What You Will Get Here
- What Is Meant by Bmx?
- How Did We Pick These Products?
- Basic Considerations for Buying BMX Bikes
- Our Top 10 Product List
- Editor’s Choice: Mongoose Legion Freestyle BMX Bike
- Runner Up: Mongoose Legion Mag Freestyle BMX Bike
- Budget Choice: Dynacraft Magna Throttle Boys BMX Street/Dirt Bike
- Our Choice for Kids: Dynacraft Magna Major Damage Boys BMX Street/Dirt Bike
- For Entry Level: Elite 20” BMX Bicycle The Stealth Freestyle Bike
- For Intermediate Rider: Framed Attack BMX Bike
- For Racing: Redline Bikes PL 26 BMX Race Cruiser
- A List of 3 Other Products We Reviewed
- Other Tested Products
- Accessories (Safety, Security, and Comforts)
- Maintenance Tips
What Is Meant by Bmx?
Before we delve into the depths of the review, let’s look at what a BMX is exactly and how it differs from a regular bike.
BMX bikes first came on the scene in early 1970s America. They were originally designed as a way for young kids to step into motocross, but it quickly became a sport all of its own. In fact, BMX is short for ‘Bicycle Motocross’. It went over to Britain almost a decade later as the manufacturers cottoned on to producing ready-made BMX bikes as starter model bikes for youngsters. Their compactness and simplicity are what made them surge in the market.
BMX bikes typically have 20” wheels, although other sizes do exist on racing BMXs. The bikes have a rigid fork and frame with high-rise handle bars and only one cassette gear. It’s this simple construction that makes them strong and easy to understand and maintain.
BMX as a sport has two different types: freestyle and racing. BMXing first began with the racing side of things and freestyle came along later as a new group of riders began to specialize in bike handling and doing tricks rather than concentrating on speed. But, both types of BMXing offer great fun!
How Did We Pick These Products?
As I said, I’m hooked on biking and BMXing! If there’s something that needs to be known about BMX bikes, then I know it! We have picked out Top 10 Best BMX bikes today but how? It wasn’t an easy choice, but we got there. Initially, we spent 20 hours researching good BMX bikes online in order to find the most renowned products on the market. From this research, we chose around twenty bikes to test ourselves for a period of time.
Since we can’t test all the bikes ourselves, we had a team of willing volunteers (BMX friends of mine!) to test them too. From all of their feedback, coupled with our research, we narrowed our list down to our Top Ten looking at their ratings, user experience and features, among other things. After all of this, we verified our choices by seeing if other users agree by looking at Amazon and other e-shops.
Basic Considerations for Buying BMX Bikes
So, what did our findings show? What is it that you should be looking for and considering when buying a BMX bike? Let’s take a look.
Firstly, you need to decide what type of BMX bike you need. Do you want a racing true BMX or a freestyle bike? What about street/jumping/dirt/park BMX? Have you heard of a flatland BMX?
1. Race BMX bikes
As the name suggestions, these are designed with acceleration and speed in mind, so they are often lighter and have different geometry in order to ensure that they are both nimble and stable at high speed. Race BMX bikes are usually unsuitable for Freestyle BMXing, regardless of the sub-type.
2. Freestyle BMX bikes
Freestyle BMXs are designed with stunts in mind and are strong enough to withstand repeated stress such as at skate parks and dirt jumps. The wheels, components and frame materials are equally optimized for maneuverability and strength alike. You can easily manual on a BMX bike if you have any of the Freestyle BMXs.
Freestyle bikes have many sub-divisions which come under the freestyle type. Apart from flatland, the different disciplines have a crossover of features and so an all-rounder freestyle bike is often a good and versatile choice.
- Park: Park BMX riding means riding in a skate park. Despite their name, skateparks are often visited by BMX bikers nearly as much as skaters themselves. Park BMXing also includes using indoor rider parks that are specifically for BMXing. These parks are commonly known as ‘ramps.’
