If you are reading this article, chances are that you are new to the world of BMX. As a sport, BMX can be a bit dangerous. Hence, you might be thinking about what equipment you should use. The most important protective gear for BMX includes a helmet, knee/elbow pads, gloves, shin pads, and goggles. There are also other items such as braces and mouthguards. We wanted to discuss all of these in detail and answer some frequently asked questions. To that end, we have prepared this article.
BMX riding styles
BMX stands for “bicycle motocross”. It can be divided into two different types – BMX Racing and Freestyle BMX.
BMX Racing: This is very much like a typical race where competitors go around a track. Usually, it is a single lap race and the track is around 400 meters long. Most tracks are dirt paths or pavement and are custom built with flat sections, small hills, ramps, and angled turning barriers. In general, more protective equipment is needed for BMX racing due to the high speeds and competitive nature.
Freestyle BMX: This is a sport that has originated from BMX racing. However, it is more stunt-oriented with riders performing various tricks. Sometimes there is a racing element to it as well. BMX freestyling can be done on different kinds of terrain. These include the streets, concrete parks, vert ramps, dirt trails, etc.
Protective gear for BMX
BMX can be considered to be an extreme sport due to the constant risk of crashes and injuries. Therefore, you have to put on some protective equipment. With the right gear, the risks are significantly reduced. The following are some essential items that you should have.
Helmets are the most important safety equipment and this is one area that you do not want to skimp out on. There are actually two types of helmets that are used by BMX riders – open-face and full-face. Most of them will have an urban style open-face helmet. These look similar to skateboarding helmets. BMX helmets have less ventilation compared to road or mountain bike helmets. This is because safety takes priority. Besides, you probably won’t sweat as much riding BMX. If you’re a regular commuter, then, have a look at the features to check out in commuter helmets
The other kind of helmet used by riders is a full-face helmet. This is commonly seen in BMX racing where the dangers are slightly higher. These helmets are almost identical to downhill MTB helmets. They feature a chin guard that protects the face, jaws, and chin. While they keep you safer, they are bulkier, hotter, and more expensive than an open-face helmet.
➥ Read more: How to choose the best BMX helmet
A good pair of gloves offer both grip and protection for your hands. Gloves absorb the sweat from your hands and ensure that they do not slip on the handlebars. Meanwhile, gloves also have padding on the palm that relieves some of the pressure from the handlebars. In case of a fall as well, your hands will be mostly protected from getting scraped.
Elbow & Knee Pads
The elbows and the knees are among the most injury-prone parts of our bodies since we instinctively fall on them. Therefore, you should wear some sort of armor for them. Elbow pads and knee pads are usually made of similar materials. They have a plastic plate inside covered by canvas material. They also have a stretchy fabric to ensure that they fit properly. Make sure that they are the right size to fit under a shirt or pants.
Another important type of armor you need is shin pads. Hitting the shin can be extremely painful and a hard enough impact will cause a fracture. Shin pads are made in a similar way to knee/elbow pads except that they are less flexible and provide better protection.
Optional protective gear
Other than the ones we have already mentioned, there is equipment that you can buy to ensure even better protection from injury. The following BMX gear is not compulsory but they are still a great addition nonetheless. Whether you use them or not is your choice.
Braces for the ankles and wrist provide stability and restrict the movement of those joints. When you fall on your hands or your feet, there is a slight chance that you will twist your wrist/ankle. Most twists result in a light sprain. However, a hard enough impact could put you out of the game for weeks or even months. Ankle and wrist braces wrap snugly around these joints and have plastic support that prevents twisting.
Neck braces are rarely used and are more common among downhill mountain bikers. You would usually put on a neck brace under a full-face helmet. So, only BMX racers use them. During an impact on your head with a neck brace on, the force from that impact is redirected away from the neck to the shoulders and upper chest. Hence, it prevents neck injuries. A neck brace will not really do anything when used with an open-face helmet.
Goggles are great for shielding your eyes against sunlight and dust. This ensures that you can keep your eyes on the track and not run into anything. Other than that, goggles will also protect a large part of your face in the event of an accident.
Even if you protect your head with a full-face helmet, the shock from an impact could cause you to bite your tongue or chip a tooth. A mouthguard pretty much eliminates the possibility of that happening. They are also a relatively cheap investment.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q1. What clothing should I wear for BMX?
Ans.: Technically you could wear anything you like. Keep it simple and comfortable. Make sure that it is breathable and does not restrict your movement. You could, for example, wear a t-shirt and baggy shorts. If you are more of a serious BMX player, you should consider investing in a full-sleeve shirt and full pants that are designed for BMX riding. These clothes sometimes feature a bit of padding at the elbows and knees and look pretty cool.
Q2. Do BMX helmets have different safety standards?
Ans.: Regardless of the riding style, all helmets sold in the United States have to pass CPSC safety standards. There are also other certifications that a helmet could get, such as ASTM and Snell. The ASTM standard for BMX helmets is ASTM 2032 in place of the ASTM 1447 standard that is used for other cycling helmets. This requires BMX helmets to be sturdier and cover a larger area on the head.
➥ Here, you’ll get to know more about safety standards related to bike helmets.
Q3. Are there any rules regarding gear for BMX riding?
Ans.: For freestyle BMX, typically there are no strict rules and you can choose what you want to equip yourself with. However, it is still highly recommended that you do wear helmets, pads, and gloves at least. For BMX racing some things are mandatory. The exact rules can vary from country to country. In general, you will be required to have a full-face helmet, a full-sleeve jersey, and full pants at the very least.
Q4. What shoes should I wear for BMX?
Ans.: For beginners and intermediates, there are no special requirements for shoes for BMX. Tennis shoes or skate shoes will do. Basically, a flat sole will be better as it provides more grip. Professional riders sometimes use clipless pedals, and for that, you will need shoes that are compatible with cleats.
If you have made it to the end of this article, you should have a good idea about what gear to equip yourself with when riding on a BMX. Don’t hesitate to invest in the right protective gear and the right clothing. It is completely worth it as you will be able to tackle tricks and races with more confidence. And of course, you will remain well protected. We hope you found this information useful.