BMX Bikes

How to choose a BMX bike: Back in the early days of BMX, complete bikes were considered to be low-end options for beginner riders. That is no longer the case and many companies now offer quality “completes” that use quality components.

Understanding what you need in a bike can be very important in the decision making process. This article will outline some of the different options available when choosing a new complete bike.

Types

There are several variations of complete bikes. They differ in construction and components, and are built to suit specific styles of riding. They can be broken down into racing, freestyle, and street BMX bikes.

Racing Completes – Racing complete bikes are designed for speed and performance. They use a lighter frame and components, and as a result are not intended for the more stressful forms of riding. If you plan to ride anywhere but the racetrack, look into the other categories below.

Freestyle Completes – Freestyle complete bikes cover several different categories of riding, including park, dirt, and vert. These completes will often come with brakes, a gyro, and pegs. This category of bike covers all the bases, using components that will be useful for any style of riding. This is the best option for people that are new to the sport.

Street Completes – Street complete bikes utilize frames that are similar to the freestyle category, and often using the same materials and sizes. The difference between the two categories can be found in the components available on the bikes. This style of complete is set up without brakes and typically has four pegs.

Materials

Higher-end complete bikes are built with frames and components that are manufactured out of 4130 chromoly, which is a material with a very high strength to weight ratio. Less expensive completes use frames and components manufactured out of high tensile steel, which is less durable. If you’re a rider that wants a setup that will last a while, choosing a complete that uses chromoly tubing is a better option.

Sizes

While some of the parts on a bike will affect sizing, it is most important to consider the length of a frame when deciding on which bike will fit you. A frame’s length changes how a rider is positioned on a bike, and where the bikes parts will sit; so it is important to choose something that suits you.

Sizing generally comes down to personal preference. It’s commonly understood that a taller rider should ride a longer frame, and vice versa for a shorter rider. A frame’s length effects how your bike responds when it’s ridden. Short frames can be better for technical riders that grind and stall a lot, because shorter frames are generally more responsive and snappy, making it better for technical tricks. Longer frames can be better for riders that want speed and stability, because shorter frames often feel twitchy and cramped when moving at high speeds. Riders that ride trails or want to move faster on a bike generally ride longer frames.

If you are unsure of which frame size would work best for your riding, use the guidelines below, but be sure to test ride various sizes before purchasing a bike.

Rider Height 4’ - 4’4” 4’5” - 4’9” 4’10” - 5’2” 5’3” - 5’8” 5’9” - 6’1”
Top Tube Length 15”- 16” 16.5” - 17.5” 18”- 19” 19.5“ - 20.5” 21” - 22”

What To Look For

The first thing to consider when buying a complete is your style of riding. This choice will have a direct impact on the size, components, and price range you should be considering.

The frame used on the complete bike should be your next biggest consideration. For more about frame types and designs, read our BMX Frame Buyer’s Guide Article.

Be sure to take a close look at the parts used on the bike. While some companies may use no-name components that are cheap to manufacture, other companies are using high-end aftermarket parts that you would normally buy separately. The use of aftermarket parts will increase the durability and lifespan of a complete bike.

The diagram below describes some of the components found on a complete bike.

If you are a new rider, a less expensive setup may be the best choice until you are more experienced. The higher-end complete bikes are perfect for more experienced riders that need quality parts, but don’t want to spend a large amount of money purchasing a frame and individual parts separately in order to build a bike from scratch.

One thing is for sure, complete bikes have improved a huge amount in recent years. Completes are no longer the cheap, heavy setups they once were. They are now quality bikes that come in stylish color options and can withstand the stresses of harsh riding. The right complete bike can last you a long time.

How Much To Spend

It is always important to remember the saying, “you get what you pay for” when purchasing a new bike. When you spend more, you are paying for higher quality parts, materials, and construction. This rule applies to complete bikes. When you spend more, you are not only paying for a higher quality frame, but also the components that go with it. Purchasing a high-end bike is an investment in quality and durability.

When buying a complete bike you should be looking to spend between $200 and $1000. The $200-$400 range of completes consist of the less expensive, lower-end bikes. While these bikes are cost effective, they use lower quality materials and components, meaning the bike will not last as long as some of the higher-end completes. This range of bike can be a good choice for riders just getting into the sport. The $400-$600 range are the mid-range complete bikes. These completes use higher quality frame materials and some aftermarket parts. This range of bike is ideal for riders that want an affordable bike that will be able to take some abuse. The $600-$1000 range of complete bikes uses high quality materials and more aftermarket parts. This range of complete bikes will be able to withstand lots of abuse and everyday riding. These completes are perfect for more experienced riders that want a setup that is more affordable, but still as durable as a bike built part for part.

The diagram below shows the differences in materials and components for bikes priced at three distinct price points.

Product Reviews

Before buying a bike, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you’ve purchased a bike and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you’ve found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn’t answered in this guide, our BMX forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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