Why Are BMX Bikes So Small?

My bicycle motocross is the smallest two-wheeler in our family’s garage, and it’s also one that I ride less frequently unless I’m up for some new stunts and complex tricks. If you’re anything like me, you may have already thought about the size of a BMX. So why are BMX bikes so small?

BMX bike are small to enable you do simple tricks and perform complex stunts with ease. Their small cranks, wheels, frames, and sprockets play a part in ensuring a higher level of performance. Given their small size, BMX bikes happen to be lightweight and therefore better in terms of performance.

It’s easy to underestimate a BMX bike based on its size. And it’s only until you get on the bike and start performing stunts and riding at short bursts of speed that you realize just how powerful these bikes are.

We’ll look at what makes BMX bikes small later in this guide. For now, let’s go deeper into why these two-wheelers take on such size that they have.

7 Reasons Why BMX Bikes Are So Small

1. BMX Bikes Are Small to Give More Grip

A small as I’m willing to admit that a BMX bike is, it’s not without a good reason.

For what it’s worth, the smaller grips, shorter cranks, and narrower handlebars make BMX bikes good at street and skate park riding at short bursts of speed.

Smaller than the typical road and mountain bikes, BMX bikes should be easier to grip and perform different kinds of tricks on.

2. The Size Gives You More Pedaling Power

bmx bike pedaling power

Here’s the deal:

When it comes to bmxing, your legs will always be straight at the very end of the bottom stroke. That’s why you generate a high level of more pedaling power as you ride and perform tricks and stunts.

Another thing that’s already obvious, yet worth restating, is that BMX bikes have lower seats.

Placed in such a way that it presses against the frame, a rider does get sufficient protection, which keeps them from hitting their legs and other body parts against the frame when riding the BMX.  

3. BMX Bikes Are Small For Better Clearance

I’ve mentioned more times than I can even count that BMX bikes have their seat in the lowest position a bike saddle will ever be. That, if anything, contributes to a smaller construction, which is typically something we really aren’t accustomed to in the cycling niche.

With the seat in its very lowest position, a BMX rider gets better clearance, which means they have enough room to do jump motions and perform acrobatic moves without a problem.

That’s not all.

Every BMX doesn’t have a suspension system, which really is a good thing. At least if you leap off the bike, your legs will easily soak up the pressure the moment you land without being too harsh on your joints.

4. BMX Bikes Are Small And Safe From Damages

Building a BMX bike is an expensive affair, but the aftermath of the construction is without a doubt praiseworthy. Every component that makes up the bike features a solid build of some sort, and as small as the bike may be, a BMX is sturdy enough to stand up to any kind of damage.

To be clear, the components used to build BMX bikes don’t cost pocket change, in my opinion at least. It’s no wonder you can bang them around for as long as you can wish and they’ll keep standing up to the regular use and abuse.

5. Small BMX Bikes Are Easy To Carry Around 

If you’re the one person that just can’t go places without bringing a bike with you, a BMX may be a good fit.

Our study on BMX bike weight shows that they’re quite lightweight, with the smallest weighing as low as 20 pounds. The heaviest BMX bike out there is only 28 pounds, which, again, isn’t on the higher end if you do a comparison with other bike types.

Given how light the bikes are, a BMX shouldn’t be difficult to carry and bring with you wherever you go. They should also be easy to load and offload from a bike rack.

6. BMX Bikes Are Small To Reduce Weight 

If you’ve been into BMX for a while, you already know that manufacturers make them to be as lightweight as possible for better performance.

If anything, the move to use materials such as aluminum and Chromoly steel to make the frame all contributes to ensuring robustness yet lightweight construction. So in addition to using lightweight and less components on the bike, manufacturers have also trimmed down the size of the bike, which contribute to the overall lightness. 

In bmxing, smaller means lighter and lighter is better than the typical bike. At the very least, the BMX bike ends up being easier to maneuver and control even over obstacles.

Apparently, the weight of all BMX bikes falls in the range between 10 and 28 pounds, which are lightweight enough for riders who want to accelerate faster and experience that short burst of speed within the first few seconds of pedaling.

7. Manufacturers Built Them For Kids

bmx bike kids


I know how that sounds, but the initial intention of manufacturers was that BMX bikes would be suitable for kids and teens.

After all, their construction clearly indicates that they have fewer components than regular bikes, hence easy for the kids to control.

But when bmxing became such a big deal and a huge sport, even adults got into BMX riding, and that has become a culture with deeper roots in the cycling world.

Today, big people use these bikes for racing and freestyle stunts. And while manufacturers are trying their best to accommodate adult riders by making BMX bikes available in different sizes, they still keep the sizes as small as possible for better performance.

What Makes BMX Bikes Smaller?

My early days with BMX bikes involved asking too many questions about the bike and doing as many experiments as I could. And one of the questions I always asked myself is “what makes a BMX bike so small?” in the first place.

The answer to this question is simpler than you can even imagine. If anything, it’s all on the size of the components used for the build.

1. The Cranks

The cranks on BMX are shorter, about 6.5 inches long on average, thus giving riders more clearance necessary to perform their tricks.

The shorter cranks make BMX easier to pedal especially since the mechanism is closer to the center. Also, the small cranks make it easier for BMX riders to get hold of the pedal fast when performing spins and doing whips.

2. Wheels

BMX bikes have smaller wheels usually 20 inches in size. The small wheels are ideal for stability when riding fast at short bursts of speed.

bmx bike small wheels

You can, of course, upgrade or downgrade the wheels depending on your riding needs.

For example you can upgrade to 24-inch wheels if you are interested in riding a BMX bike off-road or switch to the 16-inch wheels if you want to have shorter riders get involved in the BMX sport.

3. Sprockets

BMX bikes feature smaller sprockets that perform much better than the larger options. The small sprockets on BMX bikes are so sturdy that they can’t easily bend.

One of the best things about small sprockets on BMX is that they’re chain-friendly. In other words, they go easy on the bike’s chain, so you don’t have to worry about it breaking and demanding frequent replacements. 

Are BMX Bikes Supposed To Be Small?

First, BMX bikes come in different sizes, so you can expect that some are bigger than others are. Even with the variation in size, you’ll hardly come across a BMX bike bigger than 29 inches.

Keep in mind that manufacturers make BMX bikes to be small and with very few components to keep the weight as low as possible.

From what I understand, though, a BMX bike isn’t necessarily supposed to be small. However, given that they perform better for stunts and tricks over traditional bikes, going small is such a smart decision when it comes to BMX bikes.

If you compare a few BMX bikes on the market, you’ll notice the variation in size as something quite significant. For example, BMX bikes with long top tube length and large wheels are idea for riders 6 feet and above in height. 

Also Read:

Is BMX Riding Dangerous?

Can a BMX Bike Fit in a Car?

Can You Sit On A BMX Bike?

How Fast Can A BMX Bike Go?

Final Thoughts:  Why Are BMX Bikes So Small?

Manufacturers designed BMX specifically for kids, which is the primary reason why they’re so small in the first place. However, as bmxing grew to become such a serious sport, even adults found themselves riding these bikes and getting more comfortable with them.

As big riders continued to explore bmxing, it came out clear that there are more reasons why BMX bikes are as small. And given that we’ve discussed all the reasons in this guide, I believe this is the only post you’ll ever need if you ever ask yourself why BMX bikes are small again.