The Best BMX Buyers Guide for 2020 and Beyond
So you're looking for a new BMX bike and don't know where to start?
UPDATE: We've updated our inventory to include the best BMX bikes from 2020 as well as new 2021 models!
Buying a new BMX bike is a fun experience, but can be a little overwhelming with all the choices available.
After all, when I was a kid, I'd flip through pages of my favourite BMX magazine and drool over the latest BMX bike - almost every bike would catch my eye and I'd have my favourites torn out and stuck on my wall.
But here's the thing:
Times have changed!
Is it a good thing?
We'd say, for the most part, yes. But only if you know what you're looking for.
No longer is there a few bikes in a magazine that you can choose between, you can choose from an enormous range of bikes on our site alone.. As well as across the seemingly endless universe of the internet.
But fear not!
The whole reason your here is to remove all the clutter and confusion when trying to decide on a BMX bike.
We're excited about our range of BMX bikes. Heck, we're excited about BMX in general.. And we know a thing or two about what makes the right BMX bike for a rider. We've been a 100% BMX shop since 2005 - but we've been riding BMX for our whole lives (40+ years if you add it up collectively).
Getting the right person on the right bike is important to us, because we know what riding the right BMX bike should feel like.. But hop on the wrong one, and you're going to be downright annoyed.
So we say don't buy a BMX bike until you read more below.
3 Tips For Choosing the best BMX bike for you
Like we said earlier, we know how to make sure that a someone looking for a new BMX, gets the right one. We've broken it down into separate categories that make it easier to find the right BMX bike for you.
Here we go (click on any image to go to the categories):
1. Choose the BMX bike that matches your skill level.
You might be a complete beginner getting your first ever BMX, or you might be someone who has ridden for years and you're getting back into it after some time off.
We're stoked to stock bikes for all different rider levels, but it's important to get a BMX bike that matches your skill level as the components will be made to handle your riding.
So match up your riding to one of these skill levels:
Beginner: You are ready to get started in the BMX world (good for you - it's the BEST!). You want to do some small jumps, bunnyhop up and off gutters and tear around town with your mates. Heck yeah!
Intermediate: You've conquered the basics. You can do a few flyout tricks but you want to jump some jumps that are a little bigger, or start making more moves at the skatepark or streets.
High Level: You're at the park, the trails, or the streets all the time. You feel confident riding and you are keen to start pushing the tricks and the jumping to an advanced level.
This brings us to the next question, let's go:
2. Choose the BMX bike that matches your age and/or height.
There's a whole range of different sized BMX bikes available. We provide everything from 12 inch wheeled BMX bikes for the smallest rider, all the way through to 24 and 26 inch wheeled cruisers.
Determining the size that will suit you best is super important. Getting the right size BMX is going to make skill learning easier, but getting the wrong size is gonna suck! Your bike won't last you if it's too small, but if your BMX is too big, it's going to be hard to manoeuvre.
Here's a few categories to make choosing the right size BMX easier.
Junior (up to 140cm tall): This includes small, 12 inch wheeled BMX bikes, as well as 16 and 18 inch BMX bikes.
A further thing to note: We suggest that if you are less than 10 years old and under 140cm, it's very important to get the right sized BMX bike, rather than a bike you will 'grow into'.
Far too many young riders are bought a 20 inch BMX bike that is too bike in hopes that it will last 'for when they get older', but are discouraged because the bike is just too big for them to handle, making tricks and fun riding just too hard.
Youth (130cm to 170cm tall): In this category you'll find 20 inch wheeled BMX bikes with top tube lengths from 18.5" - 20.75". The top tube length is the determining factor in getting the right size here. If you're the shorter end, you'll be best off with a 18.5" top tube, if you're 170cm, you will want to get a bigger number top tube.
Adult (160cm +): You'll find 20 inch wheeled BMX bikes with top tubes ranging from 20.5" to 21.25". You'll also find 22, 24 and 26 inch wheeled BMX bikes here.
