BMX: All About This Cycling Sport

The bicycle is not only an ecological means of transport. It is also used for the practice of many sports, including Bicycle Moto Cross (BMX). A cyclic sport that first appeared in the United States in the 1970s, BMX is ideal for all thrill-seekers. This sport exists in several variants and also requires specific equipment. What bike for BMX? What equipment is needed for this sport? What are the different BMX competitions? We tell you everything there is to know about this sport.

What is BMX?

Bicycle Motocross, or BMX, is an extreme cyclic sport. It was born in 1970 out of the frustration many young Americans felt at not being able to ride dirt bikes like adults. Therefore, they decided to replace the motorcycle with a bicycle while keeping the protective equipment. Today, there are two types of BMX: BMX Race and BMX Freestyle.

The BMX Race

The BMX Race is a type of BMX practiced within the competition framework. It is a race between 8 competitors who must cover a track length between 340 and 400 meters. However, the road ahead has pitfalls. It is strewn with bumps, which either roll up or jump thanks to the pitching of the bike on the rear wheel.

BMX racing is, therefore, an acrobatic and spectacular sport of great intensity. Its practice requires physical qualities such as power, velocity, endurance, or even explosiveness.

BMX freestyle or free

BMX freestyle is a leisure BMX that can be practiced both on and off the road. There are several categories (or disciplines) of BMX freestyle:

  • Flat: BMX Flat consists of doing tricks or sequences of tricks on a horizontal surface, most often balanced on a single wheel, while using a peg.
  • The Park is practiced in a skatepark and consists of performing the figures appearing on the different modules in the skatepark area.
  • The street: this variant of freestyle is practiced only in the street without any rules or constraints.
  • The green: it is practiced in a U-shaped ramp known as a halfpipe.
  • The dirt: during a BMX dirt, the riders (drivers) are led to perform spectacular figures on dirt bumps they have built.
  • The trail: it is practiced in the forest or on a vacant lot where the riders set up a bump field themselves. This variant is not subject to any rule or constraint.

BMX also refers to the bicycle used to practice this sport. Indeed, not all bikes are suitable for this sport.

How to choose your BMX bike?

The BMX is a bicycle that has the particularity of being small, light, and very handy. However, choosing the right bike will depend on the type of BMX you want to practice. Indeed, the criteria to consider to select your BMX Race differs from those of the BMX Freestyle.

The criteria for choosing your BMX Race

To choose your BMX Race, you must pay attention to several criteria. These include frame size and material, rim and tire, and bike weight.

frame size

Size is an important criterion to consider when choosing your BMX Race. Depending on the size, there are different types of frames:

  • The junior size is between 1.35 and 1.50 m and has a crank length between 155 and 165 mm.
  • The expert size: it is suitable for pilots whose height is between 1.45 and 1.65 m. The length of its crank is between 165 to 175 mm.
  • The professional size is suitable for pilots whose height is between 1.55 and 1.75 m and has a crank length between 175 and 180 mm.
  • The size pro XL has a crank length between 180 and 185 mm and is ideal for pilots whose height varies between 1.70 and 1.80 m.

You will therefore have to choose your frame according to your size.

The frame material

Several materials are used in the design of BMX frames. The most used materials are carbon, steel, and aluminum. Carbon is the most suitable due to its resistance and lightness. However, it is pretty expensive. Aluminum has the advantage of not rusting, and steel, although strong, is quite heavy.

However, it should be noted that these two materials are much more suitable for recreational BMX.

rim and tire

It would help to choose a BMX with suitable rims and tires carefully. The rims must be adapted to your bike’s frame size and weight. On the other hand, the tires should be light to allow you to pick up speed quickly.

The weight

The weight of your BMX is also essential. The lighter your bike, the faster you can go. Unfortunately, the lightest BMXs are the most expensive. You will therefore have to do your best to compromise your budget and the bike’s weight.

The criteria for choosing your BMX Freestyle

To choose your BMX Freestyle, you must also consider several elements.

