In BMX racing there are three basic ways to attack a berm that are used for common race situations. We will briefly dissect three lines and when the lines should be used. These lines are general lines and riders with more skill and race experience can get creative with lines.
The Rail line:
This line is typically a middle entry, riding the middle of the berm, exiting the middle of the turn line. This line is great for creating traction and maintaining speed. However, it may invite riders to get underneath as the door is open upon entry. This line safer when there is more space between riders- typically in later turns such as the second or the last for example.
The Inside Line:
This line is typically an inside entry, riding the middle to high part of the berm with a high exit. This line is better for riders positioning themselves from getting passed. The traction with this line is limited as the rider will have to lean the bike more to change directions in the turn, preventing themselves from going over the turn. Maintaining speed and exit speed is not as great as the rail line. This line is usually best for tight racing in the corners such as going for the holeshot in the first turn or when two riders are battling close in later turns.
The Outside line:
This line is typically an outside entry line, riding the middle or high part of the berm with a high exit. For traction and maintaining track speed, this is a great line, however the rider is taking the longest distance around the turn and leaving a huge door open for other riders to pass. Riders entering the turn on the outside are usually looking to cut down underneath riders in front of them in an effort to attempt a pass.
SIDE NOTE – When to pedal out of the berm? Riders need to find a balance of traction while changing directions of a turn before they start pedaling out of the turn. Depending on the bank of the berm, riders need to recognize if they can pedal safely without hitting the pedals on the bank. Bigger turns with low banks will allow more pedaling around the turn than smaller steeper banked berms. It all depends with the type of berm it is, riders cornering skill, and the race situation. So there is not a definitive answer. Watching other riders and getting feedback from BMX coaches can help make a difference in identifying lines, traction and when to pedal.
Coach Greg Romero is a Former Professional International Racer of 15 years-Winning over 100 pro races, and the only American BMX Coach to bring home Olympic Medals for the U.S.