The craze for Bicycle Motorcross, or BMX, was at it’s highest during the early 1980’s. Popularised by films such as BMX Bandits and E.T. The Extra Terrestrial which featured kids riding around perform stunts and tricks, there was a period where every kid wanted a BMX bike, and it was not cool to be seen riding any other kind of bicycle.
Pictured is the Raleigh Super Burner, which I distinctly remember falling in love with as a boy. Mum and Dad got me a Raleigh Grifter instead, which was disappointing at the time but given that the Grifter had three gears whilst the Burner had none, it was probably a wise decision. It certainly made the bike ride to school and back each day a better experience, and it wasn’t that far off being a true BMX bike in looks. Besides, the chances of me ever becoming enough of a daredevil to jump over ramps and such were never going to be high, if I’m truthful.
Anyway, there are two main disciplines to BMX biking, which are BMX racing and Freestyle BMX. The former is where the BMX craze originated, as it most closely resembles real Motorcross on motorbikes. Races consisted of several riders completing laps around a circuit (usually made on bare earth) that comprised dips, ramps and banked turns which had to be negotiated.
Freestyle BMX on the other hand has more in common with skateboarding, and is based more around pulling off fancy tricks. This could be performed on flat ground or on half pipes and the like, and is not just a case of pulling wheelies. Tricks can be performed such as the Tailwhip, which involves breaking suddenly and balancing on the front wheel whilst the frame of the bike spins round in a full circle, or spinning the bike through 360 degrees (or more) after launching into the air off a half pipe.
BMX has never completely faded away, and this year its popularity has given it more mainstream exposure that it’s more usual Extreme Sports following, having made it into the Olympics. The 2008 Beijing Olympic Games is set to feature BMX racing for the first time. Personally I would have loved to have seen Freestyle added too, as it’s amazing what a BMX expert can make a bike do.