Thinking about getting into BMX?

Useful getting stated guide to BMX racing

BMXer to BMX racer!

The majority of riders who own BMX bikes don’t race. Many of them do not even know that there is a vibrant race scene and that BMX racing is now an Olympic sport.

Quick Overview

BMX racing is a lot more than just winning and losing. It offers an exciting, family oriented sport that is fun for all ages.

The first step in getting involved in BMX Racing is finding your local track.  You need to 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.

A really good resource for more information about BMX Racing can be found on the BMX Racing UK website.


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 £350 or so.

And for second-hand bikes there are all sorts of places.. Also, there are often people selling bikes at regional and local BMX races.

The basic requirements for bikes to race are that

  • Stunt pegs are dangerous for racing, they must be removed
  • So should anything else that sticks out, like kick-stands, chain guards and reflectors.
  • There must be at least one working brake – most riders choose a back brake.
  • 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.

When you first have a go a BMX Racing, you are not expected to have most of the kit needed, including a bike. The Club will lend you most everything on the list, with the exception of race pants a race shirt.

Kit Description Required
Helmet Full-face helmet with a peak + kite mark
Goggles Motorcross style shatter-proof goggles with or without tear-offs
Jersey Long-sleaved specific made jersey with tight waist or tucked in
Pants Specially made race pants from tare-proof material
Shorts Made from the same material as the long race pants and specifically designed
Gloves Well fitting motorcross style glove that minimise gravel-rash
Shoes/Clips Flat soled non-slip trainers (DC, Vans etc) or one of the various types of clip shoes (14 yrd)
Body Armour Specially designed armour for sholders, arms, back & front. Recommended for younger rders.
Elbow/Knee Pads Specially designed armour for elbows & knees Also recommended for younger rders.
Shin Pads Designed to protect knees and lower leg. Reqquired if wearing shorts.
Term Description
20″ A standard BMX has 20” wheels. Regardless of “size” of bike, the wheels are the same size.
Balance Bike A small bike without pedals designed to teach the very young the balance they’ll need for riding properly. Strider is a popular brand of balance bike. Some clubs run balance bike races.
Berm The banked corners on a track, usually covered in tarmac.
BMX The sport and the bikes. BMX is short for Bicycle Motocross.
British BMX Series The official name for the National Series.
British Cycling Shortened to BC, the governing body of all cycle sport, including BMX racing, in the UK.
Brits Short for the British Championships. This is the biggest domestic event of the year. Riders qualify to enter by competing in regional races (five rounds must be raced to qualify, rather than having to attain a certain placing overall.)
Class The group a racer enters in. Divided by wheel size, age, ability and gender. Note that females are allowed to race with the boys and race in an older age grupo if they have the ability.
Clips Special pedal/shoe combinations that mean a rider’s feet are attached to their pedals. Not allowed for younger riders.
Club Race Series Each BMX Club usually holds both a summer and winter race series. Novices are allowed.
Cruiser A BMX bike with 24” wheels. Bigger wheels means the bike is a bit more stable, so a little more forgiving!
Gate The gate is part of the start hill with the actual gate itself being the metal barrier riders rest their front wheels on to balance.
Holeshot like a lot of BMX language, this comes straight from motocross. It means the rider who gets to the first turn in first place, which is an advantage in racing!
Pens usually these are the area with fences to divide riders into “racks” of motos.
Plate The plate displaying a rider’s number, attached to the handlebars. BMX riders either compete using their ranking from the previous year (with champions allowed the privilege of using 1) or the last three digits of their British Cycling race licence number.
Rhythm Section this part of the track is usually the last straight but could be anywhere. It’s so-called because it features many smaller jumps close together, without space to pedal in-between, meaning riders will have to get their timing right to go through it at speed.
Term Description
B-Final A consolation race for the 8 riders that got knocked out in the semi-final.
DNF Did Not Finish, recorded in results if a rider crashes and doesn’t cross the line.
DNS Did Not Start, recorded if a rider pulls out.
DQ Disqualification/disqualified. Not something you want to see!
Final The deciding race for each class, also see Main below.
Grad Prix This term is used when there are 8 riders or less in a class on race day. Instead of moto placings deciding who moves on to knockout stages and a final, there is automatically a 4th moto with placings from all 4 races deciding who wins overall.
Holeshot like a lot of BMX language, this comes straight from motocross. It means the rider who gets to the first turn in first place, which is an advantage in racing!
Main The final of each class (short for main final or main event).
Moto The heats in BMX. Riders have 3 moto’s and their placings decide which riders move on to the elimination rounds (quarter finals etc. depending on number of riders.) Each moto will usually have eight riders in it, but there may be less depending on rider numbers.
Moto Sheets The list of races for the event. Divided into race classes, the moto number and gate each rider is in will be listed for all three moto’s.
Moto’d Used by riders when they’ve failed to progress to the knockout stages, for example, “I got moto’d” alternatively riders say they “didn’t make it out of moto’s”.
Pre-Sheets This is the list of riders entered into each race class at an event, posted up when registration closes to allow riders to check the details are correct (such as which class they’re in and what plate number they’re using) before moto sheets are posted up.