What Does BMX Stand For On Bikes? BMX Bicycle Meaning

Just like motorbikes and cars, numerous bike models and types have also been introduced to the market. Besides familiar categories like road and mountain bikes, here’s another term that confuses many first-timers: BMX bikes. 

What does BMX even mean? Do they hold any significant advantages over other bike categories, and how to ensure you can choose the most suitable ones?

This guide is delivered to help you answer that burning question, providing all relevant info about what BMX bikes are used for. 

The Meaning Of BMX Bikes: What Are 2 Types Of BMX?

BMX stands for Bicycle (B) Motor (M) Cross (X), a type of exhilarating cycling sport performed on high-quality bicycles. This sport is further broken down into two smaller types: BMX Racing and Freestyle BMX. 

1. BMX Racing

BMX Racing

BMX racing refers to off-road bike racing, whose main terrains are off-road purpose-built sprint race tracks. 

How It Works

These tracks often comprise starting gates for eight racers (maximum), dirt race courses with numerous rollers and jumps, and one finish line. Its width fluctuates about 4.6 meters (15 feet) with huge, inward-angled banked corners to help riders sustain speed. 

BMX races are facilitated by international and regional sanctioning bodies, which provide competition rules and specify the skill levels/age required for BMX riders. These organizations also manage the point-accumulation systems throughout the racing seasons.


This sport is participant-driven and family-oriented, with competitors ranging from 2 to 75 years old! Both genders (men and women) have professional ranks, where ages fall somewhere between 17 and 41 years old. 

Type of Bike Sizes

In most countries, two BMX bikes are available. 20” wheel bikes are the most popular versions, named “Class” by experienced riders. Meanwhile, the second version is “Cruiser,” referring to any bicycle with 22.5” outer tire diameters. Their wheels are about 24 inches in general.

View more: Bike wheel size chart

Cruiser-style bikes are much more suited to high jumps than Class, with smooth, impressive rolls. On the other hand, 20” ones are more agile. 

2. Freestyle BMX

Freestyle BMX

The term Freestyle BMX points to stunt-riding bike motocross – descended from the BMX racing we introduced above.

How It Works

Aside from certain disciplines suited to different terrains (streets, parks, flatlands, trails, and vert ramps), no specific regulation has been established regarding skills, creativity, and aesthetics/styles. You are free to express your strong personality through your riding technique!


Due to their extreme, dangerous nature, freestyle BMX has a significantly lower demographic range than traditional BMX racing, whose competitors mostly range from 16 to 35 years old. 

And as the sport makes ample room for creative freedom, it’s meant to be an individual competition where people can show their colors and strong personalities. Hence, the sight of different competitors/family members teaming up is rare.

Bike Types

Since freestyle BMX can occur in different terrains, you can see slight alterations across bike models for each landscape.

For instance, BMX racing bikes for street riding enjoy shorter wheelbases and steeper angles. As a result, maneuvering them is easier than with other bike types. Nevertheless, these bikes can become unstable for dirt and ramp riding at high speeds. 

On the other hand, flatland BMX bikes have longer wheelbases than other freestyle bicycles, with heavily-reinforced bike frames to let riders stand directly on them. Furthermore, their elastic, flexible design makes it easy to spin these bicycles – or sit the entire bike upright on one knobby tire.

How to Choose The Right BMX Bike?

Whether you are a fan of traditional BMX racing or freestyle ones, there’s one thing in common: victory is impossible without a good bike. Here are tips to ensure you have the best support in every competition!

1. Choose The Right Size

Small size variations might seem insignificant, but don’t let them fool you. Even a missing millimeter can change their feel entirely! Refer to these charts to find the right option for you. 

Your Height (Feet / Inches)Your Height (cm)Wheel Size (in inches)Top Tube Lengths (in inches)
2 ft to 3 ft60 cm to 90 cm12″11.5″ to 13″
2’8″ to 3’4″80 cm to 100 cm14″12.8″ to 15″
3 ft to 3’8″90 cm to 110 cm16″14.5″ to 17″
3’6″ to 4’6″105 cm to 135 cm18″17″ to 18.5″
4 ft to 5’4″120 cm to 160 cm20″18″ to 20.25″ (XS – Small)
5 ft to 5’8″150 cm to 170 cm20″20″ to 20.5″ (or Small – Medium)
5’6″ to 6 ft165 cm to 185 cm20″20.25″ to 21″ (or Medium – Large)
6 ft +180 cm +20″20.75″ + (or Large – XL)

See more:

2. Inspect The Components

bmx components

Check out to see whether the bike has every feature you need. Here are some to look out for: 


Look for bikes with small front sprockets – about 25 to 30t. Anything larger than that will make the bike become extra heavy.


Many bikes for BMX sports do not arrive with brakes. Nevertheless, experts strongly recommend buying at least one back brake, especially if you are a beginner.

Heavy-Duty Rim

Double-walled rims on the wheel’s outside have more stability than single-walled ones and last longer as a result. On the other hand, single walls crave and dent easily.

3. Budget

Of course, balancing quality and price is important if you do not want to break the bank. Make a list of bike priority criteria and cross out those that exceed your current financial situation.

4. Colors and Designs

Sure, they might not have any active role in the bike’s mechanism and performance. But for individual-oriented sports like freestyle BMX, it doesn’t hurt to showcase your unique personality via designs that reflect who you are clearly!

For more: Bike parts diagram


Can BMX Bikes Go Uphill?

Yes, but it’s terrible at going uphill.

Is BMX Good For Speed?

Yes. These bicycles are meant to conquer short distances at high speeds.

Who Invented BMX?

Scot Alexander Breithaupt – a bicycle motocross and motorcycle racer.

Can Children Ride BMX Bikes on Dirt Tracks?

100% Yes. Traditional BMX races have become a family-oriented sport – as we mentioned – meaning even children can become part of the fun. Refer to the chart above to find suitable bikes for them. 

Skateboard vs. BMX: Which Is The Safer Sport?

Skateboarding is safer. Bailing techniques are harder to perform on dirt bikes than on skateboards. Furthermore, when crashes occur, the race bikes’ huge compartments tend to give you more injuries. 


What is a BMX bike? And what are the factors to pay special attention to when browsing through diverse BMX options on the market? 

Our detailed guidelines have shed light on these matters to clear lingering confusion, ensuring both beginners and experienced BMX riders can enjoy this exciting sport for years to come without risk!

Though relatively known for their usage in BMX sports, people can still adopt BMX bikes for daily use – even children. So do not hesitate to spend money on a cool BMX bike for your child – he will love it!

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Nathan Bergmann

Nathan Bergmann

Cycling Instructor at BikeDenver

Nathan Bergmann is a semi-professional cyclist with 7 years of experience under his belt. He wants to share his passion and experience with those who love cycling and aims to make their journey better.

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