I wear both knee and elbow pads underneath my race gear.
How many racing kits do you normally have during one season of BMX racing?
Kai Sakakibara: I generally go through 3-4 sets of race kits per season. I try to keep this number low as less kit required = less crashes had!
What career number is printed on the back?
Kai Sakakibara: 77
What do you look for in protection gear? Comfort? Weight? Quality? Pricing?
Kai Sakakibara: I look for performance, including how comfortable they are to have on, and how well they protect what they’re supposed to protect. I look for the perfect balance between being as protected as possible while not restricting my riding (Not strangling myself in protective wear).
What happens to your old gear at the end of the season?
Kai Sakakibara: Generally most of my kit is completely thrashed after using it all year, but I normally give away jerseys that I may have left.
Do you change lenses much in your goggles?
Kai Sakakibara: I’m not too fussy to be honest with my lense choice. I definitely change them if it's a really sunny day (to tinted lenses), but you’d see me running clear lense goggles at the track most of the time.
You ripped your gloves. What do you do with them?
Kai Sakakibara: They become my sprint gloves!
Do you save a jersey yourself from each season?
Kai Sakakibara: Yep - it’s a nice memorabilia of the year’s work. I can look at any jersey I’ve worn in the past and recall my highs and lows from that season.
What’s a product you can advise every rider to use?
Kai Sakakibara: Elbow pads and knee pads. I feel like they’re underrated by a lot of riders but they save me every time I come down. My injuries would have been way worse than bruising if I didn’t have knee pads on at Zolder WC last year!
Do you think certain protection gear should be mandatory or do you leave that up to the rider himself/herself to decide?
Kai Sakakibara: I think it’s up to the rider to decide. But I know for a fact if I don’t have the correct gear on (helmet, gloves, elbow/knee pads, goggles) it’s impossible for me to go flat out - I just can’t get myself to do it. It’s up to the individual to ensure their longevity in the sport and being confident in what they’re wearing.
Any advice to the BMX racers out there?
Kai Sakakibara: Ride hard, but smart, and enjoy.