Are BMX Bikes Good for Trails? [Here’s What You Need to Know]

Suppose you’re a cycling enthusiast that loves to go on different riding adventures across various terrains like off-roads, sports, or racing. In that case, chances are you might have experienced riding a BMX bike.

A BMX bike is an off-road cycle created to excel in races and stunts. It has an unbending and small frame built, lightweight, shorter body, lower wheelbases, and height, all of which enables you to endure the rough and aggressive off-road surfaces while converting your stunts and impacting your elevation in mid-air.

Nonetheless, BMX bikes are good for trails since it has a durable and robust frame structure that provides control to a rider to maneuver over rough and aggressive paths. However, you must be mindful that while you can ride BMX on trails, it should only be good for short-period rides and at a deliberate speed. 

Considering that the bike is more inclined to deliver tricks and stunts, you shouldn’t take it to the trail more often, especially for long distances, as it could result in body strains and joint issues. Hence, if you intend to take your BMX bike off-road for a temporary change of scenery, you should be confident that it’ll perform well.

Reasons Why BMX Bikes Cannot Be Ride On Trails For Long Periods

Credits to: @yuskin_kot

Taking your BMX bike for a ride on trails could result in a terrible experience. Know that every kind of bike has its advantages and disadvantages. However, it would be best if you also acknowledged the suitability of each bike you’d like to try and its purpose. 

While BMX bikes could manage to go on a trail ride, they are not significant enough to deliver a satisfying performance. Here are some of the reasons why riding a BMX bike is not optimal on trails:

1. Shorter height

BMX bikes have a relatively shorter height compared to other standard bikes. In addition, the seats are also low since it is purposely built to be ridden while standing.

2. No brakes and gears

Most BMX bikes are designed without gears and brakes. Since these bikes suit the children more, the necessity of having brakes and gears is not crucial. Hence, going on trail riding without these two essential parts is not sustainable and safe.

3. Preferable for short-distance

BMX bikes are made for short periods of fun riding. It does not possess the ability to take on extended periods of riding. There are much better choices to go for long-distance riding and capable of riding uphill.

4. No gear ratio

It would help if you learned that a bike should always have a suitable gear ratio when riding on trails. The absence of gear ratio in most BMX bikes is a cause for concern. Moreover, some bicycles with gears would even fail to have a proper balance for trails. With this in mind, you cannot take your BMX bike without a reliable, inclined gear ratio for trail rides.

5. It may cause back pain

It takes an extensive amount of effort to ride on trails. A bike that is manageable on trails and easy to control will help you achieve an efficient riding uphill. With BMX bikes, it would demand you to make an unprecedented effort to go uphill. Hence, it is not highly sustainable for your energy and may lead to back strains and back pains.

Why You Should Not Ride a BMX Bike on Trails for Too Long

While it is safe to say that you can ride a BMX bike on trails, it isn’t ideal to use it for this purpose regularly.

The important note here is that although BMX bikes could perform well on trails, you shouldn’t do it for a more extended period, and here’s why:

1. BMX bikes only have a single gear

The one-speed gear mechanism in BMX bikes meant they could not handle heavy bumps in the trails as efficiently as a regular bicycle. Since gears are pivotal to trail riding, it would determine how fast or easy you could go on rides with the option to adjust to the nature of the surface.

2. Lower seating position

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know why this is an issue. By simply looking at a BMX bike’s structure, it is observable that riders will have difficulty sustaining their energy for the long run, especially on mountain trails where comfort and control are essential.

3. Little to no suspension

Bikes suitable for trail riding commonly possess front suspension forks to absorb the impact from rough and bumpy surfaces on the trail. With an optimal suspension, you’ll ride smoother even with the presence of rocky and uneven roads on your way. Without a suspension fork in most BMX bikes, you’ll most likely use your body for suspension, which is not recommended as it may result in injuries.

Ways to Make Yourself Comfortable Riding a BMX Bike for Trails

Given that BMX bikes aren’t sustainable for long-distance trail rides, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can’t modify them to become similar to a mountain bike. Among the significant changes to consider is the seat’s height since BMX bike seats have lower elevations.

Moreover, here are the steps to make a comfortable riding on trails using a BMX bike:

1. Elevate the saddle position

Consider increasing your seating position to the point that it reaches your waist level to achieve riding the bike in a comfortable sitting form. 

2. Attach multiple gears 

Upgrading the gear system of your BMX by installing additional two or more gear systems will provide better flexibility and ease to control your speed and develop a good grip on your BMX while off-road.

3. Improve the brakes

Install a front brake with your bike and the rear brakes to absorb sudden bumps, shocks, and obstacles from rough off-road terrains. Furthermore, having a reliable brake could help you avoid injuries and flat tires.

4. Place a suspension

Having a suspension on your BMX bike is crucial for comfortable off-road riding. With an excellent suspension, you’ll achieve a better grip on your bike with less pressure to give up on your energy.

5. Change the wheels

It would be best if you considered changing the wheels by opting for bigger ones similar to the size of mountain bikes. However, it may be challenging to find a suitable kind considering the small frame structure of BMX bikes.

What Are BMX Bikes’ Features?

BMX bikes feature a diminutive frame, lower wheelbase, and shorter height and length. They are perfect for extensive short duration off-roads and stunts. It should be noted that BMX bikes are not ideal for long-distance racing or regular commutes unless you try to upgrade their parts, which can be costly. That being said, here are some of the specialties of a BMX bike:

1. Light overall structure

BMX bikes usually come with a 20-inch long tube attached to the frame. In contrast to the more extended tube size seen on standard road bikes, it is pretty noticeable how small a BMX bike is. The shorter tube is the perfect size as it enables stunt riders to tilt the bike 360 degrees in the air without causing damage to the bike despite a hard impact on the way down.

The small frame would also be beneficial in reducing the weight of the BMX by 50%, which is suitable to garner a large amount of speed between jumps. 

2. Strong durability

BMX bikes are not solely needed to be lightweight; they must also be strong and durable. Since performing many stunts and tricks may result in wear and tear on the bike, BMX is engineered to naturally withstand the intensive beating while still functioning at its total capacity. The bikes are commonly made with a molybdenum steel alloy, which has superb quality in terms of strength while being lightweight at the same time, which is perfect for tricks and stunts.

3. Strong wheels

It is essential to know that BMX bike wheels are very different from regular bikes. It mostly depends on what purpose you intend to use the bicycle for. Usually, BMX bikes would come in small wheel sizes and bumpy tires, which make up for an excellent grip in the dirt from the off-road tracks.

Freestyle BMX bikes would typically come in 20-inch wheels, which is the most popular class, while the tread would vary for different uses. These wheels are commonly seen in trail biking, requiring a hollow pattern with deep grooves to achieve maximum grip on rides.

4. Lesser complex materials

Another upside of a BMX bike is that you’re not required to be efficient in rides. Since most BMX bikes only contain a single gear to reduce the weight concern, it is not tailor-made for long-distance rides. Besides, they also don’t go with a freewheel assembly, which is perfect for performing stunts.