BMX is short for ‘Bicycle Moto-X’ so its origins lie with the form of the sport that involves racing around a tight circuit with banked turns and jumps. However more recently, the term BMX encompasses much more than just the racing aspect as there is now a huge following of street riding, or BMX freestyle. Racing, takes place on specifically designed tracks, but freestyle can take place just about anywhere.
Generally using a 20 inch wheel, much smaller than the 26 inch wheels found on mountain bikes and the 700C or 27 inch wheels found on conventional road bikes, riding a BMX bike offers new and exciting challenges. BMX frames generally are made from either high tensile steel or chromoly, mainly for their strength and durability. Of the two materials, high tensile steel is cheaper, so will be found on mostly entry level bikes. Further up the range as the demands of the riders increases, the lighter and equally strong chromoly steel is the material of choice.
Given the variety found within BMX, it is imperative that you choose the right bike and setup for your purposes.
BMX - Dirt
Dirt jumping is one place where theBMX is completely at home, being flown over successions of jumps, and dirt doubles. Whilst in the air riders can perform an array of tricks, twists, flips and turns, expressing their bicycle skills and riding style. Bikes must be ‘bombproof’ to withstand the inevitable crashes in this sport, as riders try to push their limits. They are also very simple, sometimes preferred with only one or no brakesat all, so that cables do not interfere with tricks. Dirt bikes don't have to take the strain of grinds and drops so are made lighter for long days floating around the trails. They also have more relaxed geometry for better stability and handling and generally use bigger volume, chunky tyres for increased grip.
BMX - Park
Park bikes are designed for the varied type of riding that riders will encounter in the BMX park. They must be equally at home blasting over the jump box as they are able to get tech on a spine ramp while adding smooth vert transitions in the quarter and half pipes. They’re often kitted out with a set of pegs, tyres have a slicker tread that is more suited to ramp riding and gyros help with bar spins. Unlike the trend for many BMX bikes to have only a single brake, park BMX’s may require two brakes to perform certain moves, and they certainly need to be built tough to handle the spills they will inevitably encounter.
BMX - Street
Street bikes reflect a rider’s own take on their style of riding. You can have two pegs, four pegs, gyros, brakes or none of the above depending on your style. The bikes are extremely strong with tighter geometry for quick controlled handling. When street riding, riders will use everyday street objects and architecture, such as handrails, banks, steps and ledges to perform tricks, so above all a street BMX needs to be versatile and ready to take on any grind, drop or gap you can throw at it.
BMX - Racing
BMX Racing involves all out competition on courses that are generally relatively smooth, so BMX bikes are designed for speed and do not need to have suspension. Racing is fast and furious, with heats tending to last 30 - 50 seconds. Racing BMX’s have a bigger gearing to enable riders to hit speeds of 15 to 35mph depending on the track conditions, skill level and the age of the rider.
Racing frames are usually constructed using aluminium. Although not as strong as steel and chromoly BMX frames, aluminium offers racers a lighter, faster, stiffer and more responsive ride, for maximum performance; perfect for race day! These bikes are not designed to cope with the rigors of street riding; they are about getting to the finish line first! Within racing there is a class of BMX called the ‘Cruiser’. BMX Cruisers offer riders a scaled up version of their favourite race bikes, with 24 inch wheels.