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BMX Dirt, vert, flatland or street? Drop in the BMX forum to talk to other 20" riders around the world. What is the best BMX bicycle for you? Learn all about it here.

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Old 01-18-10, 03:56 AM   #1
nerobro
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What do you look for? What makes good parts? What makes a good bike?

What makes for a good BMX bike? What makes parts good? Who makes good parts? What makes parts better for vert, or flatland, versus racing?

I know those seem kinda odd questions. But here's where I'm coming from. I'm a roadie. With road bikes, all other things being equal, you go for the lighter parts. If the weights the same, you go for the stiffer part. What makes stiffer parts is pretty obvious, for instance, large diameter crank spindles. Large diameter frame tubes. large diameter handlebars. Those are all the "good" things to have on a bike. This even holds true for track bikes (which mechanically seem pretty freaking similar to BMX bikes.. and i'm talking track, like velodrome, not hipster.)

I've looked through the bike builds thread, and I don't see a whole lot of consistancy. It seems more often than not, bike parts are chosen for looks, rather than performance. And I can't wrap my head around the brands yet.

It seems weight is only of vague concern. With 22lbs being a "light" bike. My whole mountian bike is 23lbs. And without doing anything fancy, my road bike is under 20. And there's a whole hell of a lot more bike there with either my 26" mtb, or 700c road bike.

So, how about a few more "real" questions?

Why do BMX bikes still use american bottom brackets? I've seen a few that are euro, but they're uncommon.

Are the pin drive front sprockets common to just flatland and vert applications? Or do you still see those at a bmx course? Are road/mountian bike cranks more common there?

Why would one go with 14mm axles versus 3/8? You don't see oversized axles on MTB unless you're talking dirt jump, or downhill rigs. Are bent axles a common issue on 20" bikes?

I've never seen a BMX bar with oversized clamp diameter. Are bars always bought for durablity, or is weight a concern?

The bike I just bought, came with a short seat, what's the purpose of this? I've even seen seats with the noses cut off.
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Old 01-18-10, 07:22 AM   #2
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Ok so I know that I'm not hitting all of your questions, but I will definently hit the weight one. A lot of riders nowadays are extremely oncerned with weight. A lot more than they need to be. Some of the more experienced riders will realize that strength is more important than weight. Thats why your bikes are usually lighter than ours, because they're all made out of carbon fiber so they're really light. BMX bikes are usually made of 4130 Chromoly, so they have a pretty good mix of strength and less weight and can take the abuse of our riding style.
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Old 01-18-10, 09:45 AM   #3
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My >20lb road bike is aluminum, save for the fork. And my MTB is all cromoly. Steel can be remarkably light. Thanks, lets see who else has stuff to say about those questions.
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Old 01-18-10, 09:39 PM   #4
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A big difference between a bmx race bike and a freestyle, trails or park bmx bike. A race bike alot of time will be aluminum frame and carbon fork, sometimes a euro BB, 3/8 axles and 36 spoke wheels and usualy around 20 lbs. A trails bike will almost always be cro mo frame, fork, bars, a mid size BB, cro mo cranks but will still be faily light, maybe 23 lbs. Freestyle bikes are going to heavier with thicker frames, axles and usually have 48 spoke wheels and pegs.
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Old 01-19-10, 12:18 AM   #5
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Freestyle bikes [...] 48 spoke wheels.
What year are you living in?
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Old 01-19-10, 08:20 AM   #6
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What year are you living in?
You're right, i'm kinda behind the times a little on freestyle. I don't ride, my boys are much more up on things then i am. They ride trails and street alot and can usually be found at sheep hills most every weekend Hey, i'm old enough to remember Eddie Fiola and the movie Rad.
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Old 01-21-10, 03:30 PM   #7
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Here are my thoughts. take them for what you will; I'm no pro or marketer...

