About BMX

The Sport

From the moment that the starting gate slams down you and up to seven other racers blast at a full sprint toward the first obstacle, BMX racing will give you that rush of adrenaline you’ve been looking for.  Big jumps can mean big air.  Steep backsides, deep turns, and downhill sections can add up to massive speeds.

To realize the total thrill that BMX gives a rider, you really need to experience it. With over 300 BMX tracks located all around the country, there is surely a USA BMX facility near you. Once you try BMX racing, we practically guarantee you’ll be hooked for life.

How it works

Remember that number because this crash course on how to get started in the sport of BMX racing is as easy the 8 lanes on a BMX starting gate.

To realize the total thrill that BMX gives a rider, you really need to experience it. With over 300 BMX tracks located all around the country, there is surely a USA BMX facility near you. Once you try BMX racing, we practically guarantee you’ll be hooked for life.

The Track

When you get to the top of the starting hill at any BMX track around the nation, you can’t help but feel this huge surge of adrenaline. As you roll your bike in to the starting lane – whether it’s for the first time ever or the thousandth time in years, you know you’re about to experience the thrill of a lifetime. A thrill that no other sport can provide. As you scope out the track one last time before setting up to start, you feel that rush. Soon as the starting gate slams down, the next 30 to 40 seconds is like a wild dirt roller coaster that you are in complete control of.

From the two-year old learning to balance on the Strider pushbike, to the expert athlete flying over the obstacles with the greatest of ease, to the seasoned rider who still digs the rush of the ride, every track has something fun for every level of rider. And that’s the really great thing about going to the BMX track; big or small, novice or expert, you ride at your own speed.

While in football, basketball, baseball or soccer – every field of play will always be identical. Not so in this action sport. While every course has a starting gate and a finish line, that’s where the similarity begins and ends. No two tracks are identical. The lengths of tracks will vary as much as the size and arrangement of obstacles. Some are fairly flat while other have faster downhilll sections. Some shorter tracks will be 900 feet long while others can be as long as 1,300 feet. Today’s USA BMX tracks are nothing like the rough and rocky tracks your dad or grandfather rode “back in the day”. Today’s BMX tracks are a thoughtfully designed and meticulously groomed race course.

Track Terms

The Bike

It's build small... so you can go BIG!

It’s got a single gear. But don’t be fooled… this is no “one-speed”. This bike hauls as fast as you can crank it—with 20-inch wheels designed to accelerate in a hurry and handle the biggest landings. It’s a BMX race bike, engineered to meet the challenges of today’s highly technical racetracks and speed straight to the podium.

About the bikes

The Saddle

When sprinting and jumping around a BMX course, you'll rarely sit down on your seat--which is why most modern day racers run it as low and out of the way as possible. Since riders usually only sit on their seat in staging or after the finishline, race saddles are made as lightweight as possible, and without very much padding. Comfort is not a priority.

Linear Pull Rear Brake

During the 30 to 40 second lap, BMX racers rarely use their brakes. Sure, you'll need 'em to stop at the finish line, or maybe to slow you down to make a pass in a turn, and it is a USA BMX rule that your brakes must work. For this reason, BMXers these days only run a brake in the back; for there is no need to run a front brake.

20" back wheel
1/8" single speed chain

As mentioned earlier, true BMX bikes are single speeds - without any gears, no shifters and definitely no derailuers. Depending on the track or rider preference, you'll most often find a 15 or 16 tooth cog on the rear. The most common type of rear BMX hub is a freewheel (with a thread-on freewheel) or a cassette (where the cog slides on). While some first-time or beginner riders begin with a coaster (back-pedal activated) brake, you'll do much better in racing with a freewheel or cassette.

Single speed crank
Platform pedals

Crank length can vary from 140mm (for the small tykes) to 180mm for the largest riders, and are usually made of either alloy or chromoly. Gearing in BMX racing is single-speed, and the front sprocket will range from 41 to 44 teeth. First-time racers should always start off with platform pedals, and as a riders' skills improve (like when they've turned Intermediate or Expert), they may eventually prefer to switch to clipless pedals.

Front fork
20" Front wheel

The front fork of any BMX race bike needs to be strong, as it takes the blunt of the impact if you come up short on a jump. While most forks are made of steel, there are also alloy or carbon-fiber versions, as well.

BMX style bars with cross brace
Threadless stem

Hold on tight - this is BMX Racing! From the grips to the bars, stem to headset, the height, width and length will vary depending on your size. While the younger riders prefer alloy or carbon-fiber handlebars, most larger riders will only rely on chromoly bars for strength and stiffness.

The Gear

With big rewards, comes a little bit of risk. Your safety is our concern.

FACT: BMX racing isn’t any more dangerous than other youth sports. Statistics have shown that kids in the traditional (less “extreme”) sports such as basketball, football, baseball and soccer suffer more injuries than in BMX racing. The reason why, perhaps, is that USA BMX requires protective gear. You can’t go on the track without it. While the level or amount of safety gear is up to you, a rider must at least sport the basics of an approved helmet, long sleeve shirt and long pants.

Below, we introduce you to all of the safety gear that is available for you to protect every area of your body.

About the gear


This is obviously the most vital part of safety equipment in BMX, as it protects the most important part of your body - your brain. And don't forget your teeth - which is why USA BMX tracks all recommend a full-face style helmet. While you should have a helmet that passes CPSC standards, a motorcycle-approved DOT helmet is never a bad idea. We've heard it said that you should only buy a $40 helmet if you've got a $40 brain. This is one area in safety gear where skimping on price should not come to play.


Eye protection - whether its sunglasses or goggles, or nothing at all, is completely up to the rider. The current "factory" trends in BMX racing though, is to sport the coolest goggles with mirrored lenses. They not only keep any wind out of your eyes, but they also come in handy for psyching out the competition.


Race jerseys are available from all of the major bike brands and safety-gear companies. When shopping for a jersey, it's just as important to choose the right color and graphics, as it is for picking one with ample padding and a good fit. USA BMX rules state that you may wear a short sleeve shirt - but only when accompanied with full elbow padding.


Hand protection is not required to race at a USA BMX track, but they definitely are recommended by anyone who's bailed one or two times in an asphalt turn. Race gloves come in all styles and materials, so be sure to try on plenty and pick the one that you feel fits you best. Modern-day gloves are a lot thinner than the usual bulky, MX-style gloves that were once popular in the 70's and 80's.


Race-specific pants will provide you more protection and padding for your knees, hips and shins. USA BMX rules do allow riders to wear shorts, but only when paired up with approved full knee/shin guards. For your first BMX race ever, a pair of long jeans will do just fine.


Any tennis shoe will do for racing BMX, but the flatter the sole (such as skate shoes), the better for gription on a platform pedal. As you move up in classification (Intermediate or Expert), you may eventually decide to try clipless pedals; which require a special spring-loaded pedal and cleated-shoe that clip your feet to the pedals. Going clipless is only recommended for older riders and experts.

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