BMX vs. Mountain Bike: Pros, Cons and In-Depth Comparison

This article explains what are BMX bikes and mountain bikes and compares them in detail.
John Watson
John Watson
John is an experienced cycling enthusiast and a great asset when it comes to writing skills. He's a Bachelor of Arts and a talented journalist. John is in charge of our blog read more
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Jessica Kingston
Jessica Kingston
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Jessica is our expert consultant on all things connected to biking - gear, technique, you name it. Being a pro cyclist in the past, she knows exactly how things work in and read more
Last updated: August 08, 2023
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Want to try a new activity? Interested in riding a bike but at a more adventurous level? Before you go out and purchase a new bike, you should first stop to consider the different possibilities. While the two activities may look similar, there are many differences between BMX vs mountain bike options. Both bikes are made for hard, trail riding but they have enough subtle differences that it’s better to use the bike specific to each activity. If you’re still unsure of the differences between BMX and mountain biking, we’ll break down the two categories of sports and then detail how the two bikes are similar and different. We’ll also answer a few important questions about the two sports. Strap your helmet on and come along for this bumpy ride.

What Is BMX?

BMX vs. Mountain Bike: Pros, Cons and In-Depth Comparison

BMX stands for bike motocross and is a recognized sport all over the world. Indeed, BMX was actually included in the  2008 Summer Olympics Trusted Source History of Cycling BMX Racing Short history of BMX racing including its debut on the 2008 Olympic program. in Beijing. China. Athletes train to perform amazing tricks in BMX in either outdoor or indoor settings.

In order for BMX riders to safely execute their tricks, they need bikes that are completely dependable. To this end, BMX bikes are incredibly durable and won’t easily fall apart with hard landings.

BMX models

At first glance, you might mistake a BMX bike for a child’s bike. This is because the frame is smaller than other mountain bikes, as are the wheels. However, the compact nature of a BMX bike allows riders to perform more tricks and spins with them.


If you love to have fun while riding your bike and want to revisit your childhood memories, there is nothing better than a BMX bike. These are made for fun. You can take your BMX bike to the forest and coast around trails or you can head to a designated BMX track. Many rural communities will have BMX tracks set up outside so you can make a day of it with your friends.

Even though BMX bikes offer a lot of potential, they really aren’t that expensive. You can find affordable options, both new and used, so you don’t have to invest too much in this new hobby.

Their affordable price is due to their constriction. BMX bikes are often single speed which means they don’t have gears. As a result, there is less maintenance for them.

Finally, BMX bikes have smaller, lightweight frames which mean they are easy to carry. Their small size also makes them more portable so you don’t have to worry about fashioning a bike rack to your car to transport the.


Due to their small frame, adults will need to exercise more effort to actually ride a BMX bike. They are not meant for long distances as adults will need to stand up to provide enough power for the bike to reach high speeds.

BMX bikes are designed to impress and are not the most practical. Their seats aren’t comfortable enough for long rides and they lack proper suspension so you will need to develop some tough skin if you want to go for all the jumps.

Unfortunately, brain injuries Trusted Source Head Injuries Directory Head injuries can be among the most dangerous injuries. They can cause brain damage or even death. Common reasons for head injuries are sports such as football, cycling, basketball, baseball, soccer, and more. are more common in BMX riding. You will need to equip yourself with as much safety equipment as possible. You should also learn how to fall properly. If you are performing an aerial stunt, landing on your neck can lead to catastrophic results.

What Is a Mountain Bike?

BMX vs. Mountain Bike: Pros, Cons and In-Depth Comparison

As their name suggests, mountain bikes are made for mountain and trail riding. They are built sturdy so you can travel over bumpy terrain and they won’t fall apart easily, which is incredibly important if you are in the middle of a long trail ride.

MTB models

When purchasing a mountain bike, or MTB, you want to look for the construction to meet your needs. The number of gears ranges between 21 and 24, which will allow you to ride up a mountain and then cruise down through the trails. The best mountain bikes will come in different models for men and women with adjustable sizes and weight parameters.


It would be pretty awesome if you could stick to riding downhill all the time. However, in order to come down, you must come up. The multiple gear levels in a mountain bike allow you to ride up a hill easier and then switch to a more aggressive gear that promotes speed.

Even if you love mountain biking, it’s nice to have an all-purpose bike to save money and add to your convenience. Most mountain bikes can be ridden on the road as well as the trail.

Finally, due to their construction, you can ride for hours on a mountain bike and not feel sore. Their suspension is amazing so you can take every bump and turn and not feel bruised afterward.


Unfortunately, the biggest obstacle to owning a mountain bike is its price. These are premium bikes and you should expect to pay a hefty price for them.

Also, while the construction of mountain bikes allows you to have an incredible ride, the more moving parts there are, the more opportunity for complicated repairs. You will need to learn a lot about mountain bikes so you can do the repairs yourself. If not, regular maintenance can be quite costly.

For example, if you are looking to replace the brakes on your mountain bike, there are plenty of options, such as this Odyssey U-brake mounting kit. Being able to purchase it online and install it yourself will save you a lot of money than if you had to take your bike to a repair shop.

MTB vs. BMX: In-Depth Comparison

Now that we have an idea of what defines these bikes, let’s take a look at the differences between BMX and mountain bikes.


