Different types of bikes are significantly different and designed for different purposes. Can you use a BMX bike for mountain biking?
BMX bikes are not designed for mountain bike trails. Using a road bike, a BMX bike, a cruiser bike, or any other non-mountain bike on a trail can cause problems. Are the problems minor enough that you can use BMX bike on a trail anyway?
BMX bikes can be used on trails, but they perform poorly. BMX bikes only have one gear, which makes it far more tiring to go up hills. BMX bikes also lack suspension to absorb the impact of all the bumps you hit, and they don't always have brakes or brakes that work well on hills.
While you might not have a bad time if you take a BMX bike over hills and through forests, a mountain bike can easily outperform it. The small frame, small wheels, and fixed saddle position make BMX bikes perform poorly on trails.
Taking a BMX bike on a trail can be fun - you will have to do your best with the single gear and other disadvantages. However, you cannot keep up with people on mountain bikes for very long, in my experience. It is much more tiring than using a bigger bike with suspension and gears.
What are BMX Bikes?
BMX bikes are for tricks and jumps, not rough mountain trails, getting around a city, or long trips on the road. BMX bikes are stunt bikes that people use for jumps, tricks, dirt track racing, and traveling short distances around towns and cities. BMX bikes are for smooth terrain, not bumps and hills.
Exactly what counts as a BMX bike is up for debate. The definition is broader than it used to be. It originally meant bikes used for bicycle motocross (BMX) racing, but it now includes many other types of bikes.
What is BMX?
BMX is bicycle racing that is inspired by motorcycle racing. It started with people using bicycles to race around dirt motocross tracks. The sport has been popular since the 1970s.
How are BMX Bikes Designed?
BMX bikes are strong, rigid, and simple. They use very few moving parts and emphasize durability and speed. BMX bikes also need to be maneuverable - not only on the ground but in the air as well.
Since simplicity is so important, a BMX bike has only one gear and a basic braking system. Hand brakes are not common. There are different types of BMX bikes - racing bikes, street bikes, jump bikes, park bikes, and more.
How Are Mountain Bikes Different?
Mountain bikes are too heavy to be good for performing tricks. They have suspension systems, powerful brakes, and large wheels that help them get over obstacles on bumpy trails. Mountain bikes often have dozens of gears, letting you climb up hills and move across rough terrain more easily.
While BMX bikes have to be capable of handling rough terrain, BMX bikes have to be capable of handling jumps. This requires reinforced tires (a mountain bike tire might burst if it hits the ground hard) and light but strong frames. Since BMX bikes do not have brake wires, you can spin the handlebars around 360 degrees.
Why Do BMX Bikes not Work Well on Trails?
Again, BMX bikes are too different from mountain bikes to do the same things well. A mountain bike has many features that make it fun to ride on trails; a BMX bike lacks these features.
BMX Bikes Lack Suspension
BMX bikes don't have suspension at all, not even a much weaker kind of suspension than a mountain bike. Therefore, you will hit every bump hard. On the tracks that people use BMX bikes on, this doesn't matter, but it does matter off-road.
To avoid feeling heavy hits when going along a trail fast, you will need to anticipate each bump and move your body around. You may be able to do this successfully, but it is tiring and makes the trail take much more effort. Everything about riding along a trail is tiring and takes more effort on a BMX bike.
The Seating Position is Bad for Mountain Biking
The seating position on a BMX bike is different and is not good for riding in trail conditions. If you aren't sitting in the right position, you will tire out quickly. The improper seating position can also make a BMX bike hard to control on trails.
Riding a BMX Bike On a Trail is Hard on Your Back
Even if you have a mountain bike that is well-suited for trails, you can still hurt your back or pull muscles if you push yourself too hard. If you use a BMX bike that isn't made for trails, you will strain your body a lot harder.
This isn't a reason not to use a BMX bike on a trail at all, but be careful. Know when to stop and take a few days off if your muscles or back are sore.
BMX Bikes Often Don't Have Brakes
Many BMX bikes don't have brakes at all. This can be ok on a dirt track, but it is dangerous off-road. While some locations are simply too dangerous on a bike without brakes, some trails may be relatively safe.
BMX Bike Brakes are Different
BMX bikes that have brakes use V-brakes, which are on the back wheel and not anything like mountain bike brakes. V-brakes are in some ways better than disc brakes - they might stop your bike faster on a dirt track.
However, V-brakes can fail in some conditions. If you try braking while going down a steep hill on a BMX bike, your brakes might not work. Very hot temperatures can also make V-brakes fail; mountain bikes' disc brakes can withstand these temperatures.
Smaller Wheels are Better on Tracks than Trails
BMX bike wheels are often only 20 inches, compared to 26 inches for mountain bike wheels. These smaller wheels work well on a smooth dirt track but aren't good on a bumpy trail.
Mountain bike tires are also different and designed to provide grip on a rough surface. You may find a BMX bike hard to control.
BMX Seats Don't Move
When people are riding BMX bikes, they are usually standing. The seat is fixed in place and isn't even used often.
One situation where you are better off sitting down is when you are pedaling uphill. This is uncomfortable on a BMX bike as the seat won't change position.
One of the first things you will notice if you use a BMX bike is how much harder it is to go up hills. The fixed seat and the lack of gears make it a lot harder.
Can You Modify a BMX Bike to Make it Work Better on Trails?
Yes, you can modify a BMX bike to make it double as a trail bike. It is easier to buy a mountain bike, but if you like to work on bikes, you can make a bike that works reasonably well for either jumps or trails.
The first thing to do is add gears to make it easier to go up hills. You also need to improve the brakes (hopefully without brake cables that prevent you from doing certain tricks) and add suspension. You might not be able to find larger wheels that fit on a BMX bike frame.
Should You Try a BMX Bike on a Trail?
I found taking a BMX bike out on trails to be a fun challenge. However, if you try to do as well with a BMX bike as with a mountain bike, you will quickly find most trails too difficult. You are better off getting a mountain bike than using the BMX bike you already have as a trail bike.
There is also the possibility of getting hurt due to the different brakes a BMX bike uses, plus you might get hurt due to hitting a hard bump without suspension. While it didn't quite seem dangerous to me, using a BMX bike as a mountain bike isn't that good of an idea.
About THE AUTHOR
Mountain biking is more than just a hobby for me - it's a way of life. I love the challenge and excitement that comes with it, and I'm always pushing myself to go faster and ride harder. Some people might think that mountain biking is dangerous, but I see it as the only way to live.Read More About Danny Lawson