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BMX vs. Dirt Jumpers: What’s the Difference?

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If you’re new to dirt jumping or BMX, it’s easy to think that both bikes look the same. While they appear similar, dirt jumpers and BMX bikes have distinct differences that give them advantages for their individual sports.

They certainly can be used interchangeably. If you’re at a skatepark, you might see some people on dirt jumpers practicing certain tricks on ramps for when they can’t get out to larger dirt jumps.

Likewise, it’s normal to see BMX bikes out on jumps because they are more suitable for some types of tricks. Specific stings and styles of riding will sometimes determine which style of bike is better.

They are, however, not the same. Some people, as a result, have a hard time deciding whether to buy a BMX or a dirt jumper. They may love the idea of high jumps but also want a smaller bike that will help them execute more complex tricks. Which should you choose?

Let’s take a look at the difference between dirt jumpers and BMX bikes to help you make the right decision.

Two young guys jumping bmx on the bridge

What Is the Difference Between BMX and Dirt Jumpers?

If you line up a BMX bike and a dirt jumper, you’ll find that the dirt jumper looks a bit like a mountain bike. Their frames, though, are strong and rigid. They also have a low height when it comes to their standover.

This stops the seat or the frame from getting in the way of airborne tricks. Dirt jumpers are also designed with the strength to absorb the hard landings they have to go through on a course.

BMX bikes, on the other hand, are built with higher handlebars, smaller frames, and lower seats. They usually have thicker tires and are easier to customize with pegs and other accessories that come in handy on obstacles.

Are BMX Bikes Good for Dirt Jumping?

Well, that depends. A lot of experienced dirt jumpers use BMX bikes for when they are trying certain tricks. Spinning the frame around while you’re in the air, for example, is a lot easier to do with a smaller BMX bike.

When riders want to try complex tricks without a lot of space they sometimes prefer BMX bikes. BMX bikes are also known for their simplicity, something that comes in handy when you’re crashing and landing hard to learn new tricks. With their strong frames and fewer components, BMX bikes tend to break less often and are easier to repair.

Now, people are taking BMX bikes and swapping out components to make them more suitable for dirt jumping. They are doing things like installing longer forks and disk brakes to make them more amenable to dirt jumping.

Young middle age guy jumping bmx doing tricks

What Are Dirt Jumper Bikes Good For?

Dirt jumper bikes are ideal for people who want to catch air on large dirt obstacles, but also enjoy mountain biking. While they may not be the best bikes for the most extreme styles of mountain biking out there, they can hold their own pretty well with other mountain bikes.

It’s a nice hybrid where riders can use their bikes for aerial stunts but also join their friends on a downhill ride on the weekends.

They’re great for people who want to do tricks but also want to get around and be active on their bikes.

Why Are Dirt Jumpers So Expensive?

It makes sense that dirt jumping bikes are so expensive when you think about it. Jumpers are getting dozens of feet up in the air and doing dangerous stunts. The last thing they want to have to worry about is whether their bike will fail them on a landing.

A lot of engineering goes into making dirt jumpers optimal for aerial stunts. They have to be able to pick up speed at a certain rate to get through the jumps and stick what can be very tough landings.

Most of the time, high-end dirt jumpers have expensive components that provide maximum speed, strength, and stability. These components give riders the confidence they need to get up there and push the sport forward.

man doing tricks using his dirt jumper bike

3 of the Best BMX Bikes for Dirt Jumping

If you’re still on the fence about whether you want a BMX bike or a dirt jumper, there is always compromise. A lot of BMXers want a bike that they can use on dirt jumps and on an obstacle course. Buying a BMX bike that does well in dirt jumping is usually the way to go. Here are three of the best BMX bikes for dirt jumping that you can find on Amazon.

The Mongoose BMX Legion

Mongoose Legion Kids Freestyle Sidewalk BMX Bike, Beginner Riders, 16-20-inch Wheels
  • Legion Mag sturdy frame and fork made from High-Ten steel, rider height recommendation 4’8″ to 5’4″ inches tall
  • 40x16T gearing and 1-piece forged steel 170mm cranks provide a smooth and efficient ride, making it the ideal choice for riders who want a straightforward and dependable single-speed bike
  • Upgrade your bike with cast aluminum mag wheels featuring sealed bearings, combining style and performance for a smooth and stylish BMX ride
  • Cable detangler for 360 degree handlebar spins and alloy rear U-brakes for secure stops
  • Comes with kickstand, chain guard, and 4 freestyle pegs

The Legion bike is a nice-looking freestyle BMX that is ideal for beginners and intermediate riders. It’s durable, has removable brake mounts if you want to change them out for something different, and is long enough to get you the speed you need for a dirt jump.

While Mongoose isn’t the highest-end bike brand on the market, it’s been around for almost 50 years, and it’s a name you can trust. You can ride this bike on the trail, the skatepark, or in the air.

Stolen Casino BMX

The Stolen Casino BMX has a slightly longer, slightly bigger frame than most other BMX bikes. As such, you are able to get more speed and stability doing dirt jumps than with your basic BMX. It has rear and front suspension and 20-inch wheels.

This is a great bike for riders who are a bit taller, and experienced riders also love this bike because they can do more with it.

The Redline Romp

Redline Bicycles Rival
  • Hi-Ten Big Box 8.25″ Handlebars
  • Top Load Stem
  • Monster Padded Saddle
  • 20 x 2.25″ Park Tires

This bike was designed by its company for beginners who want to take their bike out on the trails or to the skatepark.

It is built for freestyle riding but is strong enough with customization options that make it a decent dirt jumping option.


In the end, the right bike for you will depend on how much dirt jumping you’ll do versus the time you spend doing tricks at the park.

Buy based on where you’ll spend most of your time and you can always customize your bike as your preferences change.