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Why do BMXers Ride Their Seats So Low?

May 5, 2011

We’ve noticed a lot of search engine visits to our site from people looking for information on “Why BMXers Ride their seats so low.” The short answer is, they’re trying to emulate the much more socially acceptable “scooter fad.” Or they just can’t afford longer ones. The photo above is from an era when seatposts still had warning lines on them to indicate that you might have raised them to high. Those days are gone.

In the interest of a thorough study, we figured we’d check the internet to see what other answers people would get about the subject, should they seek out such information. Since the internet is always right, the answer must lie there. A quick Googling, or Binging, if your nasty, brought up a thread in which someone posed the very question we were after. The users brought some fabulous answers to the table, and these are some of our favorites (the initial question is in bold).

Why do people these days ride BMX-style bikes with the seat as low as possible? Any half-serious cyclist knows that you get maximum power/efficiency if your leg is straight at the bottom of the stroke, but for some reason people these days prefer to ride BMXs with the seat pushed right down against the frame, which results in them riding with their knees up around their ears. Is there a reason for this, other than faddishness? Just curious.

Real BMX-rs rarely ride a BMX bike on the seat, often it is just to protect the body from smashing into the frame. When it is used for transportation perhaps they just don’t change it, or perhaps keep it the same as sports BMX-rs do as a fad?

In short, ‘cos that’s what the cool kids are doing. It’s probably the same trend that has led to the popularity of those bikes where you sit down low with really high handlebars, although I’ve got no idea what they’re called.

The sit low, bar high bikes are called ape hangers, modeled on custom motorcycles. As for the BMX guys, most of the time they aren’t sitting down even though standing up to pedal is a waste of energy. They just don’t care and its far more important to look cool than be making efficient use of your muscles. I’d estimate that 80% of people ride their bikes with the seats too low, most not super low but low enough to notice that they’re not getting as much power and extension as they could.

You put your seat really low because it’s not about pedaling efficiency at all, it’s about using the seat as something you can “grip” with your legs. Once you get the hang of squeezing your knees a bit and holding the seat, you can pull things like barspins and suicide no-handers.

Whenever you need speed, you stand up and pedal hard, so the seat isn’t being used like it is on a road bike, it’s more like another handlebar/platform to use during tricks.

Also, it’s low because it’s out of the way, especially if you’re doing stuff like no-footed cancan whips. Basically, the lower the seat, the less chance your feet will hang up on it, and you can also “grip” it like I described. So not really a fad at all, it actually works great for jumping.

I don’t ride a BMX, but I do ride with my seat in a position where I don’t get the most extension out of my legs because it ends up wearing heavily on my knees and hurting a lot when I set things up “most efficiently.” I hardly find it efficient to pedal with my knees in a lot of pain.

So that when they jump or ollie the bike, the seat doesn’t hit them in the ass.

Fair enough. Might as well call this answered now. Was just curious as to whether there was any practical reason behind it, although I suspect a huge fad element, and that most people who ride in this style don’t actually *do* any of these jumps & tricks, but that’s their issue.

Everyone with a BMX ollies or at least tries to ollie it. Ollie-ing is easy, and if you aren’t the type to constantly try to ollie, you aren’t the type to ever buy a BMX bike.

It’s called a bunnyhop on a bike, ollie on a skateboard, but yeah, if you’re jumping curbs and whatnot, you don’t want a super high seat smacking you in the ass while in the air (which would send you over the bars).

Oops — Your’e right. Thanks for the terminology reminder.. It’s been a long time since I did much BMX riding, but even back when I wore pegged pants and mismatched Chuck Taylors, we rode with the seat low šŸ™‚

You can find the full thread here. In all it’s Q&A glory.

One Comment leave one →
  1. May 18, 2011 2:06 pm

    ā€ So the bear wipes his butt with the rabbit

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