BMX vs. Mountain Bike: Which One’s Better?

BMX Bike Rider

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Has it been quite some time since you have been toying around the idea of buying a bike and can’t decide whether to pick the BMX or the mountain bike? Well, we will make the task of determining easier for you. 

In the fewest words possible, we would say none is better than the other. They’re just different from each other. The purpose that one serves is so very different from the other that it’s hard to deduce which one is better. But, based on what your requirements are, we can most definitely conclude which one’s better for you. 

The BMX is an off-road bicycle used for racing and stunt riding. It is crafted to handle quick changes in speed, extreme mobility, and strength to tackle the jumps and stunts. 

The MTB, too, is an off-road bicycle, but it is designed for shock absorption, ability to handle a variety of terrains, hill climbing, etc.

Let’s see the comparison further in detail:

BMX & Mountain Bikes: An Overview

Frame

Since both the bikes serve a different purpose, their construction is quite distinct. The BMX serves as a sports bike and is designed to endure the substantial impact. Therefore, the frame is strong, durable, rigid, and simple. It can tackle the rough and aggressive handling. It is used for jumps and stunts, meaning they have to be compact and light.

On the other hand, the MTB is designed for tackling rugged terrain. It is heavy, durable, and more complex in its construction. It absorbs the shocks and bumps of the terrain, is used for hill climbing, and is geared towards flexibility and functionality.

Wheels

A standard BMX features 20” wheels and 24” for cruiser class. The tires are designed to be able to withstand the jumps and stunts. While having the strength to tackle heavy landings, they function exceptionally well on smooth surfaces. However, they are not equipped to handle a variety of terrains, particularly undulated surfaces.

The MTB requires larger wheels to work well on all kinds of terrains. A typical MTB’s wheel size is 26” and 29” for an oversized one. The size depends on the size of the rider. The tires have large knobby groves to maintain a firm grip over the surface and can roll smoothly over the rocks, holes, and logs.

Braking System

The brakes on a BMX are generally found in the rear wheel. Often, it uses the V-brake system or caliper brakes to control the speed while cornering or jumping. Due to its specialized purpose as a sports bike for stunts and jumps, it requires the handlebars to spin in both directions. High-end BMX bikes have a unique braking system where the brake cable does not get tangled with the bars.

The mountain bikes require higher stopping power due to the precise stoppage required on challenging terrains. Moreover, it should be able to endure the friction and heat produced while applying brakes on a steep decline. MTBs are generally equipped with disc brakes. They are more reliable and robust in power compared to the V-brakes or caliper brakes.

Gears

BMX are single-speed bikes that make them undeniably simple and easy to ride, particularly over flat surfaces. This is why BMX bikes are not heavy on maintenance and easy to use.

The MTBs have upto 24 gears, depending on the model. Since the bike is equipped to tackle a variety of terrains, from rough, steep hills to flat surfaces, it requires the need to change the speed of the bike. It makes the bike complex and more maintenance heavy.

Suspension

BMX bicycles need to survive heavy landings on flat surfaces and hence, require the bike to be rigid. It needs maximum power and incredible thrust to overcome obstacles during their sprint. 

The legs and the body of the rider absorbs the shocks of the landing. Most cyclists ride the BMX standing up, which gives them absolute control over their body movement and consecutively, the bike.

The MTBs are generally hardtail or full suspension. The bike needs to absorb the shocks and bumps of the terrain to give the rider a more relaxed and smooth ride. The cushioning protects the riders’ legs from the jerks of the uncertain terrain. This is why it is more appropriate to use a mountain bike for longer distances. 

BMX – Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Simple to use and lightweight
  • Since it is single-speed and less complicated, it does not require a lot of maintenance
  • Works exceptionally well on concrete and flat surfaces
  • It is portable owing to its compact size and lightweight

Cons

  • The bike is meant for sports, so it’s not comfortable at all
  • It is not designed for long-distance riding
  • As it is a single-speed bike, riding uphill is challenging
  • Lack of suspension makes for a tough ride, especially hard on your body

Mountain Bikes: Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Works exceptionally well on varied terrains
  • Suspension makes for a comfortable ride
  • MTBs are perfect for a long-distance ride, particularly for bike-packing
  • Multiple gears give you an option for different speeds and immense control

Cons

  • MTBs are more expensive owing to its complex design and features
  • Regular maintenance is required for the gearing system
  • It is heavy, and portability can be an issue

Final Verdict

BMX and mountain bikes both have their loyal fanbase. What is essential for you to figure out is the kind of terrain you would be riding on and the purpose of buying the bike.

If there are skate parks or BMX tracks around your neighborhood, or even flat concrete surfaces, a BMX would be a great option to invest in. It’s inexpensive and simple to ride.

If you live in an area where there are trails nearby or hills around, it would be best to get a mountain bike. You can ride it almost anywhere and for longer distances too. The only downside is that your budget would increase.

Hopefully, it must now be an easy task for you to figure out which bike suits your needs and meets your requirements. And that evidently is the better bike for you! 

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