The 2 fastest I have seen besides Rossi are Kennty Roberts and Wayne Rainey. Wayne Rainey is my favorite all time rider,he had the speed and a very cerebral aproach to racing.And then there are many others,Lawson,Agostini,Hailwood,Schwantz,Spencer ect.But Rossi is still making his mark and when it is all finished he could rise to the top of the list.

    Also,isnt it ironic that Honda let both of these riders go and off they went and are still winning and Honda isnt.You figure they would have learned by what happened when they let McGrath go.

  • Here or everywhere?
    In the U.S.A., Carmichael.
    In the World, Rossi.
    That’s what I think.

  • Tough call.

    Because of the greater bike developments in road racing, Rossi has to change his style a bit more to suit his equipment. That should count for something. But Ricky has changed equipment and maintained his dominance as well.

    At the same time, it’s hard to argue with RC’s complete and utter dominance of the outdoor series along with his stellar results in SX.


  • answer will likely depend on who’s doing the talking.
    road racers will say VR is the greatest rider of all time.
    off-roaders will go with RC.
    if it’s simply a matter of a vote count, i think VR would take it.
    VR is more popular than RC in Europe.
    many more people (voters) in all of Europe than Americas.
    20 years into the future is too long a time, especially in today’s society. i think more so for off-road racers… accomplishments in this sport turn into old news sooner. how many kids (off road) near the age of 18 remember JM?
    so many variants of off-road (MX/SC/Freestyle/Enduro/Rally/SM) makes for a lot more big names in the sport as a whole.
    roadracing has…sidecar, SM (super motard) and what else? less big names, easy to rember them.
    also, kids are all freestylers now. they know more freestylers’ names and their tricks than anything else bike related. at some point, freestlye will be more popular than MX or SC. hence, MX/SC riders will not be as popular.

  • Carmicheal is better champion – Defeats all comers so far (Stewart will challenge outdoors though). Ricky is the one of the most dedicated and focused athletes in the world actually. Steps up the pace every time there is a threat to his greatness (Stewart will push him the furthest though). Though this year may be his last year of dominance he will still win races in 2006 and beyond.

  • It pains me to write this (as a die-hard McGrath fan). I wistfully remember the days as a Yamaha rider and MC fan rubbing it into the faces of all those “other” fans about how MC was not only a dominate figure in our sport but he was also an ambassador for our sport to the outside world. Thinking to myself in Las Vegas as I watched RC get mowed down in the whoops by Albertyn attempting to re-mount his bike after a get off; “man MC is really the king this kid is a lot of hype, he’s fast but no control.”

    I have since taken out a knife and fork and eaten those words time and time again. I still am not a fan of RC; however, I respect him immensely. The way he adapted to the level of riding that Reed brought to the indoors 2 seasons ago is the mark of a true champion. He has dominated the outdoors since time out of mind. And I don’t care what sport you are a fan of; not one but 2 perfect seasons???!!! Come on, you have to give him respect and the nod for greatest of all time. With the exception of a horrific crash he will hold the indoor and outdoor titles this year on three different brands. Proving once and for all it’s not about the bike.

    What Rossi has done in and for his sport is in no way to be scoffed at by any means. He should be considered one of the greatest of all time on a road bike. I think it’s what’s inside that RC has a bit more of than anyone else. Not road, dirt or drag bikes, what drives him to be the best is the tie breaker.

    I think if you were out having beers with Rossi and told him that Carmichael was thinking of moving over to road bikes even Rossi would pale a little at first than gather himself and say “bring it on.” However at the end of the day, in my mind, there would be a short redhead on the top of the box.

  • While it is true both have dominated their respective aspects of motorcycle racing alot of their success is due in part to the quality of the machines today versus the machines of say Hannah and Kenny Roberts time. Both who I think could have dominated just as much as Carmichael and Rossi.

  • no doubt vale!

  • I think that in the future we will look back and remember Rossi as the greatest of these two. He plays on a much bigger stage than Carmichael with a truly international field of the world’s best road racers. This is not to belittle Carmichael’s accomplishments. I am sure that we will not forget his awesome achievements, it’s just that most of his wins come in the US with a smaller audience than Rossi’s. Does this make Rossi the best motorcycle racer ever ? Maybe that’s a question you can ask your readers next.

