Are BMX Bikes Good For Trails?

Cycling is a sport that doesn’t seem to have limits as to where you can take your bike. Well, at least that’s true until someone mentions a BMX bike. Even with a robust build, it seems there are places where BMX can’t ride well. That brings us to the question, are BMX bikes good for trails?

BMX bikes are good for trails because they feature a strong frame design that allows a rider to maneuver rough and aggressive paths. Their shorter length, lower wheelbase, and lightweight build make them ideal for doing stunts and making impact jumps even on rugged terrains.

ride bmx in trail

So if you’ve ever wanted to take a BMX bike off-road and wondered whether it would perform well, you can do so with confidence knowing that it will.

There’s however one important thing you need to keep in mind as far as riding a BMX bike on trails is concerned.

You can ride a BMX bike on trails, but only for a short period in short burst of speed. Given that the bike is ideal for tricks and stunts, you shouldn’t go full blown into long distance cycling as doing so could cause body strains and possibly induce joint injuries.

In this article, we’ll dive even deeper into the topic and tell you more about riding your BMX bike to places far beyond where you’ve restricted yourself.

Let’s get to it. 

Why You Should Not Ride A BMX Bike On The Trails For Long

While I’m confident that BMX bikes are good for trails, you really shouldn’t attempt to rid them off-road for a long time.

The key takeaway is that although BMX bikes are good for trails, you shouldn’t be riding is for an EXTENDED period. 

Here’s why:

1. BMX Bikes Have One Gear

Some riders like to say that these bikes don’t have gears. That’s true, but not in the way many of us understand it.

Technically what it means is that BMX bikes have one-speed gear system, which means that even if they can go off-road, they can’t tackle all the trails with as much efficiency as they should.

We know that gears are important. To say the least, they let you determine how fast and easy you wish to ride depending on the nature of the trail.

But since BMX bike doesn’t have a robust and flexible gearing system, it can be difficult to use them on different terrains for an extended period.

2. BMX Bikes Have Their Seats In A Lower Position 

You don’t need to be some pro roadie to know this. You can spot it by simply looking at the BMX.

bmx bike low seat

If anything, BMX low seat position makes the bike the worst choice for extended cycling, and they won’t be effective especially in the mountain trails where comfort and control is key.

Plus, it’s hard to predict the nature of the trail most of the time. So if you’re going to be riding on rough, bumpy, and mountainous regions, you had better get a bike with an appropriate seating position to help you with that.

3. BMX Bikes Don’t Have Suspension

Trail bikes include front suspension forks to absorb as much impact from rugged and bumpy terrains as possible. The result is a ride that feels smooth even when on the roughest road you’ve ever been.

It’s different with BMX.

They don’t have the suspension fork, which means you have to use your body as the suspension. If you have the experience, your effort might pay off to the extent of keeping the wheels working.

But you won’t manage as much impact because BMX bikes aren’t ideal for bumpy, rough, or rugged roads.

Can I Convert My BMX Bike For Off-road Cycling?

BMX bikes are already good for off road the way they come. However, you don’t get the best riding experience from them over long distance.

Those who’ve tried to commute on BMX for extended period tell stories of how uncomfortable and painful they felt after such a long ride. And that’s the cost we sometimes have to pay for using a BMX for the wrong purpose.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m not saying you’re an irresponsible roadie. Rather, your experiments with BMX have to have limits beyond which you shouldn’t even dare stretch.

You can still do a BMX mountain bike crossover, and it’s apparently easy. Here’s how:

1. Raise the Seat Position

Because a BMX bike seat is low and riding in a standing position for hours on the trail doesn’t make sense, you need to raise the saddle position so that it’s at a comfortable level.

Make sure seat aligns with the height of your waist. That way, you’ll be able to ride the BMX in a more comfortable seating position.

2. Upgrade BMX Gear System

I’ve mentioned time and again that BMX bikes have only one gear, which isn’t enough for trail cycling.

You’re going to go on some of the bumpiest and roughest roads out there. Not to mention you are going to have to ascend and descend at some points.

The standard BMX gear simply won’t cut here. And unless you upgrade to a multiple gear system the BMX bike becomes completely duff when put to intense trail riding.

So if you must use it for trail for an extended period, switch up the gears.

A 6-speed gear system is an optimal option in my opinion. At least it gives you the flexibility and freedom to get a good grip off road and maneuver the bike with a great deal of precision. 

3. Tweak The Braking System

I have never for once thought about riding a bike without brakes. If anything, I need some stopping power to control how fast the bike moves to be completely sure that I’m safe.

bmx bike brake upgrade

If you’ve ever even cared to look at an image of BMX bike, you will notice that they only have one brake. While that’s good enough for pro bmxing enthusiasts, it’s not so for everyone else

Add one more brake to the bike before it goes off road. That way you can have more stopping power and keep safe from injuries.

4. Change BMX Bike Wheels

You can try to change the wheels by installing bigger ones. 24 or 26-inch wheels seem to be the best upgrade in most cases. Or you can swap the current wheels with about the same size of mountain bike wheels.

Keep in mind though that this trick doesn’t do much to make a BMX comfortable for trail. At the end of the day, BMX bikes have smaller frames and the materials used for construction are all BMX.

What Are BMX Bikes Good For?

BMX bikes are good for many things, but mostly they are suitable for performing tricks and stunts. Think of no handers, 360-degree, bunny hops, daredevil tricks, and J hops, and no bike lets you do these better than a BMX.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re a beginner starting out with simple tricks on trails or you’re already an experienced rider who can go anywhere a BMX bike should. There’s always going to be bicycle motocross suitable for you.

It doesn’t stop there.

BMX bikes are also good for regular urban riding at low speed thanks to the standard frame, thinner tires, and one-speed gear. Don’t shy away from using the bike to show off at skate and street parks as you learn to do new tricks and build your speed over short distances.

Can You Ride A BMX Bike On The Street?

You can ride a BMX bike on the street as slow or fast as you can. Just remember that the streets are always busy, filled with people and moving vehicles, so it’s important to be extra careful.

I suggest that you keep tricks and stunts for skate and street parks so you don’t injure someone by accident.

Also, make sure the bike has brakes because you can’t ride a BMX without brakes in the public

From what I understand, BMX bikes are good for street riding because they have a small-sized frame and a structure so robust that you can get the ride wrong.

Keep in mind though that the riding experience won’t be as good as what you get if you chose to use a touring bike instead. 

Also Read: How Fast Can A BMX Bike Go?

Final Thoughts

We’ve seen that you can ride a BMX bike on trails just fine. But for your bike to be suitable for dirt, gravel, and rough paths, it must meet a few conditions.

Your BMX bike has to be lightweight enough to ride without putting too much strain on your body. In addition to having a lower center of gravity, the wheels of the bike should be wide enough and guarantee to offer better grip on rough surfaces.

Make sure the frame is made of low-friction material. That’s because you want nothing else other than a smoother riding experience, especially on shady trails and wet paths.