Here’s our handy guide to the language of BMX
BMX – Bicycle Motocross. The bicycle version of tearing round tracks on a motorbike (Motocross or MX) with or without engines. The name is Moto not “Motor”cross because of the format of races, explained in Moto(s) below.
Berm - the banked corners on a track, usually covered in tarmac
Brits - Short for the British BMX Championships. The biggest event in UK BMX racing. Riders qualify through racing in their regional summer series.
Class - the category riders compete in. BMX racing is divided into Championship Classes for the top riders. They are Championship Men, Championship Women and, for the very top riders, Elite. There's also a Challenge Class.
Classes - based on age. There are 9 Cruiser classes and 20 age classes on 20”. Female riders on 20" are in double age groups (9-10 Girls for example) whereas male riders are in single age groups (9 Boys and 10 Boys) because there are more male riders.
Clips - these are the special pedal/shoe combinations that mean a rider’s feet are attached to their pedals. Great for extra power, tricky if you haven’t mastered getting unclipped quickly (done by twisting the foot sideways). Not allowed for younger riders, and controversial to some older riders.
Cruiser - A race BMX with 24” wheels.
Gate - The gate is part of the start hill, the gate itself being the metal barrier riders rest their front wheels on to balance. It is forced down by a pneumatic ram in the blink of an eye, then the racing is on!
Grand 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 a final, there is automatically a 4th moto with placings from all 4 races deciding who wins overall. It can mean racing is a little harder than usual, as riders can’t save any energy for the knockout rounds!
Jumps - the fun part of the track, with doubles featuring two humps or peaks, triples (three) step, up's/step down's that feature either a lower first hump and higher second (step up) or the opposite, and quads (which are four humps).
Licence - A racing licence is compulsory for regional and national events, these are purchased in addition to a British Cycling membership.
Manual - As well as looking cool, manuals are faster than simply not pedalling over a jump or through a rhythm section. It’s basically a wheelie without pedalling, but the idea is the rider’s thrust downwards and forwards via the rear wheel speeds the bike up.
Moto(s) – the heats in BMX. Riders have 3 motos and their placings from each Moto decide which riders move on to the elimination rounds. Each moto will usually have eight riders in it, but there may be less depending on the number of category entries at a race meeting.
Moto Sheets - The list of races for the event. Divided into race classes, the moto sheet shows the race number a rider is in, and gate they'll start each of thier 3 Moto's from. For example;
L. Phillips 25.3 50.6 75.1
Which means Moto (race) 25 Gate 3, Moto 50 Gate 6 and Moto 75 Gate 1
Nationals - these are rounds of the British Cycling British BMX Series.
Pens - usually these are the area with fences to divide riders into “racks” for the moto's. At some races the pens are metal railings, at others poles and tape.
The pens will be numbered by moto from left to right, from 1 to 10. They have their numbers increasing in 10’s to make finding the right one easier. For example, pen 1 is also the pen for moto 11, moto 21, moto 31 and so on. Pen 7 the pen for moto 17, 27, 37 etc. Pen 10 is the pen for moto 10, 20, 30 etc...
Plates - Race plates (or number plates) are compulsory for each rider; they display the rider’s ranking or last three digits of race licence number so finish line officials and spectators can see who’s who.
The 1 plate is for British BMX Series Champions and the 01 for British Champions. European and World Championship finalists have E or W then their placing. W1 is the World Champ!
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.