Not all bikes are the same
Race BMX bikes are designed to be fast and nimble, helping riders navigate the jumps and turns of a BMX track.
They have a low seat to give riders space to move, large gear ratios to help get the power down and small wheels to help keep the bike agile. The bike frame and fork is usually made of aluminium or carbon fibre and there is typically only a single rear brake to help keep the speed in check.
Race bikes differ from park (trick) bikes as they will be lighter, with bigger gearing, narrower wheels and they won't have stunt pegs on the wheel axles.
There are two categories of race BMX, 20 inch and Cruiser. A 20 inch bike is what most riders use and what you will see professional riders using at the Olympics. These come in sizes for riders of all ages. Cruiser bikes come with bigger, 24 inch, wheels, with riders typically not starting on these until 9 years old. Cruisers come in a slightly more relaxed geometry and are a favourite of the older generations of riders.
Bike sizes are referred to by names, getting bigger as riders get taller.
(extra small with 18 inch wheels)
(continuing to XXL, XXXL, etc)
At Manchester BMX Club we have bikes in a variety of styles and sizes available to hire at club sessions and race events.
Helmets, pads and gloves
BMX racing can be dangerous but by wearing the correct safety equipment, you can minimise the risks. At Manchester BMX Club with have safety equipment in a range of sizes available to hire at both practice and race events
Helmets for BMX racing are full face, meaning they protect a greater area of the head and face in the event of a crash. It is advisable to replace a helmet after a heavy crash even if it appears to still be in one piece.
Gloves are worn to protect hands from skin abrasions when a rider goes down and also help them grip the handlebars on the bike.
Knee and elbow pads protect the major joints from impact against the track, the bike and other riders. There are different styles some with hard shells and others with softer padding with different coverage levels across the limbs.
Body armour covers the torso and arms. Usually coming in the form of a pull over or a jacket worn under a race jersey, this optional extra protection is worn by most riders.
CLOTHING & EXTRAS
What to wear
Riders wear a race jersey, representing either their club, race team, sponsors or country. Some will ride or train in a plain race jersey. Lightweight and breathable a race jersey will keep you feeling cool on a hot day and looking cool on the track
Trousers or shorts is a BMX debate that will never be settled and very much personal preference. Both are made from strong durable material so as not to rip easily in a crash. If using shorts, riders need to wear leg protection that covers both the knee and shin with many choosing to wear long socks underneath to add an extra bit of protection. Full race pants offer better coverage and the option of smaller pads underneath but can often be much warmer
You can race a BMX in any pair of trainers but specialist bike shoes are available to give that extra edge. Flats, have stiff soles, with rubber designed to grip the pedal surface help riders get the most out of their race. Riders aged 13 and above can wear shoes that clip into special pedals to help keep you connected to the bike and put down that extra bit of power, though many choose to continue on flats.
Goggles can be worn on top of your helmet to help keep both the sun out of your eyes and also dust, mud and dirt flicked up during a race.. Faster riders find they also help keep the wind out of their eyes as well.