BIKING

Best BMX Bikes: Ride How You Want!

best bmx bike
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

BMX bikes are so much fun to ride in the city. If you practice and don’t mind taking a few risks, the tricks you can do on a BMX are so cool. Even if you are just looking for a tough as nails commuter bike that you can ride over just about anything, don’t look any further than the best BMX bikes.

BMX is an acronym that stands for Bicycle Moto Cross, and these bikes were originally designed to be used for motocross style riding, but with a pedal-bike. While there are still people who use BMX bikes for their original purpose, the different ways people have figured out how to use these great little bikes is awesome.

No matter what you want to do with your BMX, you should take a minute to learn about all of the different variations that are available, and also what to look for in terms of build quality. Not all frames and components are created equal.

different variations bmx

It might surprise you to find out that by spending just a little bit more money, or in some cases just by knowing your stuff, you can get a much better bike. And you are sure to get one that is a perfect fit for your needs.

Start with the frame

What you plan on doing with your bike should guide you to what kind of frame you choose to buy. One kind of frame isn’t going to be better than another, just made to do a different thing. Make sure to think about what you plan on doing, and buy accordingly.

Dirt / Track

This is the classic BMX style frame and is really made for you to be using your bike to compete on dirt tracks. It’s not that you can only use this style of bike competition, but that is what it is set up for.

bmx bike on dirt track

You will find tires on it that are made for dirt, and if you use them on the road, you are going to be working a lot harder to move, wearing the tires down faster.

Street

A street frame is likely the most versatile frame setup there is. If you want to set it up to race on dirt, it’s no big deal, and likewise, with some mods, it is a good frame for tricks.

bmx street frame

They tend to be a little bigger than a flatland BMX frame, but if you are looking for an all-in-one BMX frame, this style is it. If you don’t see yourself getting into tricks or off-road racing, then this is for sure the frame to buy.

Flatland

If you are going to be doing tricks on your BMX, this is the frame style that you are looking for. If you look at the profile of a flatland frame versus any of the other types, the difference of this style of frame is immediately obvious. It is shorter, far more compact and will almost always have zero-offset handlebars.

That means that the handlebars line up directly with the fork. If you are not a trick-only rider, the flatland frame has some drawbacks. It has a much shorter wheel-base, but is far less stable than a race or street frame.

flatland bmx

The zero-offset handlebars are another factor to consider, as many riders who like to use their bikes to commute need to have bars that offer more control at speed. There is no reason you couldn’t mod a flatland frame to be more versatile, but for most people, any of the other frame styles would be a better fit.

Racing

This frame is set up for speed on pavement. The profile of a street racing BMX frame is by far the longest of the four types, and this is to  maintain stability at higher speeds. You will also notice that the gearing is different, which serves the same purpose.

bmx racing frame

This optimization for speed comes at a price, and that is that it is the least maneuverable of the four types. If you don’t see yourself wanting to do any sort of trick riding and you need a rock-solid commuter frame, this style of BMX frame is a good choice.

Material

You are going to find two kinds of metal used in BMX building, steel and chromoly.

Steel / Hi-Ten Steel

This is the most common material that you will find on BMX bikes on the cheaper end of the spectrum. There is noting wrong with a steel frame. Steel is strong, and will resist most kinds of abuse that you throw at it.

hi-ten steel bmx

The major downside to a steel frame is that it is going to be much heavier, and can be more prone to corrosion. Hi-Ten refers to “High Tensile” which is the kind of steel that is used in most entry level bike frames.

Chromoly

For a very long time in bike building of all kinds, chromoly steel was the material of choice. Today it has been eclipsed by others like carbon-fiber and aluminum, but in the world of BMX building, chromoly steel is still king.

The name refers to the two elements that are added to the steel, and those are chromium and molybdenum, and the result of their addition is a metal that is both lighter and more resistant to corrosion.

chromoly bmx

Also, frames that are built from chromoly tend to be built with more attention to workmanship, so not only are you getting a better frame material, you are getting a frame that was built to higher standards. A chromoly frame is not a gimmick, if you have the extra money to spend, buying one is a good idea.

