BMX Bike Buyers Guide

BMX Bike buyers guide.

Shopping for a BMX bike may seem like a daunting task, but with a little help you’ll soon find that not only is it relatively easy, it’s one of the most enjoyable aspects of BMX riding. In this article we cover the basics of choosing your next bike based on several different factors including height, specs, and most importantly, what type of riding you want to do! From freestyle bikes, to race bikes and cruisers, we touch on it all.

Choosing Your Bike

BMX Racing

Whether you are shopping for yourself or someone else, following these easy steps will help you determine what type and size of bike is best suited for the rider. The first step is to decide what discipline of BMX you are interested in. If you know from the start you want to race, it's best to go ahead and get a dedicated race bike. Race bikes are purpose built for the track and are much lighter to allow for quicker acceleration and maximum speed.

BMX racer Damian Reville.


If you want to ride street, dirt or skateparks, a freestyle bike is what you need as they are built to handle this level of riding. However, if you are unsure of what type of bike you want or you just want a bike to ride around the neighborhood, we recommend a freestyle bike as they are much more versatile.

BMX rider Gerard Keller doing a tailwhip

Wheel Size


Step number two is choosing the right size wheel for the rider. This may seem a little convoluted at first, but it will all make sense in the end. Let's start with children's bikes ages 10 and under. These bikes will range from 12”, 14”, 16”, and 18” wheel sizes. The heights and ages listed in the chart below are not set in stone, but they are a good reference point to go on.

BMX wheel size options.

For dedicated race bikes, these sizes are labeled a bit different as Micro, Mini, Junior, Expert and Expert XL as seen in the chart below.

BMX race bike size options.

For riders 3 and younger we always recommend starting on a balance bike.

Young riders on heir balance bikes.

Teens & Adults

For teens and adults, the vast majority of BMX bikes use a 20” wheel size. 20” wheels are considered industry standard for both BMX racing and for freestyle. There are a wide variety of 20” complete bikes made to fit riders anywhere from under five foot tall to well over six foot tall.

BMX freestyle 20 inch wheel.

While 20” wheels are considered “industry standard”, bikes with larger wheels are considered BMX cruisers. These wheel sizes can range from a 22” wheel all the way up to a 29” wheel. Cruisers offer a more comfortable ride at the cost of extra weight and maneuverability compared to a 20” bike. They are often ideal for riders who may feel too cramped on a 20” bike, but still want something fun and enjoyable to ride at the track, skatepark or just cruising around the neighborhood.

26 inch BMX freestyle cruiser bike.

In recent years BMX cruisers have led way to their own style of street riding called “Bike Life”. Influenced by BMX and the urban motorcycle scene, the Bike Life movement has transformed into its own subculture where riders on 26” and 29” cruisers perform wheelie variations and other tricks along city streets. The most prominent brand of Bike Life cruisers are made by the company SE Bikes, although many other brands have followed suit.

BMX Bike Life rider James Santos doing a wheelie.

Toptube Size

This leads us to step three: choosing your toptube size. The toptube length is a quick and easy measurement from the center of the bike's headtube to the center of the seattube (shown below). This measurement is used to determine the length of the frame and is listed on the product page of each bike.

Showing the toptube measurement of a BMX bike.

While the length of the bike is personal preference, the chart below is a good rule of thumb to determine what size toptube you should be looking for. The Dan's Comp website allows you to sort through our large inventory of bikes based on toptube size and discipline.

BMX freestyle rider sizing chart.

Once you've narrowed down your selection now the real fun begins, and that's selecting the features that you want on your complete bike. This step is entirely up to you and your budget. As with most things, the more money you spend the more features you will get, but that doesn't necessarily mean you have to spend an arm and a leg. We stand behind every brand that we carry on the Dan's Comp website and even our most inexpensive bikes are going to be of much higher quality and value compared to a department store bike. Every bike we sell list features and specs so you never have to guess what exactly you're buying.

Dan's Comp BMX bike descriptions.

Additional Features and Specs

Let’s go over a few features you may want to consider when purchasing a BMX bike. BMX frames, forks and handlebars are made from four main materials: hi-tensile steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, and 4130 chromoly. Hi-tensile steel is found on both entry-level and smaller complete bikes due to its lower cost and relatively durable construction. For new riders hi-tensile steel is typically strong enough for most situations.

Stepping up from hi-tensile steel is 4130 chromoly tubing. Chromoly is king when it comes to freestyle bikes due to its high strength and extreme durability. If you're an experienced rider or you like to go big, you may want to opt for a bike that includes as much chromoly as possible in the frame, fork and handlebars. If not, you can always upgrade later on if necessary.

Both aluminum and carbon fiber can be found on purpose-built race bikes due to their low weight and rigid construction. While aluminum is by far the most common material used in racing, some top-of-the-line race bikes do include carbon fiber frames, forks and handlebars. Carbon fiber has several benefits over aluminum including less weight and increased rigidity, but with a much higher price tag. While both materials are very strong in their own right, they are not ideal for adult size freestyle bikes.

Sealed bearings are another feature you may want to consider. Sealed bearings in the bottom bracket, headset and wheels will help extend the longevity of your components and will provide a smoother ride. Finally, look for additional features that some bikes may include such as pegs, hub guards, a sprocket guard or even a freecoaster. If these features interest you, purchasing a bike that includes these from the factory will help ensure you get the most for you dollar, and save you money in the long run.

We are here to help! If you have any questions at all, please contact our customer service department and we will be more than happy to help in your purchasing decisions.