BMX Safety: What to Look for?
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BMX riders and racers live for speed. You will, no doubt, agree with me that the passing of the wind through your hair as you ride with utter freedom is one of the most thrilling sensations in existence.
But even those who live to ride must consider their safety. With the right safety gear, you can gain an edge over your competitors. It will also ensure that you have minimal injuries should you crash or fall when riding.
What Safety Gear Should You Invest in?
BMX helmets have a similar design to that of Moto-X helmets. They are constructed with lightweight materials.
They come in a broad range of sizes, shapes, construction materials, and so forth. As such, prices vary, and you can get yours for a price as low as $16. On the higher end, you have helmets costing over $200.
You can either go with a full-face helmet or, if you like to live dangerously, an open-face helmet. Naturally, I would advise you to purchase the full-face helmet since it covers a larger surface area.
If you are into BMX racing, dirt jumping, pulling stunts on a vert ramp, or any manner of aggressive BMX riding, you will want the full protection of a full-face BMX helmet. Open-face helmets are more appropriate for easy riding.
The full-face helmet covers your jaw, chin, and mouth, in case you crash and fall. It also covers more surface area on the back of your head than other BMX helmets, thus giving you better protection in the event of a backward fall.
You cannot take part in any races sanctioned by the International Cycling Union without a full-face BMX helmet. On the other hand, USA BMX does not require the use of a full-face helmet – but it does strongly recommend that you use one.
Full-face helmets are usually heavier than the rest. But on the bright side, advances in materials technology have significantly reduced their weight.
In addition to being lightweight, open-face helmets also have greater venting than full-face helmets.
If you are a passionate rider, you probably spend most of your time on your BMX. Unfortunately, that is not as idyllic as it sounds. There is a constant friction against your hands where you grip the handlebars, and this eventually causes blisters.
And the blisters become calluses. But a good pair of BMX gloves can prevent that from happening.
After a long period of gripping the handle bars, your palms become numb, and you begin to experience a tingling sensation, thanks to the unceasing vibration and pressure exerted on the ulnar nerve in your hand and wrist. The gloves will shield your hands against this tingling and numbness.
The best time to take out your BMX out for a fun ride is when the sun is out and shining. But that’s also when you will sweat most profusely. If your hands are sweaty and clammy, you will have a hard time maintaining your grip on the handlebar. That will not happen if you put on a pair of BMX gloves.
And what I have just said for hot weather can as well be said for cold weather. You won’t sweat when temperatures drop, but your fingers will be too cold and numb to grip the handlebars properly.
Gloves will keep your hands warm, and enable you to keep riding even in the coldest weather, provided the road is safe to use.
And lastly, gloved hands are better for crash-landing than bare ones. If you fall when riding, you instinctively throw your hands in front of you to steady your landing. When this happens, gloved hands suffer less bruising than unprotected hands.
Elbow pads are a must-have for anyone who likes racing or pulling stunts. If you engage in riding stunts that put you at a high risk of crashing, elbow pads are just what you need to protect your elbows from the hard fall.
There are two types: hard-shell and soft-shell elbow pads. While hard-shell pads provide greater protection than soft-shell pads, the latter are smaller and lighter and are more comfortable for long rides.
BMX knee pads protect your knees from impacts and abrasions. Just like elbow pads, you can get them in two types: hard shell and soft shell.
Soft-shell pads are best for street riding – you can wear them under your jeans without anyone knowing you have them on. For vert riding, however, hard-shell knee pads are required.
Gripping the handlebars for a long period without relaxing your hand exerts an enormous amount of strain on your wrists. Consequently, you are highly likely to start suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
The wrist brace will add stability and protection to your wrists, relieving the stress or the pain. It is also useful in the event of a previous wrist fracture or injury – it will stabilize the wrist, and thus protect it from further damage.
On either side of your ankle, there is a rounded, bony projection that is shaped like a hammer head. It is known as the malleolus, Ankle guards protect your malleolus against impacts as you ride.
Also, in case of past ankle injuries, a BMX ankle brace will enable the stabilization of your ankle, and thus reduce the risk of further/future injury.
Shin guards are indispensable if you are carrying out risky street tricks on your BMX. They give protection to your shins against pedal bites. They will also come in handy if you happen to crash and fall when executing a risky stunt.
Other examples of protective BMX gear include chest protection, goggles, neck braces, body armor, and padded shorts. Of course that doesn’t mean that you should wear all these the next time you go riding.
In truth, the attraction of BMX is the risk of falling. That’s why master BMX riders like to do stunts – the riskier the stunt, the more thrilling it is, both for the rider and his/her audience. However, do consider the basics of a helmet, gloves, elbow pads, and knee pads.