BMX the Gateway to Mountain Biking

Nov 21, 2016
by Kids Bike Arkansas  
“Put a good MTB’er on a BMX and they'll be awful, put a good BMX’er on a MTB and they'll be brilliant” - this anonymous quote from Singletrack Magazine's online forum really resonated in the wake of the IMBA World Summit 2016 coming to Bentonville, Arkansas, and got us thinking about this new generation of eager, young riders.

BMX racing and the skills learned are truly a gateway to becoming a skilled mountain biker. The natural progression from balance bike to BMX to mountain bike is the perfect way to keep kids interested at all age levels.

Balance bikes encourage kids to develop the balance and skill needed to ride a regular bike (without training wheels) from a young age. Both BMX and MTB encourage participation from balance bike riders, often having their own races or clubs.

Photo Credit - Ben Goff

Many BMX tracks have balance bikes or Strider races, and some even have their own smaller tracks. A pump track or bicycle playground or beginner MTB trail is a great place to get started with a toddler, and pretty soon you will be running to keep up!

USA BMX has a classes for 5 and under, so a child graduating from a balance bike can easily transition to BMX.

A BMX bike with its smaller wheels provides an opportunity to master skills such as pumping, jumping, and cornering on the track – skills that transfer to the trails and make mountain biking so much more fun. Being able to use your body as suspension, pump over obstacles such a roots and rocks, jump sections, and have great control on flow trail, can all be mastered at a BMX track.

Photo Credit - Megan Sebeck

Read this far and still interested…Arkansas has 3 USA BMX sanctioned tracks, located in Cabot, North Little Rock, and Lowell. Bentonville has a newly installed Bicycle Playground, while the State of Arkansas is now home to four IMBA Epic trails, three IMBA Ride Centers, and currently boasts the only Regional Ride Center designation in the country. As if this wasn't enough, don't forget to check out our oustanding State Parks and the Razorback Regional Greenway - all great ways to get kids outside on bikes!


  • 2 0
 That would be 5 IMBA Epic Trails in Arkansas. Upper Buffalo Syllamo, Lake Ouachita Vista, Womble, Ouachita National Recreation Trail.
  • 1 1
 Having coached Mike Day (Olympic silver medalist in BMX), Cody Kelly (Yeti Enduro Team), Mitch Ropelato (US National DH champion, SRAM) and quote a few other fast bmx racers I will say bmx helps some skills greatly (manuals, pumping, sprinting, jumping) but does little to nothing for cornering, braking, line selection, vision and body position (especially climbing).

I love bmx and grew up racing it. It is great starting point and/or compliment to MTB but, it won't "make you a great mtber". Mitch, Cody and Mike all learned a lot from Bmx and it helps them greatly. However, the paved berms and smooth tracks did help them corner well or simply stay in control at high speed on rough surfaces.
  • 1 1
 Thanks for the comment BetterRide. You have really great points, which i totally agree with. I like to think that BMX is an inclusive and progressive sport that can also lead kids into other disciplines, prepared with a certain level of skills - i may be a little biased though as I am a retired bmxer Wink Now that I am coaching both BMX and MTB i enjoy being able to use the transferable skills on the trails to help the kids. In Arkansas BMX is not as well established as in other states, and I would like to see it grow here. On a side note it was great to have Mitch here as part of the IMBA World Summit..great experience for a lot of our kids, being able to see him ride.
  • 1 0
 Oops, can't believe i missed that!

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