This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of plastic and metal BMX pegs.
The Advantages of Plastic BMX Pegs
- Smooth Sliding On Coping and Ledges
Plastic pegs are not all plastic. They are constituted of a metal core (steel or aluminum) as a support structure and a plastic sleeve covering the core.
The plastic sleeves are made of high-density Polycarbonate (PC) with high resistance to impact and fractures.
The glass surface of the polymer results in smooth sliding/grinding while lowering the chances of damaging the coping and the ledges. Hence plastic pegs are preferred at most skate parks.
- Replaceable Sleeves
When a plastic peg is worn, you don’t have to take it off and replace it. It’s sufficient to simply change the sleeve.
This method saves resources and allows you to go for a new color if you want to change the style of your BMX bike.
Since plastic pegs use less metal they tend to be lighter. The table below compares the weight of popular plastic and metal pegs:
|BSD Rude Tube LT
|RANT LL COOL
|Salt AM Nylon
|Salt AM Steel
|Shadow Little One
Conclusion: The weight difference between plastic and steel pegs is small and heavily dependent on the model. In some cases, a set of steel pegs can be lighter.
When all parameters are equal (the models are the same), a nylon model could weigh 50-70 grams less. This doesn’t mean much in the world of BMX where lightness isn’t exactly the main priority.
Plastic pegs make less noise and are therefore beneficial when desiring to remain low-key.
The Disadvantages of Plastic Pegs
The main downside of plastic pegs is that they’re weaker and wear down faster. The cores of plastic pegs are made of metal but the diameter is smaller than that of metal pegs.
When all parameters are equal (material, wall thickness…etc.), cylinders with larger diameters are stiffer and stronger. Consequently, the cores of plastic pegs just can’t match the strength of steel models.
Additionally, the PC sleeve suffers more damage when used in street settings.
If you want the toughest pegs out there, steel models are the way to go.
The Advantages of Metal Pegs
- Strength and Lightness
Quality metal pegs are made of tough alloys such as 7075-T6 (super strong aluminum) or 4130 (chromium-molybdenum alloy steel).
The result is strength, resistance to impact (especially the steel versions), and durability in a light package.
- Preferred For Street Riding
The toughness of metal pegs makes them a preferred choice for non-perfect street spots (e.g., rough ledges…etc.)
- The Best of Both Worlds
If you put plastic sleeves on a set of metal pegs, you get the strength of metal and the sliding properties of molded composites. The downside is the slightly increased diameter of the peg and the additional weight (approx. 40 grams).
- More Friction Could Be Beneficial For Some Tricks
Some people consider the extra friction of metal pegs helpful when learning tricks such as various stalls.
- Distinct BMX Sound
Every BMX rider (and watcher) knows the chink sound that occurs when a metal peg comes in contact with a ledge or rail. For some people, similar “audio aesthetics” are important and a sufficient motivation to choose metal pegs.
The Disadvantages of Metal Pegs
- More Friction
Metal pegs experience more friction (just like the trucks of a skateboard) and sometimes require extra wax for proper grinding/sliding.
The additional friction can also be problematic for new users as it’s easier to go over the handlebars if a peg gets stuck.
- More Likely To Damage a Spot
Plastic pegs are “kinder” to ledges and rails. Metal pegs are harder and thus more likely to damage a riding spot (e.g., break parts of a ledge).
For that reason, some skate parks do not allow the usage of metal pegs on the property.
- Slightly Heavier
When all parameters are equal, metal pegs are expected to be ever so slightly heavier.
Metal pegs make more noise and sparks. This could become a problem when riding in public spots. The more noise you make, the faster you may be kicked out.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do BMX peg sleeves last?
If the pegs are used for riding on rough ledges, they may have to be replaced in 6-8 weeks. If the use is moderate, and the spot isn’t “unfriendly”, they can last 6 or more months.
The rear pegs are used more frequently whereas the front ones serve a lighter duty. To maximize the lifespan of the sleeves, riders often rotate the worn rear ones with those at the front.
The inner side of the peg closer to the axle will almost certainly wear down before the rest of the peg. This isn’t surprising because that area is experiencing the greatest contact.
What to choose?
If you want to ride at a skate park that doesn’t allow metal pegs, you don’t have much of a choice.
In all other cases, it comes down to personal preference that can be obtained only through experience. In other words, it’s necessary to try both.
That said, it’s safe to say that metal pegs are the classic choice that has worked just fine for generations of riders.