why are bmx bikes so small

Why are BMX Bikes So Small: Reasons, Purpose, and Advantages Explained

Why are BMX bikes so small? If you’ve ever encountered BMX bikes, chances are you were left wondering why they are so small. You are not alone, with the rise in popularity of BMX bikes, their interesting design sparked the curiosity of a lot of people, and many cannot help but ask over and over, “Why are BMX bikes so small?”

In the following article, you can find the reasons and purposes for BMX bikes’ small size, as well as the advantages of such a unique design.

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Originally made for kids

The history of BMX bikes starts in the early 70s when the first Bicycle Motocross (or BMX) events began in Southern California. Inspired by Motocross, where participants raced on motorcycles in off-road environments, BMX racing was a very similar competition on dirt paths and dirt jumps but for kids with their little bicycles.

Over time BMX bikes became very popular among younger children, and as time went on, people started to realize how good small bikes were for performing various tricks and stunts. They made modifications to perfect the design, and BMX riders quickly grew dominant among teenagers and even made their way into communities of adult riders.

So, why are BMX bikes so small? Short answer: for a long time a BMX bike just meant a bike that was used in Bicycle Motocross, which was an event intended for kids. Purposes and usage of a BMX bike broadened later on, but the original design, for the most part, as well as its name, remained unchanged.

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Design overview

Are BMX bikes supposed to be this small, even for older people? Yes, that is precisely why BMX riders prefer them over road bikes or mountain bikes, for example.

There are certain benefits to their small size that make BMX bikes superior compared to other bikes in performing tricks and stunts, as well as managing your ride in tight spaces.

Smaller size renders smoother control

What makes BMX bikes so small is the smaller size of their parts. Having smaller and fewer components than a regular bike, a BMX bike features smaller wheels with fewer spokes, smaller sprockets, shorter cranks, and a low seat, making it extremely compact and lightweight.

Compactness and reduced weight are the design keystones of a BMX bike. The idea is that the smaller the bike, the greater mobility and control it gives the bike riders.

Are all BMX bikes small?

Although they tend to be much smaller than other bikes, not all BMX bikes are extremely small and they do come in different sizes for riders to choose from. There are some bigger variants with larger wheels and larger frames to account for taller riders, while still granting them the experience of BMX biking.

Choose your size

BMX bike riders can choose from a variety of sizes to fit their age and height. All the sizes and their respective frame size and wheel size are laid out in the table below.

SizeFrame size (inches)Wheel size (inches)
Microfrom 15 to 1616
Minifrom 16 to 1718
Junior from 17 to 18.520
Expertfrom 18.5 to 19.520
Pro from 20 to 20.520
Pro-XLfrom 20.7 to 2122
Pro-XXL from 21.5 to 2224
Cruiserfrom 21.5 to 21.7524

Small bikes make a big difference

BMX bikes might seem underwhelming, especially when there are all-rounded absolute units like mountain bikes. But don’t let their innocent looks fool you, because they dominate by a huge margin when it comes to what they do best.

So why are BMX bikes so small? And what are the benefits? Following are the advantages a smaller bike has.

Agility and maneuverability

A BMX bike being overall small and lightweight makes it easier to control, which makes it an exceptional choice to perform stunts. And even if you are not into performing tricks, as a BMX rider, it is a fantastic feature to be able to almost seamlessly squeeze through high-traffic areas and tight spaces, while still maintaining fairly high mobility.

Low seats are one of the most noticeable attributes of BMX bikes. A lower seat is beneficial for keeping the lower center of gravity, which in turn contributes to the overall maneuverability of a BMX bike.

Smaller cranks are another important attribute that BMX riders take advantage of.

Small cranks on a BMX bike ensure higher ground clearance, improving stability and making it safer and more comfortable to do risky tricks.

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Portability and maintenance

Being much easier to carry around and store, a small BMX bike is much less of a nuisance and does not require a lot of physical effort and storage room thanks to its small and lightweight design.

