BMX Racing: Bikes & Safety

About BMX Racing

BMX racing is a type of off-road bicycle racing, derived from motocross racing. 

BMX races are sprint races on purpose-built off-road single-lap race tracks. The track usually consists of a starting gate for up to eight racers, a groomed, serpentine, dirt race course made of various jumps and rollers, and a finish line. The course is usually flat and has large banked corners that help the riders maintain speed.

The sport of BMX racing is facilitated by a number of regional (state) and international sanctioning bodies. They provide rules for governing the conduct of the racing, specify age group and skill-level classifications among the racers, and maintain some kind of points-accumulation system over the racing season. The sport is very family-oriented and largely participant-driven, with riders ranging in age from 3 to 60+. Professional ranks exist for both men and women, where the age ranges from 19 to 40 years old.

A BMX “Race” bike is a strong, quick-handling, lightweight derivative of the standard 20-inch (510 mm)-wheeled BMX. 

BMX racing rewards strength, quickness, and bike handling. Many successful BMX racers have gone on to international level events including the Olympic Games, or continued to leverage their skills in other forms of bicycle and motorcycle competitions.

What safety gear do I need for BMX racing?

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.

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.

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 at 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.*

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, BMX the club has a limited number of suitable gloves available for use by new riders.*

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.

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.

Starting Out? How 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 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.

* Helmets and gloves are currently not available for loan during COVID-19 restrictions.