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How to choose your BMX bike

The BMX bike: a small bike for great sensations

The BMX, an abbreviation for bicycle motocross, is a sport inspired by motocross. At a time when young people in California dreamed of motorcycle sensations but couldn't afford it, the idea came to them to create a discipline that would give them as many thrills as motocross but at a lower cost: the BMX.

There are two practices in BMX: the BMX Race and the BMX Freestyle. For both, a small bike is used: the frame and wheels are small, the saddle is low and the handlebars are large for easy handling.

Depending on the size and age of the driver, the size of the wheels varies between 16 and 24 inches, the most common size being 20 inches. The wheels are equipped with wide tyres that are smooth or serrated according to the discipline, and there is only one gear and one brake. A BMX frame is usually made of steel or aluminum; again, the choice of the frame is made according to the discipline. For the BMX Race, an aluminum frame is lightweight and will therefore be effective for relaunches, whereas in Freestyle, where one makes stunts, steel will be stronger and easier to handle.

Several disciplines are derived from BMX: Race, Flat, Street, Dirt, Park and Trail.

Equipment of the BMXer

The equipment is similar to that of motocross, especially for the BMX Race where the driver must have a helmet and protections for the whole body (elbow pads, knee pads, gloves...). The level of protection needed varies according to the discipline practiced. For street or park, BMX enthusiasts adopt a streetwear outfit in the same style as skaters.

BMX practices

BMX Race

BMX Race

Imported from the United States, the BMX Race is practiced on artificial tracks made up of bumps and difficult turns. The 8 riders line up on an elevated starting grid; after the kick-off, the race consists of a 350 to 400 metre-long sprint depending on the track.

As a blend of pure technique, racing tactics and physical power, the BMX Race is a very demanding sport which was recently represented at the Olympics! It requires power, velocity and also endurance.

The bikes used are small rigid bicycles with 20-inch wheels, a single-speed transmission and a rear brake with skates. The sizes of the bicycles bear names: Mini, Junior, Expert, Pro...

The frame is usually made of aluminum and, more recently, of carbon in order to lighten the weight of the bike. In a BMX Race, flat or automatic pedals are used, each with its own set of advantages. Flat pedals offer a large support surface and good foot mobility, while automatic pedals offer good pedaling efficiency and give more power.

BMX Freestyle

BMX Freestyle

In the same way as the MTB Street, the BMX freestyle is a derivative of the BMX Race practice. It's practiced in the street by operating on street furniture or in a skate-park. The BMX Freestyle encompasses several disciplines:

  • The Flat: a practice where you do figures on flat terrain.
  • The Street which consists of doing figures on street furniture.
  • The Dirt where the pilot performs figures and jumps on earthen bumps.
  • The Park: the figures are realised in a skatepark on modules (inclined planes, ramps...).
  • The Trail: the BMXers rush on fields of bumps made by themselves in wastelands or forests.

Although the overall appearance of the bike looks very much like the BMX Race, the material is totally different. The bikes are equipped with:

  • Pegs (metal tubes fixed on the tubes of the wheels) to use as support and slide on the ramps, hubgards (bike parts to protect the pinion),
  • A rotor for rotating the handlebars,
  • Flat pedals in order to have a good support surface and to be able to change bearings quickly.

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