BMX Bike Buying Guide

Our BMX Buying Guide contains all of the information you need to know about BMX Bikes and how to pick the right BMX bike for you. This guide also includes an easy to use BMX Size chart to help you easily find the right BMX bike size.

What is BMX? BMX stands for 'Bicycle Motocross' and there are multiple styles of BMX riding that will be covered in this guide. The sport has been around since the 1970s, and ERIK'S has been selling BMX 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 below).

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 riding was added!

BMX is part of ERIK’S roots, we have the experts you can trust to help you find the right BMX bike for you. We stock the best selection of styles and the best BMX brands for all types of riding. We have many options of BMX Bikes for adults, but we also have BMX Bikes for kids of all skill levels. Keep reading to learn more about the sport of BMX biking and to find out which type of BMX bike is best for you!

What different types of BMX bikes are there?

BMX bikes come in a variety of styles that are very different from each other, so you want to think about what the bike will be used for. The main styles are freestyle, race, dirt jump, and cruiser BMX bikes. Each style of BMX is covered in detail below to help you decide which style of riding is best for you.

Freestyle BMX Bikes

Freestyle bikes are trick bikes designed to ride ramps, rails and jumps. There are multiple types of freestyle BMXing, 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 street 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, like stairs and railings. Street riders also commonly ride flat land and do tricks with just the bike.
  • Park BMX Bikes often feature a gyro/detangler so riders can also do bar tricks without the brake cables getting tangled up.
    Street/Trail BMX Bikes do not use the gyro/detangler.

If this sounds like the type of riding you're looking to do, a Freestyle BMX bike will be the best choice. Many riders also use Freestyle BMX bikes for riding Dirt Jump BMX parks. If you want to find out more about Dirt Jump BMX bikes, you can jump to the section Dirt Jump BMX Bikes!

Race BMX Bikes

Bicycle Motocross, or BMX Race bikes may look similar from a distance, but they serve a much different purpose from Freestyle BMX Bikes. BMX Race bikes are not designed to do tricks, instead they are designed to be light and go fast to win races! BMX Race bikes are also smaller than freestyle BMX bikes, and are shaped differently as BMX Racers do not sit down while they ride.

BMX races are short, quick sprints, held on dedicated hard packed dirt tracks that feature rollers, jumps, berms and turns. Riders have to navigate through the track features to the finish line, most BMX Races are shorter than 45 seconds long . A BMX Race series will have multiple elimination rounds before the final race with 8 riders. To tackle all the features of a race track, BMX bikes are made to be very light, nimble and stable at high speeds.

Dirt Jump BMX Bikes

Dirt Jumper Bikes are built to go big!

Specifically designed for riding at bike parks to get big air, these bikes are similar to a combination of a BMX bike and a mountain bike. Bike parks are different than skate parks, bike parks do not feature any rails for grinding tricks, they are made of hardpack dirt formed into many styles of jumps one after the other. Dirt Parks often feature multiple routes of these different jump styles linked together for riders of different skill levels. Dirt Jump riders will ride these routes (also called lines) and do tricks over jumps multiple times in a row.

This may sound similar to BMX Racing, however they are very different. In BMX racing, the goal is to finish a course fast. However, with Dirt Jumping the goal is to get big air and do tricks with the best style - time doesn't matter.

If you're looking to ride big jumps and do tricks, but do not want to use pegs or rails at all - a Dirt Jump BMX Bike would be a good fit for you!

Cruiser BMX Bikes

Cruiser BMX Bikes stand out from all other BMX bikes because they have larger wheels. The wheels on a cruiser BMX bike will be 24, 26, or 29 inches, these wheels will roll faster which makes them great for getting around quickly.

Cruiser BMX bikes will look just like freestyle BMX Bikes, but they are not intended to be ridden the same way. They can be used for some casual flat land and street tricks, but their main purpose is to just ride around and cruise!

Cruiser BMX Bikes are great for anyone who likes the style of the BMX bike, but is less interested in doing tricks. They are great for BMX riders who also want a bike to get from point A to point B quickly and more comfortably than on a standard BMX bike. Cruiser BMX bikes are also popular with older riders who have kids that like to ride BMX.

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

The standard wheel size for BMX bikes is 20 inch. For the smaller riders, BMX bikes come in 12 inch and 16 inch sizes. A small selection of BMX bikes, primarily race bikes, can be found with 24 inch wheels. As mentioned above, other 24 inch wheel bikes as well as 26 and 29 inch wheels are found on cruiser BMX Bikes.

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”. 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.

If you’re buying a bike for your kid, we’ve got a great article on kids’ bikes and sizing.

Easy BMX Size Chart
For a simple guideline on which size BMX bike you need, we have the below easy to use size chart for Freestyle BMX bikes. The below size chart does not apply to Cruiser BMX Bikes.

BMX Size Cart

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.

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, and Fit. 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.