Most people will recommend comfort bikes, certain hybrid bikes, or mountain bikes with front suspension when it comes to long-distance riding. Very rarely do people mention a BMX for long-distance riding.
However, in comparison to the standard bike types on the market, BMX bikes stand out a lot due to their aesthetic appeal. That’s why many cyclists ask the question, are BMX bikes suitable for long distances?
If you’re interested in learning more about whether a BMX bike is suitable for long-distance riding, keep reading. We’ll cover everything you need to know about getting a BMX for long-distance riding.
Are BMX bikes good for long distances?
No, no matter what someone might tell you, you definitely shouldn’t get a BMX for long-distance riding. Why? Simply because BMX bikes aren’t designed to handle any sort of long-distance commuting.
Their design centers around off-road stability, the ability to perform tricks, and sharp handling. Consequently, features like the low frame height and thin tires make them very uncomfortable for long-distance riding.
You’d be much better off getting a hybrid or comfort bike for your long-distance commutes!
Why are BMX bikes not good for long distances?
As the general design for BMX bikes centers around being able to turn sharply and perform tricks, there are plenty of features that make them unsuitable for long-distance cycling. Here are some of the main features which hold BMX bikes back from excelling.
Lack of Suspension
To allow them to perform tricks effectively and ensure maximum pedaling efficiency, BMX bikes don’t feature a suspension system. Without a suspension system, BMX bikes can become very uncomfortable.
Most bikes that are good for long-distance traveling will feature a suspension system. The suspension system will help ensure that the bike ride is more comfortable at the cost of pedaling efficiency.
Installing a suspension on a BMX bike does more harm than good. While it might slightly improve their long-distance performance, it’ll take away from the handling and make it harder to perform certain tricks.
Another reason why BMX bikes aren’t ideal for long-distance cycling is the length of the bike frame. BMX bikes tend to feature a low-hanging frame. As a result, many cyclists won’t extend their legs fully while cycling.
As you won’t be able to extend your legs fully, you lose pedaling efficiency, and your muscles don’t get the necessary rest. When muscles don’t get enough rest, the lactic acid build-up will lead to you experiencing more fatigue.
A longer bike frame will help make it significantly easier for cyclists to extend their legs and pedal more efficiently. It’s important to remember that long-distance cycling is about pedaling efficiency and how much energy you can conserve.
BMX bikes usually feature a single fixed gear where they operate. While riding a BMX bike, cyclists won’t have the ability to adjust their gear to change the pedal ratio. Regardless of the kind of terrain you encounter, you’ll have to operate in a single gear.
You’ll generally encounter both uphill and downhill sections in a long-distance commute. Without multiple gears, it can become very challenging to tackle those!
A BMX bike often comes with no brakes or only a handbrake to help you bring the bike to a stop. In long-distance riding, you’re probably going to brake regularly and need a reliable braking system.
Unfortunately, most BMX bikes don’t offer a high-level braking system. As the brake cables can get in the way of performing certain tricks, riding a BMX with no brakes is becoming increasingly popular.
Many cyclists don’t even use the brakes on their BMX to come to a stop. Instead, they’ll use the sole of their shoe and press it against the rear tire. While that might work for BMX riding, it certainly won’t do the job on a long-distance journey.
You’ll probably run out of shoe tread after every run, and taking a BMX bike on a long run could potentially be dangerous as well.
One of the main reasons a BMX bike isn’t going to work well for long-distance riding is that they’re quite uncomfortable.
There are a few reasons that contribute to making BMX bikes uncomfortable. One of the most pertinent reasons is the saddle and bike size. BMX bike manufacturers don’t pay attention to the quality of the seat.
That’s mainly because most cyclists will ride a BMX bike standing rather than sitting. Additionally, they have a smaller size than most bikes because that makes it easier for them to be more agile and perform different tricks.
Due to their small size, many people have trouble completely extending their legs and properly riding the bike. Without completely extending their legs, it’ll make everything much more difficult.
