How to Start Racing BMX


By Arielle Martin

What Is BMX?

Alise Post on her way to victory

BMX (which stands for Bicycle Motocross) racing finds its roots starting in the late 1970s in southern California. Today it is an Olympic sport with participants from countries all over the world. Riders start on a gate and sprint around a track consisting of a variety of jumps and turns. The race is entirely from the start line to the finish line — there are no laps — and the goal is to cross the finish line before your competitors. A typical race only lasts about 30-40 seconds. Typically, qualifying heats are used to determine who will race in a single main event for the victory.

USA BMX, the sanctioning body in the United States, uses four criteria to determine a racer's classification for competition: age, gender, proficiency and wheel size. Age categories range from 5-and-under to 65+, giving plenty of opportunities for anyone interested in starting the sport. For the 20" wheel size, everyone initially competes as a beginner, and after accruing wins moves through the proficiency categories of novice, intermediate, expert and pro. Girls start in the novice category and advance to "girl" category. The "cruiser" category is reserved for bikes with 24" wheels and does not contain different skill proficiencies. 

Where to Find a Track

USA BMX has over 370 tracks nationwide and the sanctioned season runs from January into December. Visit the USA BMX website to find a local track near you. You can call a local track director or show up at a local practice or race night and approach the registration booth for guidance on how to get started.

The Bike

A BMX bike has just a singlespeed gear and a single rear brake, with either a 20" or 24" wheel diameter. Because bikes are built for speed around a BMX track, additional items such as pegs and front brakes should be removed.

Additional Equipment

Riders must have a helmet, long sleeve shirt and long pants. Full-face helmets, gloves and elbow/knee pads are recommended, but not required.

For more information about the sport and how to get started visit the USA BMX website.

This Article Updated March 13, 2014 @ 08:38 PM For more information contact: