Is BMX racing at Waitākere like what I've seen at the Olympics?
Yes and no. The Olympic track is what is known as a 'BMX Supercross' track. Supercross tracks have higher, steeper start ramps - and much, much bigger jumps. You won't be riding anything quite as extreme as that when you ride at Waitākere BMX club. There are, however, several similarities between what you saw at the Olympics and standard BMX racing. For instance, our racing starts with an electronic start gate, you race up to 7 other people at a time and you do get to do jumps if you want to.
There are no parts of the Waitākere track that you 'have' to jump - you can choose to just ride over everything and stay firmly on the ground - if you like.
It's worth noting that the riders competing at the Olympics are true athletes who also happen to have exceptional bike skills. If the average rider attempted what they do, it probably wouldn't end well.....
However, BMX is a sport that anyone who can ride a bike can compete in. You don't have to be an amazing bike rider to enjoy it. Several of our members ride simply because they enjoy riding their BMX bikes.
Is the BMX track open to the public?
Yes! The track is open for public use, free of charge, at any time that it is not being used by the club. Waitakere BMX club uses the track on Wednesday and Friday nights, and sometimes on weekends when big meetings or training sessions take place. But most of the time, the track is open for use. Just turn up and have a go.
If the track is wet or soft please do not ride it can cause considerable damage to the surface with rutting and tire marks. A good guide is if you can leave a footprint or tire print on the surface it is too soft to ride.
If you do ride at the track, please wear a helmet and gloves, and cover any exposed skin (long-sleeved tops, and long pants are a very good idea). If you have knee/shin pads, wear those. The same goes for elbow pads, if you have them, wear them.
Is there a minimum age to ride the track?
The youngest we have had ride at our track is around 3 and a half years old. The oldest rider in New Zealand is in his seventies!
If your child is confident on his/her bike, then there's no reason he/she can't race BMX. BMX has classes for all age groups. The younger kids race in a classes known as the "Sprocket" classes. Their results are not scored, as the emphasis is on having fun, not who wins or loses.
Sometimes, if we have enough of the younger kids, we run what we call a "Striders" class. The kids ride over a shortened course and Mum or Dad can walk alongside to help out.
If you've never been to the track, we suggest that you start your child at the lower half of the start ramp until he/she gains the confidence to start higher up. Starting your child lower down on the ramp will mean that he/she won't be going too fast when arriving at the first jump.
If your child knows to use the brakes, it's important that he/she does use them to begin with.
You may be best to walk alongside your child while they learn the track. There are some steep sections of track that they may require your assistance on (don't worry though, the kids always adjust very quickly and likely won't require your help for long!)
Please make sure your child wears a helmet, gloves and has his/her skin covered. Make sure he/she is wearing snug fitting lace-up shoes.
Do you guys do backflips and tricks?
No. There is a lot of confusion in the public eye about what BMX is. Originally BMX started as a racing-only form of cycling. The term 'B.M.X.' actually stands for "Bicycle Moto-X" (Bicycle Motor Cross).
Nowadays, when people say "BMX" they might mean freestyle riding, dirt jumping or racing. "BMX" also refers to the bike itself (the bikes are called BMX bikes)
Waitakere BMX club is a BMX racing club. We don't do freestyle or dirt jump competitions.
How long is the Waitākere BMX track?
Our track is approximately 360 metres long. It's an all-dirt track with lime sprinkled on its surface to form a hard crust and concrete corners. The track consists of four straights, with 3 banked concrete corners.
The fastest riders get around it in approx 36 seconds.
Can I use my existing BMX bike at the track?
It most likely will be, yes. Pretty much any BMX bike can be raced.
Freestyle BMX bikes (or the sort of bike you might buy at the Warehouse or K-Mart) are often made of heavier steel materials, will have a different gearratio and will have front brakes and sometimes include 'footpegs' on the front and rear axle to aid the rider during freestyle moves. For racing, the footpegs are considered a hazard and must be removed from the bike (at Waitakere we can help you remove, then re-fit, those pegs so that you can race). We also recommend that the front brakes are removed as these can cause easily cause a crash if used during a race.
Heavier bikes are harder to get around a track fast, but most kids don't even really notice - they're busy having too much fun. Purpose-built race bikes are made of aluminium and other light-weight materials.
