Is It Illegal to Ride a BMX Without Brakes?

I’ve been riding my BMX bike for three years now. And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in between those 36 months, it’s that it’s safer to have brakes on a BMX than no brakes at all.

ride bmx without brakes

It seems to be a different case for the more experience riders who’ve mastered the art of stopping their BMX without necessarily needing brakes to do so. This begs the question:

Is It Illegal to Ride a BMX Without Brakes?

It’s illegal to ride a BMX bike without brakes in public and you’re likely to get a ticket for doing so. While bike laws vary from state to state, they all require BMX bikes fitted with at least one brake for safety. If you must take the brakes off, you can only ride the bike legally off road.

In a way, going brakeless on a BMX bike seems to have shifted away from being a problem into an idea that pro cyclists use to show how they can control BMX speed without the need for stopping power.

For some BMXers, riding without brakes, especially on a bike whose frame or bar can rotate up to 360 degrees, can help with the performance of advance tricks such as tail whip and barspin.

That notwithstanding, riding a BMX bike without brakes is legally unacceptable. So unless you intend to ride off road, you should make sure the bike has at least one brake.

Why Do Some BMX Bike Have No Brakes?

bmx bike no brake

Some BMX bikes don’t have brakes because their riders have removed them intentionally.

Removing the brakes not only reduces the weight of the bike by a small fraction, it also ensures brake cables and handles don’t get in the way when performing tricks.

Given that the bike is lighter, the rider finds the bike a lot easier to maneuver while moving faster at the same time.

Should I Go Brakeless on a BMX Bike?

Don’t remove brakes from your bicycle motocross if you’re a beginner to BMX because you still aren’t skilled enough to control the bike without the braking mechanism. After all, you are at a level where you can only perform simple tricks, yet which requires that the BMX must have brakes.

During the initial stages of training on a BMX, you should learn other speed control techniques that don’t require the use of brakes. That include placing your foot on tires and controlling your balance to control how fast you move.

If you’re confident that you can control your bike without brakes, and that you’re ready for the more advanced tricks, try going brakeless. But keep in mind that it will take time to adjust to bmxing without brakes.

How to Stop a BMX Bike Without Brakes

If you’ve chosen to ride a BMX without brakes, it’s likely that you’re already past the beginner stage and can comfortably use other means as your stopping power.

stopping bmx bike no brakes

But if you’re yet to explore ways to stop a BMX without brakes, here are some ideas you can use:

  • Press your shoe treads on the rear tire to create friction high enough to slow down the bike. This method causes the treads to wear out fast, which means you will have to replace your shoes more frequently.
  • If you’re moving at a slower speed, plant the right or left foot on the ground and the lean the bike on either side. Skid the rear tire 180 degrees to create friction high enough to stop the bike.
  • With one foot, drag the heel slowly on the ground until the bike comes to a stop.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Should BMX Bikes Have Brakes?

A BMX bike should have at least one brake to ride on public roads. You can have this fitted on the front or on the rear.

Some riders choose to remove the brake to trim down the weight of the bike a little and to get more flexibility and freedom to do more advanced trick such as barspin.

Keep in mind, though, that if you must ride your BMX without brakes, you can only do so off road.

2. Why Don’t BMX Bikes Have Front Brakes?

BMX bikes don’t have front brakes to give BMXers more clearance for their movements. Also, a BMX bike that doesn’t have the front brake tends to be much lighter than one that has.

Riders who have become so used to their BMX bikes based on months of bmxing experience may even find the presence of front brakes on BMX bikes to be more of an obstacle than a solution.

3. Is It Safe to Ride a BMX Bike Without Brakes?

The answer to this question depends on you BMX bike mastery.

If you’re an average cyclist who is just getting into bmxing, you shouldn’t ride a BM without brakes. Make sure that the model you buy comes fitted with either a front or a rear brake because is where your stopping power lies.

You can go brakeless if you have been bmxing for quite some time and have mastered the art of stopping a BMX without using the brakes.

And don’t forget to have protective gears on. Equip yourself with an appropriate helmet, the right kind of bmxing shoes, and protective pads.

4. Is It Easy to Ride A BMX Bike With No Brakes?

Depending on your experience, it may be easy or hard to ride a BMX bike without brakes.

You shouldn’t go brakeless if you’re just a beginner. Try simple tricks first and use the brake as much as you even as you move to more advanced tricks.

Also, learn how you can stop a BMX bike without using brakes, and then you can become confident enough to ride a BMX that doesn’t have brakes.

Also Read: Are BMX Bikes Fixed Gear?

Final Thoughts

Speaking of bike laws, it’s illegal to ride a BMX bike in public roads without brakes. You are more than likely to get a ticket if the local authority finds you bmxing on public roads without at least one brake fitted on the bike.

Even with bike laws varying from state to state, a common principle is that every BMX bike should come fitted with at least a front or a rare brake. And that’s for the purpose of a pedestrian and rider’s safety.

Quite too often, BMX riders go brakeless because they want more flexibility and bike control. With brake cables out of the way, simple and advanced tricks are easier to do. If you choose to do this, you can only legally ride the bike off road.