The Parents Guide to Buying a BMX

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Buying a BMX can be a very confusing experience for Mum and Dad. Here is a parent's guide to buying a BMX.

Buying a BMX gives your child some new found freedom, gets them outside in the fresh air, and gets them active!

With Christmas fast approaching most parents will start to hear the big hints of great gift ideas from their youngsters. The most popular being 'I'd love a BMX for Christmas'! However, buying a BMX can be a very confusing experience for Mum and Dad.

"Buying a BMX gives your child some new found freedom, gets them outside in the fresh air, and gets them active!" Says Stuart Read, BMXpert at cycle retailer Evans Cycles. Stuart knows only too well the demands made of parents at this time of year. "BMX can be confusing to the untrained parent, follow the guide for the inside knowledge and top tips when navigating BMX's this year."

A parent's guide to buying a BMX
The Bikes and Styles
BMX bikes are pretty basic in their construction, and rely on the latest trends rather than the latest technologies to drive the sport. Yes, companies are pushing the limits as to how strong and light they can make the bikes, but getting the right style is the key factor when buying a bike. BMX is split into 4 main areas; street, park, dirt, and racing. The most accessible forms are street and park. Local councils are investing more and more money into local skate parks, and can be found in towns across the country. Street is the purest form of BMX, taking an everyday obstacle like a wall or bank and seeing what you can do with you bike on it. Dirt is aimed toward trail riding, usually in the woods. Racing has had huge coverage recently thanks to the Olympics, and some of our country's top track cyclists such as Chris Hoy come from a BMX racing background.

BMX is a versatile sport and when starting out most bikes can be used for all styles of riding. This gives the rider a great chance to experience the full spectrum of BMX. After more experience most riders will then tend to ride one style and their bike will reflect this. Keep reading for a run down on how to identify these bikes and a more in-depth look at each style.

Park BMX
Park BMX's are the most popular type of BMX Evans Cycles sell. They're designed for use down at the local skate park. Park bikes come in many forms but the most common set up is as follows.

Frame - Park bikes generally have a lower stand over height, and high end complete bikes will have frames designed with this in mind.
Gyro - this device allows the bars to be spun round multiple times without the brake cables tangling up
Brakes - at least 1 brake, a lot of park riders only run a rear brake as you can use your foot in the front wheel for front end tricks
Pegs - 1 set of pegs, pegs are elongated pieces of strong metal that stick out from the rider's wheels to enable them to stall or grind on obstacles. Riders usually have a favored side to grind on and have one set of pegs.

Street BMX
Street riding is all about being creative and using everyday obstacles to complement your riding - dropping off benches, riding up banked walls - you're only limited by your imagination. These bikes will generally be designed to run with no brakes. Brakeless riding is a simple, low maintenance style that many companies have embraced by making frames without brake mounts. They tend to come supplied with 2 sets of pegs for grinds and tough componentry to take the abuse of crashes and bad weather. Street style bikes also tend to have larger volume tires to soften large drops and big impacts.

Dirt BMX
Dirt bikes (or trails as it is also referred to) are a less common form of BMX in the UK. They have larger knobbly tires for better grip off road, are supplied without pegs and a single brake cable set-up. Dirt bikes are light, fast and can easily be used for other forms of riding, but always are at home in the woods.

Race BMX
Also a bit of a rarity, but is likely to get more popular with the Olympics coming to town. Race bikes are light, fast and have larger gearing for getting the extra speed needed to take home the win. Unlike the other forms of BMX, lighter materials can be used to make these bikes as they are put under a lot less stress. They do not need Gyros or pegs and are generally not compatible with these if you were looking to use the bike for other styles.

How much to spend?
Once you know the style then you need to find a bike that suits your budget. As with most of the bikes Evans Cycles sell, the more you pay the more you get.

Entry level complete BMX's start around £150 - £250. These bikes look the part and are ideal for new riders to the sport. With shorter frames, smaller cranks and smaller bars they help smaller riders learn tricks from an early age. They are however heavier than more expensive models due to the less refined materials used to make them such as hi-tensile steel. Bikes such as the Mongoose Subject are extremely popular with beginner riders. This is a typical example of a Park bike complete with pegs and Gyro, offering superb value for money.

Mid Level complete BMX's at around the £250 - £400 mark are typically made from lighter weight CroMoly tubing. Key features to look out for are micro gearing (25-9 tooth gear ratio) which is quickly becoming the industry standard, A Pivotal seat and post, again very popular and the one of the most common upgrades that kids will want to make. The Blank Cell bike is at the lower end of the price bracket here, but packs in a lot of the key features that is typical of a mid level bike.

High End complete BMX's will typically cost upwards of £400, but you get a lot for your money. Here you will find sealed bearing headsets, sealed bottom brackets, plus lightweight frames, forks, and handlebars for the ultimate in a complete bike build. Although at the very top of the price range, the WeThePeople Envy is a stunning bike, with each part carefully selected to create undoubtedly one of the most inspiring BMX completes available.

Sizing
There are typically 4 sizes of BMX bikes available:

16" Wheel: Suitable for riders 3ft 7 - 4ft (110cm - 122cm), or 5 - 7 years of age, these bikes are ideal for the smaller younger rider, there are some very good 16" completes that feature all the kit of a full size BMX.

18" Wheel: Suitable for riders 4ft - 4ft 10 (122 - 147cm), or 7-11 years of age, this size is not so common, with a lot of riders choosing to take the jump to 20" straight away. This is perfect for the riders who really are just that little bit too small for the full size option, and is perfect for building confidence.

Small Frame 20" Wheel: Full size BMX wheels with a small build kit. The frames are shorter and have smaller stems and cranks.

20" Wheel: Suitable for riders 4ft 10 - 6ft 4 (147 - 193cm), or 11+ years of age, this is the most commonly available size and is generally suitable for most ages - all the way through to when your body says no more! Riders down the bottom end of the size range may prefer to opt for a small frame 20" wheel BMX - same size wheels but more compact frame design.

And that's it, a simple overview of the phenomenon that is BMX. Find the style of bike needed, the right price range, and ensure it's the right colour…..yes this will make all the difference! Also don't forget to check out our range of safety bike helmets that are a real necessity for this sport, which you can also get 25% off with Evans Cycles current LIDLOCK promotion.
There are hundreds of parts and accessories that will be on every BMXers wish list, and luckily Evans Cycles have them all in the BMX department.

About Evans Cycles
Evans Cycles are the UK's largest quality cycle retailer, currently operating 35 stores nationwide and the UK's largest cycling mail order & online bike shop. Evans Cycles' product range spans every cycling discipline and features mountain bikes, road bikes, cycle clothing and bicycle accessories from the world's leading brands.

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Stu Mallarkey
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