Race vs DJ BMX bike?

Hey Lee,

I have your mountain biking book and it’s been really helpful. I plan on picking up a copy of the BMX skills book too.

I’d like to start incorporating some BMX pump track riding and BMX jumping to gain some skills as you recommend. There are also some skate parks around where I live and I thought that might be fun to try too for the hell of it. Right now I have no experience in BMX, but thought that getting a bike that is capable of BMX racing and dirt jumping would be good. From what i understand, BMX race frames and components aren’t designd to be jumped and take hits like the freestyle BMX bikes are designed to take. So I guess my question is do you think it’s better to start out with a BMX race bike and then pick up a separate dirt/freestyle BMX bike if I want to get into dirt jumping? Alternatively, would it be better to just get a chromoly dirt/freestyle BMX bike and use it for both dirtjumping and pump track riding?



Hey Ben,

Thanks for writing.

My Intense BMX Factory Alloy 20 is more than enough bike for any racing, pumping or jumping I’ll ever do. Pump track action at Lyons Bike Park.

Pro gravity racer Evan Powell pumps the heck out of his DJ 20. He could beat most of us on the track too.


• BMX race bikes are lighter and less burly than BMX DJ/freestyle bikes.

• If you’re very fast and/or very gnarly, you’ll probably benefit from the extra sharpness/burl of a race or DJ bike. Some pro BMXers I know ride their race bikes at tracks and ride their DJ bikes at the jumps. They are afraid to case their ultra-light, ultra-expensive race bikes.

• If you’re neither very fast nor very burly — if you’re a normal guy who’s looking to have some fun and learn to rip — I think either type of bike will be fine.

• If you fancy yourself more of a racer, get a race bike and jump it. If you fancy yourself more of a jumper (or you want the confidence that comes with burl), get a jump bike and race it.

• At the price points you’re likely to start (around $600-$700 is plenty), a race bike isn’t going to be crazy light. It’ll be plenty strong.

BMX racers go huge, and their bikes hold up just fine. Check out this step-up by Chris Powell (Chris just graduated magna cum laude from law school; total badass).

As always: find a bike you can afford, set it up for you, learn to ride it.


— Lee

Know more. Have more fun!

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4 replies
  1. Jim says:

    Great to see you back from Sea Otter and issuing sage advice on all things BRAAP. Congrats on your 2nd place in the DS.

  2. chance says:

    Totally can get a solid “race” bike and jump the heck out of it, the rims will be your biggest issue, IMHO… I ran a schwinn superstock brian foster edition for many years for DJ, then it was stolen… but I just built a burlier set of wheels for dj and a nicer lighter set for racing… that would be my suggestions, unless you are going to start riding park then you will want a freeride bike because you can’t run pegs on a 3/8 race axel and a freeride bike comes with 14mm axels which add a ton of weight. Good luck!

  3. Eric H says:

    My two cents as an older guy who rides dj and still a bit of bmx. Go with a cromoly dirt/park bike unless you are going to get heavily into racing. The new style dj bmx are just as light as your avg race bike (~25lb) which is plenty light and the cromoly frames are tougher smacking concrete at the skatepark but more forgiving casing jumps.
    Really the only thing to watch out for is the rear triangle is usually shorter on a dj bike so they are easier to loop out on. Other than that a cromoly bmx is money for all around use.

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