Pump track weapon: small and inexpensive

Our man Kevin just completed his second series of Lee Likes Clinics, and he wants a BMX bike for pump track purposes. Good call, I say.

Kevin rocks my Intense Cruiser during a clinic.

Hey Lee!

Good times man!

Hey, I think I am going to pull the trigger on a bike for riding on the pump tracks. I was thinking about getting something like one of those cool little 20 inch bikes you have that I rode up at the Fix.

I’m trying to go as low budget as possible but still purchase something that will work. Can you give me any advice? I am hoping to find something on Craigslist, but since I’m so new, I don’t know if I should be looking for certain gear ratios. wheel types, whatever … Also, how do you size a bike that is already so dang small? Brands I should avoid? look for?



When Ian started riding last year, he was all about the BMX bike. And it’s helped make him incredibly smooth in pump situations. Now that he’s rocking the P. and SX, it’s ON!

Hey Kevin,

Right on! You know what they say … once you ride 20, you never go back. Or something like that. In fact, I love going back to the MTB after riding the 20 — it makes me feel like a rock star.

A 20 for the pump track. Nice. Here’s why:

Budget. If you want to go “as low budget as possible,” a 20 is the ticket. Even more cost effective than a single speed DJ hardtail.

Absolute, unadulterated pump action. Riding a 20 on the pump track is like smoking unfiltered Camels. Wait, bad metaphor. Nothing will reward you more for good technique. Nothing will punish you harder for bad technique. That’s a recipe for success, right?

No compromise. Knowing you’re a 6-something mountain biker, I could steer you toward a 24″ cruiser, but — bah hooey! — a cruiser is a compromise between a 20 and a DJ hardtail. Good for many riders. But, if you have the skill and gumption (which you do), a 20 will be more fun — and it’s a quick ticket to your Pump Fu black belt.

Things to look for:

Brand. As with MTBs, all major companies make great bikes. My BMX bikes, the ones you rode, are Intense BMX. Great bike designed by BMX/MTB legend Toby Henderson. Redline, Haro, GT, Mongoose, Felt, Fit … the list goes on.

Style. In BMX you have race bikes and DJ/freestyle bikes. Race bikes tend to be longer and slightly slacker. You want a race bike.

Size. You will want a Pro XL. It will feel small compared to your MTB, but that’s about as big as BMX bikes get. My Intense 20 and 24 are Pro XLs — the same size rocked by most pro BMXers, many of whom are big brutes. Some companies make a Pro XXL. If you find one you like, rock it.

Spec. As with MTBs, the more you spend, the more you get. Intense has three basic price points: $400, $700 and $1,200. My 20 and cruiser are in the middle tier. The harder you ride, the more you want to spend. I understand about budget, but I’m a big believer in new bikes. Especially if you plan to pin it.

Gear ratios. Wait, isn’t this a pump track bike!?!? BMX bikes should come with gears that are appropriate to the size/strength of the intended rider. Run stock gearing.

Fit. Check this out:

From How BMX bikes should fit

If you get a stock Pro XL, it will be close. Don’t try to make it fit like your MTB. It never will!

Embrace the 20, and the 20 shall embrace you.

— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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