Components

BMX bikes are by far the most customizable bikes there are, and an in-depth discussion of the amazing variety of BMX components could fill a book. So let’s concentrate on the most important things for your BMX bike.

Wheels

You are going to find wheels offered in four different sizes, however three of them are far more common. The common sizes are 16, 18 and 20 inches, which refers to the diameter of the wheel. There are some manufacturers that produce a 24-inch wheel, but this is less common.

wheel size bmx

The smaller a wheel is, the stronger it is. So when you look for a flatland frame that you are going to be using for tricks, it is common for them to take the smaller sizes that are made. Conversely, when you look at a BMX frame that is made for speed, you will tend to see 20 inch wheels on it, or even 24 inch wheels.

BMX rims are going to be made from steel, or some form of alloy, and the more spokes it has, the stronger it will be. Think about how you ride, and choose your wheels accordingly.

Crankset

The crank and gearing for your BMX is another place to look for chromoly parts if you have the extra money to spend. In terms of gear sizing and manufacturing, look for crank sprockets that are not “solid.” That means that they have been machined or cast to be lighter weight, and generally are made from a better material as well.

bmx crankset

Brakes

The way you setup your brakes is a personal preference, and how you ride is going to determine what you need. Many BMX bikes have a single rear brake and nothing else, while others have a front brake as well. Some people who don’t intend to do any tricks will have a coaster-brake hub put in the rear, and use that instead of a cable brake.

Sealed Bearings

The bearings are what allow all the things on your bike that spin to rotate. A sealed bearing refers to a bearing that is permanently sealed, and never needs to be cleaned or adjusted. In addition to being maintenance-free, they are usually of a higher quality and will last a lot longer.

bearing cap

Of course you are going to pay more for a bike that has been built with sealed bearings, but in the long run they will be much cheaper to maintain. If you don’t have the money to buy one with sealed bearings, think about upgrading the normal bearings that your bike has as they wear out.

Top products on the market

Now that you know what you should be keeping an eye out for, here are some of the top rated products on the market.

Diamondback 2015 Grind

Diamondback 2015 Grind

Material: Steel

Price: $179.95 – $210.96

Features: High tensile steel frame, one piece forged crank set. Single rear U-brake. 20 inch alloy wheels.

The Diamondback 2015 Grind is a great entry level BMX bike that gets you rolling without having to spend a fortune. Made from a type of high-tensile steel that will be great for any rider, and with a simple, single-speed gear set, this bike is easy to maintain, and will be tough enough for most riders.

This bike uses 20-inch steel-alloy rims, and a single cable operated rear brake. The crank set is a single piece, and is formed from forged steel. If you are looking to get into the BMX world, and you are not sure if you want to make a huge investment, this is a great bike that can grow with your interest.

Check the price on Amazon

Madd Gear Boost BMX Bike

Madd Gear Boost 20-inch BMX Bike

Material: Hi-Ten Steel

Price: $289.95 – $314.99

Features: Steel street frame, 3-piece chromoly crank set. 36-spoke wheels, steel-alloy rims. Orbit-C headset, wide steel handlebars. 25-tooth sprocket, 14 mm axel

The Madd Gear Boost BMX Bike has a steel street frame with a nice component set. It features a 3-piece crank set with a nicely made 25-tooth sprocket. This is a great all around BMX, and is perfect for just about anything. It comes standard with foot pegs front and rear, and a single rear brake.

The 36-spoke rims are tough, and capable of handling just about any kind of riding you want to do. Out of the box, this bike is really set up for street riding, but would also be decent for tricks as well.

If you wanted to go off-road, just throw a different set of tires on it and maybe a front brake. A nice bike for the money, if you want a frame that you can ride hard right out of the box, and add some nicer parts to down the line, this would be a good choice.

