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Get Stoked! 7 Rad BMX Bikes for Ripping and Shredding

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best bmx bikes

If you’re tired of battling endless headwinds, riding intervals for the 3rd time this week or if you’re just eager to try something new or want to find a sport where you don’t have to wear lycra, then BMX could be perfect for you.

But getting into the world of BMX can be a little confusing. There are several different types of BMX all with different styles of bikes, which will get very confusing if you don’t know what you are looking for. This buying guide will help minimize any confusion and help you find the perfect BMX bike.

Before even looking at BMX bikes the first thing to decide is what kind of riding you want to do. Do you want to ride mostly street? Park? Dirt? Flatland? Or looking to race? From there you can pick a bike that will better suit your riding style.

If you’re looking for a great all-around bike that doesn’t break the bank, I’d strongly suggest the street-ready 2018 Kink Liberty.

Top BMX Bikes:

*Click to buy at Amazon and other retailers or read below for full reviews. 

The 5 Types of BMX Bikes/Riding Styles:

bmx stunts

First, a note about brakes: Don’t assume all BMX bikes include brakes. Our round-up includes whether or not the bike has brakes.

Dirt

These bikes have a more aggressive treat than park/street to help grip the dirt better. With this increased traction comes a longer wheel base for improved stability.

Park/ Park/Jumping Bikes 

If you will be riding in a skate park or on ramps then this is the type of bike for you. These bikes will normally be a little lighter than street/dirt bikes and will have thinner tread. These bikes are built to withstand the harder hits and stunt features in a city. They will normally be a little heavier and a little more durable which will help them last longer in the urban environment.

Racing

These bikes are built for speed. They have a higher gear ratio so that the rider is able put down more power and get going faster. In addition, race bikes will have at least a rear brake as that is a requirement for racing.

A BMX bike with 20” wheels is considered at standard BMX bike, while a bike with 24” wheels is considered a cruiser BMX bike, and races in the cruiser category.

Flatland

Flatland bikes are designed to be the most controlled. They are built for better balance for slower tricks on smooth terrain. This means they have a different geometry than any other BMX bike.

That being said, racing and flatland bikes are often the most discipline-specific bikes. You can ride a little street and park on a flatland bike, and you can dirt jump a racing bike, but they are not the best tool for the job.

Racing Equipment

In order to race BMX you need to be deemed “safe to ride.” This requires a long sleeve, loose fitting shirt (no lycra), loose fitting pants or shorts plus knee/shin guards (again no lycra), a full face helmet, and full finger gloves. Any mountain biking glove will work, but eventually, you will develop a preference for how much padding and where you prefer the padding.

bmx racing

Frame Material

Like any other type of cycling, more expensive bikes will have a better and lighter frame material. BMX is no different. The highest quality frame material is chromoly. Chromoly is a type of strong, lightweight alloy metal that all high-end BMX frames, forks, and bars are made from. Entry to intermediate level bikes use hi-tensile steel.

If you are looking to find the middle ground between a good quality bike that’s not crazy expensive, the intermediate bikes have some chromoly and the rest steel. 4130 Chromoly is indeed a strong, light steel alloy that is preferred for freestyle bikes and some racing bikes, but most racing bikes are aluminum to save weight. Aluminum generally is not as strong as chromoly, but racing is not nearly as hard bikes are ramps and landing flat on pavement, so it works fine for that application.

When looking for bikes try to find the bike in your price range that has the most chromoly parts.

Bearings (the things that make your bike move freely)

Cheap BMX bikes will not necessarily have sealed bearings. This is bad. Sealed bearings in wheels (hubs), bottom brackets, and headsets allow your bike to roll smoother for longer.

Though unsealed bearing are much cheaper, they’re not worth it. They will require a lot more maintenance as the lack of seal will allow dirt to get in, they will become loose and start to wobble, and now your nice smooth feeling ride will feel terrible.

To find out if your bike has sealed bearings go to the specs before purchasing and look at the front and rear hub, and bottom bracket. Sealed/unsealed/semi sealed will be somewhere in the part name.

Freecoaster vs Cassette Hub

A freecoaster hub allows you to coast backwards. The disadvantage of this is that it comes at a weight disadvantage and a higher price than a freewheel or cassette hub. A freecoaster hub makes it easier to fakie out of a trick or perform a 180.

As for the technical aspect, a cassette hub is splined and fits onto the freehub accessory of the hub itself. A freewheel fits onto the hub body itself. Despite popular belief, one setup isn’t any faster than the other. Freewheels are single or multiple speeds and freewheels can be single or multiple.

Right Vs Left Side Drivetrains

Most BMX bikes come equipped with hubs that have any option for the drivetrain on the right or lefthand side. Most BMX bikes are stocked with right side drivetains. However, if you grind on rails, ledges and ramps, this often results in a not-so-good position for your drivetrain. While a heavy guard is one solution (though often a major bummer), simply switching the drivetrain to the opposite side is often the best solution. Fortunately, most bikes are drilled with the option to have the drivetrain on either side, making it relatevely easy to make this swap.

One consideration is the RHD (Right Hand Drive) hub, which must be switched to a LHD hub if moving the drivetrain to the left-hand side. Fortunately, most cranks have holes that allow for mounting on either side. You can read more about this here.

Frame Size

BMX bikes are sized based on the length of the top tube. You can use this chart to help figure out what size you should buy.

Height:4ft – 5’4”Size:18” – 20.25”
5’5” – 6ft20.25” – 21”
5’10” and up21” or longer

 

Wheel Size

The standard size wheel is 20” for any type of BMX riding. For younger riders, 16” wheels (3ft – 3.5ft tall) or 18” wheels (3.5ft – 4.5ft tall) will suit them better. Bikes with smaller wheels will also have smaller top tubes to accommodate the size.

