Compiled here is a brief glossary of BMX race terms you’ll likely hear at the track or in conversation.
Class: Rolling on 20-inch wheel bikes
Cruiser: Cruising on 24-inch wheel bikes
Clips: Anything that mechanically secures your foot to the pedal. Toe clips, straps, or clipless shoes with a locking cleat. 13 and older, intermediate or expert. Everyone else on flats.
Flats: A pedal with a flat surface usually with spiky studs to help keep your feet on them.
Gears, gearing: If asked this this means how many teeth on the front and rear. The front is 44 teeth, the rear is 16. Or just 44/16. To find your gearing go with trial and error. That seems to work best.
Gear inches, gain ratio, rollout: These are mathematically derived numbers based on gears, crank length, and tire diameter. Everyone has advice on the best gearing and rollout. Find what works. Ask a coach to watch and evaluate your riding and get some advice on where to start fine tuning.
Spin, spinning: Legs moving so fast your hip sockets are gonna blow. Most riders want spin because this makes for fast acceleration, but at the expense of top speed. High horsepower, low torque.
Mashing: Riders that have tons of leg power but not rotation speed. High torque, low horsepower.
Think of spinning as a Formula 1 engine spinning at 10,000 RPM to make power. Think of mashing as a Caterpillar diesel spinning at 2500 RPM with tons of torque. Some riders spin, some mash. Finding the gears that work take trial and error. Most pro’s are spinners. The fastest racers barely pedal beyond the start hill.
Manual: Not technically a wheelie. To sum it up, it is pushing the rear wheel down a backside to pick up speed and it looks like a wheelie. It's more like a tail-heavy bunny hop. When it comes to manuals everyone will tell you how to do it. Kids seem to figure this one out on their own. The manual is typically used in the rhythm section.
Pumping: Pumping is used to maintain or gain speed over bumps and humps. Use your arms, legs, and bodyweight to gain speed. When you're going down a backside, push the bike down. When you're going up the face, pull the bike up and be light. Light-heavy-light-heavy or up-down-up-down. Sometimes pumping is the fastest way through.
Case, casing: Coming up short on a jump and it requires quick recovery techniques mid-air to prevent a crash. Most times it ends in a crash regardless.
Snap, snapping: A way to launch off the gate. It involves throwing weight around and is more of an art that is learned over time. Everyone will tell you how to do it. Take it from us though... 7-year-olds and 47-year-olds aren't going to gain much by snapping. 17-20x's, Pros, and Elites, sure. They need every edge. But the "Dad Moto?" That bad back and knee are going to hobble you more than your gate start.
Whip: Not a full tailwhip like in freestyle, just a way to show a little style where you whip the rear wheel a bit by jumping a tabletop.
AT THE TRACK
Moto: The race part. Typically, there are three motos to race per rider group. In auto racing motos would be called ‘heats.’
Obstacle: Anything not flat on the track.
Backside: The downward side of a hill, bump, jump.
Face: The front side. Opposite of backside.
Turn or berm: A berm is a banked corner, also called a turn. Berms can be made of dirt or asphalt. A typical BMX track has 3 or 4 berms.
Double: Two bumps on one obstacle. Doubles often give you the option of jumping from the first to the second bump, or manualing/pumping through from the first to the second.
Triple: Three bumps on one obstacle.
Gate: Literally a hinged gate. It’s at the starting hill. The gate is where the bikes are put at the start of a moto. There are a few styles of gates.
Starting Hill, Start Hill, The Hill: The place where you start. Can’t miss it. It’s usually taller than the rest of the track.
Staging: The area near the hill where riders are organized into their motos.
Holeshot, taking the holeshot: The rider that gets off the start hill first and leads the other riders until about the first obstacle. The holeshot is the distance, taking it is being out front.
Lip: This is the sharpness of the peak on faces and backsides. A peaky lip causes jumps and a smooth lip is rolled over.
Pro-section: This means a mandatory big jump. Pro-sections are basically two ramps; jump off one, land on the other. In between there is rough grass, alligators, snakes, mud, and lava. Not many tracks have a pro-section, and amateurs aren’t supposed to use the pro section.
Rhythm Section, Rollers, Whoops: A rhythm section is several rolling bumps (rollers) placed together in a tight grouping. The rhythm part comes from finding the (up-down-up-down light-heavy) rhythm to gain or maintain speed by pumping and/or manualing. Whoops is the motocross term for this feature, so some people might use the term whoops.
Roller: A single low rounded bump.
Step-down: A step down is a double or triple where bumps get lower than the first. Literally like a going downstairs.
Step-up: A step up is a double or triple where the bumps get higher than the first. Like going upstairs.
Tabletop: A tabletop is fun. They are a medium sized bump with a long section on top. Like a butte in geography. Jump or roll them, they are great to learn on.
Transition: This is the area of a jump where the rider goes from being on flat ground to moving up the face.
Pits: The area around the track where you sit, have your tent, find food vendors and Beck Bros BMX, plus everything else.