MTB, BMX, & Trials Bikes – Which to choose?

MTB, BMX, & Trials Bikes – Which to choose?


Today, we’ll be discussing the differences
between Mountain, BMX, and Trials bikes. This may seem like an unnecessary discussion,
but I get questions all the time from people who are just starting out, trying to choose
what their first bike is going to be. Needless to say, these are not people looking for road
bikes and cruisers… As a starting point, let’s oversimplify
what each bike is designed to do. Mountain bikes are made for riding over rough
terrain. They’re made to go fast and cover lots of ground.
Trials bikes are made for negotiating technical obstacles. They’re geared low and made for
maneuverability. BMX bikes are made for doing tricks and riding
skatepark. They’re built to be and indestructible. Let’s start with the mountain bike. I’d
say this is the most popular of the three when you go across all age groups. If you
can only have one bike, I’d choose this. Why? Well first of all it’s comfortable
and makes great transportation. This means you’ll definitely get use out of it, especially
if you’re not old enough to drive. Mountain bikes are of course great for riding trails,
and you can even use them to do jumps. While they’re not the best for tricks, you can
ride a little street and get creative on a mountain bike. Mountain bikes have powerful brakes, capable
drivetrains, plus big tires to take the shock and vibration out of rough terrain. For when
things get really rough, mountain bikes also have suspension. So it seems, the mountain
bike is a fast, comfortable, and capable vehicle which can do a lot of things. This makes it
the winner of the three in terms of practicality and versatility, but that doesn’t mean you
should choose it over a trials or BMX bike. Let’s take a look at the trials bike next. While this is considered a street trials bike,
it’s still useful for our comparison. The tires are fat, the bars are wide, and it has
powerful disc brakes just like the mountain bike. It seems like you could ride trails
on this, except for a few problems. First of all you can’t really sit on it, and second
of all there’s only one ridiculously low gear. In fact the gearing on a trials bike
is so low that you’re better off using a skateboard for transportation. So, to get
around town or ride trails, the trials bike is off the table. So what about doing jumps and riding skateparks?
After all, it looks a little like a dirt jump bike, and seems maneuverable enough to replace
a BMX. Again, the devil is in the details. The fork on a trials bike puts the wheel dead
center, as opposed to dirt jump and BMX forks, which are offset towards the front. This makes
them sketchy for landings. Also, the head tube angle is more upright, making it poor
for maintaining control at speed. The trials geometry is optimized for tight maneuvers,
not for speed. Trials is a cycling disciple that puts your bike handling skills to the
ultimate test. For this reason, only get a trials bike if you’re really sure you want
to do trials, because it won’t be useful for anything else. Don’t take this as a
jab at trials, it’s just that trials really isn’t for everyone. If you want to learn
more about trials, check out my playlist which I’ve linked to in the description. Lastly we have the BMX. Like the trials bike,
a BMX bike isn’t any good for sitting on and pedaling through mountain bike trails.
With that said, it’s actually not the worst transportation. When I was a kid on Long Island,
I rode my BMX all over town. As an adult, I still grab it to run to the coffee shop.
The high tire pressure, moderate gearing, and huge riser bars make BMX bikes pretty
fun to get around on. As a sport, BMX is very popular, so it’s
easy to find people to ride with no matter where you live. The dead simple construction
makes BMX bikes the most reliable thing on two wheels, so for kids with a low budget
and no tools, it might be the perfect option. With the same bike, you can ride street, skatepark,
and dirt jumps. Even if you just have a driveway to ride in, there’s no shortage of fun things
you can do on a BMX. So, what about cross training and doing some
trials on a BMX? Nope. The lack of powerful brakes, and a super short wheelbase make BMX
bikes pretty bad for trials. The gearing is also way too high to perform any trials technique.
So, if you can’t decide between BMX and trials you’ll probably be stuck with two
bikes. The more you watch BMX and trials videos, the more you’ll notice how radically different
the sports are from each other. So if this video hasn’t given you a clear
path towards what’s right for you, then look at your surroundings. What do your friends
ride? What’s popular where you live? What is there to ride in your immediate vicinity?
If you don’t have anyone to ride with, don’t have anything to ride on, or can’t get to
the place you plan on riding, then the bike will likely sit in your garage. Think it through, make the right choice, and
remember you can never have too many bikes. Whatever choice you do end up making, it’s
better than spending the money on a game console. Thanks for riding with me today, and I’ll
see you next time.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. I have a 2011 diamondback session and it can handle some mean trials i haven't took it down a some downhill trials but the ones I got threw are rough and sure the bike don't handle that well on it but after I put the 2.35 tires on it. It started handling OK it would probably help if I lowed the psi cuz its at 110 right now so really you can use bmx on the trials it just doesn't handle the bumps very well with high pressure

