So, you want to get started in BMX racing? Do you want to feel the rush you get from clearing jumps? You want to know how to BMX race, to go fast and most of all you want to know how to win? To be able to do all this you will need to know the basics first.
The BMX race bike
The great news about a BMX race bike is that it a lot cheaper and simpler than many other types of bike used for racing. You could even win the world championships on a bike costing under $500, try and replicate that in mountain biking and you will not be able to.
At the heart of a BMX race bike is the bike frame, you will find them made mainly from steel or aluminum and if you have a lot of money to burn carbon fibre. What we need is a frame that is light and stiff, this makes it easier to accelerate and the faster you can accelerate the more likely you are to win.
Good wheels are needed to couple with your choice of frame. Wheels that come on cheaper entry level bikes will come with a freewheel and higher-level bikes will come with a cassette hub. A cassette hub will engage faster and help you fly out the gate as fast as you can go. We will also fit narrower tyres on the wheels than we would on a freestyle BMX, this is all about speed and getting you rolling fast.
Forks used to always be made of steel, mainly for safety as a steel fork is reliable and strong. We now have carbon fibre forks available as the technology used to make them has become cheaper and they can now be as strong as steel but a lot lighter.
Your new race BMX may seem all glamorous and all you need but have you thought about protection? You will want to keep yourself safe and then be able to ride as much as possible, so you will need the correct gear. There are even rules about what protection you will need if you want to race.
Starting at your head, you will need a helmet and it will need to be a full-face helmet if you want to race. A full-face helmet will look like a good quality motorbike helmet, but it should be a lot lighter. You will also want to try this on in a shop, online may be cheaper but if it does not fit you well then it was not a bargain.
Gloves are something you do not want to forget about and not just during winter. During summer when you get all sweaty the gloves will allow you to safely hold your bars and if you fall they will protect your palms. Grazed palms are not fun so why risk it when you can keep your hands all safe nice and easily?
Knee and shin pads are great. Hitting your knee off your stem or having your pedals hit your shin is not fun and usually hurts a lot more than the injury has any right to. You will also quickly discover that scars and cuts are not as cool as everyone tells you they will be, so, cover yourself and make sure you can avoid pain from the inevitable pedal strike.
The BMX race track
Back in the past, all BMX tracks were like one another. Now though we can consider a BMX track anything from a pump track to a UCI SX track. You do not want to be going to what you think is a small local track to be confronted by an SX level track. 8-meter start hills, this is about the height of a two-story building, are daunting and not something you want to attempt on your first go of a BMX track.
Pump tracks are a great place to start, they are generally smaller than a race track and designed so that you pump rather than pedal around them. This is a great way to get introduced to BMX racing and pumping is a great skill for when you are racing as you can generate speed off the various features on the track without too much effort.
The biggest difference between a BMX race track and pump track is that an out and out race track will have a starting gate. This is where you will start all your races and it will test your bike balance skills when you are on one.
The jumps may look daunting, but no one will be expecting you to jump them on your first visit to a track. If the track is run by a club they will have the knowledge on their jumps and how to do them safely, they may also have equipment that will make the jumps seem much less scary.
A BMX race club
A great club will inspire you to ride more as you will be having so much fun, a bad club and you will be regretting your decision. So, search around, message the local clubs, and then go and try them for size. Everyone is different and so are BMX clubs, some are all about fun, some are more regimented, find the one that suits your personality.
Your new club should have coaches and these coaches should be a font of information and they will help guide you through your BMX journey. They will explain the basics of a gate start, how to jump doubles, and why manuals are a fundamental skill that you want to master. Nothing will make you happier than that day that you finally manage to manual through the last straight’s rhythm section and if you don’t know what a rhythm section is (your new coach will be able to explain what a rhythm section is/look out for our next guide).
BMX race events
Going to races is a great way to get inspired. You can go and get all caught up in the action. Walk through the pits, see all the newest race parts, and maybe see international level pros race. Watching people race live is the best way to see the skills you will need for racing and see how people use race tracks.
With the rise of online streaming, you can now find all the big races online for free. The great thing about watching racing this way is that you will have commentators telling you what is happening and why. There may also be a live chat with the stream and through this, you can ask questions that you are not sure about and receive answers almost instantaneously.
Now you know how to BMX race
We hope this has helped you get a better understanding of how to BMX race. Now go and enjoy it! If you have any top tips, leave them in the comments section below.