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Originally Posted by nerobro View Post
What makes for a good BMX bike? What makes parts good? Who makes good parts? What makes parts better for vert, or flatland, versus racing?
A "good" BMX bike or a desirable one? I think you'll find that BMX riders place a high value on individuality while simultaneously following the "not following the herd" herd. Desirability is impacted by both personal style and current trends. durability and weight also play a factor, but most stuff you find at dan's or albe's etc, is going to reasonably meet those criteria to the level of money the buyer wants to pay.

Also, each discipline has specialized equipment, with some overlap. Flatland bikes are the most different. they have shorter frames, straighter forks and handle bars, and short offset stems. this stuff makes it easier to do flatland moves. race bikes are going to focus on lightness, and maybe even power transfer (cranks). Street bikes are going to focus on durability. etc etc.


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Why do BMX bikes still use american bottom brackets? I've seen a few that are euro, but they're uncommon.
I don't know where you are looking, but most modern BMX bikes don't use american BBs. Mid seems to be the BB flavor of the day, with a few euro and spanish setups still around. Some oversized-spindle applications (like the profile SS) may require an american BB, but I don't think thats applicable with any current production models.

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Are the pin drive front sprockets common to just flatland and vert applications? Or do you still see those at a bmx course? Are road/mountian bike cranks more common there?
pinned sprockets are common to all BMX bikes, with the exception of some of the new, super-tiny sprockets that use splines. Unlike road bike cranks, most BMX cranks don't have an integral spider, (although some old ones did) meaning that without the pin, there's nothing to keep the sprocket from spinning on the crank spindle.


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Why would one go with 14mm axles versus 3/8? You don't see oversized axles on MTB unless you're talking dirt jump, or downhill rigs. Are bent axles a common issue on 20" bikes?
there are 2 reasons for this as I see it. 1 - street. street riding is very hard on your bike. If you're not familiar, there's a lot of peg/pedal grinding which puts a lot of stress on the axle and inadvertent grinding on other parts, including the axles. 2 - big gaps. there are a lot of times when BMX riders jump large expanses and land on concrete with high PSI tires.. probably more force transfer than most MTB stuff, and unlike MTB there are no shocks.

All that said, axle selection is usually just personal preference. I use big axles because I weigh alot and tend to not land well.

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I've never seen a BMX bar with oversized clamp diameter. Are bars always bought for durablity, or is weight a concern?
I've always bought bars based on comfort. rise height and back-sweep are really the main variables involved. some people might buy bars based on weight. I haven't personally seen a broken bar since the vector bars in the 80's, so I doubt many worry about durability.

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The bike I just bought, came with a short seat, what's the purpose of this? I've even seen seats with the noses cut off.
in a lot of BMX riding, the seat isn't used all that much. in a moto, you're probably going to be standing up, mashing the hell out of the pedals. on the street you're generally standing to mash or get ready to jump. as such, over the years, seats get slammed down to give you more clearance for moving around. I think it's gotten a little extreme, but then again, I'm old.




All that said, spend some time hanging out a a track or skatepark, observe and ask questions. also check the catalogs like danscomp.com and if you can, grab some videos like the props series.

I know it's kind of weird figuring out one kind of biking after you've only done another for a long time. I only rode BMX until the last year and I started riding a road bike. at first it was really frustrating that I didn't have the clearance to bunny hop over things, but I guess I've gotten used to it. hehe.
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Old 01-21-10, 05:22 PM   #8
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Thank you. :-) Good to know i'm not crazy, and things really are as varied as I thought they were.

I'ts not much of a reward, but here's a picture of the bike I picked up.

Last edited by nerobro; 01-21-10 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 01-22-10, 01:56 PM   #9
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Nice bars, Nastazio.
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Old 01-25-10, 04:50 AM   #10
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Here's my take at it.

Why do BMX bikes still use american bottom brackets? I've seen a few that are euro, but they're uncommon.

