Are you planning to buy a new bike? It can be tough to choose from so many different types and styles. If you’ve narrowed down your choices and are now debating between a BMX bike vs mountain bike, we’re here to help you out.
These two types of bikes look sporty and cool, and it’s easy to confuse one for the other and assume that there are no fundamental differences.
The truth is that these two bikes are designed for very different purposes, and they each suit specific types of riders.
Bicycle motocross (BMX bikes) are built for riding on smooth, man-made tracks with hurdles. In contrast, mountain bikes are best for adventures across rough, steep, and uneven terrain such as mountains and hills.
In this guide, we will break down the many differences between these bikes and tell you all about their various pros and cons. We can surely help you make an informed choice based on your riding needs.
Let’s dive in!
BMX bikes are built to make it easier for the rider to make dynamic movements. They are made with simple and small yet robust and sturdy frames. The frame design makes these bikes ideal for high-intensity riding on skate ramps and bike tracks.
These bikes have lightweight structures with relatively small but thick tires that provide the stability required for high-powered riding.
The tires are strong enough to withstand the shock of jumps and stunts, which are common during BMX racing. They are also internally reinforced to prevent blowouts when making a big landing.
The term BMX was once used to refer to bikes used exclusively for motocross racing. Today, it is an umbrella term used for dirt, vert, park, and other types of bike motocross disciplines.
BMX bikes are used for the following:
Traditionally, BMX bikes were built mainly to race across a bike track. They are lightweight, which allows riders to achieve high speeds quickly. They are made to be highly maneuverable so that they can be controlled easily, even when moving at maximum velocity.
These bikes have small wheels for speed and traction. Their rear brakes are powerful to allow bikers to stop in an instant.
Not all BMX bikes are used for racing. Over time, BMX bike designs have developed to provide excellent riding experiences on urban roads.
Street-style bikes have smooth tires to achieve high speeds. Their bike frames have extra reinforcements for protection in the event of an impact or accident.
The goal of a vert BMX bike is to achieve the highest altitude during jumps and other bike stunts. BMX riders perform various stunts once they achieve significant airtime.
This is done by racing the bike across a halfpipe (vert) bike ramp before launching the bike in the air.
Vert bike frames are incredibly durable yet light as a feather. In short, the bike needs to fly high without breaking in case of a rough landing.
These bikes can do all these things and more, making them perfect for competitive vert riding.
Freestyle or Park
Most BMX stunts are performed in bike parks with halfpipes, railings, stairs, and other stunt-specific structures. Unlike vert bikes, freestyle or park-style BMX bikes do not need to be lightweight as they do not need to “fly.”
So their builds allow for heavier reinforcements, thicker frames, smoother tires, and double brakes.
Flatland BMX bikes are designed for dance performances instead of racing. Speed is the least important factor that riders look for in a flatland BMX bike, as their goal is to perform as many stunts as possible in a limited space and axis in which the rider can maneuver.
These bikes are built for maximum clearance, which means they are small and compact. As riders specialize in different stunts, flatland bikes are the most heavily customized BMX bikes.
- Designed for racing and riding on smooth surfaces
- Can be used to perform bike stunts and tricks
- Suitable for short rides
- Allows for rapid changes in direction and speed
- Offers high mobility
- Strong and durable
- Lightweight and compact frame
- Can be easily transported
- Requires less maintenance and repairs
- Has a single gear
- Not great for long rides
- Unsuited for riding uphill
- Not suitable for riding in the saddle
- Not as comfortable as mountain bikes
- Does not resist impact as well as mountain bikes
- Limited versatility
Mountain bikes—also known as MTB bikes—are mainly designed to ride across steep and narrow dirt trails. They have wide handlebars for greater control and bigger tires for traction.
The tires also have big, knobby grooves that provide excellent grip for different terrain.
Mountain bikes are also built with multiple gears to make riding uphill easier, and they have hydraulic brakes for easier descents.
These bikes also have larger wheels than BMX bikes (up to 29 inches) which help riders cover longer distances with each pedal.
Mountain bikes are multi-purpose, off-road two-wheelers. They are designed to suit rough terrain, so they are built much more heavily. They have double brakes necessary for safety when going up and down mountains and hills.
These bikes are incredibly versatile and can be used for various terrains.
Cross-country mountain bikes are the perfect balance of a heavy, durable body with a lightweight, speedy design for maximum efficiency. Although designed for off-road riding, these bikes are not ideal for exceptionally rough terrain or steep climbs or descents.
Trail bikes are the go-to for riders looking for recreational off-road cycling. They are optimized to handle riding over slightly rough terrain, so they have relatively more relaxed handlebars that provide stability. They are also relatively light, ideal for steep climbs.
Enduro bikes are also called all-mountain bikes. They are built with longer suspension designs that can be adjusted to make ascending or descending steep terrain easier.
In recent years, there has been a starker distinction between enduro and all-mountain bikes. Enduro bikes are optimized for downhill riding, while all-mountain bike designs have been tweaked to suit uphill riding.
