BMX bicycles are made for three very different types of riding. Similar to the free-spirit surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding cultures, BMX bikers have created their own styles of jumping, racing and hot dogging. Bicycles have evolved into racing, jumping and stunt models, with differences in weight, tires and brakes providing benefits for each group of riders.
Racing bikes are the original BMX bike, created during the 1960s as kids began to ride on dirt tracks, punishing their store-bought Huffies and Schwinns. BMX bikes are sturdy and heavier than the other two types of BMX models. They have upright handlebars to provide riders more control. They feature lighter wheels and thinner tires with knobby treads to help add more speed while providing more traction. Finally, racing bikes have rear brakes only, to prevent bikers from going over the handlebars during crowded races. The brakes are the linear-pull type, which provide the most stopping power.
Freestyle bikes are made for those bikers who like to do stunts and tricks, like wheelies or one-tire stands. The freestyle disciplines are known as "flatland, street, vert, park and trail." They are ridden primarily on streets, parking lots and other smooth surfaces. Freestyles bikes are heavier than jumpers to give the freestyler more control while he is performing a stunt. These BMX bikes are the only models with front brakes, as well as rear U-brakes, so the freestyler can keep the front tire stationery while she elevates the back tire for tricks. They have more spokes than the other models to provide more stability, and smoother treads, so the tires can be rotated quickly. Some freestyle bikes have handlebars which can rotate 360 degrees, to allow for more tricks. Freestyle bike handlebars rise more steeply from their clamping to provide better maneuverability.
Jumpers are lighter to help their riders get off the ground and into the air. Because of the punishing landings, they have sturdier spokes and heavier treads. Like racing bikes, they have rear-only brakes to protect riders from going over the handlebars. Jumping bikes can have 36 spokes, if the spokes are the thicker, 13-gauge spokes, or, they may feature thinner spokes, but more of them, so the bike can also be used for dirt track riding. Because these bikes are not made for speed, they use tires with the most traction. The handlebars are similar to those on a freestyle bike to give the rider more maneuverability.
BMX bikes come four different sizes: Mini, for 4 to 6 year-olds; Junior, for 6 to 9 year-olds; Expert, for 9 to 13 year-olds; and Pro, for age 12 and older.