  • Call me biased, but a national champion (regardless as to how decorated) can not be compared to a star on the international stage. As with Roberts, Spencer and others before him, Rossi will be remembered longer. Suggesting otherwise would be comparable to suggesting that NASCAR is the best race series in comparison to F1 – only Speedvision could attempt to spin that.

    As to “the best ever” moniker, I’ve never given much to that as every generation of motorcycles, rule structure and rider style bring a different type of rider to the forefront.

  • I think we live in a Golden Era of motorsports with this 2 guys, they are carismatic, talented, have magnetic personalities and even in 20 years from now we will remember them because of those things, they have broken the limits of what can be done, I think someone forgot to tell them the limit so they kept going.

  • I believe they are the best in the world in there respective sport. Hands
    down. It is difficult to compare two totally different types of motorcycle

  • Considering the people, the teams, the level of technology, and the impact
    on the motorcycle industry; Rossi is already in The Eyes of History.

  • Thats the stupidest question I’ve ever heard.
  • That is an excellent question! I think it’s hard to determine which is better due to the two completely different disciplines.
    I do believe there is no doubt these two are the best ever, by far.

    Thanks for the excellent website.

  • I would have to say Rossi. Why you ask?
    Jumping from 125 to 250 to 500 to 4 stroke then to the Yamaha
    from the totally dominant Honda! Hell the kid is starting from scratch
    every couple of years!!!!

  • Both Ricky Carmichael and Valentino Rossi will be remembered / known 20 years from now as great champions in their era. Both riders dominated their respective motorcycle sport and have proven that it is the man and not the machine when competing at the highest levels in professional racing. History books will preserve their accomplishments.

    To answer your question of which of these riders will be talked of as “the best rider”, my opinion is that Ricky Carmichael deserves the recognition. Even though Motocross and Supercross do not enjoy the same level of publicity and worldwide corporate sponsorship, it would be hard to argue against Ricky’s sheer domination. He has competed in a riskier type of racing, had two flawless outdoor AMA championships in the premier 250cc class, typically wins by such a margin that the only one who could upset his chances to win is himself, and has proven that no one in the world can beat him in any world competition he has attended. He dominated immediately as a rookie and has come back from injury to win one of his flawless championship series. Now he is proving his weight by immediately dominating on his third different manufacturer of motocross bikes. Ricky has shown that he can overcome any weakness or adversity, whether it is his or his bike and still bring home a championship. His injuries during a season have not prevented a championship twice now (broken wrist in supercross 2002 and knee surgery in 2004) and his factory Honda was not necessarily the best bike for his style in supercross, yet he won the titles when he was available to compete in 2002 and 2003.

    While no disrespect is meant to the brilliant Valentino Rossi, you have my vote.

  • It has to be Rossi, here in Europe no-one know who Carmichael is.

  • In the eyes of history, Rossi will be dominant. Carmichael is likely the most dominant motocrosser of our time and his level of riding is well beyond his competition. His conditioning is far superior, his intensity is superior and he is more focused. He probably is a better athlete as well.

    But in the eyes of history, Rossi will be dominant. The reason is two-fold. First – he is a road racer. And roadracers are always held in higher regard. Second – He has been on the world stage at the highest level of racing for a longer period of time. Carmichael, for all his dominance, is still a national rider. Admittedly, at the highest level of national offroad racing, but he is an American phenomenon, not a global one.

    But one thing is for certain – it is an amazing time to be a motorcycle racing fan!

  • I am 46 now, rode and raced amatuer motocross in the ’70’s, been into
    roadracing and sport bikes ever since (professional spectator).
    I believe that each will be considered the best ever in their own sport
    being that motocross and moto GP are so completely different from each

    Carmichael and Rossi have both done what no one else in racing have done in
    terms of both dominating their sport and creating a huge fan base.
    Rossi has no counterpart when it comes to success or popularity. The most
    popular road racers next to him are Roberts, Sr. who experienced less
    success and did little for the fans and Spencer whose career was much

    Carmichael on the other hand has been phenominally successful yet still has
    some way to go to match the popularity of Jeremy McGrath.
    Let’s give these guys credit for what they have done and not compare them
    out of context.

    Thanks for the great website. I visit it every day.

  • It’s tough to compare the two. Kind of like comparing a middle weight
    boxer to a heavy weight. You can easily get into debates about the
    nature of each division.