BMX vs. Mountain Bike: Pros, Cons and In-Depth Comparison

Both BMX and mountain bikes have sturdy frames as they will both be used on wild terrain. However, BMX bikes are usually a bit sturdier. This is because their usage is more compact.

Mountain bikes can travel great distances and while the paths won’t be flat, they won’t be as bumpy and rocky as BMX bikes.

Furthermore, BMX frames are more rigid than mountain bikes. When jumping in the air for a trick while BMX riding, you need a bike that is compact and rigid. Whereas with mountain biking, you want a frame that will take the shocks and allow you to continue riding.


Looking at the two bikes, it is easy to see that BMX bikes have much smaller wheels. They stand to be 20 to 24 inches while mountain bikes are 26 to 29 inches.

The construction of the wheels is also different. BMX bikes take hard hits when they come down from jumps. The inside of the wheels is often reinforced to add to this durability.

In contrast, mountain bikes focus on the outside of their wheels. To navigate rocky terrain, the tires have deep grooves on the outside for better grip.


In order to perform cool tricks, BMX riders will engage their brakes, especially when performing aerial stunts. Then, they can move their handlebars for some hands-free airtime. To help with these tricks, BMX bikes only have brakes on the back wheel. The mechanism is called a V-brake and is engaged to squeeze the back tire.

Mountain bikes, on the other hand, use disc brakes which are more durable. They won’t lock up in high temperatures and work much better for steeper climbs. Disc brakes are also better when exposed to mud and dampness, which is what mountain biking is all about.

When purchasing mountain bike brakes, getting a kit that has both front and back brakes, will allow you to have more peace of mind that your entire bike is ready and safe for your next ride.


There is a huge difference when it comes to BMX bikes vs mountain bikes with gears. While BMX bikes only have one gear, mountain bikes have up to 24 gears.

The reason for this is simple. With BMX riding, you don’t have to travel long distances or up steep pathways. With mountain biking, however, it is expected that you will have to scale different depths and inclines. The more gears you have, the more you can customize your ride to make it easier.


You would think that with all the jumps and aerials performed in BMX racing, there would be good suspension. However, this physical sport makes the rider take the brunt of the force. Unfortunately, there is no suspension when it comes to BMX bikes.

If you are looking to better protect your body, mountain bikes provide a lot more suspension. The entire body of the bike is outfitted with decent suspension, so you can withstand all the rough terrain. This is imperative if you are out for a long ride and don’t want your body to fall apart by the end.


Which bike would win in a BMX vs. mountain bike race?

Hands down, a mountain bike would beat a BMX bike. The construction of a mountain bike would allow the rider to sit more comfortably while the frame of the BMX bike would force you to stand up and exert more energy.

You also have multiple gears with a mountain bike versus just one for a BMX bike. If you needed to ride your bike uphill, you would probably end up getting off your BMX bike to walk as your legs would give out under the strain.

Whichever you choose, a BMX or a mountain bike, know that both are excellent forms of exercise. Trusted Source Biking: How to Make It a Workout Biking can be a great cardio workout. It’s also good for your leg muscles. Here’s everything you need to know about biking for exercise. If you want to get a good workout and enjoy what you are doing, biking in any form is always beneficial.

Which is better for a kid?

When it comes to children, having a bike is a given. What type of bike your child wants may be a bit trickier. Whatever you decide, however, bike safety tips Trusted Source Bike | Safe Kids Worldwide Tips to keep your kid safe on two wheels. should be your number one priority.

The answer to what type of bike is better for your child really comes down to what they are interested in. Even though mountain bikes are more expensive, they are more versatile as they can be used as road bikes as well.

However, if your child already has an all-purpose bike and wants to expand their abilities, a BMX bike would really make their day. There are now many options when it comes to the best BMX bikes for kids so you can find one that will meet the needs of your child. And who knows, maybe it will spark your own interest in the sport.

How do they compare to a road bike?

We’ve talked a few times in this article about how a mountain bike can be used as a road bike. However, when thinking specifically about mountain bikes vs road bikes, there are many factors that set the two apart.

Road bikes have a lighter frame that is more aerodynamic. Furthermore, their tires are thinner as it is assumed you will be riding on flat pavement. Road bikes often have fewer gears. Even though you may need to crest some hills with a road bike, it won’t be at the same incline as with a mountain bike.

Final Thoughts

Biking in any capacity is an excellent form of exercise and a way to harness your inner child. There are many categories of bikes so finding one that fits your needs is an important first step. Mountain bikes are a common option. Not only do they allow you to traverse through the wilderness, but they can also be used as regular road bikes. BMX bikes belong to a more specific category. Their construction is made for shorter intervals where you can perform cool, gravity-defying tricks. Overall, the decision between BMX vs mountain bike depends on what you are interested in. And, if you can’t quite decide between the two, just know that you are not alone. Many biking enthusiasts end up with one of each so they always have options.


History of Cycling BMX Racing
Short history of BMX racing including its debut on the 2008 Olympic program.
Head Injuries Directory
Head injuries can be among the most dangerous injuries. They can cause brain damage or even death. Common reasons for head injuries are sports such as football, cycling, basketball, baseball, soccer, and more.
Biking: How to Make It a Workout
Biking can be a great cardio workout. It’s also good for your leg muscles. Here’s everything you need to know about biking for exercise.
Bike | Safe Kids Worldwide
Tips to keep your kid safe on two wheels.

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