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20 for riding 2-3 miles in city streets?

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20 for riding 2-3 miles in city streets?

Old 10-18-21, 12:58 PM
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JVME
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20 for riding 2-3 miles in city streets?

Hey all. I'm an older guy and I've been riding an old school touring/road bike for a while. This was the first one I found after I moved here. I live in an urban area and ride daily about 2-4 miles one way in Baltimore city. It's mostly flat, slow sloping hills, nothing major. I'm not enjoying the 27" road bike as much since it's basically just "ride among cars, navigate lights, etc.." I'd like to be able to take stairs, maybe some parks here and there on my way around town. So, I'm looking at 20" BMXs again.

My plan is to buy a 20" BMX, put the handbrake on it, then buy a second, longer seat post to put my road seat so I can just swap between the two different set ups for longer rides vs. short ones. Also, maybe look into upping the chainring size down next year depending on how it goes.

My question is, is this nuts? When I was a kid with much younger joints I rode miles and miles on a my BMX with 18s. I know I'm not that young now, and I understand a bike fitter would probably laugh at me. But is 2-4 miles on a BMX through back streets, alleys, occasional park and what not unreasonable?

I'm in physical good physical shape -- run 20+ miles a week and my joints are all in good shape. I mostly ride the bike for fun and additional exercise and because so many trips I make around town are less than 3 miles, which seems stupid in a car. It's just that riding the road bike isn't as much fun.

Does anyone use a 20 for their regular trips in a city? Or are they just really for taking to the park, pump track, etc.?

Thanks in advance.

Last edited by JVME; 10-18-21 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 10-19-21, 12:26 PM
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What about a small frame mountain bike?
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Old 10-20-21, 08:40 AM
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Why not get a 24" or a 26" bmx? Single speed, something like an SE Big Ripper, multi speed, maybe something like the SE OM Duro? Then you get a bike you can thrash but also fit on... I have found memories of my 20's and riding it 10-20 miles with "the gang" to go from jump to jump when i didn't have to work for a living. But I realize now that I don't have all the time I used to and that I will never fit on them like I used to. Don't get me wrong, I still have mine. But for riding I look to my 26" Gary Littlejohn, my 26" Schwinn klunker, my 650b Trek or my 700c touring bike...
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Old 10-23-21, 09:40 PM
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Originally Posted by JVME View Post
Hey all. I'm an older guy and I've been riding an old school touring/road bike for a while. This was the first one I found after I moved here. I live in an urban area and ride daily about 2-4 miles one way in Baltimore city. It's mostly flat, slow sloping hills, nothing major. I'm not enjoying the 27" road bike as much since it's basically just "ride among cars, navigate lights, etc.." I'd like to be able to take stairs, maybe some parks here and there on my way around town. So, I'm looking at 20" BMXs again.

My plan is to buy a 20" BMX, put the handbrake on it, then buy a second, longer seat post to put my road seat so I can just swap between the two different set ups for longer rides vs. short ones. Also, maybe look into upping the chainring size down next year depending on how it goes.

My question is, is this nuts? When I was a kid with much younger joints I rode miles and miles on a my BMX with 18s. I know I'm not that young now, and I understand a bike fitter would probably laugh at me. But is 2-4 miles on a BMX through back streets, alleys, occasional park and what not unreasonable?

I'm in physical good physical shape -- run 20+ miles a week and my joints are all in good shape. I mostly ride the bike for fun and additional exercise and because so many trips I make around town are less than 3 miles, which seems stupid in a car. It's just that riding the road bike isn't as much fun.

Does anyone use a 20 for their regular trips in a city? Or are they just really for taking to the park, pump track, etc.?

Thanks in advance.
Im late 50s and Ive ridden a 20 bmx with a laid-back seatpost, 24 miles round trip for work. It wasnt hard, but it is a somewhat cramped position with knees coming up to my chest almost.

If a 24 or 26 had been available, I would have bought one of those. 2-3 miles should be easy
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Old 10-24-21, 07:56 AM
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Thanks everyone for your replies and suggestions so far.

I did test ride a 26 bmx. I liked it but didnt feel a whole lot different than this 27 road bike. More upright for sure but still higher up and less in the bike than Id like.

I cant find a 24 to test anywhere nearby. Also, the only 24s Im finding I like are getting out of my price range and finding a used one locally or shippable is not happening.

I should have added that Im only 5 9 and am more torso than legs. Thats why I was looking at the longer seat post as a swap out when Im going to be peddling longer distances.