Check the price on Amazon

DK Effect Freestyle BMX Bike

DK Effect 20 inch Freestyle BMX Bike

Material: Hi-Ten Steel

Price: $179.95 – $199.99

Features: Steel frame, 36-spoke alloy wheels with 14 mm rear axle. Cable detangler, 25-tooth crank. Rear steel U-brake. Foot pegs front and rear.

The DK Effect Freestyle BMX Bike has a frame that is set up for freestyle or flatland riding. While not strictly a flatland frame, it is certainly ready to go for trick riding. The rear brake has a cable detangler built into cable actuation system, and this allows 360-degree rotation of the handlebars, a must for a BMX trick bike.

The rest of the components are set up for tricks as well, and the small diameter 25-tooth crank is an example of this. Of course, it come with foot pegs front and rear, and a 14mm rear axel for added strength.

The rear U-brake will provide lots of stopping power, and overall this is a really nice free riding bike that isn’t just for doing tricks. If you want a BMX bike that you can practice tricks with, or just blast around town on, this would be a good one to buy.

Check the price on Amazon

Diamondback 2014 Grind Pro BMX Bike

Diamondback 2014 Grind Pro BMX Bike 20 inch wheels

Material: Hi-Ten Steel

Price: $199.94 – 220.05

Features: Steel frame, cable detangler, two foot pegs included. 48-spoke alloy rims with rear Promax U-brake. 6 mm reinforced dropouts. Tubular chromoly 3-piece cranks with 26-tooth sprocket.

The Diamondback 2014 Grind Pro BMX Bike has a tough all around BMX frame that is ready for you to ride hard. The 48-spoke alloy wheels are going to take any kind of abuse you want to throw at them, and will ride stiff and true. While this is not just a freestyle bike, it would be great for trick riding at home on the street or in the park.

Two foot pegs are included, and if you look at the massive 6 mm reinforced dropouts, you will find a whole bunch of steel holding the wheels onto the frame. This bike features a good 26-tooth sprocket with a three piece chromoly crank set.

If you are into tricks, this bike includes a cable detangler, and the single steel rear Promax U-brake will give you all the stopping power you need. This is a tough bike that come ready to go for just about anything you want to do with it.

Check the price on Amazon

Kent Pro 20 Boy’s Freestyle bike

Kent Pro 20 Boy's Freestyle bike

Material: Hi-Ten Steel

Price: $114.99 – $122.45

Features: Tig welded frame, front and rear brake. Cable detangler, alloy seat clamp and front and rear foot pegs. Alloy wheels with reinforced dropouts.

The Kent Pro 20 Boy’s Freestyle bike is aimed at younger riders, but there is no reason it couldn’t be used for trick riding as well. The frame is Tig welded Hi-Ten steel, and it features an entry level component set that is long on value. It’s probably not the bike for you if you are a more experienced BMX rider that is going to  grind on their rig, but if you are just getting into BMX, this model is worth a look.

For younger riders or for a hobbyist who just wants a bike to practice freestyle trick riding on, this is a lot of bike for little money. If you are a parent who is bike shopping for your little one, this is a great option, and the front and rear brake are a great safety feature.

Check the price on Amazon

Diamondback Grind Pro BMX Bike

Diamondback Grind Pro 20 inch BMX Bike

Material: Hi-Ten Steel

Price: $194-95 – $209.94

Features: Hi-Ten Steel frame, street BMX geometry. 3-Piece chromoly crank set with 26-tooth sprocket. 36-hole alloy rims with single steel U-brake in rear. 6 mm dropouts, brake cable detangler and alloy stem. Resin platform pedals.

The Diamondback Grind Pro is another great value BMX bike . This bike would be great for all around riding, and although it is marketed as a youth bike, it would be fine for a rider of any age. Built to be tough, and made to do tricks, this BMX bike is as versatile as it is strong.

While not a true freestyle frame, it has many of the features that you would look for if you were planning to do BMX trick riding. The only thing it’s lacking is foot pegs, but at six bucks a pair, that’s not much to complain about.

