This post compares the advantages and disadvantages of BMX and folding bikes in relation to one another.
The Advantages of BMX
BMX bicycles are the epitome of simplicity. They have a rigid frame and fork and operate in single-speed mode. The brakes are either U-brakes or V-brakes.
Some people find the simplicity of a BMX appealing when it comes to both looks and function.
A folding bike, on the other hand, is a lot more complex. Folders have gears (internal or external) and require the user to constantly fold and unfold the bike via a mechanism that isn’t always ideal (especially if the bike is a low-tier model).
If you want a simple, small bike that’s easy to maintain, BMX models are the winners.
BMX frames are designed to withstand extreme impact and stresses. A quality BMX frame can survive almost anything. In fact, BMX bikes are the strongest out there. They are stronger than MTBs too.
- Large variety
The BMX segment is larger than that of folding bikes. Consequently, one enjoys a greater variety of models.
A quality BMX bike can be acquired for half (or less) the price of a high-end folding bike. And if you go on the second-hand market, the cost drops even lower.
If you want to learn basic tricks such as bunny hops, BMX bikes will make it easier because they have a geometry that facilitates lifting the front wheel.
The Disadvantages of BMX Bikes
- Still Large
Even though BMXs are much smaller than standard bicycles, they still can’t match the compactness of a dedicated folder. A BMX could be frustrating to fit in a car and requires the user to push down the passenger seats.
Meanwhile, a folding bike will take only 1/2 of a regular car’s trunk and keep the passenger seat usable for other cargo or people.
- Uncomfortable for Long Distances
By default, BMXs are designed for tricks and out-of-the-saddle pedaling. Commuting on one will be quite uncomfortable unless the distance is short.
It’s possible to make a BMX more comfortable for seated pedaling by installing a very long seat post. However, this method won’t always solve the issue because the handlebars will remain at the same height.
Some people elevate the handlebars by replacing the stem with a model that has a positive angle. Another option is to get alternative bars such as those found on chopper bicycles.
In all cases, extra work will be needed to acquire a proper bike fit for seated pedaling. And the final result could still be disappointing.
Meanwhile, folders offer that comfort by default.
- No Gears
The simplicity of BMX bikes comes at a price. The absence of gears makes the bikes less user-friendly and unable to cover diverse terrain. By default, most BMXs lack both high and low gears. On descents, the bike will spin out; on climbs, the gearing could be too high.
- No accessories
There aren’t many accessories such as handlebar bags that are designed specifically for BMX bikes.
The Advantages of Folding Bikes
- Extremely Compact
The main incentive to own a folder is the ability to carry it with you on public buses, trains, planes…etc.
Another benefit is that you won’t have to lock the bike outside for extended periods of time or at all. In other words, folders greatly limit the chances of experiencing bike theft. (Ultimately, however, nothing eliminates this possibility 100% as someone can take your bike from under your work desk while you’re eating your lunch for example).
Folding bikes are designed for comfortable pedaling across the city. They allow you to fully extend your knees (unlike BMXs) and cover a great distance without over-stressing your joints.
- Loaded with Accessories
Folding bikes come with a lot of accessories (e.g., full-fenders) that make commuting a lot more convenient and pleasurable.
The Disadvantages of Folding Bikes
Folding bikes come with derailleurs (or gear hubs), lights, hinges, and a number of accessories that not only add weight to the bike but make it a more complicated machine.
People who want a very simple bicycle to get from home to the pub a mile away may find the extras on folding bikes non-essential and frustrating.
- One-trick Pony
Commuting on a BMX is stressful on the joints and annoying if done for long distances, but at least it’s somewhat possible. However, doing tricks with a folder is simply asking for trouble because the geometry of the bicycle is non-trick-friendly.
- Not as stiff
The hinges of a folding bike make it less stiff than a model with a rigid frame. Thus, one can argue that there is some power transfer loss, although it’s questionable whether anyone can truly perceive it.
- Not as strong
Folding bikes are strong enough for commuting but cannot match the strength of BMXs.
A quality folding bike can cost over USD 1000. Meanwhile, a BMX of satisfying quality can be acquired for substantially less.
When to choose a BMX?
A BMX is a good choice when:
- You want a very small bike with decent acceleration for covering short distances across the neighborhood.
- You don’t plan to use the bicycle for serious commuting and in bad weather.
- You plan on learning bicycle tricks.
- Your budget is limited.
Note: If you want a smaller, rigid bicycle specifically for commuting, check out the mini velo models. They are the size of a BMX but have a geometry designed for commuting and fit adults better.
When to choose a folding bike?
A folding bike is a good choice when:
- You want to combine bike and public transport commuting.
- You plan on traveling with your bike.
- You want to transport your bike with your car in a convenient manner.
- You don’t have a lot of room in your apartment.
- You want to minimize the chances of bike theft.
- You don’t care about performing tricks with your bicycle.