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I've seen a lot of teenagers riding BMX bikes recently.

It seems that most if not all of the guys I've seen riding their BMX bikes around the streets, car parks, local parks, etc have a frame that's really small, and a saddle that's as low as possible. It looks like the rider's knees are above their waists for much if not most of their stroke.

One of the local parks has a dedicated BMX track with actual racing taking place on it. When I watch those guys they never seem to have their saddles all the way to the bottom.

The thought occurred that it might have something to do with trick riding but none of the kids with bikes set up like this seemed to actually be doing tricks. They'd just be riding the bikes normally or even just sitting on them outside shops. Their bikes also didn't seem to be set up with trick riding in mind, most of them didn't have those bar things projecting from the wheel hubs for the riders to stand on.

Is this really low saddle something they're doing to be cool? Or are there some real tangible advantages to this seating position?

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3 Answers

up vote 6 down vote accepted

Low seats provide clearance for more acrobatic body movements. This is essential for bunny hops and nearly every other trick which builds off of this skill. If you look at trials bikes they similarly have lots of clearance for the rider over the frame and the saddle. Since speeds are relatively low, and long distance riding is not the goal, pedaling efficiencies gained by a higher seat position are much less of a priority than vertical maneuverability.

As per Daniel R Hick's comment BMX bikes are also commonly used for children's bike's as they are easy to learn on because of the low seat.

In this case fashion follows function. Just because the particular riders you see aren't tricking doesn't mean there isn't a valid functional reason for this kind of setup.

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Though having a low seat does make the "BMX-like" bike a good "starter" bike. They were making kids' bikes with low "banana" seats long before anyone ever heard of BMX. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 8 '12 at 0:37
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@dotjoe I don't pay attention to BMX much, but I imagine that not everybody (at least in the pros) does the same moves they did 10 years ago. Looking at similar "extreme" sports like skiing, it used to be fine for jumpers to do a triple twisting triple flip 10 years ago. But now you see people doing 5 twisting triple flips but only because quad flips are against the rules. They are constantly trying to do more than the other guy. 720 or 1080 used to be awesome in snowboarding, and now guys are doing 1440. –  Kibbee Nov 8 '12 at 15:27
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Still the same tricks, just different combos or more spins/rotations. Ryan Nyquist is an example of current old school rider with a high seat, doing all the newest stuff. –  dotjoe Nov 8 '12 at 15:32
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@dotjoe "a low seat is not essential for anything" +1 / "It's purely style" -1. Having a low seat makes it easier to bunny hop without crushing your balls, it's easier to tailwhip without catching your feet/legs, it's easier to superman without catching it on your clothing, it's easier to land badly because you can bend you knees further to lower your COG on landing, etc, etc. It's not purely style - it's for a very practical reason. There are MTB trials frames out there (Koxx specifically) that don't even have seat posts because a saddle is so useless it's better to save the weight. –  cmannett85 Nov 8 '12 at 16:03
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Or a very large bunny. –  Daniel R Hicks Nov 8 '12 at 16:46
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I'm an actual bmxer who does tricks and all sorts of other things. I can give you the BEST answer on here. People with low seat usually have them like that to keep them out of the way during tricks. Imagine throwing a tailwhip and having the seat catch your foot then you don't land the trick. Kinda why. Haha. Also high fatter seats indicate they do or are learning barspins. Cheers.

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Answer adds no new items of value to the answer already marked as correct. –  mattnz Nov 4 '13 at 4:07
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If the seat is low its easier to use your shoes as a brake by pressing it behind the saddle against the tire. When -riding a brakeless BMX. If You don't, it's just the cool style of a "brakeless".

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