A BMX bike always comes with brakes; however, most freestyle riders prefer to take them off so they can perform tricks without the brake cables getting in the way. This is why many manufacturers sell BMX bikes without brakes.
That said, let us go into more detail about BMX bike brakes.
How Many Brakes Do BMX Bikes Have?
Though BMX bikes are made for various purposes, they all need to feature one of the following:
- Rear brake
- Front brake
- Front and rear brake
- No brake
The rear brakes are mainly designed for BMX racing bikes as a safety precaution due to the high speed involved in the activity. However, this doesn’t mean they are only suitable for racing bikes. The standard BMX bikes always have rear brakes; only a few are equipped with front and rear brakes.
Types of BMX Brakes
BMX Bikes are built for different purposes. As a result, most of them come with different brakes to suit their riding pattern and help keep the rider safe when they want to stop their bike. Below are the various types of BMX brakes.
Coaster or Pedal Brakes
Coaster brakes are those brakes that are fixed into the rear hub. The mechanism of this brake allows you to move forward without pedaling but stops when you pedal backward. This brake is more of an old-fashioned brake. However, some riders still fit them into their BMX bikes because of their simplicity.
There are numerous benefits of using coaster brakes. For instance, it doesn’t require much maintenance like other brakes and doesn’t have brake cables. This ensures a smoother ride by making it impossible for you to make contact with your brake.
However, it is more of an obstacle to most freestyle riders. This is because it makes it harder for them to adjust the pedals and splits into the proper position for grinding and other tricks. This is why coaster brakes are not popular in today’s modern BMXing.
V-brakes, also called direct pull brakes, are popular on racing bikes. It is called a direct pull because there is no mechanism between the arms and the cables. They are on either side of the bike frame, with rubber pads placed across the rim.
The V-brake is lighter and more durable than other brakes, which is why it is popular on race bikes. However, they are not suitable for freestyle riding because they are too exposed and can come in contact with the rider’s clothing.
This is the most popular type of BMX brake. The good thing about this brake is that it doesn’t have exposed cables that can interfere with your riding style. They are also suitable for freestyle riding since they fit well with detanglers.
This brake has C-shaped arms that cut across each other while above the tire. This design makes it possible for the left brake pad to function on the right side of the cable while the right brake pad functions on the left side. They are located under the chainstay. This gives it a good appearance and offers a clean cable routing.
The detangler or the gyro is a braking system that was made for freestyle BMX. It has an additional component that is positioned between the head tube and the stem. This innovative part divides the braking system in two and enables a full barspin without tangling the cables.
The barspin and tailwhip are the most popular freestyle tricks. They can be combined with other techniques or performed separately. These tricks require that the handlebar rotate 360 degrees in order to pull them off. However, doing so will twist the cables, making it hard for a regular brake system to achieve the spin needed for this trick. This problem led to the development of the Gyro brake system.
How Does the Detangler Work?
The rotor interrupts the cable’s path; however, the basic braking system remains the same. The lever that pulls the cord engages the “scissor system,” which drags the brake arms and pushes the pads toward the rim to provide resistance that slows the bike down.
So, the main function of the rotor is to compress the braking zone between the two plates whenever you pull the lever. As a result, the lower wires attaching to the base plate are then pulled, and the braking sequence that ends on the rim is unchained.
How to Maintain BMX Brakes
Brakes are one of the things that determine the productivity and lifespan of your bike. So you must always take good care of them if you want your bike to last long. You can start by following these few steps.
- Lubricate the cables to reduce friction and dirt accumulated over a long time. You can accomplish this by using any available bike lubricant or car oil.
- Always ensure that your barrel adjusters are not too tight or loose because this will significantly impact how your brakes work. You can maintain this by checking them regularly and when you fix your brakes.
- Always clean up your pads and rims because accumulated dirt in the rims can affect your braking system and damage the pads.
Do I Need a Brake on My BMX Bike?
Brakes are as important as other parts of a bike. They assist you in controlling your bike by making it easier for you to stop whenever you encounter obstacles. They also give you the confidence to try certain tricks because they assure you there is a faster way of restraining your bike if all doesn’t go well.
Having a brake on a BMX bike is necessary for any rider because most nations forbid you to ride a bike without brakes on public highway roads. Countries like the USA and many parts of the United Kingdom use this principle. You are expected to follow the traffic regulations, which state that all cyclists are expected to stop in emergencies, especially one that could result in an accident. So you can be issued a fine if you are seen riding your bike without brakes in these countries.
However, this rule doesn’t apply to those riding in the park or engaging in BMX competitions. Because riding their bikes without brakes enables them to perform technical tricks without worrying about how their brake cables will interfere with their stunts and tricks.
Why Don’t BMX Bikes Have Front Brake?
This comes down to your personal preference. However, most people remove their front brakes because it makes the bike lighter and gives them the freedom to perform more tricks. BMX bikes are made for stunts; the lighter it becomes, the more you can pull off certain tricks. This is why most professional riders disable those components of BMX bikes that hinder their performance on the streets.
How Do BMX Riders Stop Their Bike Without Brake?
There are different ways to stop your bikes without brakes. However, riding a bicycle without brakes is risky because it increases your chance of getting injured if you encounter unexpected circumstances. So, we advise you to ride a BMX bike with a rear brake. However, if you are still willing to remove your brakes, you can consider stopping your bike by doing the following.
- Drag your feet on the ground: This is one of the easiest techniques to halt your bike. You can begin by placing your feet on the ground when the bike is in motion. This will gradually stop your bike depending on your speed. However, avoid dragging your feet too fast because this can destabilize your bike and probably throw you off the bike. So, you should take your time while using this technique.
- Use the rear wheel: You can stop your bike by placing your foot on the rear wheel to halt. However, practice this when you still have brakes in order to avoid sustaining multiple injuries.
- Use the front wheel: This technique involves placing your foot on the front wheel. However, this is considered a dangerous act because it involves stopping the bike quickly, which can cause it to throw you forward or off the bike.
Pros and Cons of Riding BMX Bikes Without Brakes
Though it is preferable to ride bikes with brakes, many people prefer to remove them for various reasons. Some of them include the following:
- It makes it possible to learn new tricks.
- It boosts your confidence.
- It reduces the bike’s weight, making it suitable for tricks.
- It makes it possible to perform tricks like tailwhip or barspin.
- It is risky and makes you more prone to accidents.
- It limits your speed because you need to ride at a lower speed in order to control your bike better.
- It makes it more difficult to stop your bike when needed.
- It reduces your chances of learning brake tricks.
- It makes it more expensive to maintain your shoes because they will be prone to early damage since you keep using them to halt your bike.
Whether you are into highway cycling or not, brakes are one of the necessary features of any bike. They ensure your safety by enabling you to stop in unforeseen circumstances. So, BMX bikes always have brakes.
Do BMX riders have brakes?
Why do people ride BMX bikes without brakes?