The cycling world is full of different bikes for various usages, making you weigh your expectations and goals before buying one. So if you’re into BMX bikes, you must decide between the 2 main types: freestyle and racing bikes. One can easily assume what racing bikes are good for, but what about freestyle bikes?
Freestyle bikes are good for performing tricks and stunts in skate parks, streets, flatland, verts, trails or dirt, and general usage. They can withstand the pressure of these moves. And despite the rigid frame, they’re super lightweight and maneuverable both in the air and on the ground.
Keep reading to learn more about freestyle bikes, their features, and their differences from racing bikes.
Freestyle Bikes for Freestyle Cycling
As the name suggests, no specific rules are defined for freestyle; what matters most here is the skills, creativity, authenticity, and the aesthetic move each rider manages to perform.
Freestyle riding can occur in various locations, but the most common are the streets, skate parks, trails, verts, and flatland. They also take advantage of various elements for performance, such as curbs, stairs, handrails, and ledges.
Freestyle riders use freestyle bikes to perform numerous stunts and tricks like superman, backflip barspin, tailwhip, and more. You can also find a helpful list of them here.
The International Olympic Committee in June 2017 promised that freestyle bike riding competitions were to be added to the 2020 Summer Olympics. This event was held in Tokyo’s Olympics in men and women competitions.
Logan Martin from Australia in the men section, and Charlotte Worthington from Britain in the women section, won gold medals.
What Is a Freestyle Bike?
A freestyle bike (or trick bike) is a type of BMX bike (abbreviation of bicycle motocross) specifically designed for the aesthetic performance of stunts and tricks, which vary from spins and manipulations on the ground to jumps and mid-air maneuvers.
They have distinctive features of their own, enhancing their capabilities for out-of-the-world performance:
Freestyle Bikes Are Lightweight
Freestyle bikes are pretty small, with a top tube about 20 in length (50.8 cm). Such a tube allows the riders to easily give 360 degrees swing to their bikes in the air without hitting the tube and falling. Such a small frame also means a considerable reduction in weight, great for bursts of speed in the short distance between the jumps.
Freestyle Bikes Have Durable Frames
Freestyle bikes go under heavy pressure from doing stunts and jumps, so they must be very robust. The Chromoly that their frames are made of (high-end bikes) is a durable material that keeps it lightweight while resisting pressure and beating.
Their Wheels Allow Riders To Do Stunts Smoothly
20 in (50.8 cm) is the standard size of wheels on freestyle bikes. Their tires for riding streets, parks, or flatland stunts are smoother to have less friction against the pavement or tarmac, resulting in a more pleasant ride. However, trail or dirt jumps require more knobby tires.
Freestyle Bikes Only Have One Gear
This type of bike comes with only one gear. Due to the short distances they’re used for, they lack gears, reducing their weight.
Depending on where you’re going to ride, the main chainring ratio to sprocket is different. As a rule of thumb, freestyle bikes for flatland and street rides have a ratio of 25:8, while it’s almost 36:18 for the dirt rides.
They Don’t Use Standard Brake Cables
Although brakes aren’t almost used in freestyle riding, and they’re stopped by putting a foot on the back wheel, some use u-brakes.
Due to the lots of spinning and moves that riders do while doing a stunt, freestyle bikes can’t use the standard brake cables. They may entangle and endanger the riders. That’s why the cables have been directed inside the tube.
Their Pegs Support the Rider’s Weight
Pegs are cylindrical structures installed on wheel axles that allow riders to balance their weight on them and perform a host of tricks. BMX bikes may come with pegs, but they’re usually bought separately. They can be installed on both sides of wheels or just on one side of them.
Freestyle vs. Racing Bikes
Although BMX freestyle bikes and racing bikes look very similar, their design is different in some aspects. Let’s take a look at what divides them into 2 different BMX bikes.
BMX Racing Bikes
Racing bikes are made for fast rides on dirt tracks in the shortest time possible; that’s why they come with brakes (V-brakes that are linear, rear brakes). They’re mostly made of aluminum, a durable material that makes fast riding in bursts of speed possible.
However, in some more cutting-edge models, frames are made of carbon fiber, becoming more popular. Carbon fiber is extremely hard while being very light-weighted.
Frame sizing in racing bikes is more diverse than the freestyle bikes, and wheels are lighter. However, the size of their wheels can be 20 in (50.8 cm), which is most prevalent, or 24 in (60.96 cm), which is also called ‘cruiser’—more popular with older or taller riders.
Rims of race bikes are usually made of alloy and designed to cut down on the weight as much as possible. The spokes on them may vary in number, but they’re commonly between 28 to 36.
Narrower tires and slimmer rims are used in racing bikes, which help reduce weight and promote speed. They usually use cassettes and have much bigger chainrings to increase their explosive power and speed.
BMX Freestyle Bikes
On the other hand, freestyle bikes are made of old-fashioned steel but firm, reliable, and fatigue-resistant. However, in the more expensive models, the frame is made of an alloy called Chromoly steel which is super light but sturdy.
They usually come with U-brakes or a ‘detangler’ (or ‘Gyro’) for the rear brake. Freestyle bikes also offer a right/left-hand drive option. Bike pegs on a freestyle bike are also common to see.
While the frame size changes slightly for the kid, teen, and adult riders, the wheel size stays the same. Wheels standard size is 20 in (50.8 cm), but 22 in or 24 in (55.88 cm or 60.96 cm) are also common for trail or dirt jumping.
Freestyle bike rims come in single, double, or triple walled types made of aluminum. They’re also commonly 32 mm (1.25 in) in width—but you can choose a 36 mm (1.41 in), too.
The spoke number on their wheels is usually 36. However, the heavier riders or those who perform advanced tricks may opt for a 48 spoke wheel as it increases the wheel’s strength (and also its weight).
Regarding tires, wider tires that roll smoothly are best suited for freestyle bikes (like Premium BMX tires). For dirt jumping, tires need to have lower pressure for the sake of stability and also have more treads.
Freecoaster hubs, which help perform some tricks, are also popular in freestyle bikes, especially among flatland riders. They let the riders coast backward without the cranks turning. Besides, freestyle bikes have significantly small chainring/sprockets to easily speed up for jumps and other tricks.
If you’re interested to learn more about their differences, here’s a valuable video about the differences between BMX freestyle bikes and BMX racing bikes:
BMX freestyle bikes are incredibly lightweight but tough creatures that enable you to perform a wide range of tricks in various places. There’s no limit for using them, not in age, nor creativity. Whatever stunts you try, make sure of your safety first.