- Dirt Jumping/Trails: This type of BMXing happens on specially built dirt berms and jumps. Riders try to get big air as well as link up their jumps and perform tricks.
- Street: Street riders are creative BMXers, using urban features and infrastructure to perform tricks and turns such as on rails and stairs. Riders are always seeking new good places to try their tricks.
- Flatland BMX: This is rather a nice type of BMXing. With flatland, there aren’t any external features and the rider performs tricks with the bike alone. It has even been nicknamed as ‘BMX breakdancing’. The rider balances and pivot the bike on hard, flat surfaces.
3. Basic BMX Components
When looking at the parts that make up a BMX bike you need to consider these elements:
- the frame
- the forks
- the handlebars
- the headset
- the brakes
- bearings (and whether they are unsealed or sealed)
- the bars and stem
- the gears and speed
- the wheels, rims and tires.
- the pedals
- and, lastly, the materials.
Most starting race BMXs and freestyle BMX bikes have a predominantly steel composition which is called ‘chromo’ (short for Chromoly 4130). This material provides real strength as it is an alloyed steel, especially in comparison to cheaper steels (‘hi-tensile’) that are usually found in lower end bikes such as those found in department stores. Chromo can be ‘butted’, which means it is possible to make it lighter and thinner on the inside of the tubes as well as reinforced at the joins and ends for added strength.
The best choice material for BMX bokes is steel thanks to it being highly resistant and easy to repair. This is important given the battering that these bikes can take! Steel also gives more compliance when riding which is more comfortable for the rider as there is reduced pressure on their body.
For racing with a BMX, people prefer the lightweight, stiffer frame and therefore aluminum is what most racing BMX bikes are made from. However, serious riders who want an added edge on their race-mates choose carbon fiber frames as the weight is even more reduced and the vibrations are also reduced in comparison with aluminum.
Usually, Freestyle BMXers incorporate both kids, adolescents and adults too so, although the size of the wheels is similar across the bikes, the size of the frame can be subtly different to suit the rider’s height and riding style. The majority of freestyle BMX bikes bought in stores comes with a top tube that’s 21” meaning riders can swing the bike beneath them if they are performing tricks that are airborne. The seat stays are often shorter too so that they are easy to whip underneath.
A flatland BMX frame is usually an exception to this as they are often lighter with shorter tubing so that it’s easier to control and balance. The head angle is also much steeper and there are 3/8” dropouts for the smaller axles at the rear.
Racing BMXs have a longer wheelbase and a head angle that is slacker, putting the rider further toward the back of the bike. This offers better handling and stability at speed. There is also a larger range of frame sizes to suit the different ages of BMX racers.
Usually, BMX wheels measure 20” as standard. This much smaller than the wheels of a road bike or mountain bike. Smaller wheels are usually seen on children’s bikes and larger on ‘trail’ BMXs used in dirt jumping. But, as a general rule, you can assume that most BMX bikes will have 20” wheels.
Racing BMX bikes usually have two different wheel sizes. The standard 20” wheel diameter, as mentioned above, and the second size of 24”, which is also known as a ‘cruiser’ size. Cruiser BMX bikes give more stability and are more popular for older or taller riders. The wheels in racer BMX bikes are lighter due to them needing to be quick out of the starting gates.
Rim widths on freestyle BMX bikes come in at 32mm as standard. Riders who put in more hard-hits to the wheels can choose 36mm rims. The rims are aluminum and can have different numbers of layers to provide more support structurally. However, they also add more weight. A standard ideal for most riders is a double walled rim as this is a nice balance between the weight and the strength.
Tires are the contact point of the ride and therefore the choice of tire affects how fast you can go as well as the handling and grip that the bike has. For riding in the park and street, wider and smooth rolling tires are a better choice. A premium choice of BMX tires will accept greater pressures up to 110psi. These roll at an increased speed in comparison to lower-inflated tires and protect the rim when landing hard.
