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Teddy’s Ultimate BMX Newcomer’s Guide

BMX, or Bicycle Moto-cross, is a fantastic sport that tons of people of all ages really love! Today is the perfect time to get into BMX, because the bikes, accessories, and prices have never been better than they are today.

But before we get too far into the technology, let’s figure out what kind of BMX rider you are, or want to be. Read on to find out!

There are three basic categories of BMX, but they all stem from the same innovations that occurred on small-frame, single-speed bikes back in the 1960’s.  The four categories that have emerged since then are:

Style Wheel Size Tire Width Intended Use
Race BMX 20″ 1″-1.75″ Bicycle Moto-cross Racing
Freestyle/Street 20″ – 24″ 1.75″ – 2.25″ Ramp/street, jumping, and flatground
Cruiser 24″ 2″ – 2.5″ Bicycle Moto-cross Racing for taller riders
Specialty Cruiser 24″ – 26″ 1.75″ – 2.5″ Adult flatground, jumping, cruising

Choosing the Right BMX Bike

When considering what sort of BMX to invest in, riders should consider a few factors:

  • How experienced is the rider? If the rider is a child, do they already have their bike balance? If not, a non-BMX s
    Freestyle/street BMX is a ton of fun!

    tarter bike may be a better place to begin, especially considering that BMX bikes tend to be higher in price than starter bikes. If this is the case, consider a Fuji Rookie or similar quality 20″ starter bike

  • Does the rider want to do racing or street/freestyle? Does the rider intend to race with the bike, or to use it for freestyle and ramp tricks? Freestyle bikes aren’t set up for racing, and race BMX bikes aren’t set up for trick use. Their gear ratios are different, so using a freestyle bike at the race track will yield poor results. If the rider isn’t certain which route they want to go, a good, balanced BMX would be the SE Racing Ripper, which strikes a balance between the two uses.
  • What is the rider’s height? Is the rider particularly tall? (Ie. taller than 5’6”)? In this case, a 24″ bike might make sense. Keep in mind, certain tracks and leagues restrict racer eligibility based on the specs of their bikes, so 24″ cruisers are not always welcome at track events, or restricted to their own (sometimes adult-only) class.

BMX Race Bike Sizes

BMX Race Bikes come in several frame sizes:

Frame Size Wheel Size Typical Age Group  Top Tube Length
Mini (or Micro) 20″ 4-6 15″-17.5″
Junior 20″ 6-9 17″-18.5″
Expert 20″ 9-13 18.5″-20″
Pro 20″ 13 and up 20″+

Keep in mind that at organized racing events, race classes may be segregated by either age group or by frame size, or both. The size of the rider determines what sort of racing equipment on which they’ll be most comfortable (and fastest), so it’s important to get the right-sized frame.

Choosing Steel or Aluminum

The Ripper by SE Bikes is a great entry-level BMX that’s great for cruising around or as a first race bike

BMX bikes are constructed either of a steel alloy (like chromoly steel) or an aluminum alloy. These superior materials generally make them more expensive than a small starter bike, which are typically built with an inferior tensile steel.  Aluminum is the lightest of course, though chromoly steel can save you a few bucks.

The lighter the bike is, the more nimble it is generally considered to be, and this paradigm applies equally to racing and freestyle bikes. Being rust-proof, aluminum alloy is the superior material, but chromoly steel is the more economical one.  So if you go steel, have some touch-up paint handy to prevent rust in case you scratch the paint finish.

A street-style helmet is a must for freestyle riders

How BMX Components are Different

BMX race bikes have rear brake mounts located on the top of the seat stays above the rear wheel dropout. This allows the brake itself, most often linear-pull style, to exert a tremendous amount of force on the rear wheel.

On BMX race bikes, the chainring is relatively large. This allows the rider to spread pedal force over more chain links, which is safer when the rider is mashing the pedals while waiting for the gate to drop at the beginning of the race. On freestyle bikes, a small chainring is typical. Since freestyle bikes are operated at slow speed, and can be aided in acceleration through the use of ramps and descents, a smaller chain-rings makes more sense and allows for greater low-speed precision–important for flatground tricks.

In addition, freestyle bikes often have an extra long brake cable (or a “detangler” or “gyro”). This permits tricksters to pull off tail-whips, bar-spins, and other tricks without the brake cable ruining the trick.

One other key difference between race bike and freestyles is the rear axle diameter–freestyle bikes have a larger rear axle in order to permit the use of pegs for grinding and sliding tricks.

BMX Apparel, BMX Helmets, and Safety Gear

No matter what style or speed, all BMX riders should equip themselves properly for a safe ride:

  • For BMX track racing, riders should wear a full-face helmet, a long-sleeve jersey, full-finger gloves, and long racing pants, preferably padded.  Race goggles are optional.
  • For BMX freestyle and flag round, riders should wear a street helmet and, ideally, elbow pads.

    A BMX race bike’s gear ratio is optimized for speed and torque control

Your Source for BMX in Naples, FL

In addition to our online store, you can visit our showroom in Naples, FL to try out different BMX products and get your BMX bike serviced and upgraded. Contact us for details.