    Rossi might get a little nod given that he has dominated in many
    displacement catagories and the different bikes, but I’m imagining
    that Carmichael has made similar adjustments.

    Now if Rossi would go dominate supermoto, or if Carmichael would
    dominate Paris-Drakkar (or the like), it’d give more to talk about.

    I follow (and ride) road racing, so I have Rossi elevated to “I’m not
    worthy” status, but that just shows my ignorance of dirt racing.

  • In motocross, which is unlike most other forms of motorized racing, the rider equates for more in gaining a victory than does the machine. Hence, Ricky Carmichael gets my vote as the greatest motorcycle rider of all time as he has proven again and again that he is the best motocross rider of all time with 11 Championships (12 with this years Supercross title mostly in hand).

  • In the Motocross world there has been no other that has dominated so
    thoroughly and convincingly as Carmichael. His Heart, Skills, and
    Training program have never before been seen in the world of motocross
    and likely won’t be seen for quite some time to come. Since entering
    the Pros he has been able to win a championship, supercross or
    motocross, in every year. On two different brands and looking more than
    likely three by the way this year is shaping up.

    Likewise in the world of GP racing Rossi truly has accomplished what no
    other GP racer has done. He has won championships in each of the GP
    classes since starting his GP career and done so in a way that, I would
    think, is quite demoralizing to his competition. There are many times in
    the closing laps of a race you feel as though he has nothing left only
    to suddenly make a pass and check out. All in a days work for Rossi.
    Again, like Carmichael, on three different brands.

    In closing I must admit that to say one is the “Best Ever” motorcycle
    racer would be a travesty to the other. In their respective fields of
    racing they are indeed the “Best Ever”. So enjoy the show while their
    here, we may not see the likes of them for some time to come.

  • Q: who is better … ricky or valentino?

    A: neither. kenny roberts will always be king in my book. his lobbying efforts made grand prix motorcycling safer for racers. who knows how many lives he saved? combine that with the fact that:

    1) he was among the first to blaze a trail from u.s. grand nationals to to F1, winning championships on both dirt and pavement
    2) pioneering radical new riding styles along the way
    3) putting an unknown malaysian factor on the grand prix map, on a shoestring budget

    it all adds up to “The Greatest” … at least in MY book.

  • I think Rossi will be the bigger “Greatest Ever”. The reason: I believe that James Stewart may approach, equal or even knock Ricky off as the greatest ever. My reasoning for this is simple. No one has been competitive with Ricky so far, but I think Bubba will be. Ricky will retire in a couple of years, leaving James to dominate motocross for the next decade. When it’s all said and done, I believe that Bubba will be close enough to Ricky that he will not stand alone, as I believe Rossi will. FWIW, I am an avid motocross fan, and barely care about MotoGP….

  • As great an athlete as Carmichael is, motocross is simply no where near
    roadracing in terms of difficulty. The danger factor in raodracing is
    just that much more. Perhaps Carmichael could have been a great
    roadracer, but we’ll never know.

    Rossi is greater *hands down*.

  • I think what Carmichael has done has been nothing short of remarkable and I don’t know if anyone in any sport tries harder then Ricky. He has been able to win championships in a classy way showing respect to the riders before him and riders he races against. He has yet to pull some psychological mind games against his competitors and lets the results speak for themselves. For these reasons I think Carmichael is the Best Two wheel champion we can watch today.

    But your question asks which champion will be know as the best ever. And because of the global appeal that MotoGP has and the charismatic sometimes controversial way in which Rossi approaches racing and competitors, that type of showmanship will last in peoples memories forever and that’s why he will be known as the best ever.

  • Not a good comparison,

    Ricky suffers from the USA only syndrome, winning against Stefan Everts in
    the MX des Nations is not the same as a full season(s) whereas Rossi has
    consistently been pitted against the world’s best at all stages of his GP
    career. I’m afraid Ricky will be remembered fondly in the USA whereas
    Valentino will have a worldwide fan club. I’m an American living in Europe
    and Ricky makes the back pages of the motorcycle press here. Rossi on the
    other hand makes big news not just in the motorcycle press but regular
    papers as well. Does Ricky make the evening news or sports center along
    with football results and highlights(works on both sides of the Atlantic
    even if a different sport), I think not. Nice try but let’s compare apples
    to apples and oranges to oranges. My two cents (works in the Euro zone as

  • rossi’s level of competition is so much closer than charmichael’s, there’s no comparison. world level vs national level just isn’t close. ricky has one, maybe two guys within half a second of him. rossi (especially after his switch to yamaha) is able to be within a couple of tenths per lap battling for a podium despite being eleventh or thirteenth in terms of top speed. charmichael’s won soft championships.

