BMX stands for ‘Bicycle Motocross‘. BMX bikes are manufactured for off-road track racing and for preforming tricks.
BMX emerged as a major player in the bicycle market around the 1960’s in California. It was actually inspired by motocross riders of that era and it became an alternative for racing bicycles on dirt bike tracks.
Initially BMX bikes were designed as a gateway to introduce more people to motocross racing, although stemmed off into its own sport over time!
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How Are BMX’s Different To Other Bikes?
One obvious and common associations that BMX bikes have is that they have a small design and are lightweight. A great bike is produced to resist against high-impact landings and off-road riding.
A big appeal to BMX bikes is that due to their durable and simple design, they’re easy to customize and fix. This includes that the fact that they’re a fixed gear chain drive-train.
A notable difference between a BMX bike opposed to a mountain or road bike, could be the fact they use 20 inch wheels. BMX wheels always tend to be 20 inches in diameter, unless they’re child ones where they can be 16 inches or 18 inches in size.
Rarely, but can happen, you can get big BMX bikes and they can have 26 inches diameters in size too.
One of the great aspects of a BMX bikes is that they only have a singular gear. This is preferred by most riders as they are light and easy to maintain.
In addition to that, if your bike is manufactured from a great brand, then you can guarantee that they’ll last and have the perfect design that’ll make it easier for you to preform your tricks with.
Something very unique to BMX bikes is that they have high-rising U-shaped bars. These are designed for a specific reason, as they keep the bike lower to the ground compared to conventional bikes.
This means the bars have to then be higher in order to stop you from becoming uncomfortable due to an arched back.
The higher front end and lower back end simultaneously work together to help you with control and leverage with bunny hopping.
You may notice when looking at a BMX bike that along with their small frames, they have a low riding seat. The benefit of having a low riding seat is that it gives you more space to move freely and grants you more control.
Types of BMX Bike Riding
As the sport has progressed over the decades, riders have begun to develop the sport into its own sub-niches. These have spiralled into their own areas of the sport.
The original styles of riding were BMX freestyle and BMX racing. Although as the sport has developed in the late 2000’s, freestyle has progressed into park, dirt, flatland and street riding.
Each riding style has their own separate skill types and disciplines in order to specialise in those styles.
Flatland is an incredible sub-culture of BMX, as it requires the highest levels of balance and control. This can be compared to a form of dancing on the bike or longboard dancing.
Flatland riders are able to preform fantastic balance, whilst manoeuvring the BMX through incredible movements, without touching the ground.
Flatland riders tend to riding on flat surfaces such as car parks or other similar and open flat spaces. You may notice that Flatland BMX bikes look different to regular freestyle BMX bikes, as this helps with balance.
BMX riders who ride street tend to be some of the most creative riders. This is because city centres are their play grounds and they can preform tricks off your local city’s architecture. This means street riders love to use handrails for grinding or stair set to bunny hop from.
Riders who love street BMXing tend to be highly skilled and have a high ability of movement and balance. This also means that freestyle BMX bikes need to be lightweight and have pegs for grinding against rails. In addition to that, street BMX bikes need rounded tires in order to promote leaning and better control for the BMX on flat surfaces.
You may also see that street riders are brakeless. This is due to the fact that they can preform tricks such as ‘tail-whips’ and ‘bar-spins’ more easily, others the brake cables would make it difficult.
BMX Park Riding
BMX park riders are known for their big vert tricks and they tend to compete in freestyle riding competitions. Common riding spots for a park rider include big vert ramps, half-pipes and quarter pipes.
Park BMX bikes are also similar to street BMX’s. However park bikes tend to have their brakes fitted with gyros. Brake gyros mean that you can spin your bars without letting the brakes getting tangled.
The most famous style of riding is racing, as BMX racing stems from the beginning of ‘bicycle motocross’.
Racing is one of the most exciting events that you can watch in the remit of bicycle sport. This is because it involves eight riders and has tracks that are integrated with tarmac, as well as dirt.
In a typical race you’ll see many jumps, tight corners and pumps! It’s even an Olympic sport now and had its first debut in the 2008 Beijing Games.
You’ll notice that race BMX bikes more commonly have longer frames and lots of tread on their tires, as riders need more control on the dirt and tight corners.
Race bikes also have higher gear ratios and extremely lightweight parts which can be manufactured from materials such as Carbon Fibre. This is in order to help the rider to maintain higher levels of speed on the race track!
Dirt Jumping And Trails Riding
A final sub-culture of BMX riding which is more on the extreme side is dirt jump and trail riding. Trails riders tend to prioritise their tricks and style, where as dirt jump riders focus on big huge steep jumps.
Dirt jumps are a rare find unfortunately as it requires a lot of effort, land and the correct tools to do. Moreover if they’re usually kept secret as people find them to be dangerous and it takes a lot of effort to maintain them.
You may find that dirt jump bikes tend to have chunky tires and have thicker frames, as it gives riders better control whilst in the air. In addition to that they’ll tend to have chunky tires as it gives them better traction on loose surfaces.