These are the main reasons why a BMX bike won’t work well for long-distance riding. However, because of their aesthetic design and appeal, many people still lean towards buying a BMX.
Are BMX bikes good for a short commute?
Even if BMX bikes aren’t the best for long-distance cycling, many people are still huge fans. That’s why they’ll also ask the question: are BMX bikes good for commuting?
While yes, in certain situations, a BMX bike can be good for commuting, it’s not going to be as comfortable as bikes that have been specifically designed for everyday commuting. If you encounter an uphill or downhill section on your daily commute, then you’ll struggle.
However, one advantage that BMX bikes provide for daily commuters is their small size. They’re smaller than most road bikes and some folding bikes. Consequently, you might be able to take them onto buses and other forms of public transport.
Additionally, if you’re looking to save money, starter BMX bikes are much cheaper than mountain bikes and road bikes of the same standard. You can potentially buy a medium-tier BMX bike for the price of a cheap road bike or mountain bike.
While there are certain benefits to getting a BMX bike for your everyday commute, there are much better options on the market. You’re better off buying a hybrid or road bike for your daily commute.
Even though a BMX bike can be good for short commutes, it’s not the ideal option. Only the most dedicated BMX fans can stick with the bike type for their everyday commute.
How to Improve your BMX bike for long-distance
If you’re hellbent on buying a long-distance BMX, then you’ll probably have to make a few adjustments to improve the long-distance performance.
While it’s not going to improve the long-distance capabilities of your BMX drastically, it’ll be a definite upgrade on a standard BMX bike.
You can effectively improve a BMX bike’s long-distance capabilities by targeting different accessories and components.
Change the Seat
One of the easiest ways to improve your BMX bike for long-distance cycling is by changing the seat. By changing the seat, you can make significant quality of life improvements to your bicycle.
The standard BMX seat tends to be uncomfortable, and that’s what makes the average bike unsuitable for long-distance riding. Another issue with BMX seats is that they’re short in length. As the seats are short, it becomes difficult for cyclists to extend their legs fully.
So when you’re looking to change your BMX seat, it’s important to take both comfort and length into consideration. Not only should you look to get the most comfortable seat possible, but the length should also make it easier for you to extend your legs fully.
Just by getting a seat that provides extra comfort and length, you can significantly improve your BMX’s long-distance performance. Modern bike seats also allow cyclists to go for a seat with built-in suspension. There are plenty of new, more comfortable options available for customers.
BMX bikes tend to feature a standard braking system or no brakes at all. While a basic braking system might be effective for certain tricks and short distances, it won’t do the job for long-distance cycling.
If there’s no proper braking system, you’ll have to use the sole of your shoes to bring the bike to a stop. On a long-distance cycling trip, it’s possible for the soles to wear out so much that you can’t use them for effective braking.
That’s why it’s essential to invest in a braking system if you truly want a long-distance BMX bike. Without a proper brake system, it’ll be too difficult to use your BMX bike for any sort of commuting. When using a bike for everyday commuting, it needs to feature a responsive brake system to ensure that you can ride as safely as possible.
A common issue with BMX bikes is that they tend to feature off-road tires. That makes managing your everyday commutes on a BMX bike even more challenging. When you’re looking to improve the BMX’s performance, switching out the standard tires with more road-friendly versions is a good idea.
That’ll improve your pedaling efficiency and make it much easier for you to manage everyday commutes. A road bike is much narrower than off-road tires, so it’ll decrease the overall rolling resistance and make your bike much easier to ride.
However, only go for road tires if your commute is mostly centered around cycling on paved roads. If you encounter off-road situations, then sticking with off-road tires is your best option.
Generally, a BMX bike will come with a single geared option or feature no gears. The lack of gears is one of the main reasons a BMX bike won’t work well for commuting. For long-distance cycling, the presence of multiple gears can help.
With multiple gear settings, you can adjust the BMX bike to the point where it requires minimal levels of effort to ride long distances. While they are more challenging to find and might be slightly expensive, it’s the only option you should go for if you’re planning on some long-distance cycling.
