BMX Bikes without Brakes – Everything you need to know

Even those that aren’t interested in cycling are familiar with the term BMX. BMX is simply an acronym for bicycle motocross. A BMX bike is designed for off-road racing and performing tricks.

While there are several other options for off-road racing, if you want to perform tricks and ride on the street, a BMX is your best bet. If you’re a part of the cycling world, you’ll know that almost all bikes have brakes.

However, it’s starting to become increasingly popular to run a BMX bike with no brakes. Here’s everything you need to know about riding a BMX bike with no brakes and why people choose to go brakeless in the first place.

Why BMX Bikes Have Brakes

Generally, manufactures are required by law to install a braking system in every bike they sell. It’s completely illegal for them to sell a bicycle without any brakes, and they’ll get in trouble if they attempt to sell such a product.

Many people that run BMX bikes with no brakes manually take the brakes off themselves.

The traffic regulations require cyclists to stop in an emergency, and in an accident, if you’re found not having brakes, you’ll automatically be at fault.

In the United States, laws vary from state to state, but in most places for road use, each bicycle must have a brake that allows the cyclist to stop one lap on clean, dry, flat asphalt.

It’s essential to have these brakes when you’re taking your bike onto the road. Automobiles of all shapes and sizes share the road with you, and you can never tell when you might need to brake suddenly.

You’re only allowed to ride a brakeless cycle when you’re off-roading, in competition, or in a specialized park.

What Type of Brakes do you find in BMX bikes?

There are two main types of BMX bike brakes: V-brakes and U-brakes. Both are operated by hand levers mounted on the handlebars.

V-Brakes

V-brakes are playing a revolutionary role in improving the performance of rim brakes for all kinds of bikes. They effectively function both on-road and off-road, which is why you see these kinds of brakes on all kinds of bikes.

The type of V-brake system BMX bikes employs falls under the same category as side-pull cantilever brakes. Another term for V-brakes is linear-pull brakes or direct-pull brakes. They use the same frame mount as cantilever brakes.

While they’re similar in nature to cantilever brakes, V-brakes feature significant improvements over them! Even though they’re super effective, riders will need to change their brakes after a certain period of time.

U-Brake

U-brakes are the traditional type of rim brake that bikes typically feature. A standard U-brake functions similarly to a center-pull caliper brake. However, they differ because the pivots for a U-brake are mounted directly on the bike’s frame.

While U-brakes initially became popular during the 90s, most bike types have moved on to V-brakes. However, they’re still very popular with freestyle BMX bikes as they offer minimal sideways protrusion.  

Gyro Brakes

One of the latest BMX brake innovations is the invention of the gyro brake system. Gyro brake systems typically feature a detangler or gyro that facilitates turning the handlebars in a full 360-degree rotation.

While you’re making the rotation, the gyro system helps ensure that you don’t have to worry about any of the cables tangling up with one another. The gyro system only tends to work with rear brake systems!

These are the three main types of brake systems that you’d find on a BMX bike.

It’s important for a bicycle to have brakes, especially when you’re just starting out with riding. Inexperienced cyclists can get into plenty of unpleasant situations if they don’t have a proper set of brakes on the bike.

Interestingly enough, it’s much easier to learn certain BMX tricks with a braking system as well. With the invention of the gyro brake system, riders can’t even complain about removing the brakes because they get tangled up while performing tricks.

However, there’s still a wide variety of cyclists that prefer riding a BMX with no brakes. Even though it increases the difficulty of riding, brakeless BMX bikes are starting to become common among freestyle riders.

Do BMX Bikes Have Pedal Brakes?

For youngsters setting out to learn bicycle riding, the most popular first bike is a BMX bike. A coaster brake is fitted as standard for these mini-micro- and micro-sized BMX bikes for riders seven years old and younger.

A coaster brake allows children to learn balance and the fundamentals of bicycle control and make it easier. The coaster brake enables the BMX bike to roll forwards without rotating the pedals and crank. This is due to a unique rear hub.

This hub, called a coaster hub, also operates as brakes for the rider and BMX bike, functioning when the cranks are pedaled in a reverse direction. Coaster hubs contain internal brake shoes housed in a metal shell.

When rotating the pedals backward, these brake shoes then expand and thereby slow the bike’s speed. For youngsters, this is by far the most efficient and easiest way to slow pace; their tiny hands are not strong enough to sufficiently pull the brake lever.

Why are so many riders choosing to ride BMX bikes without brakes?

Even with the advent of gyro brake systems and the obvious dangers that come with riding brakeless, more and more cyclists are starting to ride their BMX without brakes. Let’s look at some of the different reasons people are going brakeless on their BMX bikes.

Improves overall cycling

One of the main reasons behind why people choose to ride their BMX bike without brakes is to improve their overall skill as a rider. It’s pretty common for professional BMX riders to go brakeless on their runs.

That’s because when you do go brakeless, it requires you to be much better at gauging speed and being able to control your bike. Without relying on the brakes, you almost become one with the bike and develop better riding skills.

A lot of cyclists recommend going brakeless for a while just to improve your overall bike control. After you get more used to riding brakeless, you’ll notice significant improvements in your overall ability.

Brakes don’t create a clean look

Bicycle brakes rely on different levers and cables, which can create a very messy aesthetic if they’re not stored properly. Another issue that bikes with brakes encounter is that the cables can get tangled while performing certain BMX tricks.

Untangling the mess is not easy or simple by any means. That’s why many cyclists decide to forego the brakes entirely and go with brakeless options. When there’s no brake system, there are no cables to worry about.

Alternatively, a gyro brake system completely eliminates the threat of your brake cables becoming entangled. However, people still tend to prefer the clean look that brakeless bikes provide.