A BMX “cruiser” uses a 24″ wheel, mostly used for racing for those who feel more comfortable on a larger, more stable bike. there is a niche market for 24″ freestyle bikes too, like the Sunday C Model series.

Gearing

Racers and dirt/ street/ park riders tend to use the same basic gear ratio. Street and park riders like tiny sprockets for strength and clearance over obstacles, but use a proportionally tiny rear hub cog to keep the same ratio (25/9 is most common). Racers use bigger sprockets for a smoother pedal stroke and easier gear tweaks for different courses. 44/16 is a common combo for racing.

Brakes vs Brakeless Riding 

Every BMXer seems to have a strong view on brakes. Most local laws require them. Some say brakes interfere with tricks and are one more piece of equipment to maintain. Others swear by stopping by foot and go brake-less, adding that it helps commit to tricks better than brakes.

Our Top BMX Bikes:

*Click to buy at Amazon and other retailers or read below for full reviews. 

Top All-Around Bike: Kink Liberty BMX Bike 2018 

best bmx bike 2017

Style: Street
Frame: 
Chromoly
Brakes: Comes with brakes, but easily removable.
Top tube length: 20.85”
Wheel size: 
20”
Price Range:  $$

The Kink Liberty is a perfect street animal. The high quality chromoly, sealed bearings, and wide tires will give you the liberty to shred this bike all around town. The Liberty also has removable brake mounts to give you the freedom of no brakes.

Buy it at Chain Reaction Cycles

Best Racing Bike: Redline Proline Pro BMX Bike 

best bmx bikes for adults

Style: racing
Frame: 
aluminum alloy
Brakes: rear brake
Top tube length: 20.5”
Wheel size: 20”
Price Range:  $$

The Redline Proline Pro is a high-performance BMX race bike. The high-quality components and fully sealed bottom bracket, rear hub, and front hub make this bike long lasting.

Best of all this race machine is still affordable as the aluminum alloy frame helps keep the cost down while still providing a 100% Chromoly butted and tapered race fork.

Buy on Amazon

Best Street Bike: Cult Control BMX Bike 2017

best bmx bikes for street riding

Style: street or park
Frame: 
Mix of Chromoly and softer steel
Brakes: rear brake
Top tube length: 20.75”
Wheel size: 20”
Price Range:  $$

The cult control is an intermediate bike designed for street or park. The lightweight chromoly frame front main tubes with softer steel rear, handlebars, and fork will be a blast to take to the park. This bike is also solid for grinding rails, tailwhipping a gap or tricking off a ledge.

The sealed bearings will help ensure your bike stays as smooth as possible for as long as possible. While this may not be the top of the line bike, this is perfect for any recreational rider.

Click to Buy at Chain Reaction Cycles 

Best Beginner Race Bike: Haro Expert 

best bmx bikes 2018

Style: Racing
Frame: 
aluminum alloy
Brakes: Rear brake
Top tube length: 21” or 21.5”
Wheel size: 
20”
Price Range:  $$ (more info at Harobikes.com)

The Haro Expert is perfect for the taller rider who is looking to start racing. The sealed bearings, and chromoly fork make this bike a quality bike without reaching top-of-the-line prices.

Haro also makes other larger sized bikes, up to 21.5”, for taller racers.

 

Best Kids Bike: Diamondback Bicycles Grind BMX Bike 

best kids bike

Style: Street or park
Frame: 
Steel
Brakes: rear brake
Top tube length: 16”
Wheel size:
20”Top tube length: 16”
Price Range:
$

This is a perfect bike to transition a younger kid to a regular sized BMX bike. The 20” wheels in combination with the 16” top tube will let a smaller rider get away from the small wheel sizes of most kids bikes. The steel frame, while heavy has helped keep the cost way down which will help as kids quickly outgrow bikes. Something to notice is this bike doesn’t have sealed bearings but has a

The steel frame, while heavy, helps keep the cost way down for kids quickly outgrowing their bikes. This bike doesn’t have sealed bearings, but has a looseball bottom bracket. This is by no means high quality, but sufficient for a beginner kid’s bike.

Buy at Performance Bike 

Best Youth Bike: Cult 18” Juvenile BMX bike 2017 

best bmx bikes for beginners

Style: kids street/park/dirt
Frame:
Aluminum alloy
Brakes: rear brake
Top tube length: 18”
Wheel size:
18”
Price Range: $$

The Cult Juvenile BMX bike is a perfect bike for younger riders who aren’t quite big enough for a 20” bike. The sealed bearings and chromoly fork make this good high end kids BMX bike. It’s great for heavy use or more serious riders as compared to the Diamondback Grind, which isn’t as durable.

Buy at Chain Reaction Cycles 

 

Best Park Bike: Kink SXTN BMX Bike 2018 

best bmx freestyle bikes

Style: Park
Frame:
Chromoly
Brakes: rear brake
Top tube length: 21”
Wheel size:
20”
Price: $$$$

The SXTN is designed using pro rider Sean Sexton’s input to match the X Games rider’s personal preferences. If you dream of riding a half pipe, shredding the skate park, the full chromoly frame, bars, and fork, give you the lightest, strongest bike. The bike also comes with pegs and has the unique feature of a left hand drivetrain to make right hand grinding easier.

One of this bike’s coolest features is that it comes stock with a freecoaster hub, something few off-the-shelf bikes have.

Buy at Chain Reaction Cycles 

 

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