Buying my first BMX bike (what is right for me?)

Thinking about buying your very first BMX bike? There are many things to take into consideration when choosing your new bike. Here's a list of what we think are the most important things to look at when purchasing your very first BMX bike.

First on our list, where should you buy your first BMX bike? Well, lets talk about where NOT to buy your first BMX bike. If you plan on getting into the sport of freestyle BMX, you should never buy a bike from a big-box/department store. The bikes they sell are more for riding around town, and are not suitable for skate park riding. Buy from your local certified bicycle shop, they will help you with everything you need to start riding BMX.

Secondly, what brand BMX bike should you buy? There are a large number of BMX companies out there, so how do you choose which one is right for you? Well, the only way is to do a little research, find which company makes bikes designed for what you plan on riding. Whether you want to ride ramps at skate park, or if you're more interested in riding street. If you aren't familiar with BMX brands, you can go to the bottom of our "BMX bikes" page and check out the list of brands we carry. If you can't decide which brand is best for you, visit your local bike shop and they'll help educate you on all the brands they carry.

Next, once you've figured out what brand BMX bike you want, you'll have to find which model bike is best for you. Most companies will have a selection of BMX bikes ranging from low to high in price and quality. So which model is best for you? If you're a young kid just getting started, planning on being "easy" on your bike, any of these bikes will work for you. Keep into consideration frame size (typically the cheaper the bike, the smaller the frame). So depending on your budget, choose whichever bike catches your eye and feels good to ride (not too big and not too small). If you're more advanced, a little older, a bit more "hard" on your bike, or if you're just a bigger person in general, you'll want to choose a bike that will hold up to all the abuse you're going to be putting it through. So what separates a lower end bike from a higher end? This next part of our list will show the differences between a bike for a beginner and a bike for a more advanced rider.

Here we are, what is the difference between a lower end bike and a higher end bike? Simple answer, components. There are two main bearings that change between a lower end BMX bike, and a higher end BMX bike. The headset, and the bottom bracket.

Below are some pictures to help you understand the difference. 

 
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The image above is a picture of a unsealed headset (blue) and a sealed headset (grey). A lower end bike will typically have an unsealed headset (blue), which is fine if you are a young kid just starting out, not planning on being very rough on your bike. As for more advanced or "rougher" riders, you'll want to look at getting a bike with a sealed headset (grey). Sealed bearings will hold up to more abuse and spin much smoother than an unsealed bearings which will help for certain tricks. A more aggressive rider will most likely destroy an unsealed headset. 

Below are pictures of two bottom brackets.

 
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Like the headset, another main difference between a lower end and a higher end BMX bike is the bottom bracket. An unsealed American bottom bracket (blue) is common in many lower end bikes, and is completely fine for a young beginner. As for someone more advanced, you'll want a sealed bottom bracket (grey). The bottom bracket is where the majority of your weight will be, it also takes the most stress, so if you are a heavier rider, or you plan on jumping off of big drops, we recommend choosing a bike with a sealed bottom bracket (grey). 

Below are pictures of different rims.

 
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Another difference between lower and higher end BMX bikes, are the rims. A lower end bike will typically have a single-wall rim (silver) where a higher end bike will have a double-wall rim (black). It may be hard to determine which bikes have which rims, (unless the rim is marked) so just ask the professionals at your local shop. Some bikes may only have one double wall rim in the back, which is fine for either type of rider because your front wheel wont be taking as big of impacts as your rear. To sum it up, if you're just starting out, a single-wall rim (silver) will work just fine, bit if you're more advanced, look for a bike that has at least one double-wall rim (black).

The next part of our list is going to be components that are a little harder to tell the differences just by looking at the bike, so you'll want to ask your local bike shop for information regarding these parts. 

Lets start with the hubs.

 
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There are 2 types of hubs, cassettes and free coasters. The main difference between the two is a free coaster allows you to roll backwards without pedaling (downside being a bit of slack before you pedal) where a cassette is always engaged which forces you to back pedal while rolling backwards. If you're just starting out I would recommend a cassette, it will help you learn to balance, but if you're a bit more advanced and would like to try out a free coaster, go for it! Other differences between hubs are sealed and unsealed bearings. just like the other bearings we have discussed, if youre more advanced you'll want to make sure you find ones with sealed bearings.

The last components were going to look at are the frame, forks, and handlebars.

 
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The two main materials used for frames, handlebars, and forks are Hi-ten steel and Chromoly. Just like all of our other parts, one is best suited for the advanced rider, in this case Chromoly is best for those looking to be "harder" on their bikes. (Chromoly is stronger and lighter, which is why it is used on higher end BMX bike).

Lastly, you will want to look at the size of the frame and bars. How do you know which size is best for you? Well, you really don't, not without riding it anyway. BMX is all about personal preferences, so whatever feels good, is what you should ride. Just know that a lower end bike is going to be smaller than a higher end bike, because companies expect younger kids to ride the lower end less expensive bikes, and the older more advanced riders to ride the higher end bike.

Now that you have all the information you should need to buy you first (or just another) BMX bike, we wish you the best of luck and hope to see you here at Alpine Cycles!