Getting Started with BMX
BMX biking is an exciting sport and hobby that both kids and adults can enjoy. From racing to performing freestyle tricks, BMX offers a unique and fun way to get active. However, getting started with BMX can be daunting if you don’t know where to begin. This complete guide will provide you with all the tips, advice, and information you need as a beginner in the world of BMX.
If you’re new to BMX biking, the first step is getting set up with the proper bike and safety gear. Having the right equipment will make learning to ride and perform tricks much easier as a beginner.
Beginner BMX Bikes
When choosing your first BMX bike, opt for a model designed specifically for beginners. Beginner BMX bikes have frames with a lower standover height to accommodate riders of smaller statures. The wheels are slightly smaller than standard-sized BMX wheels, ranging from 18” to 20”.
Some great beginner BMX bikes include: Redline MX24 – popular 24” wheel model for younger riders, Sunday Primer – well-designed 20” option perfect for getting started, Mongoose Legion Mag – Durable and affordable 20” freestyle bike. Aim for a beginner bike under £300 to get started. More expensive bikes offer features tailored to intermediate and advanced riders. You can always upgrade later once your skills progress.
BMX Gear for Beginners
Safety should be your top concern as a novice. Protect yourself with a helmet, knee/elbow pads, and padded BMX gloves. Helmets specifically designed for BMX offer full coverage with a durable outer shell and impact-absorbing inner liner. Look for pads that use molded plastic shells rather than just foam padding for maximum protection.
Also, invest in closed-toe BMX shoes with sticky rubber soles to keep your feet firmly planted on the pedals. Shoes like Five Ten Freeriders are very popular for grip and flexibility off the bike. Optional gear like jerseys, goggles, and neck braces can come later. Focus on the essential protective gear first.
Finding BMX Parks & Places to Practice
Before jumping right into tricks, get comfortable riding your BMX bike at a local skate park or dedicated BMX track. Look for nearby parks with mellow features like smaller box jumps, quarter pipes, kicker ramps, and open dirt trails to start out.
Pump tracks are also great practice facilities designed specifically for honing BMX handling skills. The smooth dirt mounds and berms let you practice maintaining momentum without pedalling. If no parks are in your area, build your own small practice features at home using plywood or dirt jumps. Always check for permits and codes before constructing large ramps.
Learning BMX Basics
Now it’s time to start learning fundamental BMX techniques and bike handling skills necessary for both freestyle and racing. Mastering the basics will make learning tricks much simpler.
BMX Riding Position
Stand with both feet on the pedals in your normal riding position. Position the pedals horizontally with the front crank arm at 3 o’clock. Keep your knees and elbows slightly bent to absorb impacts. Stay relaxed! Lean slightly forward as you ride with your weight centered over the front end. Looking ahead helps control the bike’s direction.
Pedalling a BMX Bike
Pedal smoothly in a controlled circular motion. Don’t mash the pedals. Maintain speed by pedalling consistently and then coasting at times. Use your legs to lift up rather than just pushing down. Raise and lower your body slightly as you pedal for better balance.
Steer gradually by leaning your upper body and hips in the direction you want to turn. Don’t jerk the handlebars. Look through turns by keeping your eyes focused on your exit point.
BMX bikes use a rear hand brake only. Grip it gently and squeeze the lever gradually. Avoid sudden hard braking that can send you flying over the bars. Stick your leg out motorcycle style to help slow yourself. Drag your heels on the ground if needed to shed speed.
The bunny hop is the fundamental airborne move to learn. Start by rolling slowly and popping the front wheel up by pulling back on the handlebars. Then lift the rear wheel by scooping your legs up. Level out mid-air and land with both wheels at the same time. Once you’ve mastered small hops, gradually increase height. Time larger hops to clear obstacles.
The approach turns wide and then carves into the apex. Look through the exit and lean your bike in that direction. Weight the outside pedal and press the inside handlebar end to help initiate the lean. Add front and rear brakes lightly to help slow and stabilize the bike through corners.
Dropping in means riding into a ramp or bowl from the top edge. Start on smaller quarter pipes and pump bumps. Lean over the front wheel as you reach the edge. Look down the transition to spot your landing. Gently push the front wheel off and follow straight down without turning. Land both wheels together and ride away.
BMX Tricks for Beginners
Once you’ve got the basics, you can start to learn some fun freestyle BMX tricks. Go slowly and commit fully to land them cleanly and safely.
Wheelies involve balancing on your rear wheel and lifting the front wheel. Sit back slightly and pedal hard while also pulling up on the handlebars. Find the sweet spot where you can hold a prolonged wheelie down a flat stretch. Learn How to do a wheelie on a BMX bike.
Endos are the opposite of wheelies, with just your front wheel in the air. To initiate one, shift your weight forward quickly while pulling the front brake. Lift the rear wheel a few inches off the ground. Stay centered over your front hub to avoid looping over.
Kickturns let you quickly whip the rear end of your bike around 180 degrees. Roll with some speed, then push down hard on your outside pedal while simultaneously steering aggressively in the opposite direction. The rear end will slide around.
Fakies are key for linking tricks. Roll backward and pedal backward to hold a fakie. To get into one, pull a moderate endo, then pedal backward as your front wheel comes down. Takes some practice to get the timing right.
J hops give you lift both the front and rear wheels with a jumping pop action. As you lift the front, push your legs down fast and explosively to generate upward and backward momentum to raise the rear wheel. Lift both wheels evenly to the same height.
