The most common beginner BMX mistakes I’ve seen BMXers do over my 20+ years long career and how to avoid them.
Hey there, new BMX rider!
Welcome to the exciting world of BMX – a place where you’ll learn new tricks, make lifelong friends, and probably collect a few bruises along the way.
Don’t worry, we’ve all been there!
As you kickstart this adventure, it’s common to make rookie mistakes, whether choosing the wrong bike size, skimping on safety gear, or diving into complex tricks before nailing the basics.
Heck, even the pros had to start somewhere!
So, let’s break down some of these beginner blunders to help you ride safer, improve faster, and make the most of this awesome journey you’re about to embark on.
This post covers:
- Equipment Mistakes
- Technique Mistakes
- Practice Mistakes
- Mental Mistakes
- Conclusion: Have Fun Riding BMX!
BMX Equipment Mistakes
1. Wrong Bike/Frame Size
One thing that many new riders do is choose the wrong size bike or frame.
Because of the wrong top tube length, your bike will feel uncomfortable and hinder your performance.
Whether you’re in for a new complete bike or a frame, I highly recommend you read the following two complete guides:
I get in-depth, explaining all the ins and outs of choosing the right bike or frame for your height (and riding style).
2. Handlebar Position
I’ve seen many newbies having their handlebars too far forward (Chicago mode) or too far backward.
Not just that, I’ve even seen many stores selling (cheap) BMX bikes with a completely off bar position.
And as a new rider, you might think that’s how the bar should be.
Well, those shop owners aren’t right.
When you start riding BMX, the best way to ride your bar is to alight it with your forks. As simple as that!
If you’re getting new bars, you might want to first read all about BMX bar dimensions and specs to pick the most-fitting one.
3. Not Wearing Safety Gear
Don’t be one of those riders who is too cool to wear safety gear. At least not in the early stages of your BMX career.
You’re in the process of learning new tricks, so you’re way more prone to injure yourself.
4. Poorly Maintained Bike
A poorly maintained BMX bike can lead to accidents.
Always check for loose nuts, bolts and ensure that the brakes are working correctly.
But if you want to take things to the next level, don’t miss my extensive guide on BMX bike maintenance.
Not only will proper bike maintenance prevent accidents, but your bike will last MUCH longer.
5. Not Knowing How To Fix Your BMX Bike
I’ve seen and met too many BMX dudes who don’t know how to fix their bikes.
I’ve always known how to fix my bike and even how to lace wheels (I self-taught myself) and I encourage everyone to learn – at least the basics.
You might be having the best sessions ever and then something on your bike goes wrong (I’ve seen dudes who don’t even know how to fix a flat tire) and because you lack skills, you might need to end it.
Luckily, there’s usually a riding buddy who knows how to fix it, but still.
You might not necessarily need to know how to lace your wheels, but you’ll thank yourself if you teach yourself how to true them.
But you should be able to fix everything else. Again, you’ll THANK YOURSELF later.
And what’s best is that you can use a handy BMX multi-tool, which includes all you need to maintain your bike like a pro.
But click on the link above about bike maintenance to learn more and keep your bike running smoothly.
BMX Riding Technique Mistakes
6. Incorrect Body Position
One common mistake when riding BMX is to lean too far forward or backward, which significantly affects your bike balance and control.
Try to be centered above your cranks.
Of course, when you are learning a manual, you want to lean backward or forward for a nose manual.
Depending on the trick, your body position will shift, but you want to be centered most of the time.
7. Wrong Foot Placement
Some beginner BMX riders have their feet on the balls (almost toes) of their feet or even heels. This does not allow to activate the right muscles, + your feet can slip off more easily.
It is best to have the balls of your feet more toward the front end of the pedal.
Some riders even have their back foot even further to make room so they don’t hit their back peg.
8. Not Keeping Finger On The Brake Lever(!)
If you ride with brakes, it’s a must to have your finger on the brake lever.
Even when learning a bunnyhop, it’s better to learn it with your finger on the brake lever because it’ll give you more freedom later when doing tricks that require braking.
Speaking of brakes, improper braking is also quite common. Slamming on the brakes or relying solely on the front or back brake can lead to skidding or flipping over.
Be gentle and get used to the brakes.
9. Locking Arms And Legs
Keeping your arms and legs rigid can affect your balance and make it harder to absorb shocks, leading to a rougher ride.
You’ll also be more prone to injuring yourself.
10. Landing Nose First
When landing jumps or drops, you want to land both wheels simultaneously or slightly rear-wheel first (for larger drops).
Landing nose first can throw off your balance and even send you over the handlebars. Not just that, but your wrist will need to absorb the impact, which can lead to injuries.
BMX Practice Mistakes
11. Skipping The Basics
No matter what you do in life, master the basics first.
Everything else is just an extension of the basics.
And if you don’t have the basics on lock, you’ll likely develop bad habits, won’t have the smooth style you’re after or even injure yourself more frequently.
Forget about barspins, tailwhips, sending handrails, etc. That doesn’t matter.
Master bunnyhops, fakies, airs out of quarters, manuals, flat ledge grinds, flowing and transitioning around the skatepark, etc.
