The name BMX comes from ‘bicycle and motocross.’ BMX bikes started in the 1970s as dirt track race bikes for kids who were impersonating motocross drivers.
These bikes are meant to be ridden standing up, so they’re great for stunts and speed but not made for comfortable touring. Are BMX bikes good for long-distance?
You will not get the best experience riding a BMX bike for long distance because they are not designed for long commuting or long distance rides. Since this bicycle style was created for stunt riding and speed over shorter distances, they lack the features that make a bike comfortable when sitting on it for hours.
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Can You Ride BMX Long Distances
Some riders travel longer distances on BMX bikes, but you shouldn’t do this unless you have to.
There are excellent large wheeled bikes with frames designed to handle long rides and minimize rider discomfort.
BMXs are not good for distance riding. As always, just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.
If you want to know more about how you should ride BMX, I recommend this excellent video on the history of BMX bikes and tracks.
Learn BMX Racing gives insight into how these bikes have changed over time and why they are made for races and tricks.
Why Are BMX Bikes Not Good For Long Distance
New riders and those accustomed to only one bicycle style often look at all bikes as basically the same.
The variety of styles and features are not like pizza toppings where you simply pick and choose what you like.
Instead, bikes are like tools in a tool chest where each style is meant for something specific.
Bikes are purpose-built to do a job. In the case of BMX, there are two jobs. Some BMX are racers made to tackle dirt hills and tracks, while others are trick or freestyle bikes made to do cool stunt work.
Here are the top 3 reasons why BMX bikes are not good for long-distance:
1 – Size Matters
A BMX is built low to the ground. These incredibly easy to identify bikes are known for their small proportions and small tires.
Compared to their riders, these are little bikes, and that size allows them to be incredibly durable and easy to jump or do tricks with.
However, that small size also means the rider has to pedal harder to travel the same distance as a larger bike.
2 – You Shouldn’t Sit For long
The riding position for BMX is mostly standing with some sitting, but never for extended periods.
When you plan to ride a bike long-distance, it needs to be comfortable to sit down for extended periods.
Sadly, if you spend too long sitting on a BMX, your shoulders, back, and backside will likely hurt from hunching over in the wrong position.
3 – You Can’t Shift
Gears exist to make varied terrain easier to handle and distribute power from your legs to your tires.
BMX’s are typically single-speed bikes. When you pedal a BMX up a dirt hill, you don’t shift or need big distance eating tires because it’s only a short time or short distance.
For longer rides having gears allows you to save energy for later use, but BMX is made for short bursts of maximum effort.
How Far Can You Ride On A BMX
You can technically ride as far as you want on a BMX, but it will not be a comfortable ride. I recommend sticking to rides of five miles or less total in a day.
Limiting your BMX to its intended purpose will get the best use out of it, and you won’t accidentally cause yourself pain or unnecessary fatigue.
Hoffy Cycles sums it up nicely, “…Their compact frame makes them suitable for kids, but for adults, especially taller adults more of the riding will be standing up to reach higher speeds… BMX Bikes are designed for a fun ride and thrashing around. They are lightweight and easily transportable… Not designed for ‘in the saddle’ riding – making them not the most comfortable option. One speed means that riding up hills can be difficult.”
Are BMX Bikes Good For Commuting
BMX bikes are good for short commutes. However, there are several reasons they are bad for long commuting.
Below I’ve made a list of the top 4 practical reasons why BMX aren’t suitable for commutes:
- Lack of brakes can make a BMX dangerous for commuting.
- Most commutes involve varied terrain, and BMX bikes don’t have gears. Riding a single-speed bicycle up and down hills and over rugged terrain isn’t the best plan.
- The riding position involves putting your face out front. When you commute, especially in the city, you don’t want to lead with your head in case o
- Fenders and other features commonly considered vital on commuting bicycles aren’t easy or even possible to install on a BMX.
Helpful Tips To Know About If BMX Bikes Are Good For Long Distance
People buy BMX bikes to learn stunts or race fast over dirt tracks. Since neither of these activities involves sustained, distance riding BMX lacks the features you find on long-distance riding bicycles.
Here are more helpful tips to know about if BMX bikes are good for long-distance.
- Most long-distance bikes like those made for touring or XC mountain bikes have seats with springs or shocks to help absorb some of the impacts. Riding for a long time puts more than normal pressure on your backside, and these features help minimize discomfort. A BMX is sturdy for taking hard impacts, but it’s made for a rider to stand over the seat as they pedal.
- Distance bikes and virtually every other kind of bicycle have brakes. Most have front and rear brakes. Although BMX bikes may come from the factory with one or even two brakes, many riders prefer a brakeless bike because it encourages them to learn how to bleed speed, crash appropriately in case of accidents and really go for the jumps. Additionally, removing the brakes allows a rider to do more tricks because the brake cables don’t limit them, plus it lightens the weight of the bike slightly. A lighter bike is beneficial if you’re planning to make jumps or do bunny hops and other tricks that require the rider to pull the bike up.
- The small wheels on BMX-style bikes are iconic, but they also mean the rider has to pedal harder and more to cover ground. Meanwhile, the big-tire bikes cover distances with less effort because a single revolution of the tires takes them further.
Choose a BMX for dirt tracks and learning lots of cool tricks. When you’re looking for a bike to commute, go touring, or otherwise cover a long distance, you need a large tire bike purpose-built for extended rides.
A BMX bike is not good for long distances. The small tires mean a BMX rider has to work harder to cover ground, plus the frames, seats, and other parts of the bike lack basic comfort features that exist to help riders who want to go a long way on a bicycle.
Ensure that you get the right bike for the job so you can ride in comfort.