BMX Tips

6+ Best Tips For Small BMX Riders!

tips for small bmx riders

Are you searching the web to find the best tips for small BMX riders?

With 20+ years of experience in BMX, I’m happy to share the ultimate solutions so you can build or tweak your bike and make it the most comfortable.

If you’re on the smaller side and feel a bit lost in a sea of BMX bikes that just don’t seem to fit, you’re not alone.

Finding that perfect BMX when you’re a smaller rider comes with its own set of unique challenges.

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It’s about finding that sweet spot where size meets quality, ensuring that your BMX sessions are nothing short of awesome.

In this friendly guide, I’ll split our journey into two exciting paths:

  • First up, we’ll explore the realm of building a custom BMX bike – a route that promises a bike as unique as you are.
  • And for those who prefer a ready-to-ride option, we’ll dive into the tips and tricks of choosing the best complete BMX bike.

Note: This article refers to small riders who are on a 20″ BMX bike.

Tips For Building A Custom BMX Bike

Frame Top Tube Lenght

Let’s start with the first and most essential element of building a custom BMX bike if you’re a smaller rider: Frame.

It’s pretty simple: get one with a short top tube length. Anything from 20 – 20.75″ will likely work for you.

Example: Casey Starling is 5’5″, and rides a 20.5″ top tube frame. (See Casey Starling’s bike check.)

Another key element to look at is the chainstay length.

Like the top tube length, the chainstay can significantly impact how your bike feels.

If you want it extra responsive, pick a frame with a CS below 13″ slammed. For anything more stable, go beyond 13″.

Getting a frame with a steeper head tube angle for more technical riding will also help A LOT – 75.5 degrees or even 76 degrees.

Another feature some riders look at is the standover height, but I think it’s not that important.

Most modern frames have around 9″ tall standover, which is perfectly fine even for a smaller rider. Sure, something like 9.5″ or even 10″ might be a bit much, but it totally depends on your style.

Stem Reach & rise

What you want to look for when it comes to the best BMX stems for smaller riders are rise and reach.

The rise tells you how much it will lift your handlebar and the reach how far forward it will be.

Usually, the best option is a front load stem, but even a “leveled” top load stem might work.

As for the reach, it’d be ideal to go for something like 48mm or even 45mm and look for a rise of around 10mm.

Bar Rise

The 10″ BMX bar hype might not be for you.

You’ll likely want to go with something closer to a 9″ rise – even an 8.75″ rise bar.

You’ll also need to cut your bar to your desired width because the stock one will be too wide in most cases.

Still, some bars a pre-cut to 28″ or even bellow, and that might work as-is.

Fork Offset

To build a custom bike for a smaller rider, pick BMX forks with shorter offset, especially if riding street and doing plenty of technical stuff.

Look for forks with 20mm offset. You can also pick a 15mm or a 13mm, but 20mm is a good starting point.

Pro tip: When it comes to stems, bars and forks, spacers also play a crucial role. To keep your front end more small-rider-friendly, go without spacers.

And if you think you bought a too-low bar or a stem, you can always rise it by inserting a spacer or two.

Crank Length

One tip I tell every small BMX rider is to get short BMX cranks.

A standard, 175mm will probably not be ideal for you. Thus, go with 165mm or 160mm. (Fly even has the Dolmen cranks in 155mm, which I will test shortly.)

Tips For Buying A Complete BMX Bike

Complete Bike

To kick it off right, look for 20″ complete BMX bikes with shorter top tube lengths.

There are many options between 20″ and 20.75″. (You even have options below 20″, but that might be too small – however, it all depends on how tall you are.)

If you have multiple complete bike options to choose from, look for the ones with shorter chainstay lengths and short fork offsets.

Pro tip: If you want your bike to last long, avoid buying a complete with high-tensile steel parts.


All the above tips for building a custom BMX bike for a smaller rider apply here, so I won’t go too in-depth here.

All modern complete BMX bikes are compatible with all aftermarket parts.

If you want a stem with a shorter reach, you can replace it.

And if you want 160mm BMX cranks, you can replace those, too.

In the end, you can also replace the frame.

Real case scenario: You find the Kink Williams 21″ BMX bike at a huge discount.

What do you do? You get it, and at the same time, get a frame with a shorter top tube length.

Then, sell the Kink Williams frame as brand new and replace the complete with your shorter TT frame.

Conclusion: Build Your Perfect BMX Bike!

How your bike feels is crucial to enjoying every session to the fullest.

And even if you are a smaller rider, that’s OK.

BMX brands and shops have plenty of options to either build a bike from scratch or tweak a complete the way it suits you best.

I shared all the tips that will help you take your BMX bike riding comfort to the next level.

Maybe a shorter stem or lower standover height is everything you need.

But for some, it’s building everything from the ground up that will suit them best – but that’s likely for more experienced riders.

As a beginner, tweaking a complete bike will do the trick.

FAQs About Tips For Small BMX Riders

What is the ideal top tube length for a small BMX rider?

Smaller riders typically need a top tube length of 20 to 20.5 inches. This size provides better control and comfort.

Can small riders use adult-sized BMX bikes effectively?

Yes, but they generally need to tweak and adjust the bike with a new frame or parts to make it fit their size and comfort level.

Is it better for a small rider to build a custom BMX bike or buy a complete one?

It depends on the rider’s budget and preferences. Custom bikes offer tailored fit and quality, while complete bikes are more budget-friendly and convenient.

What should a small rider look for in a BMX bike frame?

Focus on a lightweight frame with a shorter top tube and appropriate geometry for easier handling and better control.

How important is bike weight for a small BMX rider?

Very important. Lighter bikes are easier to handle and maneuver, which is crucial for smaller riders.

How can a small rider improve the fit of a complete BMX bike?

Small adjustments like changing the handlebar height, stem length, or even replacing the frame can significantly improve the fit.

What is the most crucial factor for small riders when choosing BMX bike components?

Prioritize components that offer the best combination of lightweight and durability, tailored to the rider’s size and weight.

Is it cost-effective for small riders to upgrade components on a complete BMX bike?

Yes, especially if the base bike is of good quality. Upgrading parts over time can be a more budget-friendly way to improve bike performance and fit that building a complete one from scratch.

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About Author

Rok has been riding BMX for 20+ years, and when he's not having a session, he binges on videos, new product drops and works on creating the best content (sharing tips, tricks & more to make riding bikes easier for you) for The BMX Dude.