If you pay close enough attention to BMX, you can always see trends coming and going. Those trends have been the evolution of the sport from the riders to the bikes all the way to the videos and photos you’re seeing every single day. One of the biggest trends we’ve been following as of late is how brands are keeping up with the constant changes and ways to attract new riders to BMX. Within that, we’ve been watching one thing in particular that has been happening to BMX lately that has been pretty mind blowing; the age of riders riding at higher levels at very young ages. There have been a handful of factors involved in this fairly new phenomenon and we figured we would take some time to see what has lead to all of this.
Kids riding BMX is not a new thing, but kids throwing 360 tailwhips, grinding full sized hand rails and tossing the bars in and out of tricks at 10 to 12 years old is. I don’t know about you, but when I was that age I was tossing no footers, half assed X-Ups with 25″ wide bars and fighting gravity to land a 360 out of a dirt kicker carved out of a hill. Given, a lot has changed in the past 15 years, it’s still pretty incredible because BMX takes a lot of strength, coordination and mental drive that most kids for the most part lack till their mid teens. We’ve been seeing a lot of kids popping up on Vimeo and Youtube as young as 2 years old riding BMX in one way or another and that’s a good sign.
10 year old Kaden Stone
4 year old Jake and Theo Riddle
12 year old Ben Kavanagh
Max Vu at 8 years old (Now 10)
The Halahan brothers! Lukas and Nate!
Traditionally, the BMX “business” has always been focused on the 14-20 year olds based off the demographics from surveys and research. If you spend a day watching videos in the Daily Section, it’s pretty clear that the majority of people putting out edits are 16 – 25 years old or if you spend a day hanging out at a skatepark you will see the 13-17 year old demographic pretty easily. However, we’re starting to see an increase in younger kids putting out videos and turning out to skateparks and trails for sessions.
It’s fair to say that the range of age has opened up pretty substantially in both directions over the years. We’re seeing kids starting out at 2 years old and guys that are still out there pushing into their late 40’s on the regular now. The cause? Well, here’s a few things we think have lead to this.
– Exposure – Skateparks are everywhere now days, the internet is loaded with videos and it’s not uncommon to see BMX on TV thanks to the X-Games, commercials targeted towards teens and music videos. More eyes are seeing BMX than ever before thanks to all sorts of mediums. It’s not just some kid picking up a magazine at school and getting psyched like most kids did back in the day.
– Facilities – I know I just said skateparks above, but that’s a whole category on its own! Having places for people to ride and ultimately expose them to riding has been a huge factor. A lot of kids don’t get into BMX or quit early because they simply don’t have anywhere to ride. Having skateparks, plazas, public trails and more kids seeing what can be done on street has lead to more kids getting into BMX and sticking to it.
– Parents – Kids want to be like their parents. It’s just natural. More and more people who grew up riding BMX are starting to have kids and continue to ride, so it’s natural to want to try and get your kid into BMX too. I know a handful of people personally who ride or used to ride that have their kids on bikes. It’s a good way to spend time with your kid and keep yourself motivated to ride. This factor is one that we will be seeing a lot more with more and more 2nd or 3rd generation BMX riders starting to pop up. It also helps that some parents are steering their kids away from traditional sports due to all the negative media that has been coming from the different scandals and bullying that happens.
Levi Hucke, son of The Shadow Conspiracy’s Ben Hucke.
Oscar Perkins, son of Leon Perkins.
– Bikes – This is the biggest factor. For the longest time, BMX bikes generally only came in 20″ and that’s it. Now days we’re seeing bikes come in sizes of 12″, 14″, 16″, 18″, 20″, 22″, 24″ and 26″. Obviously the little 12″ – 18″ bikes have been the biggest factor involved in more kids getting into BMX, but having this huge range of options keeps people riding into a much older age than in the past as well which has lead to more parents riding with their kids. The best part about these little bikes? They have been designed with the same geometry that aftermarket BMX bikes come in, but scaled down to fit these guys better. This has been a HUGE help in making it easier for kids to ride and learn on. Plus, the quality of bikes are phenomenal and lasting longer which is always good when it comes to parents supporting their kids riding BMX.
The Primer 16″ from Sunday Bikes also comes in an 18″ and 20″ versions.
Sunday is also working on an after market 18″ frame called the Radocaster that uses the same materials and geometry and their other frames.