One thing Im also considering: In looking at the older 20 bmx bikes, they had larger chainrings - probably 35s vs the 25s Im mostly seeing now. So at some point I may switch that out, but that would be down the road.
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Old 10-24-21, 08:13 AM
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I’m 51 years old. 5’8, 160 lbs. I rode BMX bikes as a kid, but switched to road bikes in high school. My son has a large frame (long top tube) 20” BMX bike. I can barely ride it around our driveway. I can’t imagine riding it any distance.
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Old 10-25-21, 05:53 PM
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I'm mid-50s, 5'9", 160, live in a city full of hills, blocks long grades, lots of traffic, terrible roads, and motor vehicle drivers that are nervous around cyclist. Ninety-five percent of my riding is done on vintage 20" BMXers with 42, 44, and, 46t front sprockets and 175mm crank arms. I run errands, commute 13 miles to-and-from the job, visit friends out in the suburbs...basically do almost everything but heavy load carrying on 20 inchers.

It's a different "discipline", though, from riding a larger, geared bicycle. Having the appropriate tires/tire pressure and front/rear sprocket makes the difference between an easy and fun ride, or, an uncomfortable, tiring, nerve-racking one.

I rarely sit and pedal. Mostly, I stand to pedal and will sit every 3 or four blocks to "stretch out" my legs, briefly, from the pedals, to relax the knees. I have a cadence to my pedaling all depending on the road upon which I'm riding, especially with hills. If I need to go someplace less than 5 miles, the majority of the time I'll ride a BMXer.

I also have a Mongoose Moosegoose and a Huffy Pro Thunder Max which are taller framed 20" wheeled BMXers. They give me more stretch out space on the rare occasions I decide to ride them.

I've been riding/commuting on 20" BMXers for over 40 years so my body is used to the discipline. I ride most everyday except during sleet/ice and lightning/rain downpours. Everything happens quickly and more intensely on a smaller bike. Rough roads are really rough and potholes are fun to hop over. I sit to coast and mostly stand to pedal with a cadence, plus, use my body weight on the cranks to climb hills. It can be done and I have lots fun zipping around on the little bikes.
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Old 10-25-21, 08:29 PM
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I enjoyed zipping around a bike with 20 wheels. But bad knees that dont bend like they used to, made me wish there was more between the seat and crank arms.

Unfortunately, my bike was stolen (with 2 heavy chain locks, and a decent sized cable lock on it.)
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Old 10-27-21, 09:06 AM
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GT Bruiser, thanks! This is helpful info for sure. We are around the same height so it's good to know that shouldn't be a huge issue. I found a 21" TT with 15.6" chain stay.


This bike (Cult Devotion) came with a 25T chainring (for a 25/9 standard freestyle wrap) but I'm considering upping that CR to a 30T or even 33T. Possibly going with longer arms after that, depending on how the larger ring feels. I live in Baltimore, in the city proper. So the roads are not that hilly at all really. And there are a lot of alleys and alley streets so I can stay off the main car arteries if I want/need. Mostly I'm looking for a bike I LIKE to cruise around on when I'm not riding my motorbike (cold months or just want a change of pace).


I ordered a longer 15" seat tube and will add my Brooks C17 to that. I figure depending on what my ride will be I can then swap between the longer saddle/tube setup or the shorter one that came with the bike: 8" tube with a stock pivot saddle.


These tires are 2.3 or 2.4 I think; stock Vans/Cult. Inflate to 65 which seems about right.


Thanks for the follow up and information!


Originally Posted by GTBruiser View Post
I'm mid-50s, 5'9", 160, live in a city full of hills, blocks long grades, lots of traffic, terrible roads, and motor vehicle drivers that are nervous around cyclist. Ninety-five percent of my riding is done on vintage 20" BMXers with 42, 44, and, 46t front sprockets and 175mm crank arms. I run errands, commute 13 miles to-and-from the job, visit friends out in the suburbs...basically do almost everything but heavy load carrying on 20 inchers.


It's a different "discipline", though, from riding a larger, geared bicycle. Having the appropriate tires/tire pressure and front/rear sprocket makes the difference between an easy and fun ride, or, an uncomfortable, tiring, nerve-racking one.


I rarely sit and pedal. Mostly, I stand to pedal and will sit every 3 or four blocks to "stretch out" my legs, briefly, from the pedals, to relax the knees. I have a cadence to my pedaling all depending on the road upon which I'm riding, especially with hills. If I need to go someplace less than 5 miles, the majority of the time I'll ride a BMXer.


