Best BMX Bike Upgrades

Top 5 BMX Bike Upgrades
What are the best upgrades you can make on your bike? This is an important and common question we get from both new and seasoned BMX riders.
While these parts can vary slightly from rider to rider and bike to bike, Mike breaks down his Top 5 Best Upgrades in order of importance. In the long run these changes can be essential to how your bike functions and performs.
#5 Frames
So you knew a frame would be on this list somewhere, didn’t you? Of course. But why so low at number 5? Well, for a few reasons we’ll discuss. Now, don’t get me wrong the frame is very, very important. Obviously, right? Everything is connected to it. But if you’re talking about upgrading ANY bike, or in my mind I’m picturing someone upgrading a complete bike, the frame will usually last you a bit longer than some of the other parts on this list, even if it’s an entry level bike made from hi-tensile steel.”

Your mileage may vary, but I’m going off what I’ve seen firsthand and from talking with many customers over the years. The frame is usually one of the LAST parts they upgrade. A big part of that is cost, too. An aftermarket frame is probably going to be one of the most expensive upgrades you make if you stick with BMX. (And you should stick with BMX because BMX is awesome.)

Is an aftermarket frame worth it, absolutely, but I would focus on some of these other parts first before jumping right in to another frame.
#4 Forks/Bars
Okay so number 4. I always seem to have a two-for-one somewhere, and that’s going to be chromoly forks and bars. These parts take QUITE a bit of stress and are often made from hi-tensile steel if we’re talking about an entry level complete bike. Hi-tensile steel is fine at first. And I’ll stress the AT FIRST part, but at some point, you’re going to have to upgrade. The good thing is you can upgrade to a full chromoly fork and bar at a decent price these days.

Perfect example of this is our Dans Comp review bike. We built an entire custom bike under $1,000 and on it you we have some Fiction forks and bars which have been holding up really well so far and are pretty affordable.

Of course, these are basic chromoly parts and depending on how hard you are on parts, you may want to spend a little more for the added features like heat-treating, butted tubing and so on to get some extra strength and reduce some weight. Regardless which route you go, upgrading to a decent set of bars and forks with vastly improve the strength of your bike and these parts typically last quite a while for most riders. If I had to choose one over the other, I’d say get forks first because that typically take the most abuse out of the two.
#3 Tires
This one may come as a surprise, but number 3 is going to be tires. Ask any car guy what one of the best performance upgrades you can make is and they’re going to say tires. Well, this applies to BMX is similar ways.

Often overlooked as an essential upgrade, but tires can play a huge roll in how your bike feels and performs. Not only does the type of tread matter, but the overall shape and weight can play a role as well.

Let’s say for example you ride street, and you have a slick tread type of street tire. That slick tire offers a ton of traction on the street due to its large contact area, but it’s not ideal for dirt or even a metal skatepark with a layer of dust. You might find yourself sliding around a bit more than you like and that’s because a slick tire doesn’t have the appropriate tread design to grip through that layer of dust or dirt. It’s all about having the right tire for the right job. No tire is perfect at everything so pick a tire based on what you ride the most of or grab an “all-terrain” tire which is good at most things, but a master of none.

If you’re looking to save some weight, tires are also an easy and cost-effective way to shed ounces, and sometimes even pounds, off your bike. When it comes to rotational weight savings that’s something you can definitely feel.

If you want to learn more about tires and how different tread designs can affect your riding, check out our video all about BMX tires
#2 Chains
Number 2 is going to be the simple yet highly effective BMX chain. A new chain is a quick, easy and inexpensive way to upgrade your bike and prevent injury. That’s because the chain is usually one of the first parts a new rider will break.

Most entry level bikes will come with a basic KMC 410 or something similar. These are fine for regular commutes, but once you start riding harder, you’re going to want something stronger that can hold up to the abuse of BMX. I’d recommend at minimum a KMC 510H or similar chain and of course you can always go up from there.

A new chain is like cheap insurance. The last thing you want to do realize you SHOULD have upgraded your chain while you’re smashing your knee against your stem. Not something you want to experience if you can avoid it.
#1 Wheels
Finally, coming in at number one on my list is going to be new wheels. Specifically, you want something with fully sealed bearings and double-wall rims. These are a must because your wheels take a ton of abuse, and this is especially true for new riders who may not have mastered how to land smooth just yet.

Take for example a new rider learning 180s or 360s. When learning that trick you’re going to land sideways at times; that’s just part of the learning curve. Well, that sideways impact can take a toll on your wheels. Having a solid aftermarket wheel with a stronger hub design and stronger double-wall rim will greatly increase your wheel’s life expectancy.

I will give you a perfect example of this from my own experience when I first started riding. Like many, my first bike had unsealed bearings and single-wall rims. The wheels did fine when learning the basics, but as time went on these basic tricks were taken to small stair sets where I inevitably bent my back wheel well beyond repair. The rim finally gave way and split right at the seam.

Luckily, these days you can find some nice complete wheels with both double-wall rims and sealed bearings at an affordable price. Stolen BMX, Cinema, Mission and Rant all have budget minded wheels that fit this criteria. However, while these wheels are great for the price, I’d highly recommend getting as high-end of a wheel as you can afford. You will thank yourself later.

A good high-end wheel will not only have a double-wall rim and sealed bearings, but the rim and hub will be made from stronger materials with a stronger overall design. Furthermore, the bearings will typically be of higher quality and the rim will have a fully welded seam. A good wheelset will last you a number of years and you can often rebuild or replace parts if needed.
So there you have it! My top 5 picks for best BMX bike upgrades. While your needs may vary slightly, this should be a great starting point for riders of all ages interested in BMX to take their rides to the next level.