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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Sea Otter Classic 2017: Fairdale Bikes

The Sea Otter Classic is a huge bike festival held every year in Monterey, California. This year, there were over 400 brands represented in the expo, and while many of them were well-known giants in the bike industry, there were also plenty of the little guys, the family operations and brand new startups. At events like this, I’ve started making it a point to visit some of the lesser-known companies, because they’re often doing some pretty cool stuff. One of these brands was Fairdale Bikes, out of Austin, Texas.

The first thing that caught my eye as I walked by the Fairdale Bikes booth was the cardboard cutout of a rabbit that was strategically placed on a BMX cruiser.

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Then I noticed all the cool bikes.

Fairdale specializes in making “simple and reliable bicycles to complement the styles of riding that we love to do because we want to be able to share the joy of a simple ride with you.”

Those styles of riding include long road rides, commuting, touring or just cruising around town. Right now, Fairdale offers nine different bikes, from the aforementioned BMX cruiser to a road bike to several different around-town bikes. At Sea Otter, they were also showing off a brand new gravel bike prototype called the Rockitship. The Rockitship can accommodate 40c tires and includes rack and fender mounts.

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fairdale_cruiser

The Weekender is a commuter and light touring rig, available with either drop, flat or the Fairdale Archer bars. It’s equipped with a SRAM 9-speed drivetrain, 700c Continental Town Ride tires (or 27.5 inch on small and extra small frames) and Avid brakes built around a chromoly frame with rack and fender mounts.

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The Taj is an “adult-sized” BMX bike that can shred some sick jumps but is also comfortable enough to ride around town. It’s designed to be durable and fun, with a steel frame, singlespeed drivetrain and 26 x 2.2 inch tires.

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Focused more on ride quality over speed and racing, the Goodship is a steel road bike that’s designed to be ridden often and far. It features an ENVE carbon fork, Shimano Ultegra groupset, FSA components and Continental 25 mm tires.

The Fairdale crew all seemed like super chill, great people, and they even convinced me to walk away with one of their cool water bottles (not an easy feat when I already have too many bottles and limited room in my luggage).


Keep Reading: Check out our review of the Fairdale Flyer to get more of an idea of what this brand is all about. Stay tuned for more Sea Otter coverage this week!

 

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Video: Jinja Safari outfox the cops

To celebrate #33, our Music Issue, we’re publishing clever videos that combine great music with cool bikes, plus some dreamy bearded fellows to boot. Here’s something from the Australian band Jinja Safari.


Editor’s note: To make sure you’re part of the cool kid’s club, order a subscription and you’ll be ready for the everyday cycling adventure.

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