Are BMX Bikes Fast?

BMX bikes may be small, but never underestimate this little compilation of gears. Bicycle Motocross, known as BMX, started as a way for the youth of California to imitate motocross riders. This, later on, became an actual sport during the late 1960s to early 1970s in the USA. BMX bikes are easy to carry, handle, and maneuver with their straightforward mechanism and simplistic design. 

Having said so, one can say that BMX bikes are fast enough to become a race-worthy material. In fact, this type of bike is expected to perform well on dirt tracks and jumps, whether on a long or short trip. 

How Fast Is a BMX Bike?

Credits to: @tuqui

On average, standard bikes can go up to 10 mph. This can go up to 18 mph for intermediate-level cyclists and even 26 mph for the pros depending on the cyclist. 

This becomes a lot more different when it comes to BMX bike riders. Since BMX tracks normally involve ascending and descending ramps, they can go up to 35 mph. This is all thanks to its small structural components. Yet, there are still other external factors that can affect its speed. Some of it is the BMX bike rider’s riding skill, bike condition, and terrain difficulty.

Are BMX Bikes Faster Than Mountain Bikes?

Each type of bike is designed for a specific road, making it hard to compare one to another concerning overall functionality. BMX bikes are mainly used for short course rides, tricks, and stunts. While mountain bikes are created for off-road rides, aiming for the rider’s maximum safety. Both bikes are not designed for concrete roads.

Depending on the strength and skill of the rider, a mountain bike can have a ceiling speed of 30 mph on a downhill track. This is 5 mph less than the maximum speed of a BMX bike on the same course. 

The main factor affecting this is the build of each bike. As mentioned earlier, mountain bikes are built to provide maximum safety for riders on unpaved roads. It has more safety mechanisms such as hydraulic disc brakes, wider tires, and even built-in suspensions. This makes mountain bikes more complex than BMX bikes, making them heavier to handle, too. 

What Makes a BMX Bike Faster Than Other Bikes?

Components are what determine a bike’s functionality. This means that what comprises it makes it desirable for that specific purpose. In BMX bikes, its minimalist bits make it lighter than most bikes. In general, lighter bikes are easier to operate and have better output.

But what main components of a BMX bike contribute to its speed?

1. Frames

Considering their already-small frame compared to other bike types, BMX bikes still have different frame sizes. There are four sizes, depending on the rider’s height:

SizeRider’s Height
Junior4’6’’ – 5’1’’
Expert5’0’’ – 5’4’’
Expert XL5’2’’ – 5’6’’
Expert Pro5’3’’ – 5’8’’

Other than the size, the material making up a bike’s frame determines its lightness. Chromoly steel, an alloy metal also known as 4230 metal, is the most common material used in making BMX bike frames. This alloy combines chromium and molybdenum, specialized for high pressure and temperature. 

Depending on how customized a bike is, a frame can be a mixture of different materials, such as aluminum, carbon fiber, and titanium. These materials are known to produce lightweight products that are stiff, long-lasting, and durable.

A bike frame determines a bike’s stability and responsiveness. Longer frames tend to be more stable, making it desirable for bikes aiming for riders’ safety. On the other hand, bikes with shorter frames are more responsive to the rider’s maneuver. This makes the BMX bike’s frame length suitable for stunts and tricks. 

2. Wheels

Like the BMX bike frame, its wheels also vary in size from 12” to 24”. 20-inch  is the standard BMX bike wheel size for most bikers. This size makes aerial and flatland stunts easier to execute.

A standard bike’s wheel size is twenty-nine inches, way larger compared to a BMX bike. When purchasing a bike, it is common for a salesperson to say that “smaller wheels are slower.” This is actually true. Wheels with larger circumferences cover more distance at complete revolution than smaller wheels. 

However, this does not mean that smaller wheels cannot give you speed. This heavily depends on the skill and strength of the biker. Larger wheels need more pedal power compared to smaller wheels. This means that if the biker is skilled in handling small-wheeled bikes, he can outspeed larger bikes.

3. Handlebars

Like any other bike components, bike handlebars require geometry to make them work as they should. Two types of handlebars are normally used for BMX bikes. These are a two-piece bar and a four-piece bar. The two-piece bars consist of two separate tubes. 

One of the tubes is longer than the other, bent, and then connected at the middle section with the shorter tube. An example of this is the Odyssey Lumberjack XL bar. The four-piece bar resembles the shape of the two-piece bar. However, it has two bent bars connected by two straight bars at the upper-mid and lower-mid sections. 

An excellent example of this bar is the Shadow Conspiracy Crow Bar. In general, these two types of bike handlebars are specialized to withstand pressure during stunts and dirt road terrains. 

The material used is essential as well! Different materials can be used to customize the BMX bike handling experience. But the most commonly used in creating it are carbon fiber, aluminum, and Chromoly. Carbon fiber is generally used by BMX bikers aiming for a good race. Aluminum, of the three, is the most lightweight and relatively durable. Even so, this material is prone to bending. 

Lastly, Chromoly is the most durable list and is considered the best material to use when making BMX bike handlebars. This material is strong enough to handle pressure from BMX bike tricks, and it does not bend easily. However, it is not ideal if you aim for speed as it is not as light as aluminum.

How to Make Your BMX Bike Faster?

