BMX Tips

What Does BMX Stand For?

what does bmx stand for

Are you trying to figure out what does BMX stand for?

Not only that, but what are the BMX origins and where did it start?

Even what the different types/styles of BMX are?

You’ve come to the right place.

Friendly Reminder: Save BIG On Dan's Comp! (Click Banner)

This post covers:

I’ve been riding BMX for over twenty years, so I’m excited to share with you all the ins and out of it.

But let’s start with:

What Does BMX Stand For?

BMX is an acronym for bicycle motocross. B is for bicycle and MX is short for motocross.

So there you have it – the sport we all LOVE so much explained.

Nah, not really.

There’s much more about BMX that I still have to share with you.

The Origin Of BMX

The BMX beginnings take us all the way back to the early 1970s to the beautiful southern California.

It was then that kids started to race their bikes “off-road” on dirt and race tracks.

Because of the emphasis on the “race” part of it (from motocross), the first type of BMX riding was called racing or BMX race.

Similar to MX, BMX riders needed to get from point A (gate) to point B (finish line) in the fastest time, with lots of jumps and turns in front of them, which made the track so much funner yet challenging to race.

But it didn’t take too long when racers “got bored” and started pulling (learning and inventing) all sorts of tricks.

Soon, a completely new style of BMX developed – BMX freestyle.

However, over the years, BMX freestyle developed into multiple sub-categories that I’ll discuss later.

So when you say to someone that you ride BMX, that could mean a whole bunch of things.

But those who have NO IDEA what BMX is, usually think, “Oh, he’s riding kids’ bikes!”

It’s a somewhat annoying reaction, I know, but it is what it is.

That’s why providing a little more information and educating the person will do only good for you and the sport.

Let’s spread the word even further – that’s why I created this in-depth article on what BMX is and what it means.

What Makes A BMX Different From A Regular Bike?

One obvious difference between a BMX and a regular bike is the wheel size.

The traditional wheel size is 20″, but you can also find BMX bikes with wheels anywhere from 12″ to 26″.

While everything on a BMX bike is smaller, the handlebar is much bigger, compensating for the front end height – otherwise it’d be impossible to ride it.

Note: If you get a BMX bike that’s very low in the front, your back might start to hurt. If so, please read my article on lower back pain and BMX to fix the situation.

Moreover, BMX bikes also don’t have any suspensions and are made super strong to withstand any impact you put them through.

That’s why freestyle BMX bikes aren’t the lightest (thanks, Chromoly!). But race bikes are because of using carbon and aluminum.

Also, because they are built simply, it’s much easier to manage and maintain a BMX bike than any other regular bike.

Lastly, BMX bikes come in various shapes and sizes for different styles of riding and rider’s heights.

Different Types Of BMX

BMX is a broad term that breaks down into two main sub-disciplines – Freestyle and Racing.

While racing is racing, freestyle has four additional sub-sub-disciplines – Street, Park, Dirt/Trails and Flatland.

There’s something for EVERYONE.

But when it comes to BMX freestyle, most riders specialize in one discipline but usually enjoy others, too.

For instance, you can consider yourself a street rider, but you can still ride park and trails.

There are no rules in BMX.

The most important thing is that you have fun, whether you only like to grind ledges or enjoy doing a little bit of everything.

1. BMX Freestyle

BMX Street

Let’s kick things off with BMX street because it’s one of the most popular BMX disciplines at the time of writing this.

Plus, I’ve been enjoying street from the moment I started riding BMX.

Street could be considered just about anything that involves, well, the streets.

This could be riding ledges, flat rails, handrails, banks, ditches, curbs, star sets, walls, rooftops, etc.

There are really no set rules on what can and can’t be a spot – EVERYTHING can be a spot.

Riding street is all about creativity and uniqueness.

What I’m most impressed with is that there could be a particular spot where everyone thinks everything’s (every trick pulled) been done already, but a dude comes and pulls something new that shocks the whole industry.

Above is an excellent example of creative BMX street riding from Simone Barraco.

BMX Park

If you tell someone you’re a street rider, they’ll likely not know what you mean.

But if you tell them you are a park or a skatepark rider, they’ll probably know.

If you get yourself into BMX park, it means you’ll ride skateparks, shredding transitions, quarter pipes, jump boxes, sub boxes and even rails and ledges, to name a few.

But even when it comes to BMX park, there are two types of parks that you can come across – the traditional skatepark with ramps and the skate plaza. The latter is more street-oriented.

A BMX park rider will focus mainly on air tricks, although many also do lots of technical stuff.

Just like in BMX street, BMX park also has endless trick combinations – especially when you introduce your unique, creative approach.

I added a Logan Martin video above to get a better feel of what’s BMX park.

BMX Dirt/Trails

First, it was race, and then BMXers wanted something more and used race jumps to do tricks – and BMX dirt was born.

It’s the first discipline that evolved from BMX racing and grew into its own category over the years.

Today, dirt riders don’t go to the race track anymore to enjoy the jumps.

Instead, they build their own amazing trails on private properties, sometimes legally but, more often than not, illegally.

However, there are also many facilities and bike parks that come with amazing dirt jumps, but you usually need to pay a small fee to ride them. Hey, dirt jumps need much more maintenance than a skatepark because the jumps can easily get damaged.

But the real fun of BMX dirt is building your own jumps.

I still remember how passionate we were at one point in my BMX journey about building jump (but some annoying douchebag kept running them – but that didn’t stop us!).

It can be just one, a table (a jump and a landing with the gap filled in) or a double (jump and landing with an empty gap in between), or you can create an entire line.

Note that if you build them illegally, their lifespan is questionable. Thus, ENJOY them while you can!

Above is an example of what BMX dirt looks like – a video featuring Anthony Napolitan.

Flatland BMX

Flatland BMX is the only category that doesn’t require ramps, jumps, rails or ledges – a flat surface is all you need.

It’s said that flatland was started by riders who didn’t have much to ride in their area so played with different balancing stunts on their bikes at a parking lot or any other flat surface.

Some describe flatland as artistic cycling, while others say it’s a blend of BMX riding and breakdancing.

Flatland is all about extreme balance, making it one of the most challenging. Thus, it’s the smallest BMX category, which is starting to pick up some momentum again.

But this comes mainly because many flatlanders started mixing it with street riding, which, in a sense, became its own category.

Above is a beautiful example of flatland riding by Matthias Dandois.

2. BMX Racing

BMX racing is pretty self-explanatory. The goal is to be the fastest on the track, without really involving any tricks because they only slow down the rider.

The riders start at the gate and then go full speed over jumps, rollers, tight corners and more, trying to be – obviously – first at the finish line.

While BMX racing’s main event is on 20″ wheeled race bikes, there are also other categories, from kids racing on balance bikes to 22″ and even up to 24″.

Check what BMX racing today looks like by watching Barry Nobles’ video complication above.

These dudes sure know how to go FAST.


Now you know what BMX stands for!

It’s a “lighter” version of motocross (MX) on bikes (B), together forming the acronym BMX.

The BMX industry has evolved tremendously over the past decades.

From different categories to brands making extremely high-quality BMX parts and complete bikes.

It’s an extremely fun sport that has lots of benefits. Speaking of which, check my article on health benefits of BMX.

Further reading:

If you have any questions about BMX, you can send me an email via the contact form on The BMX Dude or a message on Instagram.

Yo! 🤘

Was this article helpful?

Friendly Reminder: Save BIG On Dan's Comp! (Click Banner)
Disclosure: The BMX Dude's content is free & reader-supported. I may earn a commission if you click & buy through my links. Your support helps me create the best content & make a difference. Thanks! 🤘
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.