Are they the same?
They are two completely different types of bikes. Many people confuse them because they have a very similar build. There are many distinct differences, but the one that is most clear is the tricks they are used for and the way riders will ride them. Both the bikes have no suspension, but your legs after riding the bikes for a while usually turn into shock absorbers and this helps to cope with the landings when performing a trick.
BMX bikes tend to be used in skate parks and on the big kickers (Jumps). You will sometimes so BMX riders around town if they are just starting off because the kickers in skate parks aren't really made for beginners. The people who ride the like to to grinds on them and do 360 backflips. BMX riders ride in a group and stop off at different place to try to perfect tricks.
Trials bike riding is when you go around a set up course. You are timed for going around the course. You can receive more time added to you final time if you feet come off your pedals and touch the ground. When going around the course you're timed, if you take longer than the set time limit then you will get more time added on to your finishing time. You aim to finish in the least amount of time.
Background - BMX
BMX riding started in the 1970s when young children in South California started racing around dirt tracks. The bikes were popular because they were easy to adjust and could be customised for better handling when racing. The first make of the BMX was Schwinn Stingray (Picture below). From the picture below you can see how much the bike have developed since the 1970s. The BMX bikes are available in six different types - Dirt, Flatland, Freestyle, Park, Race and Street. Since then BMX had become very popular and there are competitions all over the world during the summer.
Schwinn Stingray (First BMX)
Background - Trials
Trials is an extreme test of your skills on a bike. The sport started off very small and has grown larger and larger as people have become more interested. The bike have changed a lot over the years. One of the first bike was a Monty (See picture below). The Monty bike was very simple and din't have much too it. The bikes have progressed a lot since they first came into manufacture. There are competitions all around the year, but the bigger competitions tend to be during summer.
Monty (First Trials)
The Brakes - BMX
Most of them use rim brakes. Sometimes they will use disc brakes, the problem with disc brakes it that when doing grinds the disc could get damaged. Most BMX riders prefere rim brakes. Rim brakes aren't that expensive and they last long and on a BMX there unlikely to get damaged.
The Brakes - Trials
The brakes on trials bikes can be very different. Many people go for the combination of a disc on the front a a rim at the back. Some have two discs and some have both rims. Trials riders have a very different opinion on there preferred brakes because some breaks can be a bit pricey.
The Strength of the bikes
The BMX professional riders for racing would have their bikes made from aluminium, but your average BMX would be made from steel. The steel may be heavy, but the bikes need to be able to thrown about a bit.
The Trials bikes are most commonly made from aluminium, but can be made from Steel, Titanium, Magnesium and Carbon Fibre. The carbon fibre bikes would mostly be used by the professionals.
Insight to BMX riding
- As you can see the BMX has no brakes and the tyres aren't very grippy. The BMX in the photo would be used indoors.
- When on indoor surfaces you don't need very grippy tyres. There are not breaks because most BMX riders would just use there shoes.
- BMX's have stunt pegs. They are most commonly used for doing grinds, but some people use them to give friends a ride home.
Competitions - BMX
The competitions for BMX riders can sometimes be a set track or can be a freestyle course. The riders will get assessed on their tricks and how well they ride around the course. They would normally be watched by a three to five judges who would give them marks out of the set limit. Riders will lose points if they fall off and don't pull off a trick. If they are going around a course then the points awarded will be a mix of their time taken and the tricks they do.
BMX tyres don't have much grip because you don't really need the grip. This because the tracks they ride on are very smooth and they don't land on small objects. The tyres would be pumped up so the tyres were quite hard because that's how the BMX riders like it.
Most BMX's will have a seat. The seat is mostly used whilst waiting to use a jump or for going along a street. Most riders won't use their seats for a lot more than that. It also stops them from sitting on the tyre.
Insight to Trials riding
- The trials bike does have brakes and has very grippy tyres. They have brakes because a lot of the tricks done with a trials bike requires braking.
- The tyres are grippy because when doing tricks you would want as much grip as possible when landing on something that might not have as much grip.
- Trials bikes don't tend have have pegs because the type of riding that the bikes get used for are not really suited to them.
Competitions - Trials
The competitions for Trials riders are usually around an obstacle course. The obstacles could be anything from a small roll over to 4ft boulders. There will be a set time limit to go around the course. When you are going around the course a judge/ assessor will be assessing your riding and keeping a very close eye too make sure you don't put your foot on the ground. If your foot hits the ground of comes in contact with any of the obstacles then you will get extra time added to your final time.
The tyres on a trials bike are very grippy and they aren't pumped up completely because when landing on a small object you want your tyre to cover it a little so you get more grip. You can get a very wide range of different tyres and they will have different depth of grips.
As you can see the trials bike above doesn't have a seat and most trials bikes won't have a seat. There is no real need to have a seat on your trials bike because you never need to sit down for any tricks and if you do have a seat then it can get in the way when doing tricks.
In both of them there is a high risk of getting injured and there is no easy way of getting around this. Practise makes perfect and you'll never prefect something with injuring yourself once in a while.
Please feel free to comment with any questions about BMX riding or Trials Riding. If you feel that some of the information isn't correct then feel free to comment so i can change it. Thanks
CSPTrials on November 18, 2016:
There are more than one type of trials bike. there is also way more than one type of bmx bikes also.
H on June 05, 2016:
Jeff on May 07, 2015:
Awesome info, thanks!