Traditionally, BMX bikes are perfect for stunts and incredible tricks. But for those of us who might want to take the bike beyond street and skate parks, it’s easy to wonder whether a bicycle motocross can even hold. Put in another way, can a BMX bike go off-road?
A BMX bike can go off-road for a SHORT distant because it has a rigid frame structure that allows it to ride over aggressive trails. Sturdy enough to tackle different terrains, including rugged and bumpy trails, the BMX should ride well off-road and even allow you to do some tricks as you ride.
Naturally, it may seem like a silly idea to use a BMX for the purpose other than the intended. But the roadies who’ve put the bicycle motocross to the test, myself included, agree that you can ride the BMX even off-road.
BMX bikes won’t go as fast on trails, unless your intention is a few minutes of short bursts of speed. Technically, the rugged and bumpy trails only allows for slow ride, but eve riding at a slower pace just as much fun as doing tricks and stunts in street and skate parks.
We’ll go into details about riding a BMX off-road in a moment. For now let’s have a look at some of the best BMX that you can actually ride on rugged, bumpy roads just fine.
Best Off-Road BMX Bikes Overview
Below is a list of some of the best BMX bikes for off-road riding, which are ideal for beginners and experienced BMX riders alike:
- Mafiabikes Kush 2 20-inch BMX Bike (View on Amazon)
- Mongoose BMX-Bicycles Legion BMX (View on Amazon)
- Elite 20-Inch Freestyle BMX Bicycle (View on Amazon)
- Schwinn Sting Pro BMX Bike (View on Amazon)
We’ll look at each of the bikes in summary later in this guide. For now, let’s look at the reasons why BMX bikes are good for off-road riding.
Understanding BMX Functionality
Every BMX bike is a two-wheeler for dirt tracks that features obstacle such as whoops and jumps. Small and rigid in design, BMX bikes do well on smooth tracks far much better than they ever will on any other road type.
Bmxing stresses more on timing and body position, making BMX bikes the ideal and optimal solution for BMX tracks.
Take whoops, for example. By definition they are a track’s rhythm section that pulls a BMX back and up close to the crest and down on the downside, allowing you to gain speed for jumps and stunts without the need to pedal.
Then there are jumps. They are all about smooth leads and proper transitions, which require better body positioning, timing, and pumping techniques for a smooth landing after each jump.
It follows then, that, BMX bikes are suitable for fast riding over short distance, and stunt and trick performance.
But it doesn’t end there.
From where I sit, I think that bicycle motocross comes across as a somewhat misunderstood bike category when it comes to what you can use it for as a roadie.
For what it’s worth, BMX bikes are quite versatile in terms of functionality, although there are limit beyond which their versatility is lacking. That’s why it’s significant to examine whether or not you can ride them off-road.
3 Reasons to Ride a BMX Off-Road
I reckon you didn’t just ask if a BMX could go off-road for the sake of asking. Which means it’s highly likely you also want to know what the benefits of bmxing off-road are.
Here are 3 benefits of riding a BMX bike off-road:
1. Riding BMX Off-Road Boost Strength And Power
Unlike road cycling, off-road bmxing gives you a more intensive interval style workout from the sudden steep climbs and top end hits.
There are times when you’ll slog through mud as you ride your BMX, and that’s just a better alternative to a paid gym session because you build more strength and power.
2. Cycling a BMX Bike Off-road Gets You A Total Body Workout
As you continue to enjoy the adventure of off-road bmxing, you even get more total body workout in a way you can’t when cruising on a BMX in the city streets.
It’s because you’re riding on rugged and bumpy terrain, lift the wheels over obstacles, and even get the power to ride uphill. As your center of gravity and body weight, you maintain the body balance and BMX bike traction necessary to challenge your muscles far more than you ever can on the road.
3. Riding A BMX Bike Off-road Enhances Your Pedaling Efficiency
Riding a BMX bike off-road can be tricky, but it can be fun all the same if you master the art.
Being off-road really isn’t an opportunity to punish the pedals with heavy smashing. If anything, trying to pedal harder in a loose, slippery climb can cause you to spin out and find yourself of the bike.
You need more pedaling efficiency rather. Teach yourself to develop a more circular, even, and smooth pedaling style. Doing so gives you a smoother and more economical riding.
Best Off Road BMX Bikes Reviews
1. Mafia Kush
The Mafia Kush features components found in the brand’s Higher 3, with a similar geometry that easily matches up with your riding needs.
The Mafia Kush is perfect for those accustomed to style, especially because it offers its own level of street credibility.
2. Mongoose Legion BMX Bike
We’ve known Mongoose Legion BMX to be a starter bike for those who need the 20-inch model. But it’s also a good pick for those who want to perform complex stunts and special tricks on street and skate parks.