180 spins involve turning the bars and bike 180 degrees while airborne. First, learn them rolling fakie by turning your head and shoulders backward 90 degrees. Then add a hop and continue the spin 90 more degrees before landing. Once comfortable, try them rolling forward.
Tabletops are straight airs off jumps with both wheels level. Work on gentle tabletops over smaller dirt jumps and gaps first. Maintain balance mid-air with your arms out to the sides. Absorb the landing by bending your knees and keeping loose.
BMX for Kids and Teens
BMX is a fun way to get younger riders active on two wheels. From improving bike handling skills to making new friends at the skatepark, BMX offers an enjoyable hobby for kids and teens.
Start kids on a sturdy freestyle BMX bike with 20” wheels around age 5 to 7. The lighter weight makes it easy to manoeuvre. Look for local skateparks that offer times just for younger riders. Meeting other BMX kids helps them progress.
Teach proper mini-ramp usage. Only drop in and carve when others are clear. Take turns to avoid collisions. Let teens hit the skatepark with friends, but set expectations for wearing safety gear and safe riding. Consider enrolling younger riders in a learn-to-ride BMX camp. Coaching develops skills quickly. Monitor progress and offer tips, but let kids learn at their own pace rather than pushing them hard. Having fun is the priority.
The social aspect of progressing through the beginner levels with other aspiring riders keeps kids motivated to continue improving their abilities. BMX gives them confidence on a bike and friendships lasting well beyond the skatepark.
Getting Into BMX Racing
In addition to freestyle, BMX racing is another popular discipline. Racing requires an even greater focus on bike handling and pedalling efficiency. Use these tips to get started in beginner racing:
- Work on your gate starts by pedalling from a dead stop as fast as possible. React quickly when the gate drops.
- Sprint your fastest through the opening straight section to jockey for an early position.
- Carry speed smoothly through turns by riding high and railing deeply into the berms. Maintain momentum.
- Race against others in your skill bracket to make mark improvements. Move up classes as you gain experience.
- Upgrade to a lightweight race-specific BMX bike with stiff gears and streamlined frame geometry.
- Attend camps and clinics focused on effective BMX race techniques and strategies.
- Analyze the local race track before your first race. Look for optimal passing and braking spots.
- Hydrate and fuel properly before races. Nerves and adrenaline burn extra energy.
Racing BMX helps you refine your bike handling and fitness. Lining up at the gate is a thrill! Race for fun and enjoy close competition with other beginners learning the ins and outs of BMX racing.
FAQ: Beginner BMX Questions
What muscles does BMX work?
BMX is a full-body workout that engages your legs, core, back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Explosive power in your quads, hamstrings, and glutes is needed for sprinting and jumping. Your core stabilizes your body during tricks. Arms control the bike in the air while grip strength handles landings.
How high can you jump on a BMX?
On flat ground without help from transition or features, experienced BMX riders can jump around 3 feet or higher above the ground. Large dirt jumps and mega ramps allow elite pros to catch huge air over 10 feet. Work your way up gradually to bigger hops and jumps only when skills permit.
How much does a beginner BMX cost?
A good beginner-level complete BMX bike from a trusted brand generally costs £200 to £400. Race-specific bikes are more expensive. Buy used to save some money initially. Invest more in protective gear like a helmet rather than an expensive first bike.
How old do you have to be to start BMX?
Kids as young as 3 years old can start learning on a basic small-wheeled balance bike or pedal bike with training wheels. Around 5 to 7 is a good age to progress to a beginner freestyle BMX bike. There’s no maximum age limit for beginners. Anyone can start riding and learning tricks if desired.
Is BMX dangerous?
While minor cuts and bruises are common when progressing, the risk of serious injury is low if you wear proper safety gear and practice within your ability level. Scarier-looking intermediate-level tricks actually become safer as your bike control improves. Take time to master the basics before moving to more advanced techniques. Stay in your comfort zone.
Beginner’s Essentials: To begin, securing the right bike and safety gear is paramount. Opt for beginner BMX bikes designed with smaller frames and wheels, and remember, you don’t need to break the bank on your first bike.
Safety First: Protect yourself with a sturdy helmet, knee/elbow pads, and BMX gloves. Don’t compromise on safety gear; it’s your shield in the world of BMX.
Practice Ground: Before diving into tricks, familiarise yourself with local skate parks, BMX tracks, or pump tracks. These practice spaces are essential for honing your skills.
Master the Basics: Riding position, pedalling techniques, steering, and braking are fundamental skills. Practice these basics diligently to build a strong foundation.
Trick Time: Once you’ve grasped the fundamentals, explore the world of freestyle tricks, from wheelies and endos to kickturns and J hops. Start slow and commit to mastering each trick safely.
For the Young Ones: BMX is a fantastic activity for kids and teens. Choose the right bike, encourage safe riding practices, and consider enrolling them in BMX camps to accelerate their progress and build lasting friendships.
BMX Racing: If you crave the thrill of competition, BMX racing is a fantastic option. Learn gate starts, sprinting techniques, and the art of navigating berms. It’s a thrilling way to enhance your bike-handling skills.
FAQs Answered: Wondering what muscles BMX works or how high you can jump? This guide has you covered, providing insights into the physical demands and age requirements for BMX.
Safety Always: Remember, while BMX may look daring, it can be safe with the right gear, practice, and patience. Avoid pushing beyond your limits and prioritize having fun.
BMX isn’t just a sport; it’s an adventure waiting for you. With the right bike, gear, and skills, you’re equipped to embark on a thrilling journey in the world of BMX. So, gear up, practice diligently, and enjoy the ride!