Once you get serious with your racing, you'll most like want to shift to a purpose-built race bike. Brands like Redline, Chase and GT are popular choices. They're all readily available in New Zealand, so you don't need to get something in from overseas.
I don't have a BMX bike, can I still race?
We don't stop people from riding in the sport just because they don't have a flash looking race bike. We have a saying at Waitakere BMX club, "
All riders are welcome" - and we mean it.
If your bike is safe and can handle the demands of the track, it'll be OK for club racing. Here at Waitakere, we often have kids riding on smaller mountain bikes (with gears), because they are the bikes they already own - and they are comfortable with them. We've also had adult riders turn up on their mountain bikes.
For you parents out there, it's often cheaper to allow your child to ride a bike they are comfortable on to begin with, rather than spend money on a flash BMX bike.
The main concern is that each bike that is raced at Waitakere is safe, has working brakes and is in a good enough condition that it does not pose a risk to the person riding it, or to other riders. If your bike is not right for racing at Waitakere - we'll let you know and help you get it into a race-ready state if we can.
If you don't have a bike at all, but you want to give BMX racing a go, come to one of our club nights and let us know. Some of us are more than happy to give you a ride on our bikes to see if you like the sport. We do have a very limited supply of hire/loan bikes available to us, but we need to know in advance if you need to use one. Just contact us and let us know prior to the time you want to ride.
What do I need to race at the Club?
The bare minimum you need to race BMX at Waitakere is;
A limited supply of BMX bikes, helmets nd gloves are available for hire from the registration hut on club nights if required.
A BMX bike
(or a bike that can handle racing).
A full-face helmet.
Full fingered gloves.
Long pants and a long-sleeved top.
Lace-up shoes that cover your entire foot
We strongly recommend the wearing of elbow and knee/shin guards.
What does it cost to race BMX?
Like most sports out there, you can spend as much money as you want to get the equipment you might want. There is no real single answer to this question, but we will give you an idea of the price ranges of various items.
BMX bikes can go for as little as $150 second-hand, through to $3000-$4000 brand new (for the very, very 'high end' brands).
If you have a child who wants to race and needs a BMX race bike, we would strongly urge you to contact us before you buy. There are three or four different sizes of bikes available for kids, so it can be confusing to start with. Contact us and come to a race night to have a look at what size bikes are available.
Trade Me and Facebook are very good options for a BMX bike for a child, as kids are always growing out of bikes, so there is always a good supply of second-hand bikes available in great condition. Good condition BMX bikes suitable for younger kids can be bought for as little as $150, and brand new they are often available for between $350-$800. Like all sports, the brand of the equipment can have a big effect on price!
Adult sized BMX bikes can be bought for $250-$1000 second hand, and start from around $600-$800 dollars brand new. There's really no limit on how much you can spend, but a $600-$800 dollar bike is absolutely fine for most riders.
These can be ordered through your club, or you can make your own to start with. Cut an ice cream container lid into shape and cable-tie it to your handle bars (number plate colours vary from class to class - so speak to us first about what class you'll be riding in).
Numbers can be bought from motorcylce stores that deal in Moto-X gear, or you can go to your local sign-writer and ask them to provide you with stick-on vinyl numbers - it'll cost something like $3 per number.
The helmet is likely the most important piece of safety equipment you'll need, so 'going cheap' when buying a helmet is not necessarily a wise decision. Safety equipment can be expensive, but there are affordable, good quality brands out there. Generally speaking, helmets go from around $200-$1000 brand new (you can spend much, much more - if you want to). $300 will get you a very good helmet at most bike stores. Remember, only full-face helmets are allowed for racing.
If you have a small child who wants to race, but doesn't have a full-face helmet, we hire them out for a small fee on club nights.
Helmets can be bought second hand from Trade Me and Facebook, but be very careful as the history of a pre-used helmet cannot be guaranteed. You might be buying a helmet that has been involved in a big crash already.
Generally speaking, gloves start at around $35 and go through to a few hundred dollars. However, you can also use cotton gardening gloves with rubber dimples on them if you like - you can buy them from the local supermarket for less than $10.
Most bike stores have gloves for sale. Gloves must be full-fingered gloves.
Any lace-up shoes in good condition are fine for racing. If you are wanting to ride with clip-in pedals, shoes will cost anywhere from $150-400. Several of our riders ride in $30 shoes from the Number 1 shoes, or the Warehouse. Flat-soled shoes with a grid-style tread pattern are the best for riding, so that the feet don't slip on the pedals when pedalling fast.
