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What is BMX?

BMX or bicycle-motocross is a sport performed on bicycles. The sport of BMX evolved when cyclists repurposed old motorcross tracks for cycling. Eventually specialized trick bikes were created. BMX is now an immensely popular sport with many participating professional BMXers. By the middle of the 1970s manufacturers were producing specialized BMX bikes available for the general public.

The sport is now highly televised with many high profile sponsors such as Monster Energy, and Redbull. Competitors from all over the world compete at events such as the Summer X Games for prizes and recognition.

BMX originally began on purpose-built dirt tracks in Southern California, but now is generally done on specialized ramps and rails, such as those commonly seen in skateboard parks.

What makes a BMX bike special?

The original sport of BMX began with simple bikes used by younger people. Over time people began to customize their bikes to perform better in the sport of BMX. Modern BMX bikes typically feature a small light-weight frame often with pegs attached to the front or back axles.

Addition of the pegs allows the rider to perform more exotic tricks (like riding the front wheel like a unicycle). Riders often customize the location of the pegs depending on the tricks they perform. For example a rider may only have pegs on the left side of their bike.

With the widespread rollout of the ever popular cassette hub, BMX bikes now often feature much smaller gearing. Using smaller gears allows the same ratio to be maintained while reducing overall weight of the bike. Reducing weight is an important consideration in vert or park bikes as every ounce counts when you are getting massive air.

Another factor to consider when reducing weight of the bike is wheel size. BMX bikes can be found with wheels ranging from 16" to 26" inches. Within this range 20" is most popular. Using a small wheel will shave weight off of the bike as well, but the rider's overall size must be considered.

Where can you BMX?

The original philosophy of BMX was born on old motorcross tracks, however modern BMX is performed in urban areas, or in specialized skate parts. Many public areas are often suitable for BMX, for example a loading dock typically features a smooth cement ramp and likely some rails or stairs. However such areas typically dislike BMXing on their property so always check with the owners first. Skate parks often allow a wide variety of devices ranging from roller blades, to skateboards, and scooters.

The are also numerous competitions available for amateurs and professionals alike. Ask around in the local skate clubs and you will learn that there is never a competition that far off. Competitors as young as 3 years old compete at the professional level and are often even sponsored already. Young or old there is a BMX competition for you. Check your local listings to find out more. If you aren't looking to compete there are always urban ramps and rails available. Keep an open mind and any area can become a BMX park.

Types of BMX competitions

BMX features a variety of competition types for any flavor of rider. From freestyle to flatland there is a style of BMX for you. We cover a few of the most popular types below but we urge you to try them all and see what you like best.

Freestyle BMX

Freestyle BMX is the most ambigous class comprising anything on a BMX that does not fit into the other categories. Freestyle BMX is about expression and control when performing technically difficult tricks ranging from jumps to grinds.

Flatland BMX

As the name implies flatland BMX is typically done on flat ground rather than ramps or slopes. A flat surface gives the rider a great amount of control to focus purely on pulling off incredulous stunts. Flatland BMX bikes are often built out of a stronger material to support the rider as they stand on the bike frame itself for many tricks.

Street BMX

No big secret here. Street BMX involves riding BMX, well on the street. Specifically around and over manmade obstacles such as railings, stairs, poles, and architectural anomalies such as curved walls, and abandoned swimming pools.

Vert BMX

Vert BMX derives its name from the direction a rider is traveling when they leave the ramp, namely vertical. This form of BMX is most commonly seen at televised events and skate competitions. The size and speed of a half-pipe ramp allow the rider to perform tricks that they normally would not be able to do if traveling on flat ground. Some large half-pipes can hurl the rider as high as 20ft in the air allowing them to perform crazy flips and stunts.