BMX bicycles are one of the most easily recognized bicycles of the past, one that defined the ’90s era mainly due to the crazy, high-flying, and gravity-defying stunts of the riders competing in various competitions that conquered that decade.
Having reached their peak of popularity at the end of the last millennium, BMX bicycles are still going strong and enjoying popularity nowadays, both from the older and younger generation. However, there is one big, million-dollar question that every beginner bike enthusiast has on their mind: Do BMX bikes have brakes?
Before answering the question, this article will pay homage to this legendary bicycle and its history, and of course, provide you with the much-needed information regarding the characteristics of the bike. Enjoy the article!
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Types of BMX Bicycles
BMX bikes would not exist today if it weren’t for the popularity of motocross racing during the 1970s. Young children used to imitate their favorite motocross superstars by riding their bicycles in various off-road areas and dirt tracks around Southern California, which is considered to be the origin place of not only the bicycle but the sport altogether.
Since the ‘70s, a standard BMX bike splintered into multiple other types and branches, depending on the purpose of the use.
Repurposed for doing tricks, these bikes mostly come without brakes, but some beginner-friendly models come with straight-cable brakes. Lightweight and easy for executing tricks
Made for riding on park benches and railings, these types are heavier for balance and have a plastic peg sticking out of the center of the wheels for easy grinding tricks. Some models can have a pedal brake installed.
The most common BMX bike. This one comes with parts balanced for enjoyable rides and doing basic tricks on a flat surface.
The original one, the one that started it all. Very light but sturdy frames, thick-thread tires for better stability on various surfaces, and brakes are a must-have, mostly every model comes with a pre-installed set of brakes.
While there are many more sub-categories of BMX bikes, these types are the most common categorization, but they mostly revolve around the three event types: racing, jumping and air tricks, flatland riding and “tricking”.
Being recognized as an official sport and leaving a mark on an essential era of “street sports”, the BMX bicycle is a model that will never become a thing of the past and can only continue to grow and evolve further.
Do These Bicycles Really Lack Brakes?
Because of their reputation of being bicycles used for doing tricks, flips, and similar physics-defying jumps, many people are under the impression that BMX bicycles advertently lack some pieces of equipment standard bicycles possess.
To answer the questions you are all here for, do BMX bicycles have brakes? Yes, BMX bicycles come with brakes. Professional BMX riders choose to disable front and rear brakes because they do not want them to interfere when they are performing in competitions. You can choose a BMX model that has both front and back brakes, either front or back, and if you wish to ride without brakes, you will need to disable them yourself, because most BMX models are required to be sold with brakes.
Most professional BMX riders that compete in freestyle competitions (doing tricks with your BMX) choose to disable both braking systems, while the riders who compete in races are required to at least have rear brakes, as they will need greater control of their bicycles due to other competitors being on the same track as them, in addition to the track having various sharp turns.
Freestyle BMX riders disable their brakes because they need to ramp up as much speed as they can in order to perform tricks. In addition, by removing the brakes, the BMX bicycle becomes lighter in weight, which also makes it easier for the rider to perform tricks. You might be curious how do professional riders brake then? Well, they use the sole of their sneaker to slow the wheels’ rotation. Anything for executing a perfect trick!
So if you are thinking about buying a BMX bicycle for yourself or your child, maybe think twice about taking the brakes off as soon as the bicycle arrives at your house. If the purpose of the bicycle is just a leisure activity, definitely keep them on, however, if your child or yourself plan on doing freestyle BMX activity, well, still keep them on, at least until your kid or yourself feel comfortable enough, as BMX is considered an extreme sport with a lot of injuries just waiting to happen. But that should definitely not deter you from buying one, as they are still great models, depending on your needs, of course.
BMX bicycles are a good starting point for people who do not excel at riding a bicycle because of its multiple characteristics. The chief characteristic is the availability, as they are widely available everywhere and they cost significantly less than other bicycles, because of them being mostly single speed and built with fewer materials than other bicycles, making it a great starter bicycles for everybody.
Having said that, BMX bicycles are not a good choice if your goal is to go long-distance biking or to go mountain biking. As previously mentioned, most models are single-speed, which might prove cumbersome on uphill mountain biking. BMX bikes are ideal for short distances and leisure biking around the neighborhood.
Finally, BMX bicycles are very crude and sturdy and can take a lot of bumps before it breaks down. As someone might see the lack of multiple gears as a bad thing, another might see it as a good characteristic, as fewer bike elements means lesser chance for something to malfunction.
So cast your worries aside if you heard that it does not come with brakes, or if it is a dangerous model to have, just keep in mind that if a BMX bicycle suits your needs, definitely think about getting one.
All in all, BMX bicycles are perfectly safe and perfectly-built bikes that might have a reputation of being exclusively ridden by daredevils and adrenaline junkies, but should not be impactful on your decision on whether to buy, as it is an excellent model with a rich and vibrant history.
The BMX bicycle is still one of the most easily recognized bicycles of the past, it defined the ’90s era, but please do not skip it mainly due to the daredevil nature of its riders, there are many advantages that this model offers to people of all ages and skills.
Is BMX bicycle a safe choice for a bike?
Yes, contrary to popular belief, a BMX bike does come with brakes and all the standard equipment, and is one of the safest options for a bike.
Is it a good choice for mountain biking?
Unfortunately, no. BMX is great for a short and leisure trip, but not for a longer and bumpier mountain path.
I have always seen it ridden with the seat all the way down. Can it be adjusted?
Yes. Professionals ride it that way, but you can adjust it any way you prefer.