Over the course of the past few weeks The Merged have been putting out different Top 5 lists for different products. For example they released their Top 5 Pegs today that was pretty interesting. Looking at those lists, it got us thinking about all of the different innovations that we have seen in BMX over the past 15ish years that we really love. There is no denying that there has been A LOT of innovation making bikes lighter, stronger and look a hell of a lot better over the years. There has also been a lot of things done to simplify the process of working on your bike, which is always a perk. You can pretty much build a bike up with a allen key and a 17mm socket these days. That wasn’t always the case. With that, we decided to take a look at a few items in particular we have a lot of appreciation for.
Integrated Head Tube and Press Fit Bottom Brackets
If you have been riding BMX for more than 10 years, there’s no doubt that you have a great appreciation for the Integrated head tube and press fit bottom brackets. Prior to that, you had to pound in your own headset cups and bottom bracket bearing cups, which usually also used unsealed bearings. This was a pain in the ass and an extra unnecessary step. We’re sure some of you are having a flashback of a cracked headset cup, followed by 100 little silver ball bearings bouncing around on the floor. Once S&M Bikes introduced the Integrated headtube and brands ditched the American bottom bracket bearings for Mid and Spanish sizes, life got a whole lot easier. Drop the headset in place and tighten it down or give the bottom bracket bearing a push into the frame and you’re good to go. Less work, cleaner look and overall more reliable product. That is why we love this innovation.
Thanks to integrated head tubes, we have far fewer parts to deal with when it comes to headsets. Bottom brackets also looked similar to the old headsets if you were wondering, too.
Integrated Chain Tensioners
Over the years we have seen A LOT of innovation in the chain tensioner department. When they were initially introduced, they were these over built, adaptors that were essentially a combination of a washer, bolt, plate and nut that pulled it together. Now days we have the integrated chain tensioner that runs directly through the dropouts. Not only is this a 100 times cleaner and lighter, it’s simple. Simply grab your allen key and adjust in and out to where you want your axle to sit in the dropout. How couldn’t you love this innovation?
Talk about simplified…. Fewer parts, less weight… So much cleaner!
Pivotal & Tripod Seats
Now, this is one of those innovations that might not necessarily appeal to everyone. We still see the railed seat and brands like Relic have even released a new railed seat recently. However, the majority of us are running Pivotal or Tripod seats, eliminating the need to battle it out with the railed seat post guts that were notorious for being a big pain in the ass to get set in place initially. Not only are they easier to install, but Pivotal and Tripod seats are lighter and look cleaner, too. Both systems use different designs, but both use one bolt to hold it all together and eliminated all the small parts that railed seats use. This is another one of those innovations that saved some time and frustration… So we love it.
The old railed seat posts essentially took two plates and one or two bolts to sandwich the rails of the seat. This is a look at the Snafu posts that came in a number of colors, but still were a whole bunch of fun to dial in.
The Half-Link… This is one of those pieces I think there is a love / hate relationship. Some people love how it allows them to get their rear wheel in the exact spot thanks to the shorter links and others claim they are weaker and break easier (depending on the chain). However, having that shorter link has been an innovation that has made its mark on BMX and is undoubtably loved. Whether you’re using a full half-link chain or a regular size chain with one half-link to get the benefits of that adjustability, it has made life a little easier… Except working on chains are still a bit of a pain and messy.
Hub guards is one of those innovations that we have seen a lot of focus on in the past few years. Once street riding and grinding really took off and people were tearing the shit out of their hubs and spokes, it was a no brainer that there needed to be a guard to help resist all the damage. Over the years we have seen a number of different styles like G-Sport’s plastic guard that you could tie to your spokes with zip ties or shoe laces to the more modern style guards that replace your hardware and slide onto the axle. Whether you’re using a plastic or full chromoly guard, there’s a good chance that little guard has saved you a lot of time, money and hassle by having less spokes to repair and extending the life of your hub.
While looking for old photos of the original G-Sport hub guards, we stumbled across an old bike check George French did from around 2004 that had some prototypes of the guards, which have been modified a bunch over the years and are still available. This bike also has the old headset and bottom bracket, railed seat and more. This also has a number of creative / concept ideas that George was working on for G-Sport at the time. Either way, bikes now days look A LOT cleaner and are a lot lighter.
That’s 5 innovations in BMX we love. Did we miss any that you love? Let us know in the comments below!