BMX bike Vs Dirt Jumper (All You Need To Know)

There exists a slim, blurred line between the BMX bike and the dirt jumper. These 2 racers deliver almost similar aerial stunts, high landing jumps, and many other bike tricks. Also, both bikes have undergone multiple upgrades and evolution, becoming more and more alike.

And so, why would a cyclist choose one over the other?

To understand each unit and help you pick one that best suits your riding style, we’ve written a BMX bike vs. dirt jumper review outlining the main differences between these racers. Here, you will understand the distinguishing characteristics of each bicycle and go for your preferred pick.

Read along!


What are Dirt Jumpers?

Dirt jumpers are a sturdier type of mountain bike designed for tough trails and more rugged environments. They have unique geometries, allowing you to go from the ground to air and back smoothly and safely.

These racers are slightly bigger than the BMX bikes and feature a front shock and a sturdy frame. The stand-over height is somewhat lower than BMX’s, preventing the seat from wobbling when you perform your stunts and tricks. You will appreciate the bike’s frame and wheels, as they come in handy in shock absorbing.

What are BMX Bikes?

Bicycle MotoCross (BMX) bikes is also an off-road sports racer suitable for stunt riding and obstacle jumping. They are mostly found in cross-country tracks and urban environments where riders are needed to perform maneuvers and fun bike tricks.

Unlike dirt jumpers, BMX bikes are more suited for track racing and perform better aerial acrobatics and higher-flying jumps. They tend to be lighter and sturdier, thanks to their reliable aluminum or Chromoly steel construction.

Differences in Geometry

You don’t need to be an expert to understand the main differences between dirt jumpers and BMX bikes. Following are the main construction and geometrical differences between these 2 races to help you distinguish one from another.

1. Handlebars and Steering

BMX bikes feature shorter and flatter handlebars for better steering control. Most riders prefer a 28’’ width handlebar, but bigger riders opt for the 30’’. The overall design of these handlebars gives better control and quicker turns when performing your stunts and tricks. They also help in balancing the landings and jumps as you race.

On the other hand, dirt jumpers come with taller handlebars. With a 27″ handlebar, your dirt jumper can be very comfortable. But if you’re into bar spins, a 25″ handlebar will come in handy. The taller handlebars in dirt jumpers give better heights and more control, and you jump from the ground to the air while performing your bike tricks.

2) Riding Terrain

As discussed earlier, BMX bikes are better suited for hard but compacted dirt tracks. A good example would be skate parks. These racers may not be ideal for long-distance rides, as they are designed to travel faster over shorter distances. Additionally, these bikes ride the streets well but may not be so good at riding trails. That is because their low seats and no-gear functionality make them less comfortable to cruise around. It is better on roads due to its handlebar and seating design.

The best terrain for your dirt jumper is a pump track. The racer may also work best in any other rocky terrain or a track with high jumps and ruts. It’d be okay to ride your dirt jumper downhill so long as you’re skilled in doing so. Though the racer is an excellent pick for rocky terrains, riding it downhill could be seriously bumpy, and to be safe, you’ll need to work on your riding loads. They are also not ideal for uphill climbs or extended trips.

3) Riding Style

If you are the kind who enjoys mountain bike tricks, the BMX bike would be a better companion. As you probably know, mountain bikes work best on rough terrains like mountains and hills. This means, if you’ve mastered the tricks of using a mountain bike, you can perform better stunts on the BMX bike thanks to their smaller size, lightweight design, handlebar, and steering capabilities. In other words, it’s advisable to purchase a BMX bike if you love high-octane, fast-paced racing in dirt tracks filled with obstacles.

Go for dirt jumpers if you enjoy performing tricks like high jumps in mid-air. This bike is a hardtail, which is an excellent pick for jumps. The bike allows you to boost your way up but could be more sensitive when landing on the ground. And if you spend much of your time on relatively smooth trails, the unit will offer you faster rides to soak up moderate bumps, thanks to its suspension fork.

4) Top Tube Length

BMX bikes come with shorter tubes on the frames, around 18″ – 21.25″ long. This length can help in determining the bike’s frame size. Kids and shorter riders can go for units with a Top Tube of 18’’-20’’ long, whereas pro riders can consider those with 20.5″ – 21.25″ long. Besides the prowess level, the tube length you will choose should always be determined by your overall height.

Like BMX bikes, the frame size of a dirt jumper will often be categorized according to the top tube’s length. The small frame size will have a top tube length of 21.2″, a medium frame size will have 21.7″, a large frame size will have 22.2″, and an XL frame size will have 22.7″.

5) Construction and Overall Design

BMX bikes boast an alloy construction that makes them solid and sturdy. These gears remain lightweight even with this robustness and will handle all the rigors involved in BMX racing. The inherently simplistic design makes it difficult for riders to use the bike for different riding styles other than intended.

Dirt jump bikes are made from either steel or aluminum. They are more streamlined and have minimalist beauty. You can expect short seat tubes, short chainstays, low stance, low standover heights, and steep head angles. These units are also light and include a solid but comforting suspension system. All these construction features make the bike easy to maneuver.

6) Brake System

BMX bikes have a single brake, which is sometimes seen as unnecessary. This is because performing tailwhips and barspins multiple times may not always require the use of brakes. Most BMXs will have V or U brakes to apply friction to the rims through the brake pads. And so, whether your bike has brakes or not, there will be no considerable difference. But if it has, you can go for a high-quality U brake system.

All dirt jumpers are designed with at least one disk brake. These brakes can either be mechanical or hydraulic, and each uses calipers to squeeze the bike pads against the metal rotor. When choosing your brakes, it’s advisable to go for the hydraulic brakes, which have more advantages over mechanical brakes. For instance, you only need to apply minimal force to the lever, which will be tripled when transferred to the rotor. But the main advantages you’d get from the mechanical brake are cost and ease of maintenance.

7) Suspension Vs. Rigid Forks

The 2 main fork styles of a bike are rigid or suspension. A suspension makes the forks compress when pressed down during the riding. If your bike has a rigid fork, it means that it is made from a single metal piece that does not compress.

BMX bikes do not allow for suspension fitting. These racers are more rigid, which could be somewhat uncomfortable when using them on uneven road surfaces. In other words, the bike will keep your weight down and not necessarily need suspension when riding it in a skatepark.

Most dirt jump bikes have a rear suspension that absorbs energy and makes pumping and jumping on tracks less efficient. The most common suspension fork is 100mm of travel. This means that you can only compress the forks of these bikes up to a max of 100mm.

Which one Should you Go for?

The answer to this question is somewhat subjective. Each bike comes with its unique construction, design, riding style, and adaptation. Based on the differences above, you can easily distinguish between a BMX bike and a dirt jump bike and know the one to suit your needs.

It all comes down to your surrounding terrain and riding style. What is your body type? Where will you be cycling? What are your preferences? If you can answer these questions, you will not struggle to pick the best unit for you!

Having said that, you can evaluate your environment, and riding styles then make an informed decision.


BMX biking and dirt jumping are almost similar but very different if you can understand their distinguishing characteristics. It is not a bad idea to have multiple bikes for different locations. Generally, dirt jumpers are costlier than BMX bikes because they are highly specialized and occupy a smaller cycling niche.

The market has different types of dirt jump bikes and BMX, and you better choose a unit that will offer you value for money.

Happy riding! If you have any questions, feel free to scroll down to the comments section down below and let me know what you think.

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