HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Bikes and basic equipment
When considering buying a bike, sizing is very important as is what you want to do with it IE: Racing, Freestyle or Dirt. There are specific bikes for the different disciplines of BMX, but also there are models of bikes that crossover to allow you to do all. You could race on a Dirt bike or Freestyle bike.
BMX racing is a good place to start for young beginners to learn bike handling skills and will give you a safe environment with club support and advice. Frame sizes for 20” race bikes come in all sizes from Micro mini(3-5 years old), Mini(5-8), Junior(8-13), Pro (14+) and Pro XL & XXL for taller/older riders.
A good bike shop will advise on sizes, and experienced racers at your local BMX club will be able to give you advice too. For getting started it does not have to be a £1,000 machine, as there are good second hand bikes, and most of the good bike companies make cheap starter bikes at around £200-300.
NOTE: For Racing you will have to remove pegs, chainguards and kickstands.
A good helmet is vital to do any form of BMX. You can get a basic Dirt/Skateboard style helmet, ( NOTE: Not allowed for BMX Racing.), or you can go straight to the full face for total protection, this version is favoured by Racers and Ramp/Vert riders. Sizing again is critical as helmets need to fit snug and are dangerous if too big.
Buying a used helmet is not advisable, but if you must, check very carefully for any cracks and wear.
A good, strong pair of full-finger cycling gloves save your hands from falls and help grip when riding. They also protect your hands from nasty callouses. For Racing, the minimum you will need, is a long sleeve jersey or sweat top and long trousers or Jeans. The next most important area is the feet. It is best to wear soft- soled skateboard type shoes/trainers to gain good feel and grip on the pedals.
Most BMX Clubs can loan helmets and gloves to let new riders use at their events. Race Meetings are also a good place to find second hand bargains on protective equipment.
What else do I need ?
Elbow and Knee pads are another part of the kit that will save injury and make the rider feel safer. Racers sometimes use goggles, like the Moto-X variety for eye protection. Both Racers and Freestylers can buy specific knee and elbow pads suited to their different requirements.
You will also need a padset for your bike in order to race. The pads cover the stem, handlebar-tube and top-tube of frame.
You need to make sure your bike is safe and running correctly to achieve the best results. Check your chain is not slack, your wheels are not loose and that you have enough air in the tyres and that your brake(s) work !. Also make sure your headset and stem are not loose.
When arriving at the trails/skatepark or track, take time out to watch the other riders. You can learn a lot from watching how the more experienced riders negotiate the jumps/ramps. Also don't be afraid to talk to the other riders to get advice and tips.
Like all sports, practice and training to become a competent rider takes time.
Take one step at a time and enjoy it.
Always choose a safe place to ride, also go somewhere where it is not going to bother or upset others.