Downhill riding bikes are designed to be racing bikes, ideal for mountainous racetracks. They are constructed to provide an ergonomic and comfortable riding position for maximum safety when bikers ride downhill at high speeds.
- Built for safely riding over rough, steep terrain
- Can be used for different surfaces
- Perfect for long rides
- Provides a high level of comfort
- Great for riding in the saddle
- Absorbs shocks well
- Has multiple gears
- Comes in different sizes to suit the height of the rider
- Not as durable and rigid as BMX bikes
- Cannot change direction quickly
- Not suitable for racing, jumps, stunts, or tricks
- Cannot be transported conveniently
- Relatively costly
- Needs more servicing and repairs for gears
Comparison: BMX Bike Vs Mountain Bike
BMX bikes have robust and rigid yet lightweight and compact frame designs required for racing events, high jumps, and other performance elements.
Their frames are largely utilitarian and straightforward—they do not have attachments for bottles, bags, and other riding accessories. Their designs are meant for speed rather than comfort.
Although mountain bikes look big, rugged, and sturdy, they have more flexible frames than BMX bikes, perfect for smooth and comfortable rides over uneven surfaces.
The frame design is not built for durability; instead, it absorbs vibrations from rough terrain.
You can easily find mountain bikes of various sizes to suit your height and riding needs. Mountain bike frames also come with attachments to accommodate water bottles, air pumps, and bike lights, so you can carry all the accessories you need for very long rides.
Standard BMX bikes have wheels that measure 20 to 24 inches in diameter. The wheels are rigid, which enables rapid changes in direction. They are also strong enough to withstand high jumps and other tricks.
Mountain bike wheels are much larger than BMX bikes—they measure between 26 and 29 inches. Wheel size can vary drastically depending on the rider’s height and what it will be used for.
These big wheels absorb shocks effectively and provide a smooth riding experience over bumps and rough surfaces. This is why mountain bikes are ideal for easy rolling over city potholes and mountains.
The handlebars of BMX bikes spin in both directions for quick turns, stunts, and tricks. These bikes have a unique braking system called the V-brake to ensure that the brake cable does not get entangled in the handlebars.
This type of brake squeezes the tire to slow down the bike and bring it to a halt. BMX bikes’ brakes are fitted on the rear wheel. This helps riders change speed and direction quickly.
Mountain bikes usually have disc braking systems that are powerful enough to withstand the heat generated on steep descents. They are excellent for off-road riding because they are not affected by mud or water.
BMX bikes are fitted with only one gear. They are not designed for road use beyond smooth, man-made tracks and skate parks.
Mountain bikes are fitted with up to 24 gears. These are required to ensure smooth rides over various surfaces and topographies, including steep climbs and rough descents.
BMX bikes do not have any suspension, so the riders need to exert maximum power and thrust when they face hurdles. The rider’s arms and legs absorb maximum impact, potentially causing discomfort if they are not well-practiced.
Mountain bikes have built-in suspensions to help riders navigate different surfaces without their arms and legs taking the beating of the impact. The bike may be fully suspended or, as in the case of a hardtail, only have front suspension.
BMX bikes are best for fast rides on smooth roads. They can easily handle abrupt changes in speed and direction so that riders can perform stunts and high jumps in competition. However, they are best limited to BMX racing tracks, skateparks, and paved roads.
Mountain bikes provide smooth, safe, and comfortable rides over the roughest terrains. Their frames have attachments for bottles and other accessories to ensure the rider’s comfort and ease while traveling long distances.
Their built-in suspensions provide greater control and cushioning.
Which One Is Better For Me?
BMX bike vs mountain bike—which one should you choose? Well, the answer depends on your riding style and needs.
If you plan to take part in BMX races that call for jumps and obstacles, or you only go on short rides over smooth, paved roads, BMX bikes are your best bet. They are quick, light, and easy to maneuver.
BMX bikes also last for a long time, can be easily carried from one place to another, and do not need much maintenance and repairs. And the best part: they are generally easier on the pocket compared to mountain bikes.
On the other hand, if you do a lot of off-road riding over hills and mountains or regularly go on long rides over rugged or potholed roads, you need a high-quality mountain bike.
They are not quite as fast and mobile as BMX bikes, but they will ensure smooth, comfortable, and safe rides.
Mountain bikes are often costly, and they need more servicing, especially if you use them heavily. If you often go on extended rides up and down rough terrain, even the best mountain bike will not last very long.
But if you are the adventurous type who finds enjoyment in these outdoor activities, a good mountain bike is an essential and worthy investment.
We have discussed all the major differences between BMX bike vs mountain bike. We hope you find the type of bike you are looking for so that you can enjoy fun rides wherever you go.
Check out our other blog posts if you need more tips and advice about different bike types or wish to read other guides. And do spread the love and tell your loved ones about us!
Last Updated on July 18, 2022 by Matthew Carpenter