BMX Mountain Bike Hybrid – The Complete Guide


If you’re a fan of either BMXing or mountain biking, and you’d like to combine the two, then a BMX mountain bike hybrid could be just what you are looking for. What are BMX mountain bike hybrids?

BMX MTB hybrid bikes (sometimes also known as dirt jump bikes) are a special crossbreed with the combined DNA of BMX and mountain bikes. These bikes are made for bumps and jumps in rough tracks.

Often containing a light frame with suspension, fewer gears, and a single brake system, these bikes provide riders the durability and maneuverability required in rugged terrains. 

These hybrid bikes are for riders who want the toughness of mountain bikes while still enjoying the versatility of BMX bikes to perform tricks and high jump stunts.

Although most of these bikes come in a one-size-fits-all design, there are some minute variations you must know before buying one. 

In this guide, I’ll take a good look at the key features of BMXs, those of mountain bikes, how these are all drawn together in BMX mtb hybrids, and give you all the information you could possibly need to help you decide if one of these bikes could be what you’re looking for.

BMX mountain bike hybrid

Features Of Mountain Bikes

To completely understand the philosophy behind dirt jump bikes, it is important to know the fundamentals of BMX and mountain bikes.

Mountain bikes are carefully crafted for rugged and rigorous off-road rides. The secret is to make them as light as possible for better control without compromising durability. 

Made with tougher materials such as steel, MTBs have a special frame design to achieve the required robustness.

Similarly, they have much wider and chunkier tires with deeper treads. This gives riders good control and a strong grip on irregular and slippery surfaces.

Moreover, wider tires can hold more air to reduce the impact of hefty bumps. But most of the jolts are diffused by the front and rear suspensions. 

Another key feature that makes MTBs a perfect ride for hilly areas and a well-rounded bike for other terrains is the gear system.

The number of gears in these bikes is higher than you find in any other. Low gears help you climb steep routes, and high gears give you the ability to ride smoothly on your way down. But the fact that you can adjust gears according to different situations makes MTBs all-rounder bikes. 

Features Or BMX Bikes

BMX stands for Bike Motocross, and as you can guess, these bikes are inspired by the dirt biking sport that got popular in the early 70s.

BMX bikes are very different looking than regular road bikes or mountain bikes. The targeted consumers for such bikes are freestyle riders.

BMX bikes have a much smaller frame, and they are not as equipped as most other types of bikes are. This gives them a lightweight, making it easy to handle while doing high-jump stunts on ramps and kickers.

The material used in the frame is lightweight but durable enough to handle harsh landings on concrete. And to match the small frames, smaller wheels are used.

The surface of tires may not be much grippy but allows riders to achieve high speed very quickly. Most BMX riders prefer not to use brakes and suspensions to make their bikes less chunky and low-maintenance. 

As far as size is concerned, all BMX bikes have more or less the same size. However, smaller bikes are available for children who want to get started with the action. 

What Are BMX MTB Hybrid Bikes?

Hybrid bikes are a crossbreed between BMXs and mountain bikes. Other popular names for these bikes are dirt jump (DJ) bikes or, simply, mountain BMX bikes. 

Though they have to go through high jumps, hard landings, and sharp turning. However, unlike BMX bikes that you ride on smooth surfaces like wood floor and concrete, they are meant to be ridden on rough rocky tracks.

That is why manufacturers mixed the tough and sturdy characteristics of MTBs with lightweight and easy-to-handle features of BMX bikes. The result is robust, compact, and low-slung bikes, which are perfect for stunts on off-road surfaces. 

What to Expect from BMX MTB Hybrid Bikes?

If regular bikes cannot match your riding style and you have decided to invest in a hybrid bike, there are several things that you need to be aware of. Following are some key features that make these bikes special.

Sturdiness

Regular bikes cannot handle the rough and thuggish dirt tracks. Hybrid bikes are specifically designed for such terrains, and bumpy surfaces are no big deal for them. 

Maneuverability

Riders need bikes that are easy to turn, jump, roll, and land. The sort of stunts they do up in the air is out of the question with road bikes or MTBs. 

Not Made for Long Distances

Though these bikes can quickly pick up high speed and are easy to handle, hybrid bikes are not suitable for long distances.

First, because the design is not comfortable for those rides, and second, they are not equipped with suitable parts.

Unique Geometry

When you get on a hybrid bike, you instantly feel the difference between these and mountain bikes.

This is because of the unique geometry and shape of these bikes. They are small and low-slung with wide handlebars and short forks. 

Riding a mountain bike bmx hybrid through air following jump
BMX mountain bike hybrids offer the ability to jump but cross a range of terrain simultaneously

BMX Mountain Bike Hybrid Bikes Parts

So far, I have discussed the philosophy behind hybrid bikes and their key features. Now it is time to go through the details of each part. 

Frame

The common built materials for most hybrid bike frames are aluminum and Chromoly steel.

The former is the affordable option, but it is stiffer.

