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Choosing a BMX Bike

Posted on 17th Jan 2013 @ 5:40 PM

BMX has been a very popular category since it evolved from bicycle motocross and where kids raced on bicycles in motocross style races on dirt tracks in South California in the 1970’s.  Now, a "BMX bike" is a fairly generic term that can relate to any number of styles of bikes but like all segments of the bike market BMX is also divided into specific sectors such as freestyle, dirt, racing and flatland.  So, the type of BMX bike you buy will depend on what you want to do with it and where you want to use it.

What are the different types of BMX bikes?

There are three main types of BMX bikes: the true BMX bike, the freestyle BMX bike and the dirt / jump. True BMX bikes are closest to motocross motorcycles so designed specifically for dirt racing, especially over jumps. They usually have a lightweight frame made out of aluminium or chromoly steel, knobby tyres and a strong rear brake. The more expensive a BMX bike is, the lighter it will be.

Freestyle bikes are predominantly used for  freestyle tricks. They are good for street or pavement riding or for "getting vertical" at your local skate park. They tend to be beefy as they have to withstand multiple impacts when coming down from stunts. These bikes often feature extras such as axle pegs to stand on during stunts or grind tricks and a 360 roto for bar spins, tail whips, etc.

Dirt / jump BMX are designed for dirt tracks and dirt jumping. They are a compromise between the lightness of a true BMX and the beefiness of a freestyle bike. They're specifically designed for cross-country dirt riding.

Flatland BMX is a freestyle BMX style performed on smooth flat surfaces that does not include any ramps, jumps, or grind rails. It is sometimes described as a form of artistic cycling with a blend of break dancing! Tricks are performed by spinning and balancing on the bike in a variety of unexpected positions.

Is a lighter BMX bike better?

All BMX bikes are made to be durable and assuming you buy a BMX with good quality parts you have little to worry about in terms of the bike falling apart. They are simple bikes.  BMX bikes tend to go up in price as they get lighter. Lower end BMX bikes are made from standard Hi-ten steel  which is plenty strong but fairly heavy. Higher end BMX bikes are usually made from chromoly steel which is strong as well as lightweight.

Often frames and forks will be made with some of the critical main tubes in chromoly.

What type of wheel strength do I need?

As with your bike the type of wheels you choose will depend on what you're intending to use your bike for. BMX race bikes generally use lighter wheels to help you accelerate out of the gate. However, on freestyler or dirt/ jump BMX bikes the wheels need to be ultra sturdy to handle impacts from harsh landings. It's common for freestyle bikes to have 48 spoke wheels with double walled rim construction to provide maximum strength, especially on the rear. On dirt / jump bikes the wheels need the extra strength of double walled rims but often go for 36 or 32 spokes for weight saving.

What sort of tyres should I use?

BMX bike tyres vary between disciplines because the tyre you ride needs to match the conditions. Normally, the dirt tracks used for off-road racing tend to be packed fairly hard so tyres with low rolling resistance are preferred. The tread of a BMX bike tyre should maximise speed as well as provide traction and grip for cornering and accelerating. Freestyle bikes have a more all round tyre with grip running down the sides of the tyre to aid tricks and often run at high pressure to protect the rims and help hard landings.

With Dirt / Jump BMX speed isn't the main priority as your tyres need to provide maximum traction and a surface that is often unpredictable, so knobby tyres will be the best option.

Will a BMX be a good first bike?

BMX bikes are single speed and designed to accelerate quickly. This is usually perfect for kids as they zip about  on their bikes riding to the local skate part, down a local trail or to a friend’s house.  So, a BMX is best for shorter distances, but if you’re anticipating longer rides you will probably be better off looking at a bike with more comfort and gears.  BMX bikes are light, small and durable.  BMX bikes are quick bikes, which is perfect for high energy children.


From the beginning, BMX bikes have been the coolest bikes for kids to cruise about on and  BMX bicycles are very popular and easy  to ride with a low frame and low step over. The rise bar set up promotes an upright riding position with good vision.  They're built to withstand a lot of abuse and the design is simple enough that repairs and adjustments are infrequent and easy.

Are you in the market for a new BMX bike?

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