I also have a Mongoose Moosegoose and a Huffy Pro Thunder Max which are taller framed 20" wheeled BMXers. They give me more stretch out space on the rare occasions I decide to ride them.


I've been riding/commuting on 20" BMXers for over 40 years so my body is used to the discipline. I ride most everyday except during sleet/ice and lightning/rain downpours. Everything happens quickly and more intensely on a smaller bike. Rough roads are really rough and potholes are fun to hop over. I sit to coast and mostly stand to pedal with a cadence, plus, use my body weight on the cranks to climb hills. It can be done and I have lots fun zipping around on the little bikes.
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Old 10-27-21, 09:07 AM
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Originally Posted by urban_cyclist View Post
I enjoyed zipping around a bike with 20 wheels. But bad knees that dont bend like they used to, made me wish there was more between the seat and crank arms.

Unfortunately, my bike was stolen (with 2 heavy chain locks, and a decent sized cable lock on it.)
What a drag. I'm sorry to hear that.
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Old 11-03-21, 07:08 AM
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65 and this is my answer.

I took a compact frame hybrid and built some 29r wheels with a Shimano CB-e100 single speed coaster brake hub. does what I need.
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Old 11-03-21, 07:12 AM
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Mountain bike is what you want. Not a BMX bike.
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Old 11-03-21, 08:21 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Mountain bike is what you want. Not a BMX bike.

I had a mountain bike. I hated it. It combines all the things I do not want/need: suspension (Why? So my ride can be less efficient for the sake of something I don't need? Why add the weight, potential failure point(s), reduced efficiency and maintenance of something I have no use for?), I have zero access to trails and have no interest in going to them, taller wheels and geometry (so I can clear things I'll never encounter?), derailleur(s)/gears I don't want or need (see also suspension).

Of all possible options, mountain bike is at the bottom for me.
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Old 11-03-21, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by bwilli88 View Post
65 and this is my answer.

I took a compact frame hybrid and built some 29r wheels with a Shimano CB-e100 single speed coaster brake hub. does what I need.
Nice ride.

I'm coming from a fixed gear with 700s. It was a Crew District complete. Had to sell it when I moved. It was a cool bike and I'd be okay with it, but (1) they don't sell completes anymore and I'd have to build one up again (2) riding it was okay. I definitely loved the single-speed/fixie bike. But it's still not quite what I'm looking for.

Before we moved my daily rides were anywhere from 8-20 miles. We were way outside our previous city center so I had to ride further for anything. That bike made more sense in my old environment because there was just no way I'd have any time or energy for any of the "street" riding tricks on a ride, so having a bike that could do them wasn't important. Now my rides are a lot shorter.



Anyway, I ended up getting a 20" BMX (Cult Devotion) and so far it's outstanding fun. Rides of 1-3 miles are a breeze. It's the ideal bike for what I want to do here.
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Old 11-03-21, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by JVME View Post
I had a mountain bike. I hated it. It combines all the things I do not want/need: suspension (Why? So my ride can be less efficient for the sake of something I don't need? Why add the weight, potential failure point(s), reduced efficiency and maintenance of something I have no use for?), I have zero access to trails and have no interest in going to them, taller wheels and geometry (so I can clear things I'll never encounter?), derailleur(s)/gears I don't want or need (see also suspension).

Of all possible options, mountain bike is at the bottom for me.
Hardtail or one with a rigid fork would still be better than a BMX bike for what you want to do. And they do make them available as single speed.

Something like this may work for you as well

https://spotbikes.com/products/acme-bike
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Old 11-04-21, 01:14 PM
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Originally Posted by JVME View Post
What a drag. I'm sorry to hear that.
It happens. If thieves want your bike bad enough, theyll find a way to get it.
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Old 11-06-21, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by prj71 View Post
Hardtail or one with a rigid fork would still be better than a BMX bike for what you want to do. And they do make them available as single speed.

Something like this may work for you as well

https://spotbikes.com/products/acme-bike

Thanks for you time and effort. I've specifically owned and disliked riding mountain bikes. They are not the right bike for me.

