There were curbs before 1970s, right? I wonder whether everyone had to dismount or dramatically slow down before curbs until bunny hop and wheel lift became popular, I guess, in 1970s among first BMXers. Same with cyclocross: for decades, from its beginnings, riders always dismounted before barriers. But suddenly, inspired by BMX, they realized it's possible to simply jump over?

EDIT: changed wording to underline that CX is much older than BMX.

EDIT2: I don't want to make you think that you need BMX bike to hop curbs. What I'm pointing to is that before BMX there was little mainstream attention to techniques like bunny hop (at least I got such impression), and after BMX got popular they spread throughout all cycling world. Though not many of us are skilled in jumping curbs, virtually everyone knows that can be done at ease by other riders.

  • 7
    People were hopping curbs well before BMX became popular, I'd think. And people were doing cross well before BMX.
    – Batman
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 18:19
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    I was riding in the 70s. We set up jumps and did lots of crazy stuff on bikes. We did not have SUVs and we still went on family camping trips.
    – paparazzo
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 20:00
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    Certainly I remember kids hopping curbs when I was a kid in the 50s, though I rarely did it. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 0:17
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    BMX and CX are a red herring. Curbs were invented in anticipation of people needing them to test their brand-new full suspension MTB. Fact.
    – adey_888
    Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 0:43
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    Before BMX was invented, we had to dismount and await a kerb-attendant. When a kerb attendant arrived they would summon a team of velocipede lifters. You would have to tip them three-farthings. Thank goodness for BMX, thanks to BMX I can now cycle to work and feed my family. Commented Sep 10, 2014 at 8:01

3 Answers 3


People were doing tricks on bicycles almost as soon as they were invented. While I couldn't find references about curb hopping in particular, I'm pretty sure that these tricksters from the late 1800s wouldn't have had a problem pulling it off.

Cyclocross has roots that go almost as far back. The first organized cyclocross races were around the end of the 19th century and the first French National Championship was in 1902.

I would guess that prior to BMX most people got over curbs the same way that most people get over curbs today. They slowed down a bit, lifted the front wheel over the curb, and leaned forward to get the weight off the rear wheel. Keep in mind, most cycling commuters can't pull off a decent bunny hop and many commuter bikes aren't designed to do so.

  • Thanks for link to early tricks photos. I can see them doing manuals/wheelies among the weirdest tricks you can imagine nowadays.
    – modular
    Commented Sep 9, 2014 at 19:39

We just pulled the front wheel up and dropped it as we went over the curb, then we kept riding, letting momentum pull the rear wheel over the bike. It's what I still do. (I don't have a BMX bike.)

Sheesh. So much fuss over a simple and second-nature action we never even gave a 2nd thought to.


Note that if you have a penny farthing, then hopping curbs really isn't much of a problem. You do have to be careful not to do an end-over but a bit of leaning back on the saddle or hooking your legs on the front bars would do the trick.

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Some various positions for penny-farthing MTBing:

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Note that solid rubber tires had an advantage over modern pneumatic tires in that you can't get pinch punctures on a solid!


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