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Difference Between BMX & Mountain Bikes

by
author image Hans Dersch
Over a span of 20 years, Hans Dersch has written copy in advertising, marketing, public relations, fundraising, political campaigns and grant proposals. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.
Difference Between BMX & Mountain Bikes
BMX or Mountain Bike? Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Stockbyte/Getty Images

The primary differences between BMX bikes and mountain, or MTB, bikes are in their design. A BMX bike is designed for a sprint around a short man-made track, with a smooth surface linking large jumps, while a MTB is designed to travel long distances over rough, natural terrain.

Frame

Difference Between BMX & Mountain Bikes
A simple BMX frame Photo Credit Purestock/Purestock/Getty Images

The severe impacts of BMX racing demand a simple, strong, and rigid frame. Mountain bike frames can be larger and more flexible for a smoother ride and normally have attachments for drink bottles, air pumps and even lights.

Wheels

Difference Between BMX & Mountain Bikes
The mountain bike has larger wheels. Photo Credit mountain bike downhill image by Maxim Petrichuk from Fotolia.com

Standard BMX wheels measure 20 inches in diameter and 24 inches for the cruiser class. Rigid for rapid changes in direction, they are heavily laced for the strength to handle big landings. MTB wheels are 26-inch standard and oversized 29 inch. The larger wheels roll more easily over rocks, ruts and logs.

Brakes

BMX bikes typically only use a rear caliper brake to control speed and bike attitude in cornering, jumps and whoops. MTB brakes may be caliper, disc, or a combination. They are powerful and can handle mud, water and the heat generated during a long descent.

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Gears

BMX bikes have a single gear matched by sprocket size to the power and tempo of the rider. MTBs have up to 24 gears to enable a wide range of terrain from steep climbs to long flat straights. BMX pedals may be large flats with sharp teeth, or may clip to shoes. MTB pedals also appear in these forms or may add a cage or strap to hold the shoe.

Suspension

Difference Between BMX & Mountain Bikes
Suspension cushions the MTB rider Photo Credit anim.085 image by Jacques Ribieff from Fotolia.com

BMX bikes have no suspension. Riders need maximum thrust and power as they encounter obstacles during their sprint. Their legs and body absorb impacts and pump through whoops. A modern MTB can be a hardtail, with only front suspension, or may be fully suspended. Suspension allows the tires to follow ground irregularities for better control as well as cushioning the rider.

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References

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