  2. I'd recommend going with a bmx first, it teaches you control over the bike and how bikes behave, then if you want to advance, get a trials bike

  3. hi Seth I really admire your watch all your videos and I would like you opinion on weather I sell my hardtail for a full suspension I love bikes and I would like some ideas on some cheaper models but no Walmart stuff

  4. What should I pick bmx or dirt bike? I like to do dangerous stuff on dirt and street,I need a strong bike, that I won't get to tired to fast. Pls help

  5. Well Seth ,I am from India and I brought a bmx and remove the handle bar and connected a MTB 's handle .Is it good for better stunts and bunny hop . please replay

  6. Cool video! I'd be interested in a breakdown between urban trials oriented bikes/riding and street/park/DJ oriented MTBMX bikes, for that urban, street, DJ riding flow!

  7. Hey! I'm looking to buy my first "good" bike. Thing is , I'd like 1 bike, not 4. I need to commute, but i also want to throw my bike around a bit. I live in Taipei. There's not much mountain biking to be done here, but I was still planning to buy a mountain bike. A Merida Big 7 100. Thought i could put on some slick wheels and have a good all rounder for commuting and doing some tricks. Then a friend of mine told me about the Cannondale Hooligan. It looks really cool!  So, I wonder, what can I do on it? Seems it would be great for commuting in the city. I've seen that some bmx is possible on it. I'm wondering, could it be taken onto a trail? Since it has gears and front and rear disc brakes, could it be used to practice some trials skills? How is it going down stairs? I'm really curious about what the possibilities and limitations are with this bike! And I'm wondering which bike would be better for commuting plus tricks, road modified mtb or hooligan?

  8. I've been using a dirt jump bike for running around more. Still has gearing, and the one I have still has a front brake, run through the head tube, rather than none, like on some. Still has some ok travel in the front shocks. It is a hard tail, and that is fine, because I love riding hardtail. Just drop some psi in the forks and tires and you can do some ok tracks, not like a full duel suspension, but close to on many hard tails. What are your thoughts?

  9. Hey Seth love the channel
    From li myself and grew up on Bmx and stunt bikes, as a kid use to take them everywhere even trails and blowout tires, young and dumb but so much fun 🙂
    Now I’m in Fort Lauderdale beach (I saw your jetti footage) was just there and go often, and trying to learn about my entry to mountain biking and trail fun after not being on a bike for 15 years
    Shark valley rental bikes got me itching to get into a new works of biking and fun lol

  10. ok so at 2:23 is that a lizard or a rat going across the middlr section like right next to the spokes did anyone else see this or now do notice it reply pls

  11. Hey, what’s wrong with a skateboard? I used to skate within a group of bikers and I never had any trouble keeping up :p

  12. I am a still a biginer after 3 years i have a bmx but my bmx is really havy my perents and big brother have a bike actualy there both my dads my dad gave one bike to my brother and my dads bike is a road bike and my brothers bike is a
    mountain bike and if those two are combined the weight of my bmx is still havier than the two so i can only do 2 things
    1 bunny hop
    2 jump
    So im probobly going to buy a new bmx bike i like the bmx bikes cos i can do alot of tricks IF MY NEW BMX BIKE IS LIGHTER

  13. From 4:15 on by far the most useful hints I ever heard in a video concerning buying decisions. I like your videos a lot! They are short and still provide the most important informations. Keep on rolling.

  14. I got a hand me down bmx and it’s so good but I can’t grind it then I got a hand me down mtb from years and years ago and I road it but it didn’t have normal gears with levers it had crank so it’s pretty old and now I got a cool one and I’m beast I’m going to skate park and the lake

  15. I’ve never tried Trials but I’ve always wanted to try, although I’m not sure if I want to spend the money on a trials bike or not

  16. BMX used to be riding on dirt tracks and jumps. Not smooth tracks and not skateparks. Now you can't buy old school BMX with knobby tires. Both street and race have smooth tires.

  17. MTBs aren't as agile and rigid as a BMX. You lean forward on a MTB. No doubt MTBs are much more versatile and practicle for all around riding.

  18. Well let's see here… In my backyard there is a forest with dirt trails, my drive way is gravel and there is a bmx park downtown where I live, and there are dirt trails near the park………MOUNTAIN BIKE STANDS OUT MORE

  19. im not shure if I should get a 29'' bmx because I have bmx history? or I should get an mbt for speed and what not… tbh Im thinking of the new 29''bmx from stolen… only one with full chromoly

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