Tips for tall BMX riders

As a 6'4" BMX rider, I understand the struggles that we go through just to have a good time. I know a lot of times riding BMX kills our back because we are constantly bent over. I had to figure out how to fix this if I wanted to keep riding. It's so important to make sure your bike fits, stretches, and exercises.

Does your bike fit you?

Old school bmx bikes look small on riders. You might see some older guys at the park and they will be riding a bike with 7" bars. This is because they feel comfortable to them. That's just the way it always was. My bike looked like that for a bit. Until I got tired of crazy back pain

I think that part of the BMX progression has improved due to proper fitting parts. Make sure that you have the right size: bars, and top tube. My Big Book of BMX Specs breaks down all the specs so you can get a proper fitting BMX bike.

Toptube

Read my size guide here to find the right toptube size for you.

Bars

Bar size really is up to preference. You can get bmx bars with a rise ranging from 7" to 11". A taller bar gives your more leverage when forcing your bike around. Think of it as using a pry bar to loosen a bolt. A longer bar requires less pressure. Taller bars make it easier to pull the bike back for stuff like manuals and hops.

Stretching

This is another Woodward thing. Every morning, all of the kids would have to meet up and stretch. We spend about 15-20 minutes stretching the crucial parts of our riding muscles. This has stuck with me and I usually spend 5-10 minutes doing some light stretching before I ride. It doesn't make me ride better, but it does keep me from getting injured.

Some people say "stretching is bad". After doing some reading, I have learned that it is to a certain extent. That Is why I do really light stretches. Think of it as more of a warm-up.

A discussion with Scott Hamlin taught me that when you stretch out your muscles it removes a lot of "explosive" power which we rely on to perform well when riding. So take this with a grain of salt.

My stretches

Here is a list of light warm-up stretches I do before a session.

  • Neck - Roll my head around in a circle 3 times each direction. Learn more
  • Shoulders - Place one arm across my chest and use my other arm to hold it against my chest. (10 seconds) (Both arms) Learn more
  • Shoulders 2 - Medium arm circles - 10 circles each direction Learn more
  • Lower back - trunk twist - keep feet still and rotate torso back and forth - (10 seconds) Learn more
  • Hamstring muscles - Toe touches - straighten legs and bend down until you feel the burn in the back of your leg. (7 seconds) Learn More
  • Quads - Flamingos - Stand on one leg and bend your other leg back so you can grab your foot. Now stretch your foot to your butt. (7 seconds) (each leg) Learn more
  • Quads 2 - Fully squat down and stay like that for a few seconds to feel the burn in your quads. (10 seconds) Learn more
  • Twisting Glute Stretch - Sit down and put one leg over the other. Use your arms to grab that leg and pull it to your chest. (10 seconds) (each leg) Learn more

I feel like tall riders are more prone to injuries. So keeping our muscles from getting tight will keep us from getting wrecked on the bike. 99% of the time when I get hurt or pull a muscle it's on a day that I forgot to stretch.

Build Muscles

Honestly, this is one of the most important things. Having stronger muscles keep everything in place. For how out of proportion tall BMX riders are, we need to have strong muscles to keep our bodies aligned. Otherwise... oopsies there goes your back.

I met Todd Meyn a couple of years ago and for him, exercise is a huge part of his day. He rides in nitro circus and was the first one to do a double front flip whip. When you look at any "athlete" BMX rider tall or short, the performance inside the gym directly correlates with their performance on the bike. Stronger = Better.

Now I'm not saying you need to look like Kali muscle.. But I am saying you should have a somewhat cut body if you are tired of feeling like an injured old man. Get in shape and your body will thank you.

Here are some muscle groups to build

Back

A strong back will give you more explosive power for twisting and the motion of pulling your bars towards you.

Arms/Shoulders

When you fall, you catch yourself with your arms. Having strong arms and shoulders will make it easier to save your ass.

CORE

And I can not stress this enough. Your core controls so much of your body. ESPECIALLY YOUR BACK. If you have a problem with lower back pain... build abs. It doesn't make sense, but it works. Our abs support our back when bending and twisting.

I talked to Mike Payne about this years ago. He told me that he slipped a disc in his spine. The doctor said he needed surgery. Instead of getting surgery, Mike worked hard to build his core. He said within a year everything was good to go and he didn't need surgery.

Ankle Strength

Ankle mctwisties happen a lot. I strengthen mine by doing calf raises and calf exercises because these muscles run down.

Legs

If you don't hit the gym, you can build leg muscles by doing squats and lunges. Fast and strong legs help you run out of a crash. I jumped a long and low once and landed back heavy, I tried to run it out and I died. Too bad I wasn't fast enough. 😰

Conclusion

I know it seems like a lot. Just start somewhere and start working on one thing. After you get comfortable add another. These are just things that work for me to minimize injury. I hope it works for you too!

Tips for tall BMX riders video

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAt5xnuG_sE