Have you noticed the $200 dollar bikes look exactly like the $500 dollar bikes? Although they may look exactly the same I can ensure you the quality differs significantly. We’re here to ensure you make an informed decision while choosing a complete and determining how much you should spend. We list the most important factors while picking a complete since it can be a bit tricky at first glance.
1. The first thing you want to determine is which brands are reputable and how much money you are willing or able to shell out.
Here is a list of reputable brands we recommend. Keep in mind, most completes are not custom and you should plan to upgrade parts as they break.
Ok, so you found a manufacture you like or you recognize one because your favorite pro rides for the brand. Now let’s dig into what really matters! The quality of the components and design…..
2. What type of bottom bracket bearings does the bike have? (American, euro, spanish, or mid)
This bearing is what allows your cranks and pedals to spin freely. The bottom bracket supports most of your weight since the cranks pass through them.
Aim for a bike with a mid bottom bracket as this is the standard within the BMX industry. Although, if this is your first bmx purchase do not let this be a deal breaker. American bottom brackets are decent for beginners since the bearing are huge and in turn are less likely to break compared to all others listed. Euro bottom brackets break often due to the small diameter and they thread in. This is neat, but unnecessary. Spanish are very small like euros bottom brackets and they press in.
Are the parts tubing straight gauge, tapered, ovalized, have gussets, or double butted?
Booty booty booty…. No guys, it’s butted. In all seriousness most complete bikes have stock frames that have straight tubing but look out for butted frames and additional gussets. This will increase the overall strength of the frame. Click our how to choose a frame or this link to read more about these strengthening methods. (http://bmxunion.com/blog/what-is-bmx-tubing-terminology/)
3. Are the bearing sealed or just some?
In our opinion, this is crucial. No one wants to take apart their bottom bracket, head tube or wheel bearings to have a bunch of tiny ball bearings fall out and roll into a dark corner. If you’ve ever ran into this problem, you know the struggle. Do your best to have all bearing sealed if your budget allows.
4. Are the rims double wall or single?
Sealed bearings and wheel strength should be the most important variables in choosing a complete bicycle. If land slightly wrong while spinning or bait you are likely to bend your rim past repair. You could even taco the rim like the picture below. Not only is this dangerous, but wheels(hub,spoke,rims) are the second most expensive portion of any bike. If you are just beginning single walls will do the job but if you are able to afford it, choose a bike with double wall rims.
5. Does the complete have any aftermarket parts?
The low end of completes ie $300 will not have crucial aftermarket parts. They may have the company’s most popular chain, seat or tires but, these components are irrelevant when choosing a solid bike. If you plan to spend over $500 keep an eye out for bikes that have aftermarket parts such as frames, wheels, stems, sprockets, handlebars, and cranks. If you like going backwards, suck at fakies on cassettes, or just want to try something different find a bike with a freecoaster hub. They’re tons of fun.
6. Is the bike LHD or RHD: The acronyms stand for left hand drive or right hand drive. If you plan on grinding on both sides of your bike or then you should probably have your sprocket, chain and driver on the side that your best performing grinds on. If you just plan grind on one side the chain and other components should be on your non-grind side. If you don’t ride pegs this may still be a relevant factor since crank arm grinds and pedal grinds are super cool.
7. What frame size should I choose?: Companies advertise bikes and frames primarily on the top tube length but there’s countless other factors you want to consider when choosing a frame. The top tube length is an unreliable measurement to choose a frame. To get an in depth explanation of frame geometry you may read the, “how to pick a frame guide” here. Generally, if you are shorter than 5’ you may want to go with an 19” top tube. If you are over 5 foot get a 20″ or larger top tube. If you are closer to 6 feet, go with a 21- 21.5 top tube. Ride a few peoples bikes at the skatepark to understand what bike size and frame dimensions you prefer.
8. Does the bike have brakes or removable brake mounts? This is largely preference based. Most completes will have brakes for safety measures but many will have brake mounts that easily unscrew for a clean look. If you like to ride bowls, ride your bike through traffic or at busy skateparks you may want to run brakes. It feels great to not have a them but it’s definitely more dangerous. I’ve found brakes makes barspins more tricky but pros such as Drew Bazanson and Harry Main are way better than I at throwing the bars even while running brakes.
9. What rise are the Bars? The height of the bars is preference based too. There’s several other dimensions to handlebars but unless you’ve been riding for a few years it’s likely won’t notice any dimension but the rise. It seems that many who ride trails and park like short handle bars ie < 8.25”. We think that’s a bit on the low end and recommend aiming for 8.5 – 8.75 and adjust form there.
10. Pricing: If you are in this for the long run and know you’re passionate about the sport then we recommend spending $500+. If you aren’t sure if your into BMX just get a decent complete for $300 and go grind everything you can.
11. Weight: In all honesty, do your best to disregard the weight of the bike. BMX is a dangerous sport and we recommend you staying on the heavier side to maintain structural integrity of your bike. Most bikes weight about 25 lbs.
Distributors: As with the brands these are solely recommendations.
First try to shop local. You may not be into your local scene yet, but if you want to find people to ride with or have local meet ups/ jams shopping local is your best bet.
If you live in bum fuck egypt you should shop online at one of the following sites.
International – Sourcebmx.com