Don’t try to perform complex tricks before mastering the basics!
12. Inconsistent Practice
This one is pretty self-explanatory.
To improve, you need to practice regularly. Inconsistent practice hinders your progress and makes you more prone to mistakes.
In short, ride as much as you can.
13. Ignoring Skatepark Etiquette
Not waiting your turn, cutting people off, or being unaware of other BMX riders and everyone else at the skatepark can annoy people and lead to collisions and injuries.
14. Ignoring Progression
Attempting a complicated trick or obstacle without progressing through easier levels is a quick route to injury.
In other words, if you can not do a double peg grind on a flat rail every try, you’ll likely do more harm than good to yourself if you send it on a handrail.
15. Solo Practice
While practicing alone has benefits, riding exclusively by yourself means you miss out on community knowledge, tips, and constructive criticism from other riders.
16. Not Using Video Analysis
But if you don’t have riding buddies, make your phone camera your riding buddy.
Recording yourself can reveal mistakes and areas for improvement that are hard to detect at the moment.
I film myself a lot and continuously analyze my riding to find where there’s room for improvement.
17. Focusing On Only One Riding Style
If you entered BMX because street riding appeals to you the most, that’s great!
But try not to focus on riding street exclusively in your early stages.
Sticking to only one riding style can limit your skill development. Ride skateparks, trails, and even have some fun with flatland tricks.
The more different stuff you try, the better.
Because you will develop insane bike control you can then transition to street riding and benefit from faster progression.
18. Not Working On Your Fitness
While this isn’t necessarily directly related to riding a BMX bike, it’s OH SO crucial.
Don’t make BMX your only activity.
Although it’s an excellent workout, BMX will cause your muscles to tense, which might cause pain and injuries.
One of the essentials is to stretch. Do traditional whole body stretches or even do yoga, which can both make you mobile and strong.
And if you lift weight to gain muscle mass, that’s even better. Like Brad Simms says, you’ll bounce and not crack when you crash with a decent amount of muscle mass.
But if you don’t feel like doing any strength exercises, PLEASE STRETCH.
The more stretch you’ll be, the better.
You may also be interested in reading my two cents on whether or not is BMX a good exercise.
19. Too Good To Warmup
When you get to a skatepark, trails or a street spot, you just want to ride ASAP.
I feel you.
But forgetting to warm up properly may cause injuries.
When I first started riding, no one was really warming up – we just rode. However, we always started easily with a few laps.
However, just getting to the spot usually required me 10-20 mins of pedaling (sometimes more), which is already an excellent warm up.
But I later started paying more attention to a warmup, particularly my joints, my spine and my neck.
A few minutes of full body warmup is a must.
Mental BMX Mistakes
Overestimating your abilities can lead to unnecessary risks, resulting in injury.
Go back to the basics.
Master the basics and have your bike in total control.
Don’t be too brave too quickly because you may end up being off your bike for some time.
21. Comparison To Others
Every BMX rider progresses at their own pace. Comparing yourself to others can be discouraging and is generally unhelpful.
You’ve entered the sport to have fun, develop your style and enjoy every session to the fullest.
We’re all unique, so just the idea of comparing ourselves to each other is silly.
So please, don’t compare yourself.
I think I should also add this: Don’t copy.
Look up to other riders and let their riding inspire you, but add your creative and original twist and develop your own unique style.
While feeling apprehensive is natural, excessive fear can interfere with your ability to learn and execute moves properly.
Usually, excessive fear develops because the rider skips the basics and wants to do too much too quickly.
Progress slowly, get used to the fear and use it as an encouragement.
Skills take time to develop. Trying to speed up the process can result in bad habits and potential injuries.
And that’s one of the key things I like about BMX so much, it teaches you how to be patient, which you can use in other areas of your life, too.
24. Ignoring Fatigue
Even though I mentioned earlier that you should ride as much as you possibly can, it’s important to listen to your body.
Tired muscles respond slower and make mistakes more likely. Know when to take a break to avoid injury.
I’ve injured myself multiple times just because I didn’t rest my body.
25. Setting Unrealistic Goals
While ambition is good, unrealistic goals can lead to frustration and the temptation to take dangerous shortcuts in your training.
26. Neglecting Mental Preparation
Visualization and other mental preparation techniques are not just for pro athletes; they can help beginners, too.
27. Not Asking For Help
Whether it’s a technical question or advice on a trick, more experienced BMX riders are usually willing to help. Don’t let pride or shyness hold you back from seeking advice.
And you can always reach out to me; I’ll do my best to help you.
28. Riding Under The Influence
This should go without saying, but riding while impaired by alcohol or drugs is extremely dangerous and irresponsible.
If others do it, that doesn’t mean you should do it, too.
Conclusion: Have Fun Riding BMX!
Understanding these common mistakes can help you avoid them and improve more quickly while reducing your risk of injury.
Always remember, everyone was a beginner at some point.
And the best way to improve is through consistent practice and a willingness to learn.
But most importantly, have fun on your bike, whether it’s just pedaling around or learning a new trick.