Dirt jumpers need something that has an increased tread so that there’s more traction. They also have tires that have lower pressure for an improved grip. They are wider than race tires so need to be 20” x 2.1 for the increased surface area and stability. Tires can be changed and swapped easily, so you can opt to change tires if you want.
BMX bikes must be sold with a front and rear brake by law. However, normally racers remove the front brake so that they can be as smooth and fast as possible. The break at the rear is usually a V-style brake as they are powerful yet light.
Freestyle BMX bikes have both rear and front brakes. Some models also have a gyro. A gyro is a mix of bearings and cups that are placed under the stem which allows the bars a 360-degree spinning motion without causing brake cable tangling.
BMX bikes do not have more than one gear. But, the teeth numbers on the sprocket and chain ring and their pairing is known as a ‘gear ratio’. Working out a gear ratio is a simple case of mathematics. You need to divide the chainring teeth number (for example, 25) by the number that’s on the sprocket (e.g. nine). In our example, you end up with the number 2.78. This means that the wheel at the rear will turn 2 ¾ times for every chainring rotation. The smaller the number, the easier the bike is to pedal. If the number is higher, it means you will need more force to pedal it.
Freestyle BMX bikes have a smaller ratio than racing BMXs. A larger chain ring is used in racing bikes as they need more explosive power.
The handlebars on freestyle BMX bikes have a steeper rise than racing BMXs so that they can be maneuvered more easily. The handlebars on a flatland BMX have a minimal sweep so that they look and feel the same regardless of the direction in which they are pointing. They also have a lower crossbar to enable the rider to perform tricks more easily.
4. Bike Size and Skill Levels
- Kids’ Bikes
For riders under 4’ or 122cm, you should opt for a bike frame size between 15-16”, also known as a Micro Mini size. Between 4’ and 4’6”, a Mini size of 16-17” is better. For the slightly older or taller child, you can choose the Junior size of BMX which is a frame that’s between 17-18.5”. These generally suit children between 4’4” and 4’10”.
- For bigger kids
Bigger kids and adolescents can often get away with the standard size BMX bikes as they tend to be small bikes to start off with if you compare them to road bikes or mountain bikes. However, generally, a BMX with a frame size of 18.5-19.5” inches (the Expert size) is a good bet. This suits bigger kids, or smaller adults, with a height between 4’8” and 5’4”.
- Bikes for the Pros
Most pros have a good idea of what to look for in a BMX bike and usually have a little more to spend on their bike budget too! In terms of size, a Pro size bike usually has a frame of at least 20” and this suits riders of between 5’4” and 5’10”. If you are over 5’10”, you will probably need a Pro XL size, with a frame of 20.5” or greater.
5. Your Budget
If you are aiming to spend between $200-$500, most kids’ BMX bikes will come into this category. The lower end of the price range will offer hi-tensile steel framed bikes with one-piece cranks and beginner-level gear system. You might only have sealed bearings in the rear hub or not at all. The rims will be single-walled the lower the price you pay.
If your budget stretches a bit further between $500-800, Chromoly frames are much more common. Two- and three-piece cranks also feature along with stunt pegs and other accessories. At the upper end of this price range the bikes may have smaller and lighter chainrings with wheel hubs and bottom brackets with sealed bearings. There may also be Gyro brakes.
If you have a relatively unlimited budget, there is the option of a custom-built BMX. This will be top-end with the strongest and lightest Chromoly frame and parts. There’ll be stronger rims, sealed bearings in the bottom bracket, headset and hubs. The hubs will be lighter too. If BMXing is taking over your life and our riding is more and more progressive, the top end pieces of kit will be what you need.
Our Top 10 Product List
Now that we have outlined the different features of BMX bikes, the price ranges and what you can expect for each type of bike, we are going to outline our Top Ten Best BMX bikes out there on the market today. You can be sure that within our top ten, there is a choice that will suit everyone.