Entry Level Bikes
Perhaps you've finished league racing, or it is time to get your own bike, or your kid's own bike. There are two routes here: buy used or buy new. This article is primarily focused on new entry level bikes. When buying used the only way to know what you are getting is to see it. Pre-owned BMX race bikes are almost always a sum of parts like a Redline frame, Box forks, Sun rims, Redline hubs, Answer brakes, Tioga tires, and ODI grips.
Why buy new? First, you can get the proper size if you know it. The size you need isn't always available on Marketplace, especially when the season starts.
Second, you get a new bike that hasn't mean crashed, left outside, or has possible stress fractures. Carbon fiber doesn't like sunlight.
Third, it is a rideable blank canvas for upgrading. The first new bike a rider gets will almost always be an entry level machine. What makes them entry level is the drivetrain isn't custom geared, and the components aren't the lightest available and may or may not be the best offered. That doesn't necessarily mean low quality. Steel can take a beating that carbon and aluminum can't. But it's heavy. Entry level bikes save money on components because as the rider's skills grow the components will change. The steel fork will give way to a carbon fork. Steel bars give way to aluminum or carbon. The drivetrain changes to suit the rider's size and strength.
The entry level bikes are good starting points because once the rider promotes to higher skill levels they are usually needing the next size bike anyway. Entry level bikes are competitive yet designed to be controllable and forgiving. The more expensive models from manufacturers typically represent lighter parts and frame geometry that matches the increased rider skills. In the highest levels of racing any edge wins. Changing the head tube angle by one degree can affect the turn performance of a bike. In competitive racing tenths of a second matter. 0.114 seconds is what separated the gold and silver medal winners at the 2020 Olympics. 0.104 seconds separated the bronze and 4th place finisher of the same race. This isn't 1980-something where BMX bikes rode and handled the same. The new-school race bikes today are refined and purposely designed. Does your new rider need to worry about 0.1 seconds? Not really. Riders will figure out what they like over time.
Based on our experiences, we made a chart of some entry level bikes. We realize we sale Position One bikes. Yes, we want to sale more P1 bikes. If you think this chart is biased towards P1's, no it is not. We deal in those because they are good quality bikes. Note that Redline, Mongoose, GT, and Free Agent are owned by big corporations and aren't the same bikes our older readers might remember. We like Redlines. They haven't retuned our messages about selling bikes for them. We also sell DK's, and our recommendation is go with the Sprinter series for entry level. The Swift series isn't bad, but for the price we feel there are better values.
Here are the notes from our compare: