The winds of change and technological development have blown over many bike categories in recent years but while BMX bikes continue to subtly evolve, at their heart they remain the same – tough and agile single-speed machines with small-diameter wheels and frames designed to take some punishment.
Steel is the frame/fork material of choice for the vast majority of BMX manufacturers, being tough enough to take the hardest of hits. You’ll typically find hi-tensile (hi-ten) steel on bikes closer to the budget end of the market, with higher-spec machines using lighter chromoly steel (cro-mo). Aluminium (alloy) frames are generally reserved for racing bikes, where the emphasis is on light weight over punishment potential.
What are the best BMX bikes of 2020?
- Blank Media 20″: Entry-level all-rounder that’s making headlines.
- Stolen Casino: Best-selling bike offering pro-level performance at an amateur price.
- Blank Sabbath 20″: High-quality 4130 main tubing makes the Sabbath a steal.
- Colony Apprentice Flatland: Flatland specific BMX for perfecting your bag of tricks.
- GT Heritage 24″ Pro Series: Travel back in time with GT’s homage to freestyle history.
- Stolen Sinner FC XLT: Top of the range freestyle BMX from Stolen.
- WeThePeople Battleship: Pro-level street bike with a full aftermarket parts package.
Most BMX bikes have 20” wheels as standard – sometimes smaller (16” or 18”) on bikes aimed at junior riders, while other ‘cruiser’ type BMX bikes are available with 24” wheels, or even 26” or 29” (the line between a 29” ‘BMX’ and a street-stunt fixie is a blurred one).
For street and skatepark riding most bikes will have a top tube of between 20” and 20.6”. Taller riders may seek out a long or XL sized bike with a 21” TT, but if you’re mostly going to be focusing on flatland riding you would be well advised to stay with something a little shorter.
Where BMX bikes vary is in their intended use, so the right one for you will depend on what you want to do with it – freestyle/street/skatepark stunts and jumps, ‘flatland’ tricks or the sport of BMX racing. Many BMX bikes are designed as all-rounders, able to turn their hand to each branch of the sport, but if you want to specialise you will need the right tool for the job. Read on to discover our selection of the best BMX bikes of 2020.
Hold the front page! The Media may be one of Blank’s entry-level BMX bikes but don’t let the price tag fool you into thinking it’s not up to the task. With a frame geometry taken directly from Blank’s venerable Grizzly line it’s a perfect choice for anyone who needs an all-round starter bike for street, park and dirt jump riding.
At the heart of the Media is a tough, hi-ten steel frame and forks with a 20.6” top tube (for taller riders the Blank Media XL is available with a 21” TT). Component-wise it’s great to see a 3-piece crank at this price point while the headset, bottom bracket and rear hub all feature sealed bearings for durability and long component life.
36-hole alloy rims are tough enough for the biggest landings while quality finishing kit abounds. The Blank Media is available in Matte Charcoal or Gloss Black paint options, the latter being our firm favourite especially when matched with that classy burgundy seat.
The Casino range is one of the mainstays in US brand Stolen’s range and with good reason, pitched as offering pro-level performance with an amateur price tag. The frame is made from hand-welded hi-ten steel with a 20.25” top tube, while spec highlights include 4130 cro-mo crank arms and spindle and hi-ten Tallboy handlebars.
Finishing kit comes courtesy of Stolen’s in-house brand Fiction and it’s all good stuff, extending to single-wall 36H Fiction Spartan Alloy rims wrapped in 2.3” Fiction Atlas tyres.
With an all-up weight of 11.72kg the Stolen Casino is competitive for its class, and again offers a great way into street, part and dirt jump riding without any obvious compromise. We can’t not mention the Cotton Candy Pink colourway either – complete with matching pink tyres it almost dares you to go for it.
It’s also good to see Stolen offering the Casino not only in XL size (with a 21” TT, higher standover and 9” bars) but also catering for smaller/youth riders with an XS version (19.25” top tube). Whichever one you go for, the Casino is a safe bet.
