No, BMX bikes are generally unsuitable for commuting a mile or two. While durable and low maintenance. They are also tiring due to the single low gearing and a low saddle to sit on while pedalling. They are also incompatible with commuter accessories, such as mudguards and racks.
Admittedly, some commuters don’t mind these factors. But given a choice, most will be happier with a more versatile bike.
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1. The riding position is the biggest problem:
Standing while driving is necessary for aggressive driving, tricks and the like. It’s the only option.
But commuting is just the opposite: sitting is where it’s at. And maybe after a mile or two, you’ll wish you did!
On most BMX bikes, the seat post is nowhere near long enough to allow for full leg extension when seated.
If you don’t want to look and feel like a circus bear on a tricycle, you must stand the whole time! And that can sustained for a few kilometres, but before long, it becomes tiring.
2. The problem may be in the transmission:
All BMX bikes have one speed. It is not a problem as commuting at one speed often works well.
But the problem is that it is a single gear.
Most BMX bikes have a gear ratio of about 55″. It means that one complete circle of pedals will move you forward 55″. Of course, higher numbers mean you’re moving further, which is more work but allows for more speed. (And vice versa for a lower number of gear inches.)
55″ is very short by city bike standards but great for the quick acceleration and modest speeds you need in BMX.
But for bike commuting, single-speed riders. It usually chooses something around 65″-75″ depending on their terrain. It won’t allow you to speed up like a rabbit out of the gate. But the average commute time will be significantly reduced. More importantly, it prevents you from pedaling. Like crazy to maintain a reasonable speed.
It’s usually cheap and relatively easy to change the gear yourself. But, if you turn it into a commuter device, your BMX bike will be almost useless for BMX.
3. There is no easy way to mount the rack or fenders:
Despite all the excellent commuter bike accessories. Only a handful are almost always needed. Here’s a complete explanation, but fenders and rack are at the top of the list.
But, it is difficult to find racks and fenders in sizes that work for 20″ BMX bikes. And if/when you see them, the assembly will be complex without the built-in eyelets. And screws that more practical bikes have. It’s probably possible with a bit of ingenuity and a few trips to the clamp and fastener aisle. Hardware store, but it’s not pretty.
Even if you mount them, you’ll need to take them off immediately to ride your BMX.
So the more realistic alternative is to a). Put up with the splatter and b) wear a backpack and find a way to deal with the sweat on your back. It isn’t ideal for most commuters, so racks and fenders are almost universal.
4. Braking may be too weak for safety:
Brakes on BMX bikes are generally to reduce speed and allow a minor correction. They are not there for emergency stops, at least in wet weather.
As a result, BMX brakes tend to underpowered. It is better at a track or skatepark were slamming on the brakes would cause a build-up. Plus, it’s just a sign of a terrible rider!
But there’s a lot in the city that you can’t control. Unexpected obstacles, careless drivers. And sudden red lights; must hard braking and often in the rain.
What’s more, remember that BMX bikes usually don’t have a front brake at all. The front brake has the vast majority of stopping power. Around 70%, and it increases as you brake harder and your centre of gravity moves forward. That’s a lot to give up, and it quickly makes quick stops impossible at more than a few miles per hour.
With that in mind, take extra precautions if you try commuting on a typical rear brake-only BMX bike. Beside, to standard safety tactics like these. You’ll want to assume a very long stopping distance.
Even then, of course, there is no way to accommodate surprises. And surprises happen.
5. The geometry is unstable:
The short chainstay length (crank to rear axle) is excellent for whipping them in the air. And it’s a breeze to shift your weight back to manual.
But when you’re riding in a bike lane, that’s not a good thing. Most city bikes designed precisely the opposite. With extended chainstays for greatest stability.
The generally nimble handling of a BMX bike is also partially due to the steep head tube angle. It is the angle at which the line from the stem down through the fork hits the ground. More vertical tips are rapid and responsive when cornering. But that agility becomes a concern when all you want is a straight line or a gentle bend in the road.
If you used to riding a BMX bike. You have probably adapted and subconsciously handled the bike more gently. But if you haven’t spent much time on a BMX bike. Then the squirrelly feeling can be alarming. When navigating heavy traffic and bad roads.
There are many things you should know when commuting with a BMX bike. BMX bikes are generally built for speed and agility on the trails, not hill commuting or long rides. Some commuters may find benefits in the superior handling. And the durability of a BMX bike and the minimal maintenance required.
Commuters with long commutes or commutes with a few hills may find that. The limited gearing on a BMX bike can make for a rough ride. A few adjustments need to made to a BMX to ensure a comfortable ride. Including padded seats and how you carry your belongings. When choosing the right BMX bike for you, consider the terrain you ride and the distance you travel.