Opinion: Why BMX is making a comeback

By Jeffrey Stern

BMX has long been the childhood gateway for many cyclists into mountain biking, road riding and more, but now the twenty inch wheeled bikes are making a resurgence of their own.

Anyone over the age of thirty likely remembers their first BMX bike. A particularly handy tool that doubled as a way to get to school as well as shred urban trails, jumps and berms around town. It was the first cool bike to own as a teenager and is again what the younger generation seems to be gravitating towards post-elementary riding.

Although many independent bike shops don’t carry BMX bikes from any of the core brands, those that do are seeing an increase in interest and sales. The Bicycle Product Suppliers Association recently reported that sales through July were up nearly 25%.

To further fuel the fire, BMX is continuing to grow on the international level. Traditional BMX racing was added to the summer Olympic lineup in Beijing for the 2008 games indicating a renewed interest in the discipline worldwide. Freestyle BMX was also added to the 2020 Tokyo games, exciting a new generation of BMX riders and manufacturers. Defined as “bicycle motocross” or stunt riding aboard BMX bikes, it is considered to be an extreme sport consisting of five disciplines: flatland, park, street, trails and vert. A quick YouTube search yields almost 1.5 million freestyle BMX results and the top result, a four-minute video from IcompliationTV, has 4.4 million views. The popularity is more than evident.

The “style” aspects of similar extreme boardsports (snow, skate and surf) are what most kids find intriguing about BMX in this day and age. Couple that with the ability to get around town with jumps, tricks and grinds, the cool factor that kids often look for (and can sometimes be hard to pin on the spandex clad crowd) is obviously there with BMX.

Parents of these new kids that are into BMX rode the bikes themselves, so it easy to see why the proliferation is happening; it’s a sport they can support. Brands that may have turned their backs on BMX over the past couple decades may be seen running back to the BMX bike for it’s simplicity, relative low-price point compared to mountain/road/cyclocross bikes and because of the lifestyle correlation. It’s easy for BMX to be coupled with complementary brands that cross extreme sport industry lines like the shoe giant Vans or action-sports apparel companies like Fox.

BMX is clearly poised and well positioned for a resurgence in an industry that is struggling to find it’s stronghold. Born in Southern California during the ‘70s and cemented in the ‘80s by movies like “E.T.” where all the kids rode BMX bikes, the small wheel speed and fun will always be a sport created by kids emulating their motocross idols, but now it’s all grown up and it’s time for the adults, the industry leaders, to take notice and give it it’s due worth. The glory days for the sport may well be in the future, not the past.

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