BMX Terms

Main BMX Racing Terms

BMX Racing has its own language, like most sports. This list covers most of the common terms used in BMX racing. If you find one missing, please let us know.

20″ Class: A race for bicycles with 20″ diameter wheels.

24″ Class: Another name for a cruiser class, a race for bicycles with 24″ diameter wheels.

Amateur: A non-professional rider, that is, a rider that does not compete for prize money.

Axle: The shaft on which the wheel revolves.

Bar Ends: Plugs that fit into the ends of handle bars to prevent the metal edges from cutting or “stabbing” riders.

Bead: The outside edge of the tyre, which is stiffened by a wire.

Berm: An embankment on a track built up on the outside of a turn to create a banked curve.

BMX:  An abbreviation for Bicycle Motocross.  BMX indicates a style of bike and kind of race or competition.

Bottom Bracket:  The cups, bearings and axle mechanism at the bottom of a bicycle frame, which holds the spindle and cranks.

Brake Pad: A rubber pad that stops the bike by pressing on the tyre’s rim, creating friction.

Brakes: Any bicycle braking system which works by opening and closing two brake pads on the tyre’s rim in a clamping motion or by rubbing against a disc.

Brake Lever: A lever mounted on the handlebar used for activating the brakes by pulling the cable.

Brake Cable: A steel wire braided into cables and sometimes covered with plastic coating used to connect the brake levers to the brakes.

Caged Pedals: Pedals with aluminum cages around the outside and spikes that grip your shoes.

Caliper Brakes: A braking system that is centrally mounted to the frame and two arms with spring mechanisms to provide the movement at the brake pads to the rim.

Cantilever Brakes:  A dual post mounted brake where the brake spring is connected to the post.

Case: Coming up short on a jump so the back wheel of the bike hits the peak of the landing.

Centre Mount Brakes: Brakes most commonly used on older frames. Frames have a piece welded across the top tubes of the rear triangle behind the seat post tube that the brake hooks through.

Chain Stays:  The part of the bicycle frame that runs parallel to the chain and connects the bottom bracket to the rear dropouts.

Chain Wheel:  A one-piece front gear attached to the bottom bracket and crank.

Chain Ring: Lighter chain rings than full sprockets and that are not nearly as sturdy.  They require a spider that is either built into the crank arm, or an additional part.

Classification:  The skill level at which a rider competes, for example, novice or expert, sprocket, challenge or championship.

Clipless Pedals: Pedals that actually hook or “clip” into clipless shoes.  They are the new technology that replaced toe clips on pedals and are generally not recommended for younger riders.  Some clipless pedals have a cage around the outside of the pedals.

Crank:  The L-shaped metal arm to which the pedals are attached. Crank size is important. Crank arms that are too long will make a rider swing their bike side to side, wag their tail, and or ride choppily at their hip line. If a rider is swinging their bike from side to side and someone bumps them, they’ll more than likely go Down … !!! Riders don’t win that way and can get hurt. With crank arms that are too short, a rider doesn’t get enough leg extension, therefore not enough power.

Cross Up: A manoueuvre where a rider turns the handlebars 90 degrees to the bike or the direction of travel while airborne.

Cruiser: A BMX bike with 24″ diameter wheels.

Disqualify: To officially disbar a rider as a result of any rule infringement.

Down Tube:  The part of a bicycle frame which slants downward at an angle.  It runs from the head tube to the bottom bracket.

DNF:  A record on a moto sheet that a rider started but “Did Not Finish” a particular moto.

DNS:  A record on a moto sheet that a rider “Did Not Start” a particular moto.

Dropouts:  Small, slotted openings in the frame of forks, which hold the front and rear wheel axles.  On many bikes, the dropouts do not appear to be separate parts.  They are merely the opening at the ends of two other frame sections – the seat stays and the front fork.

ENDO:  When the front wheel of a bike is stopped and the rider falls over the front handlebars – something riders like to avoid!

Entry Fee: The fee paid to register for any BMX event.

Expert: The highest level of amateur competition, based on previous results in racing.

Final: The last race in a class to determine class placings and run after all qualifying motos, including quarter and semi-finals, have been completed.

Finish Points: The total points earned by a rider in any event.

Flange: The large section on the inside part of handle bar grips that the thumb and index finger often touch against.

Fork:  The double-pronged section of the frame, which holds the front wheel in place. One of the easiest ways to lighten your bike is with a lighter fork than comes stock.

Frame Size: The overall size of a frame, usually measured by the length of the top tube. Sizes include Micro-Mini, Mini, Junior, Expert and Pro.

Free Wheel or COG:  A one-piece rear gear, with bearings are built in, that allows the rider to back-pedal.

Gear Ratio:  A number, which indicates the relationship between the chain ring and free wheel gears and tells a rider how much work a particular combination of gears will do.

Ghost Rider: Any rider who has not entered an event but signed up to satisfy requirements in forming classes.

Grips: Rubber or plastic covers that fit on the ends of handlebars to aid in gripping the bars.

Gusset:  A triangle of reinforcing steel located between the top and down tubes on your bike to reinforce frame-tubing junctions.

Gyro:  A device that enable you to spin the handlebars a full 360 degrees without cable interference.

