BMX Bike Buying Guide

BMX stands for "Bicycle Motocross". The sport has been around since the 1970s, and we’ve been selling the bikes almost as long. Back in the early 80s, Erik teamed up with the traveling Haro Freestyle Team (watch the classic video below of one of the shows). BMX is part of ERIK’S roots!


In more recent years, BMX has been introduced to a broad audience thanks to events like the X-Games and the explosion of YouTube, which has brought freestyle riding to the forefront of BMX. A decade ago, BMX racing even made its debut in the Olympics and in 2020 Freestyle Park has been added! With so many styles of riding, there are a lot of BMX bike options. That’s where we come in!

What different types of BMX bikes are there?

BMX bikes come in a variety of styles, so you want to think about what the bike will be used for. The two main styles are freestyle and race bikes. Freestyle bikes are designed to hold up to the demands of skateparks, street riding, and dirt jumps. Race bikes are made for going fast on BMX tracks, so they’re built to be very light and stable at high speeds.

Freestyle BMX Bikes

Freestyle bikes are often broken down into further categories. The good news is, there’s a lot of similarities between these bikes. If you aren’t sure what type of riding you’re into, you can get something that’s great for all-around freestyle riding. Many riders move from riding the park one day to riding dirt the next.

  • Park riding, as the name implies, takes place in a skate or BMX park. These parks have ramps, jumps, and other features. More and more communities are building public parks, and many places even have indoor parks for year-round riding no matter the weather. Street riding is very similar, but with riders using the natural terrain and features found in cities and towns, like stairs and railings

  • Some Park BMX bikes feature a gyro below the handlebars. Also known as a detangler or rotor, a gyro allows riders to spin the handlebars all the way around without twisting the brake cables around the stem

  • Dirt jumping is done on purpose-built dirt jumps and trails. Riders look to get airborne and perform tricks as they link jumps together

Race BMX Bikes

BMX race bikes may look similar from a distance, but they serve a much different purpose. BMX races are short, quick sprints, held on dedicated tracks. The tracks are made from very hard-packed dirt and usually feature a starting gate, jumps and rollers, and banked turns that let riders corner at high speeds. To tackle all of this, BMX bikes are made to be very light and stable at high speeds.

Haro BMX Race Bike

How are BMX bikes sized?

BMX bikes come in a variety of sizes. However, the sizing of BMX bikes is slightly different than a typical bike.

Wheel Size

Standard BMX wheel sizes are typically found in 22", 24" 26" and 29". For the smaller riders, BMX bikes come with 12” and 16” wheel sizes.

Frame Size

When looking at 20” wheeled bikes, the next sizing consideration is the top tube length. The top tube is just that, the top tube of the frame. Most freestyle bikes will have a top tube between 19.5” and 21.75”. The smaller size is perfect for smaller riders as it allows them to comfortably reach the handlebars, while a longer top tube is perfect for taller and more experienced riders. The longer top tube makes it easier to perform tricks in the air when a rider might want to swing the bike underneath them or spin the bars. In the end, once a rider has some experience, the top tube sizing will come down to personal preference. Some riders prefer a shorter top tube while others prefer longer!

If you’re buying a bike for your kid, we’ve got a great article on kids’ bikes and sizing. Check out our Bike Sizing Guide too for more info on how to determine the right size of bike for you and your kid.

Black BMX Bike with green top tube

What materials are used to make BMX bikes?

Freestyle frames, forks, and bars are most commonly made of Chromoly, which is a strong, lightweight steel alloy. Chromoly is a popular choice as it’s resilient to the stresses BMX bikes take with their repeated jumps. It also offers some compliance to help absorb some of the impacts a rider would otherwise take. Entry-level freestyle bikes are often constructed with high-tensile steel, which is a bit heavier and not as strong.

BMX race frames are typically constructed of aluminum since it’s lightweight and can be used to build very stiff frames. This stiffness ensures that every pedal stroke goes towards moving the bike forward as fast and efficiently as possible.

Don’t Forget the Helmet

Helmets are a must for BMX, no matter the style of riding you choose. BMX helmets differ from a typical cycling helmet as they’re designed to cover more of the head. For racing, or just for extra protection, you’ll want to look at a full-face helmet. If you’re shopping for a helmet for your kid, we’ve got a great article on how to tell if your child’s helmet fits.

BMX Bike Helmet

Why Buy Your BMX from ERIK’S?

ERIK’S has been selling BMX bikes for almost 40 years! We offer a large selection of BMX bikes from trusted brands like Haro, Kink, Fit, CULT, We The People, GT and SE Bikes. Our expert sales staff are here to help you pick the right bike for your style of riding.

Professional Assembly and Service: All of our bikes are built by professional assemblers following ERIK’S high-quality standards. Every bike is checked to our 100-point standard before hitting the sales floor and then checked over again before you take it home.

Once you purchase your BMX bike from ERIK’S, you can be confident that we stand behind it. We offer ERIK’S Parts Warranty, which extends the manufacturer’s warranty against defects for as long as you own the bike. If your bike has a problem, we’ll work to fix it.

Stop by a store or shop our selection of BMX Bikes online.

Want to learn more?

View our general Bike Buying Guide to review the other kinds of bikes we sell. Or, go here to see our complete list of Buying Guides. Learn what you need to know when purchasing a helmet, bike shoes, a car rack, and more!