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BMX is an abbreviation for bicycle motocross. BMX biking can be a thrilling experience, and choosing the right BMX bike is important for maximizing fun and skill level. BMX bikes usually look like small mountain bikes, but they use a fixed gear mechanism rather than having multiple gear ratios. Since BMX originated in the 1960s, the BMX bike market has evolved to support a wide variety of alternative riding styles. BMX-bike shoppers should understand the types of BMX riding styles, what types of BMX bikes are available, what BMX bike parts and accessories are available, how to choose the right BMX bike, what companies make BMX bikes, and how to buy BMX bikes and accessories on Lookyourbike.com.
Types of BMX Riding
Many people are unaware that there are different types of BMX riding. The five primary categories of BMX riding are freestyle, dirt jumping, racing, overlap, and cruiser. The table below describes the various types of BMX riding.
BMX Riding Style
BMX Riding Style Description
BMX Freestyle Riding
Flatland and vert riding are the two basic types of BMX freestyle riding. Flatland riders perform tricks while riding on streets and other level pavements, while vert riders perform tricks on ramps, half-pipes, blocks, and other types of obstacles.
BMX Dirt Jumping
BMX dirt jumpers perform various stunts, such as huge jumps, flips, and twists after launching off very tall and steep mounds of dirt.
Conventional BMX racing involves BMX riders racing against each other on a dirt track, which has a variety of dirt jumps, turns, and other dirt features.
Overlap combines freestyle riding and dirt jumping. In overlap, dirt jumping tricks are often performed on freestyle ramps, and freestyle tricks are often perform on dirt jumping ramps.
Cruiser riding is the last style to gain popularity. BMX cruising involves riding BMX bikes on bike paths or other scenic, usually paved, routes. Most people who participate in BMX cruising are casual cyclists, and they tend to be older than other BMX riders.
Types of BMX Bikes, Parts, and Accessories
There are several types of BMX bikes available to suit a wide variety of BMX riding styles. They are largely differentiated by the types of accessories they are outfitted with. Frequently, BMX bikes can be converted for different uses without much fuss. Most BMX bikes are about the same size. They are mostly targeted toward older children, teenagers, and adults. Some small-size BMX bikes are available that are geared toward very young children.
BMX Bike Frames
Most BMX bike frames are constructed of chromoly steel alloy. They are very strong and relatively light as compared to less expensive BMX bike frames made of high-tensile steel, which must use considerably more material to match the strength of chromoly steel alloy BMX bike frames. High-tensile steel BMX bike frames are ideal for young or inexperienced BMX riders because they are cost effective and allow riders to get a feel for the sport before spending a lot of money on equipment. Chromoly steel alloy frames are best for intermediate and advanced-level BMX riders, while aluminum frames are best for BMX racing because they are ultra lightweight and rigid. BMX dirt-jumping bike frames are typically constructed of chromoly steel alloy and feature very large gussets to provide additional strength for high jumps and hard landings. BMX cruisers usually use a modified BMX frame to accommodate larger 24-inch wheels. Most BMX bikes use 20-inch tires.
BMX Bike Brakes
All BMX bikes come standard with a rear foot brake, but many are available with a front handbrake to allow BMX riders of all varieties to better control their riding experience. Freestyle and overlap BMX riders use front brakes to perform tricks on the front wheel of the bike. BMX cruisers use front hand brakes to improve braking stability. Dirt jumpers and racers do not usually use front hand brakes. BMX bikes with front hand brakes tend to cost more than BMX bikes without hand brakes. BMX bikes with spinning handlebars must be equipped with cable detanglers to prevent the brake cables from binding when the handlebars are spun by the rider. A BMX bike brake kit can be added to just about any BMX bike without hand brakes.
BMX Bike Handlebars
Most BMX bikes come standard with conventional handlebars that rotate about 270 degrees. Some BMX bikes, especially those geared toward freestyle and dirt jumping BMX riders, are equipped with handlebars that turn 360 degrees. They are known as spinning handlebars and allow BMX riders to perform additional tricks and really show off their skills. Most BMX bikes feature some type of handlebar height and rake adjustments. Many BMX bikes can be retrofitted with conventional or spinning handlebars.
BMX Bike Axles and Axle Pegs
Most BMX bikes have very strong axles that can withstand the extreme forces they are exposed to during BMX riding. Dirt-jumping and overlap BMX bikes use stronger axles than freestyle, racing, and cruiser BMX bikes because they are exposed to especially high shearing forces during landings from high jumps.