The 2015 16″ Carve complete from Kink. They also offer an 18″ Kicker complete and an aftermarket 18″ frame and fork called the Bantam.
Wethepeople offer a 16″ Seed and 18″ Curse complete bike.
Cult offer 12″, 16″ and 18″ Juvenile complete bikes in their range.
St. Martin are one of the first brands to fill the gap from 12″ to 16″ bikes with their 14″ Darwin complete bike.
Strider bikes which are designed for kids that haven’t quite got to the pedaling stage have been becoming increasingly popular since the initial Stryder brand of bikes started popping up a few years back. Verde have introduced their Scout bike which is a 12″ bike that doesn’t have cranks or a drive line. Check out the Oscar Perkins video above for an example of how these work. This is a great way for kids to develop balance when going over obstacles or up and down ramps.
This is just a sample of the options that have been made available lately. With more bikes being available, more shops are willing to carry the smaller bikes because they’re filling a gap in sizes that are traditionally only sold in stores like Wal-Mart. This has introduced so many more kids to BMX at that younger age versus the 14-20 year olds we see getting into BMX in the past.
– EVENTS – Now days you can’t go a weekend without some sort of event. More brands are doing shop tours again, there are contests at skateparks all over the world and there are street, park and trails jams going off all the time. Then there are other styles of events like Dustin Grice’s Lil’ Pros Tours that he has been organizing where he essentially loads up a bunch of these young shredders in an RV with a few different pro riders to do a road trip to different parks. This has been great exposure for the kids and I don’t have any doubt that there have been a ton of kids who saw these videos and wanted to get into BMX because of it.
Lil’ Pros Tour
Lil’ Pros U.K Tour
Those are a few of the reasons we have been seeing a younger age group of kids picking up BMX, and learning how to absolutely shred. There are a million reasons for why people get into BMX, but we feel like thanks to the forward momentum the sport has thanks to options for bikes, technology, riders turning into parents, more exposure and opportunities like facilities to ride popping up worldwide that this younger crowd is getting into BMX.
Needless to say, this younger generation is awesome to see and I am excited to see where things go with the riding and products that come out geared towards them.
One thing that I haven’t really touched base on is why getting kids into BMX at a younger age is important and why I think brands have been putting more emphasis on these smaller bikes. In my opinion, I think it’s because when a kid picks up a BMX bike at the traditional age (14-20) there are a lot of factors that can pull their interest away from riding. Things like getting their license and a car, girls, school, jobs or partying are just a few common factors that lead to people quitting. Why is it so easy for them to just quit and move on? It’s easy because they haven’t invested their time and effort into it before these distractions take place. When a kid picks up a bike at a younger age, they have more time to develop a love for riding or have invested a good portion of their life to learn how to ride and that’s something that is hard to just quit.
BMX Racing is a perfect example of where we’re headed because it has been ahead of the freestyle side of BMX for a long time now. Racing has seen these younger kids getting into it at early ages for a lot longer and have been developing bikes that fit for every age. This has lead to kids who have rode from their first novice races all the way up to the expert mens classes.
Why is it so important for younger riders to pick up bikes? Well, from a business perspective it means riders are going through bikes, frames, parts, accessories and more for longer. Instead of buying one bike, they might buy a complete bike in the start but over time they could buy 6 frames, a few pairs of cranks, dozens of grips, countless shirts and shoes and more. Obviously that means more money going to shops and mail-orders, which are buying these parts from distributors, who are buying them from brands which are contributing to jobs and technology advancements in factories in Taiwan or keeping companies like FBM, Solid and Pedal Driven Cycles alive. Ultimately, the more kids who are getting into BMX at an earlier age and riding for a longer time helps the whole industry continue to grow.
From a riders perspective this can mean a lot of things! There are more riders to get a session with and become friends with, brands making more sales can turn that revenue into development of better products or offer lower prices due to volume, more events from local jams to massive contest by brands like Red Bull and more demand for more places to ride so parks, plazas and trails are popping up.
So to sum this all up, more kids getting into BMX and progressing at a faster level is great for every aspect of BMX. It’s going to be exciting seeing where things go in the future and you better believe we’ll be there to show you just what is going on!
What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments! Don’t forget to “Like” or Tweet this if you’re into it as well! Thanks!
Here’s a few more videos!