The size of the top tube

The first criterion you need to consider is the size of the frame’s top part, also known as the top tube. The right size will depend on your height. Indeed, if the top tube length is not adapted to your size, you risk not being comfortable on your bike. The size of the top tube is expressed in inches.

wheel size

The size of the wheels is also a criterion to take into account. This site is also expressed in inches. The wheel comes in different sizes but is usually 20″ for all adults.

The material

The frame of freestyle BMXs is always made of steel because it is a resistant material, easily repairable, and very suitable for leisure BMX. However, you will have the choice between two types of steel: hi-ten steel and Chromoly steel. Hi-ten steel is heavy and less durable but quite affordable. Chromoly steel is solid and lightweight. It is used for making the best BMXs.

Frame geometry

Frame geometry

Everything will depend on the BMX freestyle discipline you want to practice here. For example, BMXs intended for Flat have a compact frame that is shorter and lower than those designed for Dirt or Park. However, if you are a beginner, we advise you to opt for a structure whose geometry is versatile.

It is also essential to pay attention to other criteria, such as the braking system and the bike’s type of rims (single or double wall).

What equipment for BMX?

BMX riding also requires you to get all the necessary protective gear. It should be noted that the type of equipment you will need will vary depending on the type of BMX you want to practice.

The necessary equipment for the BMX Race

To do BMX Race, you will necessarily need essential protective equipment. It is made up of various elements.

The BMX helmet

The BMX Race pilot must wear a full-face helmet that can protect his head and face in the event of a fall. This helmet is most often worn with a mask.

The long-sleeved jersey for BMX Race

The BMX Race rider must wear a non-zipped long-sleeved jersey. We advise you to opt for a material such as stretch, which is very comfortable.


BMX gloves are also essential. These gloves are particularly resistant to abrasion of the palms of the hands. They should fully cover your hand for added security.

BMX pants

Unlike ordinary sports pants, BMX pants are designed to resist abrasion. We advise you to opt for modern cuts that offer great freedom of movement and unique comfort.

BMX socks and shoes

Socks must necessarily cover the ankle. On the other hand, the shoes must be closed and compatible with automatic pedals.

The necessary equipment for BMX Freestyle

To ride BMX Freestyle, you will also need protective gear.

The BMX helmet

You can opt for a bowl helmet or a full-face helmet. The bowl helmet is light and stylish and effectively protects your skull. It is suitable for less extreme BMX Freestyle disciplines such as Park, Street, and Flat.

The crucial case ensures a higher level of protection. It is suitable for extreme disciplines such as Dirt and Trail.

The shoes

We recommend that you opt for sturdy shoes with a thick sole made of rubber. They will allow you to launch your tricks more efficiently and ensure better reception.

You will also need gloves, elbow pads, shin guards, knee pads, and ankle guards to protect your hands, elbows, shins, knees, and ankles.

What are the most popular BMX competitions?

Towards the end of the 1970s, BMX was introduced to other continents, notably the European continent. Today, many BMX competitions are held frequently across the world. These include the World BMX Championship, the European BMX Championship, the Olympic Games, and the French BMX Championship.

  • The BMX World Championship: In 1981, the International BMX Federation was created, and the first BMX World Championship was held in 1982. The BMX is experiencing extremely rapid development and, since 1993, has been fully integrated into the Union Cycliste Internationale.
  • The European BMX Championship: the first European BMX Championship was also held in 1982. Only competitors from member countries of the European Cycling Union can take part.
  • The French BMX Championship: the first edition of this championship took place in 1983. Only runners of French nationality are admitted.
  • The Olympics: BMX became an Olympic discipline at the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was included in the Summer Youth Olympics program in 2018 and 2020 at the Tokyo Olympics.

There are many other popular BMX competitions worldwide and in France. For example, the FISE in Montpellier, the X Games, and the Gravity Games are very popular in France.


Marcelline is a writer and covers several categories thanks to her multidisciplinary expertise.

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