Additionally, it’s also possible to add more gears to a bike that already has a drivetrain. However, you’re going to need to find a trusted mechanic if you’re looking to make some major changes.
BMX bikes tend to be smaller than other types of bikes because it makes it much easier to perform tricks if the size of the bike is small. However, the small size of the handlebar can make things very uncomfortable for a rider with broad shoulders.
Generally, the narrower the handlebars, the higher strain levels you experience on your shoulders. A wider handlebar will help ensure that riding a BMX bike becomes a lot more comfortable.
If you raise the handlebars a little, it’ll also help ensure that you can maintain a much more comfortable body position. Instead of having to lean forward because of the short handlebars, you’ll be able to enjoy riding in an upright position while maintaining a decent posture.
While not necessarily essential, installing a suspension on a BMX bike can help make it better for certain long-distance commutes. If you’re riding mostly on paved roads and urban terrains, then you don’t need to waste time worrying about installing a suspension.
However, if your everyday commute leads you to some off-road terrains, then installing a suspension on your BMX bike is a good idea. A suspension system can help make rough terrains feel much more comfortable.
The slight issue that arises with installing a suspension on a BMX bike is that a suspension system can lead to energy loss. As the suspension bounces up and down to compensate for the bumps, a significant amount of pedaling efficiency is lost.
These are the main changes that you can make to improve the overall effectiveness of your BMX bike for long-distance riding. By employing these effective techniques, you can go a long way in making your BMX bike better for long-distance riding.
What type of bike works best for long-distance commuting?
When it comes to bikes that work best for long-distance commuting, even if you make significant upgrades to a BMX, it won’t reach the desired performance levels. You’re much better off with one of these alternate bicycle types if you truly want to engage in long-distance cycling.
If your everyday commute involves you riding predominantly on the road and paved terrains, then a road bike is a very decent option. Their design is all about making it possible for cyclists to ride as fast as possible.
However, when you’re looking to buy a long-distance road bike, it’s important to go with endurance road bikes. The endurance bikes feature an upright riding position, drop bars, and a weight balance.
Unlike standard road bikes, endurance road bikes provide cyclists with a supremely comfortable ride while helping them maintain a high speed.
As their nature suggests, a hybrid bike combines two different bike types. They take the best features from both mountain and road bikes to help create an effective long-distance commuter.
Hybrid bikes are ideal for long-distance rides because they can effectively manage on-road and off-road terrains. While they might not offer you the best when it comes to speed, hybrid bikes are comfortable and will work exceptionally well for long-distance cycling.
If your commute is mostly off-road, then you’re going to need a bike that’s going to ensure that you experience the optimal level of comfort out on the trail. They can effectively manage off-road situations.
Gravel bikes are also pretty substantial in size in comparison to a standard BMX bike. You’ll have a lot more room to be comfortable. These bikes will also function well on the road, but they won’t offer the same performance as a hybrid or cyclocross bike.
Speaking of which, the cyclocross bike is also a good shout for long-distance cycling. Cyclocross bikes are essentially a more hardcore version of hybrid bikes. They can effectively combine features from a mountain and road bike.
If you’re dealing with long-distance commutes that involve both off-road and urban areas, then a cyclocross bike is going to be the perfect companion. Even though they don’t feature a suspension system, you’ll easily be able to manage any long-distance commute on a cyclocross bike.
Final word on long-distance BMX
After reading through this piece, we wouldn’t blame you if you were left wondering if there’s even any point in buying a long-distance BMX bike for commuting. A BMX bike is built for freestyle riding, but a few features can make it good for everyday commuting.
Ultimately, it’s all down to the personal preferences of the cyclist. Even if there are better options available, the overall aesthetic value and vibe of the BMX is enough to convince a lot of people to buy.
However, if you do end up buying a BMX bike, there are some changes that you’ll need to make to the bike. Without implementing the necessary changes, you’ll struggle a lot with your long-distance BMX.
Regardless of what you decide to do, steady practice is one of the only ways you can improve your long-distance cycling. The best thing to do is pick the bike that you’re willing to practice on the most!