A few notes on top tube length!
Top tube lengths on a 20 inch BMX bike range between 18.5" to 21.25". While that's though that's only 2.75 inches (7cm), which on a tape measure doesn't seem like much, it makes a huge difference on a BMX bike.
A quarter inch difference in top tube length can make a big chance to the way a BMX feels to ride, as well as the room it gives between the seat and handlebars.
Shorter top tube model BMX bikes will feel more responsive, while a longer top tube length will feel more stable.
If you are worried about feeling too cramped on a BMX bike, we suggest getting the longer top tube model bike.
3. Understand the price and choose a BMX bike that suits your budget.
We get asked this question all the time:
'So what is the difference between a 1000 dollar BMX bike to a 400 dollar one?'
And it's a great question if you are new to the BMX world.
All BMX bikes are made to cater to different riding levels. As the price goes up, so does the quality of parts. BMX companies spend more time developing parts and materials that cost more, that allow a more experienced rider to ride with confidence. This will also mean that there is less things to 'keep an eye on' or service.
Luckily though, most BMX bikes fit into one of three categories we've defined below.
Entry Level (less than $600): Often these BMX bikes will be made with hi-tensile steel frames, feature single wall rims. You may see a sealed bearing rear hub and sealed bottom bracket on some models.
Mid Range ($600 - $900): Some of the stronger material Chromoly will be featured in part with hi-tensile steel in the frame, fork, cranks and handlebars. Sealed bearings featured throughout and may even be standard in all bearing areas. Some small aftermarket parts might be present.
High End ($900+): Chromoly material will be used to build the whole frame, forks, cranks and handlebars to make the bike strong and light. Double wall rims will be featured front and rear. Sealed bearings in all bearing areas. Aftermarket parts may be present in many areas. Removable brake mounts on some models.
Some things to note:
Sealed bearings vs Unsealed bearings
Sealed bearings are pressed into a cartridge covered with a rubber seal. For BMX purposes, sealed bearings require less maintenance than unsealed bearings because of the ability to keep dirt and water out. Unsealed bearings require a cone and locknut to stay tight and a closer eye needs to be kept on them. If your unsealed bearings come loose and aren't attended to, they can damage the workings of the area they are in. Because of the detailed construction of sealed bearings, they are more expensive to make.
Chromoly vs Hi-Tensile steel
Both Chromoly and Hi-Tensile steel can be found on BMX bikes. Chromoly is the gold standard for BMX bikes. It is lighter than high tensile steel, while being stronger. Hi-Tensile steel is still strong, but more is required, which can bring the overall weight of the bike up. Chromoly is a more expensive steel to make and also requires more skill to weld, resulting in a higher cost.
Double wall vs Single wall rims
Both of these types of BMX rims can be found on complete BMX bikes. The 'wall' refers to the area of the rim that the spoke goes into. On a single wall, the outer, visible wall of the rim is all there is to the shape of the rim. A double wall rim contains a second, internal wall, that acts as a cross brace for more side-to-side strength. This means, less chance of buckling your wheel from landing sideways.
You are almost ready to go shopping.. with some final notes!
All three of these tips are going to be a factor in buying a BMX bike, but at the end of the day, you just have to ask yourself what is necessary for you and what you want to get out of BMX.
If you're tall, budding BMXer, but you are just looking to cruise around town and are on a budget, then you might be able to get away with an entry level ride.
But if you are planning on getting into the freestyle realm of BMX full throttle, then you need to look at the higher price point bikes so it holds up.
Sure, you may need to mow a few more lawns or look at using Zip or Afterpay to make affording that bike you need a little easier, but it will be worth it in the long run.
The good news is BMX bikes are getting better and better every year, with the quality and value for money being through the roof.
Hopefully we've shed some light on buying a BMX bike, but if you still have questions please contact us!
- Written by Tyson and Rhysty, Back Bone BMX owners