Are you looking to give 4X a shot? Already a 4X fanatic and want to up your game?
Here’s our guide to the best places to ride 4X in the UK in 2017.
A recent trip to Chicksands for the British 4X Series reminded us how fun 4X is.
Whilst 4X might not be the most ridden discipline in mountain biking these days, it’s a super fun and super accessible way to get tyres on dirt and get competitive. There’s no need for super high tech bikes, you don’t need an uplift, the tracks are short, you don’t need timing equipment, you’re head to head with your buddies. It’s pure fun on two wheels.
We asked the racers of the British 4X Series where’s best to go ride and race 4X in the UK in 2017. Here’s what they told us …
The British 4X Series
The obvious one. A 6 round series at 6 venues throughout the UK. It’s the UK’s premier 4X race series and includes categories for all ages and for pros and first-timers alike.
If you’ve not raced before you can enter the Big Fun category without a license or any previous experience. Races are held in one day with gate practice in the morning. All racers are guaranteed practice and at least 3 races. Win your 3 motos and you’ll get to race quarter finals, semi finals and finals.
Danny Hart’s Descend Hamsterley Bike Park 4X track
Danny Hart’s Descend Hamsterley Bike Park has it’s own 4X track. It’s a big, rough, loose track with plenty of lines and some decent jumps. The track isn’t being raced on this year’s British 4X Series but is definitely worth a visit if you’re up north.
A regular on the race circuit, Chicksands offers great riding in all weather thanks to sandy soil. There’s a short, fast track with some tight turns and doable jumps that help the newbies get stuck in to some racing. The track has recently been redesigned to make motos a bit more action packed and a bit more technical.
Perhaps the best thing is that Chicksands hosts its own 4X series with a busy Winter race calendar.
Alongside the 4X there are downhill trails, dirt jumps, dual slalom and singletrack.
A big, tough, challenging, pro-level 4X track that features on the 4X Pro Tour. Whilst many 4X tracks are based on BMX tracks, Fort William is way more ‘mountain bike’. There are big jumps, big berms, rock gardens and some decent drops. It’s the track to watch 4X racing at its finest in the UK and one that’s suited to more experienced riders.
The rider’s favourite. Located at the Afan Dirt Park, Bryn Bettws Lodge the Afan 4X track is one of the newer and more new-school tracks in the UK. It was built by pro-track builder Phil Saxena and hosted the European 4X tour a few years back.
There are big jumps, big rock gardens, drops on plenty to test bike and rider. Like Fort William, Afan is very ‘mountain bike’ and isn’t just a big BMX track.
The track is open all year and can be ridden on its own or as part of a trip to Afan Argoed – home of The Wall, Whites Level, Blade and other trails. Bryn Bettws Lodge also offers accommodation near by for a great weekend away. Pay your £1 at the cafe near the track and you’re good to go!
A purpose built 4X track in Cornwall – created by pro-rider Will Evans and friends in 2013.
According to the club “The track features 7 large corners & 4 flat off camber corners. There is a long start straight, big pro line doubles, rocks, log drops and table top jumps. Just about everything you need for the perfect 4X track. The track is a true test of a riders ability but was designed to be usable by all level of riders from novice to world champions.” There’s coaching available at the track, an active club and practice sessions. Summer opening times will be released in April 2017.
Hales Board and Bike Park is a pretty crazy venue that combines 4X, a music venue, skate ramps, dirt board stuff … all in one place near Chester. It hosts a round of the British 4X Series and has put on a number 4X National Champs in the past.
The track is a decent size with some nice gradient – especially at the end where it steepens out towards the finish. There are plenty of very doable jumps that are fun for pros and good for newbies – with a pro-line for the big dogs. The venue has bike and equipment hire and a cafe with coaching coming in 2017.
Redhill Extreme is shut through the winter and opens in the summer with evening and weekend sessions. The track, once upgraded, will run gate practice sessions with times TBC. There’s also a cafe and toilets on site.
Alongside 3 DH tracks, dirt jumps (in and outdoor!), a pumptrack and dual slalom – the new 417 Project has a decent 4X track.
The track is definitely one for the BMX style 4X’ers – with loads of rollers and whoops to pump and a nice, fast surface. There are some decently chunky jumps in places, with some cheeky inside lines. There’s some fairly flat bits so the powerhouse riders will do well!
You can ride 417 6 days a week (closed Tuesdays) with uplifts available.
Better known as a DH venue, Moelfre has a 4X track tucked away in the bottom field. The track is currently being treated to some upgrades for 2017 ready for British 4X National Champs which will be a double weekend of racing, alongside the downhill.
Moelfre’s 4X track is pretty short and spectators can see the whole thing from gate to finish which makes for some good heckling!
The track can be ridden any time but don’t forget to pay Farmer Jack (the legendary land owner!).
Rushcliffe Park 4X and BMX track
Rushcliffe Park, Nottingham has a fun looking track that’s suitable for BMX and big wheels.
It’s not strictly a 4X race track but looks ideal for practicing the skills you can take to the races. There are some big berms and some decently sized rollable jumps that’ll provide plenty of fun for newbies and 4X pros alike.
Marsh Tracks is a totally unique track – more like a giant pump track than a 4X track. The track is a huge loop that snakes its way through hundreds of jumps, rollers and berms. Whilst you cant necessarily race 4X there, it’s a great place to learn skills for 4X racing. Mind the wind though, it gets pretty gusty up there.
For 4X, look over the road to the BMX Track that runs regular gate sessions and welcomes 4X racers. They’re open Monday and Wednesday evenings and all day Saturday and Sunday.
The track at West Park was built in 2007 and is open to the public at any time. The edges of the track are a bit overgrown (causing the track to be a bit narrow for 4 riders side by side) but there seems to be some good jumps to hone the skills. The track is run by 4Motion. There’s coaching available alongside:
“4Motion run coaching sessions at the track every Saturday. 5-9yrs 1.30pm to 2.30pm and 9yrs plus 2.45pm to 3.45pm. Sessions are delivered by a British Cycling qualified coach and we provide all the protective equipment and bikes for £2/session.”
Whilst 4X tracks aren’t super common in the UK, there are loads of great quality BMX tracks throughout the country. Most of them run regular club races and gate practice and are more than happy to let 4X bikes on track. A great example is Patchway BMX track in Bristol which runs a regular Wednesday night gate practice and race on Wednesday nights in the summer. It’s a fun, low pressure, cheap and really welcoming evening of racing – it’s also great for your fitness!
Make sure you check up on the rules before you head over – BMX rules often require long sleeves, trousers and full face to get in the gate.