BMX racing is divided into 2 categories based on bicycle wheel diameter. The 20 inch BMX class, and the Cruiser (or 24 inch) class. 20 inch BMX bikes are defined in the BMX rule book as bikes having a wheel diameter (including tyre) of 21 inches (533mm) or less. Cruisers are defined in the rule book as bikes having a wheel diameter (including tyre) of between 22.5 inches (575mm) and 26 inches (664mm).
Bikes in the 20 inch BMX class most commonly use a wheel of approximately 20 inches in diameter, although Sprocket Rockets (riders aged 7 & under) are permitted to use smaller bikes. Bikes in the Cruiser class most commonly use a nominal wheel diameter of 24 inches. Mountain Bikes (26″ wheel) with gears and suspension may be used for BMX initially in order to keep costs down for new participants that may already own a bike of this style (note that ultimately moving to a lighter BMX or Cruiser style of bike will probably be beneficial to your racing).
SO CAN I RIDE MY STREET BIKE?
As long as it is safe, you can race on it. Street or freestyle BMX bikes are quite OK to race on. For safety, it is important for your bike not to have things hanging off it which could injure you if you fall on them. Therefore international BMX rules require that all bikes comply with the following points;
- Handle bar ends must be plugged (ie. covered by handle bar grips).
- Any “freestyle” foot pegs must be removed.
- No kickstand or mud guards shall be fitted to the bike.
- The rear brake must be effective (note that a front brake is optional).
- Any reflectors, bells, chain guards and /or other accessories shall be removed.
- Although no longer mandatory, it is recommended that the cross bar on the handle bars (if applicable), the head stem (which holds the handle bars), and the top tube of the bike’s frame (the horizontal tube) be padded. Note that BMX pad sets are available from most bike shops.
If you are unsure of your bike’s suitability please talk to a committee member at a clubbie and they will assist you with any questions you have.
AND THE ALL IMPORTANT SAFETY GEAR?
Sports like BMX that involve racing do have risks associated with them. To minimise these risks without removing the fun, proper safety gear is absolutely necessary. BMX rules require all riders participating in racing, coaching or practice sessions meet the compulsory requirements on safety gear, no exceptions will be made regardless of weather conditions or any other reason.
The following safety gear is required for all riders;
- A “full face” helmet is needed for BMX racing. A BMX racing or down hill mountain bike helmet is ideal as they are light and well vented so they don’t get too hot. These helmets are available at most good bike shops. A motorcycle “motocross” helmet is also acceptable for BMX racing, so if you happen to have one of these are home you can wear it. As with any helmet, it only works properly if it is correctly fitted. Ensure yours is the right size for you and that the chin strap is adjusted firmly. Full faced helmets are more expensive than regular bicycle helmets, so it’s well worth shopping around for a good deal because it will be a valuable investment for your safety.
Note that while you are starting out in BMX the club has a limited number of suitable helmets available for use by new riders (these can be loaned for each clubbie at no cost).
- A pair of gloves must be worn on your hands. The gloves must be full fingered, to cover all of the skin on your hands. Note that while you are starting out in BMX the club has a limited number of suitable gloves available for use by new riders (these can be loaned for each clubbie at no cost).
- A long sleeved top worn tucked in, is required. The sleeves must be full length, not ¾ or “a little bit short” because you’ve grown. The aim is to have all your skin covered. Note that a crash may damage the top, so if it’s your Sunday best top choose another.
- Long pants must be worn, not ¾ pants or long shorts. The pants must be full length, so they come down over the ankle. Tracksuit pants or jeans are acceptable for BMX racing. Motocross pants are also a popular choice. Note that it is very important that your pants are firm fitting on your legs, as pants that are loose around the lower leg can get stuck in the front chain sprocket very easily (we see this happen at races often).
- A pair of socks that cover the ankles are also needed.
- Finally a pair of “closed in” shoes must be worn (ie. no sandals, thongs or shoes with holes are allowed). Runners are a popular choice and leather shoes are also acceptable. Note that it’s a very good idea to tuck your laces into your shoes, so that they don’t get caught in any part of your bike.
While these requirements are compulsory, it’s recommended that riders wear clothing that is of a sturdy nature. Elbow, shin and knee guards are optional and also well worth considering for extra protection. Note that any large or long hanging style jewelery worn by a rider can present a safety risk and therefore must be removed for racing.
THE CLUB CAN HELP.
Note that the Park Orchards BMX Club has full faced helmets that it can lend to members and new-comers until they obtain one of their own.
The club can also help out with padding new-comers’ bikes for racing on clubbie days.
The club has a number of bike number plates (complete with numbers) for use by new members and new-comers until they obtain a plate number of their own from BMX Victoria.
OTHER SAFETY POINTS.
Please do not ride at the track alone at any time, as there’ll be nobody around to help you if you crash heavily. Always bring a buddy or two.
Bikes will be scrutineered by officials during race meetings to ensure that they meet the above requirements and are safe to ride. Helmets, gloves and other safety gear may also be checked.