Like someone has said before most brands are following the mid bearing for dirt jumping, general riding nowadays. Mid is basically an american bracket bearing which is pressed into the bottom bracket. American bearing is good in my opinion, very tough and large bearings in them to take the abuse. American bracket is the same American bearing which is pressed into American bottom bracket cups then both are pressed into the bottom bracket of the bike. This has been around for a long time and probably will always be around. Spanish hasn't really caught on but it is still around. Euro bracket is basically MTB technology that just has been adopted to BMX pretty recently. No need to press bearings in anymore, easy to change. They say it is less power is robbed which I am not really sure of and more precise on load yet giving away some strength apposed to American or mid bearing BB. you will probably see this on some weight conscious bmx bikes and more of your mid to top of the line bmx bikes.

Are the pin drive front sprockets common to just flatland and vert applications? Or do you still see those at a bmx course? Are road/mountian bike cranks more common there?

As we have only a single speed lots of our sprockets has one or more pin bosses just in case the current boss is damaged and all we have to do is rotate the sprocket to the new pin bosses. Thus, saving time and money if the sprocket is still salvageable. It has been around since the beginning and most likely will not be leaving any time soon. We still see these pin drive sprockets on the race scene too. Spiders has lost it's popularity on the race scene because the spider bolts holding the chain ring tends to get loose or missing. Plus, it is easier just to change out the chain ring in terms of gearing altogether. Again, these are usually, more costly using the spider idea apposed to a single and solid pin drive sprocket.

Why would one go with 14mm axles versus 3/8? You don't see oversized axles on MTB unless you're talking dirt jump, or downhill rigs. Are bent axles a common issue on 20" bikes?

14mm are usually used for those who demands a higher punishment of riding , these guys would be utilizing pegs on grinds, vert, freestyle and other urban forms of street riding. Also, 14mm dictates using a 14mm hub these can have 36 hole or 48 hole hubs whether high flange or low flange. With a bigger 14mm hub we can have tougher axles, usually thicker drop outs on forks, bigger races and number of ball bearings inside a sealed 14mm hub thus distribute the load much better than a 3/8 hubs. Usually.

With times of technology lots of weight conscious and more fluidly skilled can get away with 3/8 sealed hubs. they probably have better 3/8 bearings and finding stronger aftermarket sealed axles gives us more chances to drop weight and yet not hinder durability as much.

I've never seen a BMX bar with oversized clamp diameter. Are bars always bought for durablity, or is weight a concern?

With technology, the bars can be more customized with lines of durability whether for a rider weight limit, a style of riding dictates the construction and use of the handle bars. Wall thickness, height, rise, reach, angle etc. Oversized clamp area goes back to durability and chances of slippage are brought down to a minimum. I guess if we go back to our roots, The S&M Redneck stem basically has dictated how stems should be built for bmx'ers alike. Now, we have a slew of dependable and now light bmx stems in the market, today.

The bike I just bought, came with a short seat, what's the purpose of this? I've even seen seats with the noses cut off.

I have to admit slamming the seat all the way to the bottom of the seat post are probably a bit to the extreme, But on the role of the vert rider, trails, skate park rider it would be easier to maneuver the bike with the seat out of the way. And yup some prefer the noses cut off too for the maneuverable function. For racing, slamming the seat all the way down is not so much a factor. They usually like the nicest looking seat, lightest seat they can afford. Mainly, a bmx race seat would be some flashy MTB seat along with a fancy seat post.
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Old 03-13-10, 11:28 PM   #11
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Some of the Old School Ways

As far as bars if I were to race again , I would try to pick up a set of CW. This is from a racing standpoint. We use to drill holes in the seat to lighten them up. 3 piece cranks were a lot smoother , I went with a one piece, less maintenance. I think a lot of it depends on your height and size, when picking parts. Im using Knee Savers on my GT air. I use to race a Mongoose Super Goose which was chro-mo and then switched to a SE Pk Ripper which was aluminum. I have heard stories with Rippers breaking, I never had that problem. Racing again wide bars. If your tall laid back seat post, things have changed a lot. I am actually trying to figure it out myself. My S Goose and Ripper were made in the USA , late eighties they started making some in the Orient for more affordable bikes. The US bikes were better, but not everyone had the money for a US bike. Take care.
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