  • Definitely Rossi! The competition is greater due to MotoGP being the epitome of motorcycle road racing within the world. Not to mention the fact that Rossi is competing on the world stage where Carmichael is on little bit smaller stage – USA, as tough as it is it still is not the world.

  • Certainly a great question but I feel it’s a pretty easy answer. Ricky will be talked about long after his time. he is the champion of all champions. Rossi is a great champion but I just don’t think he has dominated his sport as well as Carmichael. Ricky has changed everything in the world of moto. He has taken talent and thrown hard work, fitness, and determination at it more than any before him. He seems to want it more than any one of his competitors, and it shows in his riding. He doesn’t just beat his apponants, he desimates them. Rossi has won on I think two bike brands, while Ricky has won on 3(races, and soon to be titles). After the sx season of 03 many thought this was the final run of Ricky. Chad Reed showed that Ricky could be beat and shocked the world by winning the second have of the season. Usually this is the passing of the torch and it is very hard to rebound from such events. Then to make matters worse Ricky had to have major knee surgery and had to sit out the entire 04 season. All the while watching his rival dominate what was once his. Then came the showdown finally this year. Ricky proved that he could work on and improve his weeknesses like no one has ever done. I am not sure anyone was prepared for what Carmichael has done to the competition. He has dominated the sport in a year that was suppose to be the most competitive season ever. I just feel by the time all is said and done, Ricky will surely be the undisputed king of moto, and champion of all champions. There are just so many street bike classes that its hard to tell who is the most dominate when they all don’t square off together every race. There is no question who dominates the moto world and it doesn’t look like its slowing down anytime soon. I know I don’t need to tell you the Ricky story but it has turned into a lot more. Something legends are made of and this is the one at the top. Thank you for listening, and good luck with your poll. It will certainly be a landslide.

  • I think as time goes on there is no doubt Rossi will be held in higher regard.

    Carmichael may be the best thing that motocross has ever seen. But when you look at the championships in which they compete a gap emerges.

    MotoGP is a truly global sport. Motocross is broken into so many different splinters its not a truly “global” series.

  • Being from NZ I do not know of Carmichael’s achievements but going by your article I see he has a lot of national titles, I don’t see the words ‘international’ or ‘world champion’. If that is the case then I am of the opinion Rossi has no peer here. Please correct me if I am wrong in assuming Carmichael does not hold world titles. That would obviously change my opinion of course.

  • The answer to your question i feel will be Rossi, that is outside of the US!!!
    I think Carmichael will be remembered in the US forever and lets face it the guys a legend and he does deserve it but hes not really on the world wide stage that Rossi is, which is probably down to the TV coverage.
    Also MotoGP is the more glamorous sport of the two and im not sure of this but on a world stage i would guess there would be a few more dollars involved with MotoGP.
    If Carmichael were to race on the road i would rank him in there probably just above Matt Mladin, but this is also not fair because this is all coming from a fan that would overall rank Rossi just below GOD…. but only just! Seriously im talking about a whiska!!!

  • Valentino Rossi is the best ever!

  • Rossi, as it is a WORLD event.

  • I believe that they are both fantastic and there’s no any need to compare who’s the best. They‘re sports are totally deferent maybe they both pilots but there’s no any similarity between motocross and motoGP.

    It’s like we’re trying to compare athletes between football and basketball.

  • Rossi is probably the only rider that King Kenny Roberts will admit as possibly having more skills than himself and what a race that would have been. It has been many years since Kenny Roberts retired for a rider to come along that impacts the sport like he did. Rossi will be the greatest road racer of his era just like Kenny Roberts was.

    I always thought Jeff Ward was the greatest motorcrosser ever. Now we have Carmichael. Ricky Carmichael will be remembered as the greatest Motorcrosser of any era for a long time to come.

    Rossi and Carmichael will claim their own spots as legends in the history of motorcycling. You really can’t compare them to each other.