Axle pegs allow freestyle BMX riders to perform a variety of stunts, such as standing wheelies or grinding on rails, but most BMX bikes do not come equipped with axle pegs because other BMX riders do not need them and may even find them hazardous. BMX racers never use axle pegs because they add weight and complexity to their bikes as well as make it more difficult to turn sharply because the axle pegs can dig into the track surface when the bike leans heavily to one side. BMX riders must be careful not to catch their pants leg on axle pegs because it can cause an accident.
BMX Bike Wheels and Tires
Almost all BMX bikes use 20-inch tires mounted on 20-inch wheels. BMX racing bikes usually use knobby, off-road tires mounted on 36-spoke wheels. This combination is lightweight, fairly durable, and provides very good traction on loose surfaces. BMX dirt-jumping and overlap bikes use knobby, off-road tires mounted on 48-spoke wheels. The additional wheel spokes provide much greater wheel strength, which prevent wheel and tire damage by maintaining the wheel’s shape on hard impacts. Freestyle BMX bikes use smooth, road-oriented tires mounted on 48-spoke wheels. BMX cruisers differ from most other BMX bikes because they use 24-inch road or combination tires mounted on 24-inch wheels.
BMX Bike Safety Equipment
All BMX riders should wear elbow pads, knee pads, and a bike helmet to protect themselves from injury. Racers and dirt-jumpers should wear goggles to protect their eyes from exposure to dirt and dust.
How to Buy the Right BMX Bike
Choosing the right BMX is largely dependent on budget, riding style, riding purpose, and riding interest. The information below will help a BMX bike shopper evaluate their needs and provide some helpful shopping tips.
Choosing a BMX Riding Style
Once the budget for a BMX bike has been determined, consumers must consider how riding style will affect their BMX bike options. If the rider will use the bike to ride freestyle extensively, the bike should be equipped with smooth, road-oriented tires, 48-spoke wheels, spinning handlebars, a front hand brake, a brake cable detangler. Dirt-jumping bikes should feature a chromoly steel frame with heavy-duty gusseting, heavy-duty axles, off-road tires, and 48-spoke wheels. Overlap bikes should feature a chromoly steel frame with heavy-duty gusseting, heavy-duty axles, 2 or 4 axle pegs, spinning handlebars, a front hand brake, a brake cable detangler, off-road tires, and 48-spoke wheels. Most overlap bikes are custom built. BMX racing bikes should feature a chromoly steel or aluminum frame, off-road tires, and 36-spoke wheels. BMX cruisers should feature a high-tensile steel or chromoly steel frame, 24-inch road or combination, and 24-inch wheels.
BMX Riding Purpose and Interest
For kids, teens, and active adults who want to use their bike to ride through a park or around the neighborhood, a BMX racing-style bike made of high-tensile steel or chromoly alloy steel should work well and limit expenses. These bikes can be very enjoyable if ridden recreationally. Kids can also use them as a stepping stone toward mountain biking. If the bike is purchased for a child who has expressed interest in BMX biking, an inexpensive BMX racing-style bike can be used to gauge their interest before a lot of money is invested in a BMX bike. For those with a strong interest in BMX biking, it is worth spending whatever additional money is required to ensure that the bike is equipped properly for the type of riding intended.
BMX Bike Shopping Tips
Consumers planning to buy an inexpensive, racing-style BMX bike made of high-tensile steel should know that there is very little difference between brands in terms of features or quality. In many cases, these bikes are manufactured in the same facilities but painted and labeled differently. In these instances, it is sensible to buy the bike that costs the least or is most attractive to the rider (a child, for example). Even more expensive bikes may lack substantial differences in terms of quality or features. In many instances, prices are higher for bikes that are fashionable or endorsed by a professional rider, even if there are no substantive differences in quality or features.
BMX bike shoppers should also keep in mind that low-end bikes, especially those from unknown brands, may not have a wide selection of service parts available because most people replace rather than repair them. Additionally, mid-range and high-end BMX bikes made by small manufacturers or defunct companies may be difficult to find service parts for. Sticking with established brands makes it more likely that service parts will be available in the future. The most common BMX bike brands include Bontrager, Cheeta Cycles, Diamondback, Dyno, Free Agent, Giant, GT Bicycles, Haro Bicycles, Heavy Tools, Hoffman Bikes, Huffy, Iron Horse, Mongoose, Monty, One Bicycles, Powerlite, SE Racing, Specialized, Titan BMX, KHE, and Trek BMX Bike.
BMX bike prices are highest during the spring and summer when people ride their bikes more frequently. Prices tend to be lower in the fall and winter. The fall and winter seasons are also a great time to catch a deal on an outgoing model.