Image by Flickr.com user “Jesus Presley” / CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
Freestyle BMX Offers a Thrilling Ride
Freestyle BMX has a total of six main disciplines split between the two categories of BMX racing and BMX freestyle. In this article I will be focusing on BMX freestyle which is stunt riding done on BMX bikes. The disciplines are street, vert, park, trails and flatland. There are no specific rules though style and aesthetics, skills and creativity are emphasized. For the uninitiated BMX stands for Bicycle Motorcross.
Image Credit: David Hellmann / Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Riding street is simply finding any obstacle in an urban environment and performing a trick on or over it. You’ll want a sturdy BMX bike that can take some rough treatment.
Many street riders forgo the use of breaks. Those that do have them usually opt for a straight cable as opposed to gyro. Many riders also don’t have flanges on their grips so they don’t get in the way when doing a bar spin trick. In addition they may have a set of four pegs (two on each wheel) or just have one set of pegs on their favorite side of the bike.
Image Credit: By Jon Hanson from london, UK (bmx vert jump) / CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
This involves doing tricks around a ramp or skatepark. These places may be made of wood, concrete or metal.
A vert resembles a large half-pipe with a platform on each side. The structure is usually between 10-15 feet tall. At the lip of the vert is the coping which is a round metal tube that assists freestyle BMXers to do grinds and stalls. Other tricks may include removing body parts off the bike.
Bikes used for this are basically the same as those used for street riding.
BMX Dirt Jumping
Image Credit: By Pablostehr via Wikimedia Commons [CCO 1.0}
Dirt jumping is split into two different forms called trail riding and dirt jumping.
In trail riding there are a series of jumps over heavily compacted earth mounds called packs. The trails are often made in the woods where riders may gradually build more and more jumps. These may be referred to as a 4 pack, 6 pack or 8 pack trail. There are usually two mounds together with a gap of 2 – 20 feet between them. The first mound that helps the rider become airborne goes up at a fairly steep angle. Riders make a smooth transition from one jump to the next performing tricks.
Dirt jumping is more extreme and may have two or more big jumps where riders come up with even greater stunts.
Trail riders usually ride optimized bikes for such jumps. They only have a rear break, use a rotor (gyro) so as to do barspins unimpeded and usually have no pegs. In addition, trail jumping bikes have longer wheelbases than other BMX’s to aid with stability.
BMX FlatlandImage Credit: Daniel Schwen (CC BY-SA 3) via Anarkman / Wikimedia commons
Flatland is all about performing tricks on a smooth, flat surface like a basketball court or parking lot.
Tricks involve spinning and balancing in a variety of body and bicycle positions. It’s common to see these bikes with knurled aluminum pegs on the back and front wheel axles to give riders a greater control of the bike and perform a greater variety of tricks.
Bikes used for flatland events usually have a shorter wheelbase and are light so as to enhance they’re responsiveness like when riders do bike spins or position the bike on one wheel. They also may have sturdier frames as many tricks are performed on different parts of the bike. Depending on the kind of tricks they like to do they may use both front and back brakes, have a front brake only or no brakes at all.
By Philippe Alès / CC-BY-SA-3.0 , via Wikimedia Commons
A skatepark is a recreational environment especially built for skateboarders and bmxers so they can develop their technique. They may be made of wood, concrete or metal. You’ll see half-pipes, quarter pipes, handrails, trick boxes, vert ramps, pyramids, stairs and many other kinds of challenging objects there.
Some riders feel that skateparks made of wood lends itself to technical tricks. Concrete parks, on the other hand, are more suited to a fast, flowing style where riders aim to air higher from the coping.
Tricks fall into three categories. Grinds, air tricks and flatland.
Riders do a grind by causing the bike to slide along a surface on a part of the bike other than the wheels. Stunt pegs are often used to achieve this. They’re short tubes attached inline with an axle that project out from the main frame. Some grinds also are done on cranks and pedals.
* Feeble Grind
The rider bunny hops and lands the rear peg and the front wheel on the ledge.
* Double Peg
Rider does a bunny hop and lands both pegs on the rail or ledge.
Rider bunny-hops, twists the handlebars 45 degrees and lands the back peg and pedal on the ledge. Then the rider leans back so as to keep the front wheel and peg off the ledge.
These are tricks that take place when riders are airborne.
Rider jumps into the air causing the bike to appear horizontal like it’s sitting on top of an invisible table.
When airborne the rider extends his feet outwards behind him to resemble Superman in flight.
Both the rider and the bike do a backward flip in the air.
BMX flatland tricks require a great deal of balance and often involve having one wheel off the ground.
Rider uses the front brake or a curb to lift the back wheel and balance on the front tire.
Rider swings the bike into a vertical position and gets the bike to hop on the back wheel.
* Dork Manual
Rider puts one foot on the peg and the other in the air as he or she controls the bike while it’s moving.
Do you do freestyle BMX? What interests you the most and why?
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