Please note that riders 8yrs and younger are not permitted to ride in clip-in shoes. This is a rule within BMXNZ.
Pads & Safety Gear
Elbow pads generally start at around $50, but can be purchased much cheaper second hand. Likewise, knee and shin guards also start at around $50. Most bike stores have a reasonable selection of pads available. It's probably worth coming down to the track to see what sort of gear riders are using before you purchase any gear.
Shoulder and body protection suits can be purchased and normally start from $300 or so.
Racing Licence and club fees
If you want to race inter-club and National level, you'll need a BMXNZ racing licence. If you purchase one of those, your club membership at Waitakere BMX is included in the fee. For adults, the yearly fee for a National Licence is $115. For "Sprocket" riders (riders under 8 yrs) that fee is $85. Entry fees for inter-club meetings generally cost around $25. Entry to the larger meetings such as the North & South Island Titles, or the National Championship meeting costs are additional and the price varies from race to race.
If you just want to race at the club - and you're not interested in doing national or interclub events you can become a club-only member for $65 (for riders over 7yrs of age). All riders 7yrs and under are required to register as a Sprocket.
Everything you need to race BMX (bike and riding gear) can be purchased second hand - you don't have to spend a lot of money. Please be very cautious if buying a second-hand helmet - we cannot stress that enough.
Can I ride my motorbike on the track?
ABSOLUTELY NOT! The Waitākere BMX Track is for bicycle use only. The use of motorised vehicles of any sort is prohibited on our track. This means;
NO scooters (motorised or push)
NO radio controlled cars
The riding of horses on the grounds is also prohibited.
Motorised equipment on our track causes huge damage to the track's surface and costs us a lot in terms of time and money to repair. Our standard procedure is to call the police if/when we find people using motorised vehicles on the track.
When is the BMX Season?
The NZ BMX racing season in runs from September through till May (with some movement either side of those dates sometimes).
The BMXNZ Nationals is traditionally run over the Easter weekend and is the last major meet for the season.
What size BMX race bike do I need?
18" Wheel Diameter
Micro Mini - Children aged 5 or under who are shorted than 120cm
20" Wheel Diameter
Mini - Between 115 - 135cm tall
Junior - Between 130 - 145cm tall
Expert - Between 140 - 160cm tall
Pro - Between 155 - 175 cm tall
Pro XL, XXL, XXXL - for those who prefer a longer frame
24" Inch Wheel Diameter (Cruiser)
This is what most of the Mums & Dads ride.
Riders choose between 20" and Cruiser for personal preference. Most adults choose a Cruiser due to the extra size. Cruisers and 20" are raced in separete classes during bigger events. On a club night depending on numbers the adult classes may be raced together.
How do I get a BMX licence plate for my race BMX?
Firstly email your club and put in a request for a number.
Provide three different sets of numbers between 50 - 1000 that you might like.
Ie: 98, 398,999 Advise which class you are racing in ie: 20inch or Cruiser
Your club will advise which number selection is available for you to have and allocate it to you on the club database.
Please note Numbers 1 -50 are protected for National rankings.
Riders must use the correct colour combinations as below when ordering plates:
Men Elite / Women Elite - White Plate, Black Numbers
Mens Juniors / Womens Juniors - Black Plate, White Numbers
Male 20" - Yellow Plate, Black Numbers
Female 20" - Blue Plate, White Numbers
Cruisers - Red Plate, White Numbers
Next order your number plate through the points hut. Plates cost $40.
Riders must have the correct plate attached for all national race meetings and club points nights.
Where can I buy a race BMX bike?
There are a number of local stores that stock a range of BMX gear to suit those just starting out to those who are at the top of their game and where every gram is important.
We always recommend supporting your local bike store as they will be able to provide the best advice and support as you grow into the sport. Below are our recommended Auckland based stores, all are heavily involved in the BMX circuit and you will see their owners at most race meets both locally and nationally:
21 Fernhill Drive, Massey, Auckland
Phone: +64 9 832 8090
616 Gt South Rd, Ellerslie
Phone: +64 9 9740001
There are also a number of facebook groups dedicated to BMX Racing where members sell their second hand gear:
BMX NZ Racing Buy Sell or Swap
BMX Racing NZ Exchange
BMX Race Bikes NZ for Sale