Credits to: @bmatangelo

BMX bikes are specialized for stunts and obstacle courses. Unlike the bikes made for actual racing, a BMX bike may encounter difficulties when pushed to its limits. But this does not mean they cannot deliver in terms of speed. A biker can do ways and practices to make sure that a bike can handle both pressure and speed expectations. 

1. Check Your BMX Bike’s Components

Checking your bike before any ride is a fundamental practice to preserve your bike’s health and the biker’s safety as well. All bike components are essential for it to serve as expected. A biker will not handle stunts and rides if their handlebars are unwelded. 

Flat tires aren’t ideal, especially if you are to race. This applies to all forms of vehicles. Making sure that the bike bearings are well-greased is essential as well. If necessary, bearings need to be changed significantly if they have acquired an indention from a stunt or race.

2. Maintain Your Bike’s Cleanliness

Bike maintenance is necessary, like on any other tool or machine. For it to function as intended, it should always be clean, especially parts made up of metal and prone to rust. Since BMX bikes are used on dirt roads and rough surfaces, they tend to capture more grime and dust. 

These particles may stick to the bike’s tires and other parts without regular cleaning and jam the bike. It is better to clean the bike regularly than to purchase new parts because its components broke down due to filth.

The most advisable way of cleaning a BMX bike is through low-pressure water from a hose. High pressure might enter the bike’s bearings and make its lubrication thinner. This can lead to the bike’s accelerated corrosion. 

This can also wash away the bike’s paintwork and lift the decals or stickers attached to it. Washing it by hand using a sponge is a good way to clean a BMX bike. It helps to notice if there are any problems on the bike that cannot be normally seen with a quick glance. 

After washing the bike, it is necessary to dry it properly. Cleaning the bike twice a month is ideal. Although it can also be done weekly, primarily if the bike is often used on dirt tracks and quickly gets grime buildup. 

3. Tune Your Brake’s Tire Pressure

Tire pressure is vital in keeping the bikes running fast, not just a BMX bike. This is the easiest practice to do but gives off the greatest benefit for the biker. Low tire pressure will make the bike more resistant when rolling. 

This will make the rider work harder to reach a reasonable speed. Meanwhile, having high tire pressure makes the bike wheels prone to pinch flats. The recommended pressure for BMX bike tires is 80 psi to 90 psi. This will enable the tires to commit stunts and ensure good speed. 

4. Lubricate Your Bike’s Chain and Pedal Strain

The bike chains are necessary to keep the bike running. That being said, chains are subjected to continuous friction and motion, making this part prone to jam and wear out. Lubricating the chains will ensure that the constant motion will not affect the mechanical efficiency of the BMX bike. 

It will also help decrease the amount of grime and mud the chain could get during wet rides. 

The proper way of applying lubrication to the bike chains is by adding the lube directly inside the chain while rotating the bike’s cranks. After that, wipe off the excess lubrication as too much lube can attract dirt and create a dirt paste within the chains.

5. Adjust Components (Gears, Tires, and Saddle)

Comfort while handling a bike should be taken into account if a biker is aiming for smoother rides. In order to do so, regularly adjusting the gears, tires, and bike saddle is important before starting a stunt or racing. 

BMX bikes are used for different aerial maneuvers and unpaved roads. This makes the BMX bikes prone to being adjusted while doing the stunts or running through rough roads. BMX bikes should have just the right saddle height, depending on the height of the biker. The saddle’s height is an important factor for eased pedaling. With the right height, it can improve the overall speed. 

Depending on the needs of the BMX bikers, tires and gears should be adjusted as well. This helps the biker to have a better grip and speed. Making sure that the biker uses the correct tires for a specific track or activity is important in order to deliver better output. 

How to Get Better at BMX Racing?

Learning a certain sport requires a lot of discipline, practice, and experience with the said sport. In BMX racing, there are a lot of ways to improve. Some of them are the following: 

1. Learn Slowly but Surely

Each sport has its own level of difficulty and dedication requirement. Making sure that a biker takes things slowly will help in a gradual but sure improvement. It is a common mistake to force knowledge on a sports enthusiast, leading to frustration and failure. The more a biker pushes himself and his bike to its limits without learning the fundamentals first, the more a biker exposes himself to the dangers of the sport. 

Time is the greatest teacher. Nobody has become an expert overnight. Once a biker learns the basic handling of a BMX bike, he can step up his stunts and style more effortlessly. 

2. Practice Regularly With an Expert

A guide will be a great help, especially for starters and for young BMX bikers. No one else can provide great tips, hacks, and tricks to a newbie than an experienced BMX biker. It is advised to train with a person that knows a lot about the sport so that the new BMX biker can avoid accidents and misfortunes while learning the sport. Years of exposure to what BMX bikes can do, what a BMX biker can do, are what an expert can offer. 

3. Try Something New

Once comfortable with the BMX bike, with the basic stunts and different terrains, a BMX bike enthusiast/racer can upgrade his skill by exposing himself to the new things that BMX bikes can offer. Stepping out of the comfort zone is not immediately necessary, especially if a biker is starting. But, it is an excellent way to get better at the sport. 

4. Enter Friendly Racing Competitions

Some races do not have to be for a professional competition. Sometimes, bikers just need to enjoy the sport through friendly races and competitions. This will reinforce learning with fellow BMX bikers and enthusiasts. It will also remove the pressure of winning for the price, which will help the BMX biker learn naturally.