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BMX Buyer’s Guide

We carry a huge selection of the best brands in the BMX Bike industry at There is a bike for every level and progression of BMX riding. With so many types of BMX bikes on the market finding the right bike depends on the style of ride. BMX bikes fall into a few categories, from its break-out roots in racing in the 70’s, to the revival of 80’s style street cruisers, to pushing the limits of innovation and technical style in freestyle BMX.

This guide will help you understand these different BMX bike types so you can choose the one that’s right for you. We’ll cover BMX bike sizing, key parts that make up a BMX bike build, as well as the essential BMX gear so you can ride safe and have fun shreddin’ the streets.

What kind of riding are you doin?

Knowing how you want to ride will help you choose the perfect BMX bike. Want to tear up the local skatepark or street spot? Looking to hit the dirt track? Just want to push your speed limit? Check out the different types of BMX bikes and how they ride.

Freestyle BMX Bikes

The most common style of BMX Bike is a freestyle bike. Freestyle is the core of BMX. From the skatepark to the street and anything in between freestyle is about innovation and inspiration. Freestyle breaks down to Flatland, Street, Park, and Dirt. If you want to build a bag of tricks this is your wheelhouse

Flatland BMX is what freestyle skating is to skateboarding. Speed takes a back seat. It’s all about perfecting super technical tricks on flat ground. BMX flatland tricks are about balance, style, and technical difficulty. This is where BMX riding takes on innovation and relies on utilizing every inch of the bike to create aesthetically fluid tricks.

Street BMX is a natural evolution of flatland tricks adapted to the environment you live in. It’s about applying tricks to urban features like stairs, handrails, ledges, banks, and anything architectural that you can ride. Street riding involves a level of risk, riding features not necessarily designed for a bike and throwing down technical tricks with more impact in public spaces.

Park/Vert BMX takes riding street features and puts them into a controlled environment. It embodies the creative innovative riding of street features and combines them with the aerial tricks on jumps and ramps of transition riding. Park riding is about throwing down high impact tricks in the skatepark and on vert ramps.

Dirt BMX evolved alongside racing on the track, the motocross of the bike world. The tracks and trails of dirt riding feature jumps designed for lift to give you enough airtime for tricks. It’s not about how fast you finish the track, dirt riding is about pushing out technical aerial tricks.

Cruiser BMX Bikes

Cruiser BMX bikes are the big brother of freestyle BMX bikes and are the inspiration behind the #BikeLife movement. These classic cruisers are a throwback to the ’80s and ’90s, making a comeback in BMX street culture finding riders in Harlem, Philadelphia, Oakland, spreading into other major cities. They’re a road bike with a few tricks up it’s sleeve. Poppin’ iconic wheelies and riding squad deep through the streets.

Race BMX Bikes

Race BMX riding started in the ’70’s with kids taking standard road bikes off road and racing each other around a track. Nowadays these bikes are specifically designed for speed and response. Racing BMX bikes apply all the technical innovations of the BMX world into developing bikes that are lighter, stiffer, and geometrically suited for tearing around the track.

BMX Bike Frame Sizing

If you are under 5ft, you should go with a Kid’s BMX bike. Youth sized bikes are based on wheel diameter. A smaller wheel size fits a smaller frame for the groms making it easier to maneuver the bike.

Grab a standard sized BMX bike if you are taller than 5ft. Adult freestyle BMX bikes have a 20in wheel and are sized according to the length of the top tube on the frame of the bike. Race and Classic Cruiser style bikes will have a larger wheel and longer top tube for the frame.

Anatomy of a Bike

Each type of BMX bike is designed with unique features and parts for different riding styles. Here’s a breakdown of how different BMX Bikes are built for different types of riding.

Freestyle is at the core of BMX. The geometry and materials of your bike frame can change the feel and style of your ride. Entry level BMX bike frames are made of a heavy high-tensile steel. Most Freestyle BMX bikes take a beating and need a stronger, more durable material that’s easier to repair and relieves pressure for a smoother ride. Enter Chromoly 4130 Steel, or Chromo. An alloyed steel that’s lighter in the tubing to cut back on weight and reinforced in the joints to keep the frame strong. This means you have a bike that you can toss around and won’t break when it tosses you around. For all those bar spins most Freestyle BMX bikes feature a gyro below the handlebars.

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Most Street and Park BMX bikes will have removable brake mounts for front and rear U-brakes. A gyro allows riders to spin the handlebars freely without twisting the brake cables around the stem. Freestyle BMX bikes will usually have an internal clutch system so they can drive the wheel backward without the cranks turning called a freecoaster hub. It’s great maneuverability for flatground trick riders.

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Flatland BMX frame geometry is the exception to the standard Freestyle BMX fame. Flatland bikes have shorter tubing all around. Great for a compact but stable set up, means a shorter top tube and seat stay for more whip maneuverability on the bike. Flatland handlebars basically feel the same when pointed forward or backward, they have a minimal sweep design and a low crossbar so riders can swing their leg over for tricks. 

Most Dirt BMX bikes bridge the gap between Freestyle and Race BMX. They feature the same durable chromoly frame construction and geometry of a Freestyle BMX bike to be able to absorb a lot of impact without compromising on weight or maneuverability. For more control and handling on dirt tracks, Dirt BMX bike tires are thicker with deeper treads. They also feature rear brakes similar to those found on Race BMX bikes. 

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BMX Cruiser Bikes are a solid road bike with a classic BMX feel. The lighter weight more durable chromoly steel frame makes tricks easier and the bike stronger. Typically you find 24 inch wheels and a 22inch+ top tube for a cruiser BMX Bike. A longer top tube means a slacker head angle and longer wheelbase will put you further back on the bike, which is more stable at higher speeds. So you can pop and hold wheelies for days.

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Racing BMX is another breed of bike. If you’re all about efficient speed, these lightweight, stiff framed aluminum speed demons transfer the speed of every pedal towards moving forward as quickly as possible. The slacker head angle and longer top tube along with a 22-24inch wheelbase keeps you locked in at higher speeds. Racing BMX bikes you need more stopping power. Enter the powerful linear V-brakes only on the rear wheel for more control and handling when dealing with higher speeds on the track. Overall your price might go up but you’ll be getting a more responsive ride than your freestyle or classic cruising BMX bikes.

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Safety First!

Now that you’ve got the breakdown BMX bike builds and riding styles it’s important to gear up on safety equipment. Always wear a helmet when riding your BMX Bike, and make sure it’s the right type of helmet for how you ride. Invest in a BMX specific helmet, they cover more areas of your head and can absorb repeated impacts certified for higher speeds. For Race and Dirt track BMX riding a full faced helmet is recommended. Gloves, knee pads, and elbow pads are always recommended, especially if you plan to push your riding skills.

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Shred Shop is your go-to for BMX Bikes

No matter what style of ride you’re looking for in a BMX bike it’s important to know what you’re getting and why so we put together this guide to make it easier. Take a look at all the options Shred Shop has to offer!

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