Best BMX Bikes
BMX, or bicycle motocross, is growing in popularity with people of all walks of life, and with the off-road fun the sport offers, it’s easy to see why.
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Latest review: I purchased this bike for my son when he was 1 year old and he could only just sit on it. He is now 3 and a half and can ride a 12"BMX without training wheels and has never crashed! He rode the
Types of BMX bikes
Freestyle BMX bikes
Freestyle BMX bikes are designed to be able to perform stunts, whether that’s flying off the end of a ramp or jumping off a wall.
You can also get street BMX bikes which are very similar to freestyle bikes (and are often classified as them), but are more designed for flat ground and for a rider to just do tricks with their bike alone.
Race BMX bikes
Race BMX bikes are designed with speed and acceleration optimisation in mind, and are usually made from more lightweight materials than freestyle bikes.
All-rounder BMX bikes
You can also get generic, all-rounder BMX bikes that let you dabble in both freestyle and racing. If you want a BMX style bike that lets you go down stairs and hop up kerbs to get you from A to B, then an all-rounder might be for you. If you’re really into one style of BMX, then you’ll probably be better off getting a dedicated freestyle or race bike.
|Freestyle BMX bikes||Race BMX bikes||All-rounder BMX bikes|
|Design||A heavier, more robust bike with a strong frame that can withstand punishing knocks and crashes when doing stunts and tricks.||A lightweight bike that's built for speed.||A bike that's designed for both durability and speed, which often means it has components of both freestyle and race bikes.|
|Terrain||Urban environments, as tricks often involve things like concrete stairs and brick walls.||Dirt track racing.||All kinds of terrain, although these bikes usually don't have the specs to withstand hard, heavy use in urban environments or on a dirt track.|
|Material||Usually made from steel, which is strong enough to not sustain damage when crashing yet light enough to be 'jumped' by the rider.||Usually made from aluminium, a lightweight yet durable material.||Usually made from steel.|
Things to consider when buying a BMX bike
Freestyle BMX bike frames are usually made from chromoly, which offers greater strength than cheaper steels usually found in lower-end bikes. Chromoly can also be ‘butted’, which means that it can be made to be thinner and lighter in the middle, and thicker around the joins for added strength.
Race BMX bikes are often aluminium, which is stiffer and more lightweight, although carbon fibre frames are growing in popularity as it’s even more lightweight than aluminium.
While wheel size generally stays consistent regardless of the rider’s height (unless you’re a smaller child), the size of the BMX frame can change to suit your height and riding preferences. Race BMX bikes usually have a wider frame size range.
BMX bikes for kids generally have 12 to 18" wheels, as the bicycle frame is smaller. Often kids BMX bikes are built with entry-level specs, but they can be modified to suit any skill level.
You can also find mini BMX bikes (sometimes called a mini rocker) with 10” tyres.
‘Standard’ BMX wheels are 20", making them a lot smaller than mountain or road bikes. You can however find 22 or 24" wheels on some bikes that are also used for dirt jumping.
You can also expect racing BMX wheels to be lighter and thus better at acceleration than those on freestyle BMX bikes.
There are also a few other wheel components to consider:
Rims are usually 32mm for freestyle bikes, but you can opt for 36mm rims if you expect to be sustaining some tougher hits. Rims are generally aluminium, and can be single, double, or triple-walled - more walls provide more structural integrity but will add weight to your wheels, which is why many riders opt for double-wall rims to achieve a balance of durability and weight.
Freestyle bikes usually have 36 spokes, although enthusiasts or heavier riders may choose to have up to 48 spokes. You can also opt for butted spokes which are thinner in the middle and thicker at the end, making them stronger but not comprising too much on weight. Race BMX wheels usually have from 28 to 36 spokes.
Freestyle tyres are usually wider with more tread, while racing tyres are usually narrower in order to weigh less and roll faster. Note that you can easily swap out your tyres if you find that you don’t love the ones that come with your bike.
There are four different types of hubs:
- Cassette: Cassette hubs weigh less and are relatively simple to install and service - they’re also the most popular hub type in both freestyle and race BMX bikes
- Freecoaster: These weigh and cost more, and are usually only used to help riders perform certain tricks.
- Freewheel: These used to be the standard for BMX bikes before they were replaced by cassette hubs, although they’re still found in some bikes, however they do limit gearing options for riders.
- Coaster: Coaster hubs are mostly found on kids and beginner BMX bikes, and let you brake when you pedal backwards.
BMX bikes usually have rim-brakes rather than the disc brakes often favoured in road bikes.
Freestyle bikes have front and rear brakes, and these are usually U-brakes, which offer them greater control over their stopping. Freestyle bikes often also have a ‘detangler’ braking system for the rear, which helps perform tricks like barspins and tailwhips.
Race BMX bikes often only have rear brakes (although a front brake is allowed) and most go for a V-brake, or linear-pull brake.
BMX bikes usually have a wide, plastic pedal that’s lightweight and inflicts less damage to the shins when (not if) they bang against them. Ensure you know what size you need if you’re buying new pedals.
Racers usually prefer clip-in pedals that help them produce as much power as possible to get up to high speeds.
Because BMX riding doesn’t involve much sitting down, saddles are generally minimal and not designed with optimal comfort in mind. Beginner BMX bikes will however be larger and more cushioned as novices will spend more time sitting down and pedalling.
If you’re new to the world of BMX, then you’ll need to buy a few extras to go with your bike.
- Helmet: For freestyle BMX, you’ll need a bowl-shaped helmet - these don’t have as low a profile or as many vents as the helmets needed for road cycling. You can also find helmets that also cover the ears, helping protect you against more kinds of falls. For racing BMX, you must wear a full-faced BMX helmet.
- Clothing: Whether you’re practising or competing, you must wear long pants and a long-sleeved jersey when racing BMX.
- Gloves: For both types of BMX, you must wear full fingered gloves. BMX gloves usually have better grip on the palm all the way to the fingertips.
- Shoes: If you decide to use clip-in pedals, then you’ll need specific shoes that clip into them.
- Pegs: When doing freestyle, plastic or metal BMX pegs are attached to the bike’s front or rear axle (or both) so that the rider can centre their weight over the wheel for better control when performing certain tricks. Bike pegs are banned in BMX racing.
A BMX bike will set you back anywhere from $200 to over $800. You’ll pay a larger sum for custom-built bikes, or those which have features such as strong chromoly parts and sealed bearings.
Cheap BMX bikes will usually sit in the $200-400 range - most kids bikes will sit within this. How much you decide to spend on your bike will usually depend on your skill level and how often you expect to be using it.
Our advice? Ask for a test ride at your local BMX shop to get a feel for how a bike rides - every rider is unique in their riding style and preferences, so if you like the way a bike feels when you’re on it, chances are it’ll serve you well.