BMX cruiser for a tall rider

Our tall friend rides a large MTB for slalom, and he’s looking for a BMX cruiser. Top tube length? Material? Head angle? … What to do?

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Hi Lee,

I saw that you were looking to get a cruiser, I’m in the same boat, so I thought I’d ask you a few questions. I am 6’3″ 190, with pretty long arms and legs, in the past a rode a large chameleon for slalom and that was the perfect size. The top tube on the chameleon 23.5″ but is seems like cruisers are usually between 21 and 22, do I “need” to get the longest top tube possible, or would I be fine if the TT was only around 21? Second question is material, since I will be using this to screw around and work on general bike skills, as well as session the local BMX track, do you think looking for a steel frame is important, or should I just stick with aluminum? Last question is head angle. Most of the frames seem to have a 73, for me on a mtn bike, slacker is better, so should l look for the most slack HA or is this completely different since its a bmx frame?

I’m not looking for a detailed explanation, just a few of your thoughts would be appreciated. Right now I’m looking to spend about $400, so I’m looking at the Felt sector 29, and a few of the DK frames, any other suggestions?

Thanks for your time,


Hey K.K.,

I am no expert on BMX cruisers. Here’s everything I know:

– They’ve had decades to dial in the geometry. Just buy a newer bike from a reputable company, and rock it.

– Any cruiser in that price range from a major company will be fine. I’ve heard great things about the Intense Pro Cruiser.

– Unless you’re a total maniac, you don’t need the durability of a steel frame. Anyway, I think most of the bikes in your price point are aluminum.

– BMX bike sizes go Mini, Junior, Expert then Pro, with XLs tacked on for extra length. Some companies make extra-long frames, but a Pro or Pro XL Cruiser should do the trick. Some very big men rip on BMX bikes.

– BMX bike prices are totally different from MTB prices. You can get a complete bike for $400. Yeah, build that quiver!

– The more you spend, the better the components. Just like with MTBs.

– Get whatever you can afford — in a color you like — and ride it. Pump Track Nation!

Still looking for my 24″ baby …

— Lee

12 replies
  1. Brian says:

    I have a Cheeta dual slalom bike and my girlfriend has a FMF cruiser. I never ride the cruiser even at the BMX track because it steers way too quick for me. I just ride my Cheeta because it feels more comfortable. I used to have a GT something cruiser that I got for a bit under $400 and that felt better than the race cruisers I tried. I definitely recommend test riding a few bikes because each one seemed to ride differently. Especially since you are a big guy you’ll want a longer top tube or you front foot will overlap the front tire.

  2. Tysen says:

    I’m 6’3″ 185lbs and ride a 20″ BMX bike with a 20.25″ top tube. It’s on the short side for sure but I can still ride it and jump it comfortably. It’s good for street though I’d probably go 20.5 if I could. If I was going to race or primarily dirt jump I’d probably try 21″. I haven’t ridden a cruiser so I don’t know how those numbers translate, but based on my experience BMX bikes are pretty different from mountain bikes, even slalom ones. I say you’d be fine on any standard cruiser. It’s possible you’d prefer something a little on longer side but it’s not a necessity.

    Steeper head angles work well for the flatter, smoother, slower riding done on these types of bikes. I like a steeper HA on my BMX bike than I do on my mountain bikes. Today I was thinking about how the 71 degree HA on my Surly Instigator is a touch too steep, yet I routinely ride a 74 degree BMX with not complaints. So don’t worry about a slack head angle unless you plan on riding downhill BMX tracks or you dislike steeper head angles on principle.

  3. Keith says:

    Check out Staats, Redline and SE. Staats has an 24 xl, Redlines ride big and SE has a couple of Killer Retro bikes out, OM Flyer and Quad. The high end DK frame is pretty sweet too. I would not worry too much about top tube length on a cruser. BMX is all wheelbase and riding with your ass over the rear axel, and turning some serious RPM’s. I am 6′ 2″ and I ride a 20″ with a 21″ top tude.

    I ditched my cruser and race my MTX bike at the BMX track. I still have a 20″ bike that I train on. Practice your skills on a 20″ and when you get on your slalom or MTN X bike you will be faster and smoother.

  4. Dan says:

    Look at the DK Charger. I’m 6’3″ 200lbs and I race a stock DK charger 20″ the Top tube is 21.5″. Since Bmx bars are different than MTB the effective top tube is all realitive to setup. They make a 24″ cruiser version and comes in just a hair under $400 it comes in blue and black for the ’07s. I ride a blue one so if you get one I expect to see black paint on yours.

  5. Eric says:

    Lee, just have to say Cool Site!
    I’ve just been getting back into mtn. biking after the last few years spent BMXing (Kiddo’s finally getting big enough to hit the trail). Picked up a DMR Sidekick and played around with it a bit, with a rigid fork it feels like a slow handling BMX cruiser. Also have a Diamondback Cruiser that although the angles are steeper, handles similar to a 4X bike (DMR and Specialized P1, 1st gen.). The advantage to the 24″ wheels on BMX tracks has more to do with the shorter wheelbase since the whoops are spaced for 20″er’s. A twenty incher definitely steers quite faster than a Cruiser or Mtn. bike and if you’re not used to one it can put ya your head in a hurry. But after riding one of those for a while your reaction time gets better so when you get back on the “big wheel” everything is slow motion and easy.
    Anyway, great site, and thought it was funny finding out my backyard bmx/50 track is part of the Pump Track nation!

  6. Paul says:

    The only thing I can add of value to the comments above is that you need to set up each bike (20″, 24″, mtb) as it is meant to be and not get too hung up on how each compares to the other in the angle stakes – a 20″ wil feel twitchy and small compared to a 26″ downhill bomber no matter what TT length you get – its supposed to. I am 6,3 and ride a 21″ TT on a S&M BMX with a pro stem and some decent sized bars. It feels nutts after I have been riding my DH bike for a while but a couple of hours love and your brain soon gets up to speed. I would suggest going to a good BMX shop and having a chat to the guys about what they would recommend rather than buying off a spec sheet on a website.

  7. cmc says:

    i’m 6’1″ and i find think the typical stock 24″ bmx cruisers out there tend to be a little short in the front end. i have a DK General Lee, as well as an 1994 S&M Widowmaker cruiser. the solution was to get a longer stem to add some room in the front.

    also i think the DK bmx cruiser bars that come stock are too low, if you’re tall and you get low back strain from the bmx hunch–they’re only about 3.5″. i would go with 5″ or 6″ rise bars. it will immediately make the bike more comfortable.

  8. cmc says:

    . . . if you can’t easily find 5″ or 6″ rise cruiser bars, you can buy regular bmx bars for a 20″ that have a 7″ rise but then flip your stem over on your cruiser. this will drop the bars about an inch.

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