Have a nice day.
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Old 11-08-21, 08:38 AM
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Lol!!
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Old 11-14-21, 04:02 PM
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OP your youth is calling you! I woke up one day and despite having a nice road bike I just craved to have a old school BMX again. That was 5 years and I'm still riding my BMX!. A couple of miles on a BMX is really is nothing, and I can keep it tucked away safe in my office. Since getting back into BMX I've owned both vintage, mid school, and modern. I can tell you that if you want a bike to cruise around and actually sit on. The old vintage 1980's BMX bikes are the best. But with 80's BMX some have a really short top tubes so you will want one that's at least 18.5". Modern BMX's are a lot more stronger and more robust. But the seating position simply sucks (At least for me). I've gotten the "S&M long Johnson" which is like a 12" seat post and it still wasn't comfortable. But modern BMX bikes were not designed for long seat posts. They were designed to have the seat as low as possible to maximize height on jumps.

What bike did you have as a kid OP? I would start looking there.
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Old 11-15-21, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by cbrstar View Post
OP your youth is calling you! I woke up one day and despite having a nice road bike I just craved to have a old school BMX again. That was 5 years and I'm still riding my BMX!. A couple of miles on a BMX is really is nothing, and I can keep it tucked away safe in my office. Since getting back into BMX I've owned both vintage, mid school, and modern. I can tell you that if you want a bike to cruise around and actually sit on. The old vintage 1980's BMX bikes are the best. But with 80's BMX some have a really short top tubes so you will want one that's at least 18.5". Modern BMX's are a lot more stronger and more robust. But the seating position simply sucks (At least for me). I've gotten the "S&M long Johnson" which is like a 12" seat post and it still wasn't comfortable. But modern BMX bikes were not designed for long seat posts. They were designed to have the seat as low as possible to maximize height on jumps.

What bike did you have as a kid OP? I would start looking there.
Thanks for the info. I ended up getting a Cult Crew Devotion. 21" TT with a 13.5" CS. It definitely sits lower than the Huffy BMX I had when I was a kid. I don't really recall much about the size of that bike, it was just what we could find and I could afford at the time with my mom's help. So it was probably from Kmart or the cheapest BMX at our LBS back then.

I definitely enjoy riding this a lot more than the road bike or any of the bigger bikes I've had. I mounted my C17 Brooks saddle to a 15" seat tube and that's fine for longer rides. Honestly I've mostly used the stock short tube and stock seat which have been fine for rides of 3-4 miles I've been doing so far. I don't mind standing at all. and can sit enough to coast even with the stock seat slammed down.

So now I'm working on learning to manual and hop. (below is a pic of it after I looped out without getting my feet under me so I landed hard. It felt good to fall. It did not feet good to get back up. )

This bike is so much more versatile than the road bike was and hills etc. are no problem at all. The leg workout is actually better I think and my running PT says it will probably be better for upper leg muscle resistance and leg strength than being seated and hunched over.

Yesterday one of my neighbors called me "Tony Hawk" and I laughed because I do not see myself getting a video game franchise any time soon.

Long live BMX!
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Old 11-17-21, 08:27 AM
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Middle age dude of normal height riding a 20" bike around as transportation ?

Thats one of those, just because you can doesnt mean you should type of things . Its right up there with backwards baseball hats, concert t shirts and neck tattoos.

Save the kids bikes for the pump track and check out a 26" cruiser
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Old 11-17-21, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by DMC707 View Post
Middle age dude of normal height riding a 20" bike around as transportation ?

Thats one of those, just because you can doesnt mean you should type of things . Its right up there with backwards baseball hats, concert t shirts and neck tattoos.

Save the kids bikes for the pump track and check out a 26" cruiser
So precious. I guess "I mostly ride the bike for fun" got skipped.

I'm not really trying to worry about wagging my finger at somebody over their tattoos or shirt.
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Old 11-21-21, 03:49 PM
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Originally Posted by JVME View Post
So precious. I guess "I mostly ride the bike for fun" got skipped.

I'm not really trying to worry about wagging my finger at somebody over their tattoos or shirt.

Well precious, your words are below so you did ask for peoples opinion . The vast majority of people i see on little bikes who are over the age of 25, appear to tweekers and/or homeless dudes.

Does anyone use a 20 for their regular trips in a city? NO Or are they just really for taking to the park, pump track, etc.? YES
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Old 11-22-21, 02:50 PM
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Let’s keep responses on topic please. The OP is seeking advice. Please don’t respond if you can’t be helpful.
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Old 11-28-21, 01:47 PM
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2-3 miles you can ride the whole way standing, or get a 'warm-up post extender' if you have a 27.2 seatpost. It's a race BMX thing.

I'm a race guy, and have a longer post than I should on my cruiser (24") - I'll ride it the distance you're talking about, no problem. Mostly pedal then sit and coast, stand up and pedal again....
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