Head Set: The cups, bearing set and spacers that the front end of a bicycle rotates on and the fork/handlebars slide into.

Head Tube:  A short vertical tube at the very front of the bike that the front forks fit inside.

Helmet: An essential head cover designed for head protection.

Hole Shot:  Taking the lead position out of the starting gate and going into the first turn.

Hub:  The cylinder which holds the axle of each wheel.

Infringement: Any incident, such as a flagrant or malicious move, during competition resulting in disqualification.

Intermediate: Skill level for riders with limited experience and ability.

Landing: The place where a rider lands their bike on a jump or other obstacle.

Lane: The positions, usually 1 to 8, allocated to riders on the starting gate.

Licence Number: The number towards the bottom left of a membership card which is that rider’s official BMX Australia identification.

Linear Brake:  A type of brake that uses a side or linear pull system that requires a v-type or linear lever.  This system offers the most braking force available and is generally favoured by racers.

Loop Out: When a rider is only on the back wheel of their bike and flips off the bike backwards.

Main: Another term for a “Final”, the last race in a class to determine class placings, that is run after all qualifying motos, including quarter and semi-finals, have been held.

Manual:  The act of riding on the rear wheel without pedalling, typically over the top section of jumps.

Moto:   A single heat of races for all classes or a specific race for a single class.

Moto Number: The number corresponding with any specific race or moto.

Moto Sheet: The forms displaying the schedule for an event’s races, in moto number order.

Motocross:  Originally a cross-country motorcycle race, the term is now also used to describe BMX races held on dirt tracks.

Neck: Another name for a gooseneck or stem.

Notice Board:  An area where the moto sheets are posted before and during the race.

Novice: A beginner or new rider to the sport with no previous BMX racing experience.

Plate: A plastic board mounted on the handlebars to display a rider’s earned or allocated race number, used for identification purposes.

Open : A class that is open to all riders that meet the entry criteria for a class, regardless of skill level.

Out of Class: Any rider not competing in his/her age group or correct class.

Platform Pedal:  A pedal with a platform that a rider’s foot rests and little pegs that stick to shoes. These are the most commonly used pedals for trails, street, and ramps.

Pro: A rider that competes in a class with prize money, usually for the top 8 placegetters.

Qualifier: A moto in which a rider competes for the right to progress to quarter finals, semi finals or finals.

Qualfying System: The method by which riders are transferred from motos into the main event.

Quarter Final: An additional qualifying race for classes with more than 32 riders.

Ranking: The position a rider is given within a given class at the end of a points season.

Reclassification: The system for moving a rider to a higher or lower classification.

Rhythm Section:  A series of jumps or rollers placed back to back on a track.

Rims: The round part of a wheel that the tyres are fitted to.

Registration: The administration area a rider goes to sign up to compete in an event.

Roller:  An obstacle on a track that is rolled over as opposed to being jumped.

Saddle:  Another name for a bike seat.

Sandbagging: Intentionally allowing other rider(s) to pass during an event so as not to gain points towards advancement in classification.

Score Board:  Another term for a Notice Boasrd, the place where the moto sheets are posted before and during the race.

Seat Stays:  The section of the bike frame that runs from the seat tube to the rear wheel dropouts.

Semi Final: A qualifying race for classes with 17 or more riders, following quarter finals where they apply, to decide the rider in a final.

Sew-ups:  A type of tyre, also called a tubular tyre, which is actually sewn around the tube. These are mostly used by very young riders.

Seat Post:  The tube which holds the seat and fits into the frame.

Spindle: The part of the crank mechanism that the cranks are attached to.

Staging:  The area where riders gather prior to a race or are placed in chutes for before being called into the starting gate.

Starting Gate: The platformed area on a start hill with a hinged portion that riders line up on to start each race.

Starting Hill: The area that riders are assembled to prepare for and start each race.

Stem:  The bike part, sometimes referred to as a gooseneck, that is connected to the forks and holds the handlebars.

Step-up:  An obstacle in which the landing is elevated above the launch.

Sprocket:  Another term for a chain wheel and sometimes also used to refer to either the front or rear gear assembly. Sprockets are strong. They are a single unit combining a chain ring and a spider.

Sprocket Rocket: A rider participating in a race for young children less than 8 years of age.

Table Top:  An obstacle on a track that is completely level or flat all the way across it from the lip to the landing.

Tail Whip: A manoeuvre where a rider flicks the rear end of the bike away from the direction of travel while airborne – a move that can lead to an infringement.

Top Tube:  The horizontal tube at the top of a bicycle frame, between the head tube and seat tube.

U-Brake:  A U-shaped centre pull brake that uses a ratcheting spring tension system, generally used on freestyle bikes.

V & A Brakes: The most commonly used brakes for BMX racing. Frames must have canti mount posts to be able to use this type of brake. Two (2) small posts must be located on the top tubes of the rear triangle of the frame for this type of brake to work on a frame. Mini V brakes are now available for the smaller bikes.

Video Scoring: A video camera system with review capabilities used strictly as a back up to the official scoring crew.

Volunteer: A person who offers to help with running an event.

Voucher: An award having cash value towards items at a retailer of other redemption centre.

X Up: Another term for a cross up, where a rider turns the handlebars 90 degrees while in the air.


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