BMX racing is fun, but there are some inherent dangers, many of which can be avoided, or at least minimised, if you take the time to check over your bike regularly.
We’ve put together a simple safety checklist that should help you stay out of trouble.
- Handle grips – we’ve all heard the horror stories where slipping grips or exposed bar ends can cause quite a lot of harm. If your handle grips look warn and like they could be updated, don’t waste your time, go ahead and update them. Using lock-on grips can provide additional safety, eliminating slippage and putting a collar around the end of the handlebar taking the bite out of the sharp ends.
- Bar ends – you should always keep the end of your bars from being exposed. There have been too many serious injuries that could be avoided by using a simple bar plug. Even if you have enclosed grips consider a bar end underneath.
- Chain – Keep your chain tight, and make sure you have a good chain alignment. You don’t want to throw your chain at high speeds, or any speed for that matter. Chain tensioners or adjusters can really help keep your chain tight and in place, especially for more powerful riders.
- Brakes – Check your brakes are adjusted properly and in good working order, the last thing you want to do is grab a handful of brakes only to have them let you down. Make sure you have plenty of freedom of movement in the brake cable, lots of rubber on the brake pads and clean brake walls on your rims or disk.
- Tires – Make sure your tires are in good condition, you don’t want a blowout if it’s avoidable. Ensure you have good tire pressure, the recommended pressure is printed on the sidewall of the tire. Even slightly flat tires can lead to issues when accelerating and cornering or if you jump, even pinch flats could lead to trouble.
- Seat – Make sure your seat is in good order, you don’t want any cracks in the seat shell and keep an eye on the bolt there’s nothing worse than sitting down to find out your seat is loose.
- Hubs – Keep your hubs well looked after, clean and serviced regularly. You don’t want your wheels coming loose, or worse, seizing, and you definitely don’t want your driver, or freewheel, slipping when you are about to get the holeshot.
- Handlebars & Stem – If you have your handlebars a long way forward consider putting them back into a more up right position. Chicago style might look cool in your neighbourhood but will only lead to tears on the BMX track. If your bars are loose tighten them immediately. Don’t run your stem too high. Running a clamp on stem too high would put a big load on your steerer tube, which could lead to fatigue and/or failure. If you are running a quilled stem you don’t want it too high or it has the potential to pull out of your fork and lead to disaster.
- Pedals – Make sure you have plenty of grip on your pedals and they are in good working order. There’s nothing worse than slipping a pedal. If your pedals are missing the end caps you should see if you can replace the cap, or if not, replace the pedal.
- Protective gear – Ok, so it’s not your bike, but still important equipment. Wear knee and elbow protection and even body armour where possible. Most crashes on the BMX track will lead to a loss of skin, but that can be avoided if you pad up. Even the best BMXers in the world pad up, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
So there you have it, ten things to help make your next ride safer. If you need help doing it ask a friend or head down to your local bike shop.
Don’t forget to check your bike over regularly for loose or damaged parts. Make sure all your bolts are tight, they can work their way loose over time so it’s always good to get into the habit of checking them from time to time. It’s not uncommon to lose a chain ring bolt or for handlebars to move, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen to you.
Always wear your safety gear when riding your bike and ride with a friend.
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