It’s a sad fact that the majority of riders who own BMX bikes don’t race. Many of them do not even know that there is a vibrant AUSSIE race scene and that BMX racing is now an Olympic sport. Of course, BMX racing is a lot more than just winning and losing. It offers an exciting, family oriented sport that is fun for all ages.
First and foremost, you obviously need a bike – but you don’t need an expensive, fancy bike to race. The bike is much less important to the outcome of a BMX race than in any other cycle sport.. You’ll often see riders on expensive bikes being beaten by riders on basic stock bikes. Sure, having a high-tech, trick bike that is the right size for you can help your performance, but only to a relatively small degree. Once you’ve tried racing BMX at your local track you’ll be ready to decide if you want to continue and invest in a dependable race bike. You can get a pretty decent, dependable new bike for around $450 or so. But be careful, most BMX bikes sold in Australia are the heavy BMX bikes designed for street/park/dirt riding and not really suitable for racing. They are fine for racing when you are starting out, but if you are investing in a race bike – make sure that is what you get.
And for secondhand bikes there are all sorts of places, but I have found ebay to be especially good. Also, there are often people selling bikes at regional and local BMX races. The basic requirements for bikes to race is that
- Stunt pegs are dangerous for racing, they must be removed
- So should anything else that sticks out, like kick-stands, chainguards and reflectors.
- There must be at least one working brake – most riders choose a back brake.
- There should be padding on the top tube and headset. Fancy padsets can be bought, but pipe lagging and gaffer tape works very well.
- Your handlebars must not be sticking out through the end of your grips.
- You should also make sure your bike is well-tuned.
- Check your tires for wear and tear. Replace them if need be – and always carry a spare inner tube.
- Make sure tyres are pumped up to pressure
- Rear tyre pressure should be slightly less than front so that the front has more traction than the rear
- Make sure everything is good and tight
- Clean your bike – it’s the best way to discover worn and broken parts.
- Clean and lube your chain, and check it for wear – I have a tool you can borrow at the track.
- You will also need personal protection
- You must wear a full face helmet. The club does have a few which are loaned out on race days.
- You must wear long sleeves and long trousers. You don’t need a race jersey or a sponsor to get into BMX racing.
- Gloves are a must – all riders must wear them.
- Arm and knee pads are also recommended.
The first step in getting involved in BMX Racing is finding your local track. The most important aspect of the membership is parental/guardian consent – a signature is required. There are lots of benefits to becoming a full member. Ideally, try and show up with your parent/guardian if you are under 16.
Don’t let a lack of equipment put you off because we should be able to help you out with any equipment you need. Don’t be afraid to ask questions – most BMXers will be glad to help you out. The more experienced riders can balance with their feet on their pedals while the front wheel is lodged up against the start gate. This provides the fastest start, but newcomers just place one foot on the ground to maintain balance. If you’re new to this, take it easy. A fast start is important in BMX – but it’s even more important to keep it safe. Don’t try and ride above yourself – learn to ride the track and ride with other racers by pushing yourself just a bit more each race. In your first few races you may wish to ride round at the back and watch what the others get up to. Don’t worry if you find parts of the track difficult at first, it all takes time and practice. As your skills develop and your confidence grows you will become more competitive – just don’t expect too much too soon – there’s a lot to learn. You will get the hang of it eventually – it just takes time and practice.
After you have raced locally for a while, you can race at larger meets in Metro or Regional areas. These are exciting affairs with the best riders from many clubs. Ultimately, your goal might be to race nationally, traveling all over the country, having weekends away with plenty of competition, making new friends, and of course, racing BMX. BMX is a great sport, remember although there is only one race winner, everyone who experiences the fun and excitement of racing BMX is a winner. See the envy on your friends’ faces when you tell them what you have been doing on the weekend.