Featuring a frame made of HI-Ten steel, the Legion isn’t the lightest bike in the category. Yet, the construction is so sturdy that the BMX can stand up to a lot of punishment, and therefore good for riding off-road.
3. Stealth Elite 20-Inch Freestyle BMX Bike
While known for their road and triathlon bikes, Elite does quite well, too, with the Elite BMX bike.
With the steel, bars, and fork made of steel, one-piece Chromoly cranks, and alloy stem, the bike is powerful enough to ride over rugged and bumpy terrains of road, the same way it does on skate and street parks.
Ideal for beginners and those who have some tricks up their sleeves, the grinding pegs and rear brakes included in the Elite BMX bikes let you take that off-road ride to the next level albeit over a short distance.
4. Schwinn Sting Pro BMX Bike
A Chromoly frame would have been better to make the Schwinn Sting Pro BMX lighter. But the Hi-Ten steel, despite the somewhat heavy load, makes the bike a truly great performer in its category.
Additional features that makes this a BMX bike for the diehard roadies include rattrap pedals, gum walled tires, high-raise bar, and a chrome finish for protection against elements.
3 Reasons Why BMX Bikes Shouldn’t Go Off-road
1. BMX Bikes Have One Break
I’ve come across suggestions that BMX bikes aren’t suitable for off-road because they have bad brakes.
In my opinion, the best way to put it would be that BMX bikes don’t have the braking power required to do well in most off-road conditions.
Let’s get one thing out of the way first:
A BMX is a bike for racing and sports. If you’re using yours for any purpose other than the intended, you’re in the testing (and trial and error) business, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
But because BMX bikes have only one brake, they can’t be useful in all off-road conditions. Remember, riding off-road means navigating through obstacles such as big stones and deep holes. And you will need more braking power to make turns easily, which is something you won’t get from BMX bikes.
You can add another brake to your BMX, but that means you’ll also be adding additional weight and creating less clearance in the case of doing tricks and performing stunts.
2. BMX Bikes Have Small Wheels
BMX bikes have small wheels, and small wheels are a bad idea for riding off-roads for an extended period.
In skate and street parks, BMX bikes wheels allow you to make quick jumps and swing the bike in midair.
However, the small wheels only ride well on smoother trails but uncomfortable everywhere else. If anything, the tires won’t hold up in areas that are rock or full of roots.
3. BMX Bikes Don’t Have Suspension
Standard mountain bikes ride well off-road because they have a suspension system that soak up impact from rough and bumpy trails to give you a more comfortable ride.
On the other hand, BMX bikes don’t have suspension setup and therefore can’t ride well on such rugged terrains.
BMX Mountain Bike Crossover: A Good Idea Or A Silly Move?
Right in the beginning, we stated clearly that BMX bikes are good for off-road but ONLY for a SHORT distance.
So for the best off-road cycling experience, it’s a good idea to consider BMX mountain bike crossover. The changes will alter the structure of your BMX, which means you must be willing to pay the cost.
With that said, here’s how to make your BMX suitable for extended off-road cycling:
1. Raise Your Seat Post
Raise the seat post so that the saddle is higher than the actual position of the BMX. You can even get a new seat post if you need a longer one, provided it can fit onto the type of BM bike that you have.
Don’t hesitate to go the extra mile to change the saddle if you have to. That’s so especially if you believe that a more padded BMX bike seat can make a different.
2. Switch Your Gear System
We do know that BMX bikes have one gear. And while that’s good enough for bmxing, it’s not quite as performance efficient when it comes to riding the bike off-road.
Something has to change as far as the gear system is concerned.
The tip here is to switch to a multiple gear system that can fit your BMX bike. With multiple gears, you get more flexibility and freedom to control the speed of the bike depending on the terrain. Not to mention it ensures you get a good grip when riding off-road.
3. Upgrade Your Brakes
Almost all BMX bikes have one brake, which isn’t sufficient for off-road riding especially in the case where you need more power. Consider adding a second brake so that you get more stopping power.
4. Change The Wheels
Take off the 20-inch wheels and replace them with the 24-inch wheels to make the bike suitable for mountain bike riding.
But keep in mind that the performance won’t be good because the structure of the bike is still 100% BMX.
Also Read: Are BMX Bikes Good For Cruising?
As you can see, BMX bikes can go off-road quite well. You only need to make a few adjustments here and there, like adding an additional break and raising the seat post, to make your BMX good enough to go off-road.
Of course, some people will argue that the geometry of the bike doesn’t allow off-road cycling.
In a way, they could be right, but if you’re the one kind of roadie that would love to experiment and experience the off-road for a shorter distance on a BMX, don’t hesitate to get out there and have as much fun as you can.