BMX Bike Basics
Part 1 - The Two Types
The BMX bike comes in two basic flavors: freestyle and race. The freestyle (aka park) bike is made for the doing tricks and hard riding at the skatepark or on the streets. It’s an all-around bike. The race bike is made for speed and handling to swiftly get around the racetrack. It’s specialized. Both are single speed and geared for acceleration. Want more speed? Pedal faster. There is no next gear. Freestyle bikes use steel and heavy-duty components and in general aren’t as concerned with each gram of weight. Race bikes use aluminum, or carbon fiber, and lightweight is of great concern. Today they also use different geometries. Geometry for bikes is angles and lengths of the tube pieces that make up the frame. These angles determine the qualities of a bike. Let’s keep it simple for now.
Back in the 70’s, 80’s, and early 90’s the geometry of BMX bikes was pretty much the same. Back then the high-end race bikes were aluminum, the majority of everything else was chromoly (cro-mo) and the lowest end BMX style bike was made of whatever steel was laying around. They all looked the same. More or less, they rode the same way too. As the 90’s dawned the mountain bike took over in popularity and BMX began to wane. BMX didn’t die though. Instead, BMX began evolving into what we know today as freestyle riding focusing on challenging technical tricks and racing with the need to be faster and more maneuverable on the modern racetrack. In other words, jumping milk crates and chasing one another on rough dirt tracks began to give way to X-Games style stunts and purposefully designed racetracks. This led to changes in BMX bike design to maximize performance for the respective discipline.
Note that many of the BMX-style bikes for rollback prices are not meant for racing or serious tricks. The department store bike is great for sidewalks and getting around a campground or neighborhood. Or riding off a pier into the lake. And finally the department store bike becomes scrap metal since the repair cost always exceeds the purchase price of a new one. If you or your kids plan to start racing or freestyling as a sport don’t rush out to buy a bike. Watch YouTube. Consult with the parents and riders at the track or skatepark. Send Beck Bros a message for advice. But whatever bike you get, make sure to ride it. That is what builds skill and confidence.