BMX is an acronym that stands for bicycle motocross. The origins of the sport are often cited as coming from young people in California appropriating their Schwinn Sting-Ray bikes to mimic the moves of motocross riders. This action was immortalized in the film On Any Sunday, which was primarily about motocross.
From there, the sport has taken off. Early BMX races took place on home-groomed dirt courses. Again, the Schwinn Sting-Ray was the most commonly used model in these early races. The Sting-Ray was custom-built for riding off-road at high speeds and landing jumps. These bikes became popular fast, and quickly became one of the best-selling bikes in the country. Afterward, more manufacturers took note and began designing bicycles with similar custom features, such as twenty-inch wheels.
The philosophy that goes into the design of today’s BMX bikes remains virtually the same. These bikes are meant for customization, and are intended to excel on off-road terrain. Durable frames and wide wheels are a must. Additionally, throughout the history of BMX riding, riders have continued to tweak the design in order to accomplish new goals, such as performing new tricks.
As a result of this, in the 1980s, BMX came to be about more than just racing. Riders began to perform aerial tricks, much like in skateboarding and surfboarding before, and this is how the freestyle division of BMX was born.
Even when custom-made, BMX bikes can generally be recognized by a few distinctive features. At the core of it, these bikes are simply a type of mountain bike designed to excel on off-road surfaces. They feature 18- to 24-inch wheels and are designed to be lightweight and durable. Their design makes them particularly suited for racing and tricks.
There are actually three forms of BMX racing, with bikes specifically designed to excel in each category: racing, freestyle and jumping bikes. Racing BMX designs are made specifically with the idea of speed in mind. They are composed of lightweight frames and feature customized tires designed to excel on off-road surfaces.
Free style bikes, on the other hand, are sturdier and meant to work on pavement as well. Often these bikes are ridden in skate parks, where riders can practice new tricks.
Finally, jump bikes feature strong, sturdy frames and knobby tires. Their main purpose is to handle jumps well, which means they have a good suspension system. As a result, these bikes are often good on trails too.
Anyone interested in BMX biking today has wide variety of bikes available. Which design is best for you will depend on the kind of riding you are looking to do. If you’re just starting out as a high-speed, off-road rider, then you may want to start with a racing BMX design, as these allow you to get out on the track. This is a great way to learn the basic fundamentals of riding this specific bike design.
Additionally, bicycle customization is becoming more widely accessible. This allows you to tailor your bike to your specific needs, whether those needs are based more on style, function or both. Clearly today’s BMX rider has many options available as far as bike selection. If you continue to experience uncertainty as you seek the perfect design, it is never a bad idea to contact your local bike shop to get advice to help you through the selection process.