2021 Rule Changes
2021 Rules Update
As we gear up for “The Greatest Race On Earth” this week in Tulsa for the 2020 USA BMX Grands, we wanted to give an update on any rule changes for 2021.
2020 COVID Impact
Without a doubt, 2020 was a year unlike anything that we’ve ever experienced, and it required some flexibility in terms of scheduling events and modifications to requirements across the State/Provincial, Gold Cup and National Series. As we prepare for 2021, it is clear that we will still be dealing with the pandemic at some level. How much COVID-19 will impact us and what changes we may need to make in 2021 as a result remains to be seen, but we will begin our 2021 season hopeful that we can put the pandemic behind us and focus on kids on bikes.
Age Classes (no change)
We received some emails regarding age classes, specifically with regards to older 20” classes for both men and women. After crunching the numbers in terms of overall participants (in those ages) and number of races those participants raced, we simply didn’t feel like it is the appropriate time to add those additional classes. Perhaps a full season of racing that isn’t heavily impacted by COVID will paint a different picture, and we will certainly keep our eye on these requested classes as we move through the 2021 USA BMX National Series.
Finally, perhaps the biggest change for the 2021 season is regarding the use of clipless pedals. Since December of 2018, we have informed members that “Beginning in 2021, the use of clipless pedals will be prohibited for all riders age 12 & Under (Intermediate, Expert and Expert Girl) as well as for Novice riders of any age. Once in place, the restriction is placed on the age/skill level of the rider – regardless of the class that rider may end up in.” A link to that December 2018 article can be found here: https://www.usabmx.com/site/postings/1633
We have received numerous emails, phone calls, messages and even saw a petition circulating the internet, but our position on this matter remains unchanged. Our team talked with many BMX coaches about their thoughts on clipless pedals before we made that rule change. An overwhelming majority of them felt like too many riders were being put on clips too soon in their BMX careers. The coaches felt like riders who were put on clips too soon in order to be competitive on the racetrack were missing out on learning some fundamental bike-handling skills. For the riders who race in international BMX races, like the World Championships, many other countries began banning clipless pedals for riders under age 12 long before USA BMX did. We introduced the clipless pedal change a few years back to give riders and the manufacturers (who make clipless pedals & shoes, in addition to flat pedals) time to prepare for the change. We believe in the coaches who work with these kids day-after-day, and we feel that ultimately our sport will be better in the long run by keeping those 12 & Under riders on flat pedals.
The pro class will have a new structure for 2021, but from a rules standpoint the big change is that riders 17 & older (based on year of birth, so a birth year of 2004 or earlier) will be eligible to compete in the pro classes. While some riders might make the jump from amateur to pro, it is important to note that athletes may continue to race in the UCI Junior classes without jeopardizing their amateur status. In summary, I think most of us can agree that 2020 was a crazy year and our sport was fortunate to be able to safely continue, while many other sports were forced to shutdown. We know based on discussions with manufacturers that bike sales were off the charts during the pandemic, and hopefully some of those new cyclists will find their way to the local BMX track.