BMX - or bicycle motocross - started to gain popularity in the early 1970s in California. The half-century since has generated a massive culture and multiple competitive disciplines — and with it, different bikes.
With everything from the bikes used for Olympic racing, to dirt jumps, vert, flatland and more, picking the right BMX is just as difficult as deciding between a short travel 29er and a long travel 27.5in trail bike.
Whether you're looking to relive your fantasies of being a BMX Bandit, hoping to head out to the dirt jumps or your local skate park, or even just a bike, a shiny new BMX might be a fantastic addition to your stable.
Read on for BikePerfect's rundown of the best BMX bikes, or if you're new to the club, you can skip to everything you need to know before you buy.
The best BMX bikes available today
WeThePeople released the Battleship in 2019, and it's back for 2020 with a few notable upgrades. The frame is designed for technical street riding with 12.7in chainstays 25mm offset fork topped with an ECLAT Strangerlier 25.4 offset handlebar.
Rolling on Bondi 38mm rims and WeThePeople Helix hubs, the frame is built with a three-piece crank and sees a freecoaster hub. WeThePeople measures its sizing by the top tube and offers the Battleship in three sizes and right or left-hand drive.
With a high tensile steel frame, the Stolen Casino XL features a long top tube and plenty of standover clearance.
It's available in three sizes, with the XS coming with smaller 18in wheels and tyres, but has room for 20in should you want to upgrade later on. Stolen have partnered with components brand Fiction to offer a build kit that will stand up to just as much abuse as the frame itself. The U-brake at the back can be a bit lacking in power, but it's hidden below the seat stay and out of harm's way.
BMX racing is all about the holeshot, to earn the leading spot into the corner you'll be pushing enough watts to power a small city, and will need a bike that's stiff enough to transmit every bit of energy into the back wheel. GT doesn't have a lot to say about its speed series bikes, other than they are robust enough to help you achieve this exact goal.
The lightweight aluminium frame is heavily hydroformed and features a long wheelbase for max stability on the ground and in the air and is available with 20in and 24in wheels. The bike sees a three-piece crank meaning the front chainring can be swapped and the bike also sees a rear ProMax hydraulic disc brake.
Despite holding the spot as the most affordable bike in GT's Range, the Air fights well above its weight class. Made with a Hi-Ten Steel frame and fork, the frame geometry mirrors the bikes GT makes as pro models for its best park riders.
At this price point, it's not surprising to see loose ball bearings in lieu of sealed cartridge bearings used throughout; however, the crank is a three-piece set, meaning the chainrings can be easily swapped. At the back, a U brake is mounted inside the rear triangle to keep your speed in check.
The Bike Life movement is a new generation of street riders which started in Harlem, Philadelphia and Oakland who are taking back the streets. They are known to spend more time one wheel than two and their movement that transcends race, economic status bringing groups as big as 1500 to cruise through the streets in style.
The SE Bike Blocks Flyer is one of the latest bikes to come out of this movement. Based around a 6061 Aluminium frame, it rolls on 26in wheels with a Euro BB and SE wave dropout. The wheels have double rim walls and sealed bearings inside the hubs, and the bike comes with a full pad set, SE Bikes Life number plate, wheelie pegs and a Blocks Flyer seat.
Sunday's Blueprint is priced for new riders but is built around a pro-level geometry to help support them in learning the fundamentals and building confidence. The frame is made using hi-tensile steel and comes with a two-piece CroMo fork for a bike that can withstand plenty of slams at the skatepark.
Sunday provides most of the components including the three-piece crank, except for the Odyssey Springfield U-Brakes. These are designed to offer superior power to help keep you under control whether you are riding vert or flatland.
The Stolen Agent 16 ideal for the grom who isn't quite big enough for 20in wheels but doesn't think that's any reason to hold back. The 29-9t gear combo provides a ratio light enough for little legs to push but tall enough to help them get enough speed to clear a double.
The super-wide (for a BMX) 2.3in tyres and the 7.25in bars provide heaps of leverage and control so your little shredder can push their skills, and the steel frame will survive big crashes.
For some, 20in wheels just feel a little bit too small, and if this is you, the Ruption Motion 24in might be a better fit. It's almost identical to the 20in Ruption Motion, with all the same components, except for the wheels and tyres and frame is just a bit bigger. The frame is made with a mix of hi-tensile steel and chromoly, cranks and axles are CrMo and the wheels spin on fully sealed hubs.
Ruption says the Motion 24 is based around modern geometry which facilitates confidence whether that be launching out of a bowl or in the transition to a dirt jump. When it comes time to drop the anchors, the 909 Style U-Brake and Street Tread tyres will keep your speed in check.
Best BMX bikes: what you need to know
1. What kind of bike?
BMX bikes can be designed to excel at a specific discipline of BMX riding by tweaking the ride characteristics through geometry and components.
Dirt, park and street bikes are quite similar, utilising the steel frames designed to take a beating; however, the geometry and components will vary slightly to excel in their given riding venue.
BMX race bikes are all about speed with the frames made from lighter materials like aluminium and carbon, and the sizing will be extremely specific and aggressive — make sure to check the geometry chart twice.
Retro bikes are your BMX bandit inspired rides which have bright colours, mag style wheels and the foam frame pads.
For the most part, a BMX bike will have 20in wheels, however, kids' and freestyle bikes may roll on 16in or 18in wheels for increased manoeuvrability, while bikes explicitly designed for dirt jumps may use 24in wheels for superior stability and speed.
If you're looking for a BMX bike with the express purpose of hitting jumps, you may want to err on the side of bigger wheels. This is because the bottom bracket on BMX frames for 20in wheels (and below) have a positive BB drop figure, meaning the bottom bracket is actually above the axles, so the cranks don't hit the ground as you pedal. Unfortunately, this can make the bike feel 'tippy', especially at speed.
The frame sizing is based around a combination of your height and inseam; however, there is no semblance of a standardised sizing across brands. Before you click purchase, make sure to check each brand’s sizing chart, because they are all different.
Back to: Our pick of the best BMX Bikes