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?

7 Answers 7


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.

  • 1
    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. Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 0:37
  • 1
    @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
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 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
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 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
    Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 16:03
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    Or a very large bunny. Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 16:46

I ride a pro racer XL BMX. They are built for speed. I keep my seat down for 2 reasons.

  1. all my pedaling is done standing up -- power is everything for a racer.
  2. My saddle is made of one material only -- composite material -- its like sitting on a steel plate.

I only use it to coast on and relax -- and that is only after the race. However, If I have to go a long ways when I am just out riding it around on the roads, I will raise my post to a more comfortable position. And of course, a race BMX is not a trick bike. Tricks break racing BMXs.

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    Composite implies more than one material but not the point ;) good viewpoint different to trick riding Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 18:34
  • This is the actual answer. Original BMX bikes were designed for BMX racing, where you don't actually sit on the seat. Flatland followed closely, but the original geometry is a result of the race style. Commented May 8, 2017 at 14:16
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    Road bike saddles are also hard, but people sit on them for hours at a time. So your second reason isn't really valid. (But still +1 for everything else.) Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 15:59

It protects your balls from being smashed and when you ride if bike it feels nice to just sit down and be low to he ground with a low center of gravity. It makes it a lot easier to bust off tricks and just feel comfortable sitting down waiting for your turn in the bowls.


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".


If the seat is low, you can use your feet as a brake by squealing it against the ground when your bmx is brakeless.

  • A brakeless bike would be illegal on the road in most parts of the world.
    – Criggie
    Commented Feb 7, 2016 at 20:29
  • illegal yes but i see a lot of them in the states, both BMX and the fixie hipsters
    – Nate W
    Commented May 8, 2017 at 20:20
  • @NateWengert You can brake a fixie by applying back-pressure on the pedals, since there's no freewheel. I'm not sure if the law in any particular place accepts that as a brake but it does at least allow you to stop without skidding your feet. Commented Jun 3, 2017 at 16:01
  • @DavidRicherby Yeah i'm familiar with the fixie skid, i don't think it is accepted as a brake legally in many places though, but i could be wrong. Even brakless BMX you can do a tire/toe jam, sticking your foot between the tire and the seat tube/seat stays.
    – Nate W
    Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 14:56
  • @NateWengert Yeah, I don't know if a fixie's lack of freewheel legally counts as a break anywhere, but at least it involves using a part of the bike to slow down. Having to wedge your foot against a wheel really is having no brakes and is surely accepted nowhere. Commented Jun 5, 2017 at 14:59

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
    Commented Nov 4, 2013 at 4:07

I ride with my layback post as high as the bars and I personally can't do that low seat. It upsets my back and decreases my acceleration.

Plus the seat being up adds a handle for flatland so you can get on your front pegs and lift the back of the bike, or stand on the side pegs while holding the seat and one side of the bar - that kind of stuff.

It makes the ride more comfortable even though I have a solid plastic seat.

  • 1
    This answer doesn't answer the question. Commented May 9, 2017 at 21:34

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