The 6 mm dropouts are great for durability, and if you look at the steel holding them, you will know that this is a bike that is made to be ridden hard. It comes stock with a brake cable detangler, and a single rear U-brake that bolts into a socket that is crafted from 990 steel for durability.

The bike comes with street ready tires, but with some knobby jobs it would be fine on dirt. Overall this a lot of bike for the money, and what it does lack could be fixed with twenty bucks and a ride down to the local bike store. Unlike many BMX bikes, this frame and fork come in a simple silver finish, with is going to look great just about anywhere.

Check the price on Amazon

Schwinn Boy’s Throttle BMX BIke

Schwinn Boy's Throttle 20 inch BMX BIke

Material: Steel

Price: $119.97 – $135.94

Features: Heavy Duty steel frame, front, rear and coaster brake for secure stopping power. Four-bolt Handlebar mount and chain guard. Quick release seat clamp.

Unlike many of the BMX bikes on this list that could be used by an adult enthusiast or a young biker, the Schwinn Boy’s Throttle BMX BIke really is more for younger riders. It is a great first bike for a child, and with three kinds of brakes, your little one is sure to be able to stop when they want to. It is also built tough.

It lacks many of the things that you would want to see on a bike that was going to be used for freestyle riding, and the coaster-brake prohibits many of the movements that a trick rider needs to be able to perform.

This is a really good choice if you are looking for a child’s bike, but if you are older and looking for an entry level BMX bike that can grow with you, this is not the model for you.

Check the price on Amazon

X-Games FS20 Freestyle Bike

X-Games FS20 Freestyle Bike

Material: Steel

Price: $134.95 – $142.99

Features: Tig-welded frame and fork. Cable detangler, front and rear brakes Four-bolt alloy stem, freestyle geometry. Four foot pegs. Street tires and X-Games saddle.

The X-Games FS20 Freestyle Bike has a well-built Tig-welded steel frame that is made for freestyle BMX riding, and comes ready to do tricks. It has a short wheelbase, front and rear pegs and a cable detangler for both the front and rear brakes.

At this price point, it is probably not going to be tough enough for adult freestyle riders, but for smaller riders that want to practice their freestyle techniques this bike is a perfect fit. It is also a nice choice if you are looking for a very capable first bike for your child.

Check the price on Amazon

Razor Agitator BMX Freestyle Bike

Razor Agitator BMX Freestyle 20 inch Bike

Material: Steel

Price: $134.99 – $143.95

Features: Steel frame with freestyle geometry. Foot pegs front and rear, with cable detangler for front and rear brakes. Solid rim with 3 spoke design.

The Razor Agitator BMX Freestyle Bike is perfect for someone who is looking for an inexpensive but full featured BMX bike for lighter riders. Any feature you could want for freestyle trick riding is there, it has a cable detangler for the front and rear brakes, and comes equipped with four foot pegs.

Without seeing the bike in person, it is hard to say that it would be suitable for heavier riders, but it’s missing things like 6 mm dropouts, so it is a fair bet that if you are an adult that is looking for a bargain freestyle frame, this is not the bike for you.

The solid rims are nice to see, and if you are a parent who is looking to save on maintenance, solid rims are going to keep the bike out of the shop. For less than 150 dollars, you are getting a freestyle BMX bike with everything you could want for trick riding, and that seems like a pretty good deal.

Check the price on Amazon

Pick a bike and go!

BMX bikes offer a lot of fun for a little bit of money, and if you buy a rig that is right for you, it is going to be a blast to ride for years to come. Take some time to think about what kind of riding you plan to do the most, and if you are new to BMX, a street frame is probably a good place to start.

With BMX you can always change the components out to better suit your needs. Don’t forget to look for some safety equipment too, and make sure you get home safe!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Mark Foster

    That model is great!

  • Mark Foster

    Definitely a great product!

  • Mark Foster

    The X-Games FS20 Freestyle Bike is a great buy for the money, but you should expect a few challenges when setting up the breaks.

  • Mark Foster

    The Razor Agitator has a monster frame that is suitable for extreme BMX riding. The price is also good for a tight budget.

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