• Building a BMX track

    • Illustrated by Vigilism
    • California BMX track builder Mark Weir.
    Date:25 July 2012 Tags:, ,

    Bikercross meets backyard in this cool DIY track – all you need are dirt and two wheels.

    Any kid who has built a bike jump has probably dreamed of something like a BMX track, a loop of banked turns, rollers and benches that can feel like a perpetual motion machine. Imagine a motocross circuit at one-tenth scale, but meant for mountain bikes or a BMX. When Mark Weir finished the BMX track at his home, local kids swarmed – and their dads asked Weir to build tracks in their yards, too. Now he is working on an R8 million version for a nearby resort. “Once you start, you have to realise the addiction that comes with it – all of a sudden you’re more of a builder than a rider,” he says. To get the advice laid out above for DIY builders, we turned to Lee McCormack, who wrote the book Welcome to Pump Track Nation and has created hundreds of tracks.

    THE DIRT: Clay loam or topsoil mixed with clay is best. A 12 x 10metre area takes 25 cubic metres.

    HAND TOOLS: Wheelbarrow, spades, string and dowels for layout, a soil compacter.

    THE MACHINE: Yes, this counts as an excuse to rent an earthmover.


    DESIGN: Avoid flat spots. Every square centimetre should tilt up, down, or sideways, to keep momentum going.

    SITE: Build on a 3 per cent slope to avoid flooding. Got a flat area? Dig French drains at the berms.

    CONSTRUCTION: Pile infill 50 per cent higher than the final dimension to account for compaction. Then carve out the contours. It’s almost impossible to get a nice shape by adding dirt. It’s easier to move it.

    MAINTENANCE: Run a sprinkler to soak the track lightly before each ride. Let it nearly dry, and then pedal like crazy to burn in a line.

    RIDING: Ratchet the pedals in short quarterturns and push down with your arms off the backsides of rollers. Don’t pedal continuously.

    WORKOUT: The top priority is fun, but pump tracks also build core strength and balance skills.

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