Often associated with youth riders, BMX bikes arrived on the Californian scene in the 1970s. Meaning “bicycle motocross,” the original BMX bikes were modified 20-inch single-gear street bicycles – riders simply added fat, knobby tires to help the bikes maneuver on the dirt tracks usually reserved for dirt bikes. Since those early races, BMX bikes have evolved into three distinct models – traditional, freestyle and jump – all of which maintain the small stature and simple design characteristic of the riding style.
Three Schools of BMX
Used for the dirt tracks of the original sport, traditional BMX bikes boast knobby tires, lightweight frames and a single gear to help riders maintain control during races. At the other end of the BMX bike spectrum, freestyle models appeal to riders who want to perform tricks. Used mostly on flat ground, freestyle bikes offer thicker but smoother tires as well as a heavier frame. They also use front and rear brakes to aid in tricks and can be equipped with axle pegs – metal rods attached to the wheel that riders stand on for stunts. Finally, freestyle handlebars are shaped differently, allowing riders to whip the front wheel or the entire bike around 180 degrees. The third BMX model, known as a dirt jumper or jump bike, merges many of the qualities of the other two. Sporting thick tires, trick handlebars, rear brakes and the most aggressive tread pattern, jump bikes allow riders to perform tricks off high vertical jumps – whether at a local skate park or on dirt trails.