Makes you commit more

One of the main reasons why people decide to ride their BMX bike without brakes is because it encourages them to commit more. Whether you’re approaching a jump or are looking to perform a trick, many people will bail out at the last minute if they have access to brakes.

However, when you’re riding the bike without any brakes, you have to be a lot more measure in your approach because you can’t just back out last minute. That way, you’re more likely to perform tricks that you feel like you can actually perform.

The more you commit to a trick, the higher your chances of performing it effectively.

Reduces weight

Another reason cyclists decide to go with BMX bikes without brakes is that removing them helps effectively reduce weight. With lower levels of weight, both speed and the ability to do tricks will increase significantly.

It’ll also increase your maximum jump height and make it much easier to balance on the bike!

Drawbacks of BMX bikes without Brakes

Even though there are certain advantages that come with running a BMX bike without brakes, it’s clear that there are some drawbacks as well. Here are some drawbacks that you can expect to encounter if you do decide to run a brakeless setup on your BMX bike.

Generally Unsafe

One of the most important things about brakes is that they’re an excellent safety measure. You’ll easily be able to come to a stop as soon as you encounter any sort of trouble. When you remove brakes from the equation, you’re actually making cycling much more unsafe for yourself.

It’s only recommended for the most experienced riders to take their brakes off. When you decide to make the decision, you should always keep on protective gear like a helmet and pads.

Make sure that you’ve done a significant amount of practice before deciding to make the actual switch to riding a BMX bike without brakes.

Difficult to Master 

BMX bikes without brakes can help you learn a lot of new tricks and essential skills, but they’re challenging to master. The risk of running a brakeless bike is much greater for cyclists that are just starting out.

It might seem like the cool thing to do, but it’s genuinely difficult to learn to ride a bike without brakes. You’ll have to improve your overall bike control, balance, and several other factors. Its difficulty is what puts many people off, even attempting to learn how to ride a BMX with no brakes.

How to Stop BMX Bikes without Brakes?

When you decide to run a BMX without brakes, it’s only natural that you’ll have to learn alternate ways of bringing your bike to stop. After you just start out with BMX riding, it can become even more challenging to figure out how to stop without brakes.

Here are a few tips on helping you stop your BMX bike without brakes.

Tip 1

Your leg can be a medium in this situation. Just slow the bike speed, then place your foot on the ground equivalently to control the stopping. Remember, it is dangerous if you try to stop immediately while the bike runs speedily.

Tip 2

The ideal BMX shoe can be helpful as a brake. All you need to do is push the rear tires with your shoes. This push pauses the rotation of the rear wheel and, as a result, achieves the desired result. It works great when applied correctly at a professional level.

Tip 3

With a quick flow, your back and forward pedaling will bring out the result of stopping. As a starter, that tip isn’t wrong to apply.

These are the three main ways to stop your brakeless cycle.

Is It Illegal to ride a BMX with No Brake?

One of the main questions that riders have before choosing to ride a BMX bike with no brakes is the legality of the matter. It’s illegal to ride a BMX brake without brakes in public, and the most likely scenario is that you’ll get a ticket.

Even though bike law generally tends to vary from state to state, it’s a requirement that all BMX bikes feature a single set of brakes for safety. If you decide to take the brakes off, you’ll only be allowed to ride the bike legally off-road.

If you decide to go brakeless, you’re also going to need to invest in a decent bike rack to help you carry your bike around.

BMX Tricks with No Brakes

There are many exciting tricks, which you can do with your BMX bike. These tricks can be performed with or without brakes. Driving without brakes doesn’t open up new tricks you couldn’t do before. Some adjustments in body movement or control may be required to perform the same trick.

Here are five basic tricks you can do on your BMX bike if you don’t have brakes.

Handlebar Spin

This trick can be accomplished or performed at any time in the air, such as falling off a springboard or jumping a rabbit. Rotate the handle 360 ​​degrees in the air. While in the air, a variation is to turn the handlebars 90 degrees and then bring them back to the direction they first came from.

A Manual

A manual is a trick when riding the rear wheel without using the pedals. One of the most basic and first lessons taught to beginners. This trick is about balance. Raise the handlebars and lift the front wheel. Only ride the rear wheel for as long as possible.

Bunny Hop

The trick is to lift the front and rear tires off the ground simultaneously. Start at a slower speed, pull the handlebars, and move forward to lift the entire bike off the floor together. Get as much air as possible.

Joop

This trick is like a rabbit jump. However, instead of lifting both wheels off the ground simultaneously, raise the front wheel first and then the rear wheel. Grab the steering wheel and sit back on the bike. If the front wheel is in the air, it immediately pushes it forward. This will also lift the rear tire into the air.

180-degree pivot

This trick is performed in the air, making getting off the platform more accessible. This can be done while driving on a straight road. But everything is more complicated. Drive at a moderate speed and then pull the steering wheel to lift the front wheel off the ground. Then press the handle down in the air. Finally, the motorcycle flies through the sky and turns his body as he lands. The front tire is now at the rear and facing the opposite direction.

Conclusion

BMX bikes without brakes are increasing in popularity, but that doesn’t mean riding brakeless makes things easier.

It’s quite difficult to get to grips with BMX bikes with no brakes. However, your overall cycling skill will improve significantly once you get accustomed to BMX riding with no brakes.

James Dawson

After learning how to ride a bicycle much later than all the other kids, James Dawson hasn't looked back. The author now actively rides a bicycle as a part of the community cycling group and competes regularly in local competitions. Aside from that, he loves technology and always keeps up to date with the latest cycling tech.

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