Sitting a little further up the Blank BMX ladder from the entry-level media is the Blank Sabbath, which applies the same Grizzly geometry (and great value for money) only this time managing to include a tri-moly frameset with high quality 4130 main tubes.
This is the kind of metalwork that’s usually found on bikes at a much higher price point, so it makes the Sabbath a bit of a steal.
Again intended as a freestyle all-rounder, the Sabbath features a 20.85” top tube and removable brake hardware so you can go full brakeless if you want. Additional highlights include a Blank TCS (tapered crank system) 3pc cro-mo crank, fully sealed hubs front and rear, ultra-wide 40mm rims and high-volume 2.4” tyres.
With many budget BMX bikes attempting to tick as many boxes as possible (not that there is anything wrong with that), it’s also worthwhile to zero in on some of the specialist tools that are out there. One great example is this Apprentice Flatland from Australian brand Colony which, as the name suggests, is designed specifically for performing tricks on the flat (so no ramps, steps or jumps).
Comparing the Colony Apprentice to a freestyle BMX therefore we find a super-steep head angle, a long seat post and four stunt pegs – all there to help the flatland rider expand their repertoire of tricks
The Apprentice frame is a full cro-mo offering with a short 18.9” top tube, that aforementioned super-steep 75° head angle and a more standard 72° seat angle.
Cranks are also noteworthy for being short at 153mm, while 1.75” tyres are narrow compared to a freestyle bike – all these tweaks adding up to increased agility and manouverabilty on the ground, with aerial stability not an concern. Colony – who also offer a wide range of freestyle and all-round bikes – describe the Apprentice as a great bike for starting out learning flatland specific moves or for getting back into flatland after some years away.
US brand GT have a long legacy of making BMX bikes (as well as off-roaders) and continue to offer a wide range of freestyle, skate and park bikes at all price points, including for younger riders. For 2020 we’re also quite taken with their stylish Heritage range of bikes, an unashamedly old-school take that pays homage to the history of the sport.
Think classy looks and retro touches (those top tube pads certainly bring us back) without any compromise in performance – a bike that looks like it could have come straight from the eighties, but is bang up to date.
The range features standard 20”-wheeled and even 26” options, but we are taken by the 24”-wheeled version in gold and black, with a lightweight 6061-T6 aluminium frame and v-brakes making it ready for use as a school commuter, too.
The Sinner FC XLT is Stolen’s top-of-the-range bike, with a 100% 4130 cro-mo frameset and a no-corners-cut spec list. It’s a close relation to the Stolen Sinner FC, which when introduced in 2007 was the first brakeless BMX available as a complete bike (it’s still available in 2020, too).
For 2020 the Sinner FC XLT features that cro-mo frame with a 21” top tube, S-Bend chainstays and removale brake mounts. The frame is also drilled for gyro tabs (not included). The tapered-leg fork is also 100% cro-mo, as are the heat-treated four-piece Stolen Trap handlebars and Stolen Talon 3-piece cranks with a 48-spline spindle.
All of the finishing kit is high-quality from Stolen, with the Sinner FC XLT showcasing the best aftermarket componentry the brand has to offer. It’s a premium freestyle BMX designed for experienced riders who are ready to take their street, dirt jump and skatepark riding to the next level.
Designed in partnership with US pro rider Dan Kruk, the WETHEPEOPLE Battleship is a premium freestyle BMX bike that’s capable of absorbing anything you can throw at it. Having debuted in 2019, the Battleship combines a full 4130 cromoly frame with a pro-level parts package including 3-piece CrMo cranks, Éclat Strangler 25.4mm OS handlebar, Éclat pegs, new Éclat Bondi 38mm rims and WETHEPEOPLE Helix hubs with nylon hub guards.
A rear Éclat Talon U-brake is supplied but all brake hardware is removable so you can run brakeless if that’s your choice.
According to WETHEPEOPLE, the Battleship is “the greatest street bike ever made” – and to prove this is no idle claim, they offer a lifetime guarantee on the frame and fork. It’s also available with a choice of Coral Red and Raw colourways, and in either RSD or LSD options.