Another perk of a BMX bike is having fewer and smaller components, thus being easier to maintain without high risks of breaking down your bike.

For example, the vast majority of BMX bikes have only the rear brake or don’t have them at all. It not only makes it easier to service the bike but allows you to freely spin the handlebars, without the brake cable interfering.

Acceleration and power

Wheel size plays a huge role in the acceleration capabilities of a bike.

Smaller wheels on BMX bikes ensure that they overcome smaller resistance and less friction, meaning that your BMX bike will reach faster speed in no time.

Low seats and small sprockets also contribute to quicker acceleration, making it easier to do a more powerful and impactful pedal stroke on small wheels.

BMX bikes may not be as fast as road bikes at top speed, but their acceleration is extremely powerful. That is another reason BMX bikes are unmatched at performing stunts and shredding through populated areas, where you often benefit from short and controlled bursts of speed.

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The thrill

All the mentioned characteristics of BMX bikes make them an excellent choice for a few of the most exciting and entertaining activities, such as freestyling and racing.

Kings of Freestyle

Due to their compact build and reduced weight, BMX bikes are ideal if you want to perform stunts and tricks at a nearby skate park or in some street settings. Small wheels, smaller frame sizes, lower seats, and a shorter wheelbase allow freestylers to make smoother spins, bigger jumps, and overall perform tricks with much more ease.

BMX racing

BMX bikes are great for racing in urban settings, that often feature sharp turns, crowded tracks, and challenging obstacles to work around. The superb agility and quick acceleration capability of BMX bikes are perfect for such dynamic street races.

Street cycling

Although not a dedicated and competitive activity like the other two, it’s still fun to just rush through the streets as you travel from one place to another. Mind you, biking is enjoyable regardless of what type of bicycle you’re using; BMX bikes, however, enhance the experience if you want to spice it up with elements of freestyle.

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Why are BMX hard to ride?

It’s important to understand the context of this question, and there are a few reasons why riding a BMX bike may seem very difficult, so let’s tackle it from different perspectives.

Initial unfamiliarity

The initial difficulty of riding a BMX bike mostly comes from the rider not being used to handling such a rather strangely designed bike. But don’t worry, although a BMX bike does have a slightly higher skill floor than a regular bike, the difference is minuscule and it takes just a little getting used to.

Stunts are naturally challenging

No matter what you have, be it a skate, a bike, rollers, or anything fit for use in skate parks, performing tricks with them is going to be hard.

It’s not a BMX bike that is difficult to handle, it’s the stunts you have to struggle with to master them.

The wrong type of bike for your needs

A very important thing to remember is that BMX bikes are not designed for long rides. BMX bikes are good at what they do; however, they are not as comfortable for long-distance travel and rough terrain. You might want to look into road bikes or mountain bikes for those purposes.

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BMX bikes have been gaining more and more popularity over the past few years, especially among youngsters, and for good reasons: they are easy to control, extremely mobile, swift, and aesthetically very simple and elegant.

Their initial purpose was as simple as being for kids; however, a realization that the small size of a BMX bike might be an advantage, rather than a limitation, served as a starting point for their eventual popularization among all age groups.

Today BMX bikes are much more widespread than they were back then; most riders love riding BMX bikes, performing stunts, and rushing through crowds as this riding style forms its kind of subculture.

Hopefully, now you know why the manufacturers make BMX bikes so small.


Frequently Asked Questions

Why are Olympic BMX bikes so small?

Professional BMX riders prefer smaller BMX bikes precisely for their benefits of being mobile, agile, and easily controllable. It is essential to maximize performance in competitive fields, and Olympic riders opt for smaller BMX bikes for that reason.

Are BMX bikes smaller than regular bikes?

Yes, BMX bikes are generally smaller than regular bikes, that’s the whole point of their design. BMX bikes are meant to be compact and light to provide a mix of great mobility and high maneuverability

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