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The Truth About Stabilizers, Suspension Forks, and Bigger Wheels for Your BMX

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You may be looking to add accessories like stabilizers, suspension forks, and bigger wheels to your BMX bike. But before you make that decision, you should know the truth about these accessories for BMX bikes.

This guide should help you understand better how suspension forks, stabilizers, and bigger wheels will affect the performance of your BMX.

Two young guys jumping bmx

Can You Put Bigger Wheels on Your BMX?

Bigger wheels roll over obstacles easier than smaller ones. They also have superior traction, and they maintain their speed better. So, it is no surprise that you may want to switch to bigger wheels on your BMX.

But the question is can you put bigger wheels on your BMX?

You can put bigger wheels on your BMX. However, you must ensure the diameter of the rim and width of the tire will fit in the bike’s frame, leaving sufficient clearance.

If the wheels are too big, they will hit the frame. Obviously, if the wheels hit the bike frame, your riding experience will not be smooth.

Note that in many cases, the frame of your bike is made for specific wheel diameters. So, it may be incompatible with higher wheel diameters.

A BMX bike wheel against the backdrop of a blurred street with cycling riders

Is It Easier to Ride a Bike With Bigger Wheels?

Riding a bike with bigger wheels comes with a couple of advantages. Some of them are:

Easier Rollover

The attack angle formed when big wheels roll over barriers is smaller/flatter than the attack angle of smaller wheels.

This is why bigger wheels glide over obstacles more readily than smaller ones.

More Traction

As expected, bigger wheels have larger/longer surface areas. Therefore, their contact area with the ground is more extensive. Consequently, they offer more traction.

More Inertial Rotation

Since bigger wheels have higher diameters, the distance between their rims and their hubs is wider. This means that most of their weight tends away from the center.

Therefore, they maintain speed more than smaller wheels do; they can keep rotating without external force.

On the flip side, bigger wheels are relatively harder to handle; you may not be able to steer them quickly in bends and turns. Also, accelerating with them is not as easy.

What Happens When You Increase Wheel Size?

When you increase wheel size, your riding experience may remain the same, get better, or become worse. It all depends on the compatibility of your bike’s frame with the bigger wheel.

Your experience may not change much if the frame of your bike is compatible with the bigger wheel.

However, the ease of handling your bike may drop if the frame is too small for the wheel. You may also have to put in more effort to accelerate and decelerate.

With bigger wheels, you could get better traction, which will keep your bike from sliding out from under. You will also glide over obstacles easily, and your maximum possible speed will become higher.

A child riding a bike with training wheels on the road.

Can You Put Stabilizers on Your BMX?

You can put stabilizers on your BMX (kids’ BMX) bikes.

It is typically advised that you put stabilisers on your kids’ bikes when they have just started learning to ride.

Biking is an activity that deals with balance, and a newbie rider may not achieve the needed balance from the start. This is where stabilizers come in.

Stabilizers offer stability to riders in their early stages. They help keep the riders stable until they can ride with the needed balance and without support. All in all, stabilizers keep riders safe until they can cycle independently.

Stabilizers are not without their downsides. For one, some kids get so used to them that they cannot ride without one. An added disadvantage is that you cannot ride a bike with stabilizers on just any surface.

When used on rough surfaces, you’lll get a bumpy ride, and the stabilizers might get stuck. Then when used on a slant surface, there is a chance the bike might fall over. This means that bikes with stabilizers can only be used on flat, smooth surfaces.

BMXs with stabilizers are not as easy to steer, and they are also not very aesthetically appealing.

Can You Fit Stabilizers to Any Bike?

You can fit stabilisers on virtually any bike, even bikes for adults. But there would be no need to install stabilizers on a balance bike.

Balance bikes are basically like every other bike. However, they do not come with drivetrains. The rider must push their leg off the ground – Flintstone style – to move the bike.

Balance bikes help riders to hone their balance and steering before they move on to bikes with drivetrains. They are basically an alternative to bikes with stabilizers. Therefore, you do not need to fit a stabilizer on them.

Most balance bikes out there are designed for kids. But you can also find balance bikes for older children and adults.

Are Stabilizers Universal?

Generally, bike stabilizers are not universal. They are typically tailored for different bike sizes. However, there are universal stabilizers, and they are compatible with bikes of sizes between 12 and 20 inches.

Repairman pumping bicycle fork at the workshop

Suspension Forks

Suspension forks are basically shock absorbers for bikes. They are a great addition to bikes, and they make riding safer and more comfortable.

In the absence of a suspension fork, your bike will vibrate all through when it hits a bump or steers through a sharp turn or a halt.

Obviously, if you are on a bumpy road, the constant vibration of your bike will make the ride uncomfortable. You may also not be able to control the bike as well as you should.

But with suspension forks, things are different. Suspension forks compress with sudden movements and take in the ensuing vibrations. Thus, your rides are more comfortable even on bumpy roads, and you get more traction for better control.

Suspension forks are not all perfect; they have a few downsides to them. One of these downsides is that they make bikes heavier.

Besides making bikes heavier, suspension forks require regular maintenance. Regular maintenance will cost you time and money. Then again, bikes with suspension forks are typically more expensive than those without one.

Do All Forks Fit All Bikes?

All forks do not fit all bikes. If you are getting suspension forks, you must pay attention to your bike’s head tube and the fork’s steering tube.

In other words, your bike’s head-tube diameter must match the diameter of the steering tube of the suspension fork. Also, tapered head tubes must be matched with equally tapered steering tubes.

Most modern bikes have head tubes with diameters around 1.125 inches. So, they typically take forks with threadless steering tubes.

Old-fashioned bikes have head tubes with narrower diameters, so threaded steerer tubes are better for them.

cropped photo of bmx rider riding his bicycle

Why Do BMX Bikes Not Have Suspension?

Adding suspension to a BMX can create various issues, including the following:

  • Tricks will become more complicated to execute.
  • The front end of your bike will become elevated. As a result of this, it will become harder to control. Also, it may readily slide in front of you.
  • Adding suspension to the design of a BMX makes for possible accidents. When suspension forks compress, the head tube angle becomes sloped. This is usually not a problem with bikes made for suspension since the head tubes are long enough. But with a BMX bike, the compression of the head tube may see you get over the handlebars as your weight is pushed forward.
  • Suspensions reduce sensitivity. As a result of the fall in sensitivity, you are less aware of your bike’s reaction to the ground. So, your tricks may become less natural.

Final Thoughts

If you are thinking of adding suspension forks to your BMX, you probably should not. Suspension forks will take away most of the BMX experience, and they may even leave you at risk of an accident.

You may fit stabilizers to your BMX or your child’s BMX if you have to. Alternatively, you may get yourself/your kid started with a balance bike.

While adding bigger wheels to your BMX can improve your riding performance to an extent. You should only do so if the frame allows sufficient clearance for the bigger wheels.