On the other hand, Chromoly steel is a lighter and more durable material used to make high-end bicycle frames. It is a combination of aluminum, titanium, and carbon. 

The dimensions of all dirt jump bike frames are mostly the same. The top tube is longer and is tilted towards the back wheel, making bikes more stable in the air.

The handlebar is straight, providing better control and swift turning. This frame design is called a slopestyle frame. 

Wheel and Tires

This part of the DJ bikes has to go through the most pressure and strain, so the tires are normally much thicker than traditional BMX bikes.

This unconventional width allows them to endure harsh thumps by storing more air.

Similarly, the knobbly treads are much deeper than BMX tires but not as much as in MTBs. This gives them a good grip on irregular surfaces without compromising the acceleration rate. 

Wheel size is also somewhere at the median between MTB and BMX bikes. MTB riders mostly go for 27.5″ to 29″ size wheels, whereas the biggest size for BMX bikes is 24″.

For hybrid bikes, only 26″ sized wheels are available, and this is why they are also called 26″ bikes. 

Brakes

Brakes are the tricky facet in BMX mountain bikes. It solely depends on the preferences of the riders.

Most riders go for the standard U-brakes or V-brakes, which are strong enough for immediate stops. But one con of these brakes is that they wear out pretty quickly and may damage the rim.

As a result, some professional dirt jump riders prefer using disc brakes. 

When it comes to brakes, most hybrid bikes are equipped with one brake at the rear.

Many BMX riders choose to go brakeless as it allows them to rotate the handlebar 360 without worrying about the tangled brake cables.

However, gyro brakes enable such rotation without the risk of riding brakeless. It is a new technology, easily available at most bike stores but a more expensive option. 

Suspension

Manufacturers offer a variety in the suspension feature for these BMX MTB hybrid bikes.

If you’re confident that the fork material can withstand the jolts, you can go without suspensions. But using at least one suspension is often recommended as hybrid bikes have to go through much rougher conditions than BMX bikes.

Both inner and outer suspension options are available in the market. 

If your riding style is a bit too extreme, such as the one involving high jump stunts, it’s better to use full suspension bikes instead of a hardtail.

The rear and front suspensions make other parts of your bike last much longer, as most of the impacts are diffused. 

Front Fork

At this point, you would have started observing a pattern…

All parts of a hybrid bike are at the middle ground between mountain bikes and BMX bikes.

Like the rest of the parts, the front fork needs to face the challenges of rocky tracks but at the same time not be too heavy to lift the bike.

According to experts at Vital MTB:

Approach the bike from the front and pinch the wheel between your legs. Grab the bars and turn them side to side a few times. A flexible fork (one that you can see twisting) should be avoided (source).

The standard front fork size is 100mm, but you can modify your bike with special 110-120mm forks manufactured by some brands. 

Top Tube

We have already briefly discussed top tubes in the frame section. Unlike street bikes with shorter top tubes, mountain BMX bikes use long top tubes for better handling in the air and on the dirt pump tracks.

Most brands provide just the standard-size top tubes.

However, tall riders may prefer longer top tubes for comfort.

The most common way of sizing the top tube is by measuring the horizontal distance between the center of the head tube and the center of the seat tube (effective top tube length). 

Gears

It again depends on the riders when it comes to the number of gears.

The tradition is single gear hybrid bikes because it reduces the headache of chainring repair and maintenance.

Most chainring models cannot last long, but few mountain bike brands make a special 2-3 sprocket chainring that can also be used in mountain BMX bikes. It allows DJ riders to enjoy the variations of chain settings during different stunts. However, a chain guide on sprockets is necessary for multi-geared DJ bikes to avoid chain slipping. 

Chain Retention Device

Chain slipping is more common in DJ bikes, and that is why a chain retention device is a must.

The last thing you would want to happen is the chain dropping off the cogs in the middle of a dirt jump.

It is really dangerous, in addition to creating a negative image of the rider. Use a horizontal dropout chain tensioner that has a bolt-on rear axis.

People Also Ask

Can you use a BMX bike as a dirt jump bike?

You can, but regular BMX bikes are not made for the harsh landings on rocky terrains. It is best to use mountain BMX bikes for such riding styles. Otherwise, different parts of the bike, including the frame, can deform very easily.

Can hybrid bikes be used for long rides?

These bikes are not suitable for long routes. Their frame size and geometry are not comfortable for riding for long periods. You may be able to travel moderate distances with a multi-gear hybrid bike, but nothing compared to road bikes or mountain bikes. 

Is dirt jumping a popular sport?

Dirt jumping evolved along with BMX riding and quickly became popular among bike sports enthusiasts. Now this sport has its own sub-genres.

Conclusion

Choosing the right BMX mountain hybrid bike is not as simple as it may seem. A buyer has to go through many minute details and different options before making a purchase. It can be a time taking procedure, but you can never enjoy dirt jumping unless the bike you are on is a suitable ride for you.

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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