Constantly crashing on the BMX bike


Hi Lee, I’ve got a question for you that your blog readers might find entertaining, if not useful. I’m a lifelong cyclist and have been riding (small “r”) for over 30 years. Road, track, cyclocross, triathlon, touring, commuting, mtb, and have just recently started to dabble in BMX. For some inexplicable reason I crash nearly ever session. Sometimes it’s the front tyre that washes out. Other times it’s the rear. Sometimes I have no idea what happened – I just find myself rolling in the dirt trying not to get run over. Sure I crash from time to time on the mtb and during cyclocross, and have gone down on the road a few times as well – but I generally know why and have *never* crashed as much as I seem to on the BMX. Any idea as to what’s up?

Thanks,
Khai


Hey Khai,

Great question! Thoughts:

BMX bikes are sketchy. Especially if you’re used to bigger bikes with bigger wheels. In the right hands, a 20 is incredibly quick. In the wrong hands, it’s a tempestuous little beast.


Crushing the front of my Intense Factory Alloy 20 into a loose corner. Now that I’ve been riding a 29er, this would take some getting used to.


BMX tracks are technical.
Lots of changes in pitch, elevation and direction. Unless your balance and range of motion are dialed, you’re gonna be out of position most of the time. If your front or back wheel is washing out, you are likely too far back or forward on the bike.


Check out this BMX madness. From the book Pro BMX Skills.

BMX racing is intense. You’re putting down full power and aggression, and so are the other seven guys. Riding and racing are very different, and racing tends to reveal weakness (and strength!).

Given all this, if you’re not Riding with a capital R, a BMX adventure is gonna make you crash more often than your average road or MTB spin.

It’s no wonder good BMXers tend to embarrass mountain bikers even on mountain bike trails. BMX bikes, terrain and situations develop — and require — a whole lot of kung fu.

Prescription
• Learn to Ride. Tons of info in the book Pro BMX Skills.
• Slow down and lay off the big stuff until you are more dialed.
• If you can’t give full anger to the 20, try switching to a 24-inch cruiser or even a dirt jump 26.

I can ride my Intense Factory Alloy 20 just fine, but I’m more confident (and in turn faster) on my Specialized P3 dirt jump/pump machine.


Taming the tempest. The amount of pump you get from a 20-inch BMX is incredible compared with a mountain bike.

Bikes are rad.

Lee


Know more. Have more fun!

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6 replies
  1. Khai says:

    Thanks Lee! I do have your BMX book (all three, actually) and the primary reason I started riding BMX is to make me a better [MTB] rider. It doesn’t hurt that there’s a decent race series here in Dublin (where I’m temporarily posted) or that I was able to scoop a BMX for pretty cheap (and don’t have a MTB with me). I never really thought about the wheelsize as being that significant… I’ll dig further into Pro BMX Skills focusing on body positioning for now, and I suppose a trip to Co will be in my future! I definitely need to up my Kung Fu across the board…

    Do let me know if you plan on coming up to Vancouver, BC, or even if you’re in the Seattle/Portland area. A road trip to take in a skills session would be well worth it.

    Reply
  2. Chris says:

    Wow, didn’t think I’d find anyone posting from Ireland here. If you haven’t alrerady drop up to cherry orchard indoor bmx track (www.bmxpursuits.ie) or out to Ratoath BMX Track for soem weekend riding on a full spec national track.

    Looking at getting this book for my 10/11 yr olds as one of them has a birthday coming up pretty soon.

    Chris

    Reply
  3. chance says:

    Khai, keep at it and keep rippin’ you will be so much better on your MTB when you get back on it! I use to race BMX growing up, took like 4 years off the bike completely got in to MTB picked it up so quick and now I have a cruiser again and I’m starting to race indoor this winter to hone the skills even more! and next pay check I’m planning to buy lee’s BMX book since the MTB one helped me so much! thanks lee! Good luck Khai!

    Reply
  4. Blah says:

    I, too, have recently started riding BMX, albeit I started on them and have interspersed my MTB riding with them throughout the years. Yes, BMX does demand more kung fu, but I have found that geometry makes a LOT of difference. I’m 5’11”, and I’m riding a street BMX with a 21.25″ top tube, and my chainstays are at 14.25″. Most serious street riders my size are running 21″ or even 20.8″ top tubes and 13.75″ or even shorter chainstays. My layout is long but gives me a lot of stability. And, actually, the layout I’m running would be more akin to a race BMX geometry for someone my size. 14.5″ – 15.5″ chainstays are not atypical for a race BMX. Also, race BMX’s typically have slacker head angles by about a degree. It’s a noticeable difference. Tire width is another factor. There’s a huge difference between a 2.25″ vs. a 1.75″ tire. Fatter tires slow you down, but so does crashing on a twitchy bike.

    Bottom line: geometry and setup on BMX bikes can make a huge difference.

    Reply
  5. Khai says:

    That’s an interesting point – “race” vs “park or street” geometry never even occurred to me. I have a Giant Method 01 which has a 20.5″TT and 13.5″ chainstays (assuming one measures c-c and cbb to axle). It also has a tiny chainring (better for tricks?). I’m ~5’5. I picked up the bike for a steal, and “selected” it primarily because I got it for such a good price – but also because it was a proper cro-moly frame with decent components. As a lifelong cyclist it always shocks me that major players make and market “hi-ten” frames (and they aren’t priced like kids bikes). Now I’m not about to blame the bike for my ineptitude but it does stand to reason that a bike designed with tricks in mind might be less inherently stable. If I was trying to whip it around underneath me mid-air a highly stable bike that tracks really well might be a negative thing.

    Ah well – I suppose it will make going back to the “big” bike that much different!

    Reply

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