Can You Put Brakes On A Brakeless BMX? (Explained)

Can You Put Brakes on a Brakeless BMX

BMX bikes are fun two-wheelers perfect for performing stunts and tricks on dirt roads, skateparks, or the streets.

Apart from this purpose, many people use these bikes for moving around. However, it is now common to see people riding BMX bikes without brakes.

While this trend makes riders look cool, it is normal for some riders to want brakes on their bikes. What, though, if your BMX comes without brakes, can you install brakes on it?

You can put brakes on a brakeless BMX bike if the bike’s frame has brake mounts. You only need to buy a BMX brake kit, then install it on the brake mount. However, if the mounts are absent on your bike’s frame, you must weld them onto it. The braking system isn’t ideal without proper mounts for installation.

In this article, I will explain how to brake on a brakeless BMX, if all BMX bikes are brakeless, and provide a step-by-step process for brake installation on brakeless BMX.

By the end, you’ll also know if riding on a brakeless BMX is safe.

How Do You Brake on a Brakeless BMX?

Can You Put Brakes on a Brakeless BMX

The key to braking on a brakeless BMX is to use your feet. Your feet will work as a replacement for the bike’s mechanical brakes.

There are few techniques to stop the bike without brakes because the general stopping mechanism of bikes involves brakes.

The most popular technique for stopping a brakeless BMX is to jam one of your shoe soles into the rear wheel.

Then, simultaneously resting that foot on the tip of the bicycle’s frame rear triangle. This braking technique is similar to when the brake pads grasp the bike’s rim.

However, it is only effective for slowing down the bike’s pace and is not ideal for braking during an emergency.

This technique also damages the shoe used to brake the bike because the effect cuts a deep hole into the sole.

Another technique is to place your toe on the front wheel. This technique is faster and makes the bike stop abruptly.

However, it is dangerous because it will make the bike position you on the other side of the handlebars.

Lastly, there is a third technique that doesn’t require much footwork but requires more skill.

This technique involves suddenly sliding the bike sideways at the stopping point. It is similar to stopping on a skateboard or ski.

Although it is an effective braking technique, it is risky. Without adequate control and skill, the biker may collide with an object or fall off the bike.

That said, it is obvious that every braking technique on a brakeless BMX is dangerous. Therefore, you need proper practice for whichever one you intend to use.

Are all BMX Brakeless?

BMX bikes are not brakeless; most riders only choose to uninstall their brakes. That is because they believe it will disturb their stunt performance.

The BMX bike stores never sell a bicycle without brakes. However, bikes usually have different brake styles.

Some bikes have rear brakes, while other types have only front brakes. At the same time, there are types with both front and rear brakes.

Every brake style is effective and adequate for the bike, but the most popular types are those with rear brakes.

In addition, it is illegal to ride a bicycle without brakes in public areas in several countries. Therefore, any offender could get fined for riding a brakeless bike.

It is also illegal to sell bikes without brakes. So, the stores always sell these bikes with at least one brake.

Even if you decide to assemble your BMX bike, the frame will have mounts for at least one brake. 

However, some BMX bike brands design and make frames without brake mounts or with removable ones.

So, riding a brakeless bike solely depends on individual preferences, but you need to fully understand the local laws in your area before riding one.

How Do You Install Brakes on a Brakeless BMX? (A Step-by-Step Guide)

Installing brakes on a brakeless BMX bike is pretty straightforward. However, it is essential to have basic mechanical skills to do it correctly.

Firstly, you will need tools like Allen keys, grease, and an adjustable wrench. You may also decide to use some socket sets and wire cutters.

Once you have all these tools, follow the steps below to install brakes on your bike.

Step 1: Installing the brake lever.

  • First, install the brake lever, then the barrel adjuster.
  • Next, grease the outsides of your brake mounts.
  • Avoid greasing where the brake mount will attach to the bike’s frame.

Step 2: Installing the brake mounts.

  • Secondly, you need to identify the brake mount that should go on first.
  • The bottom brake arm goes on first, followed by the top brake arm goes on second.
  • Alternatively, you can identify this by checking the brake logo because it usually goes on top.
  • Then, you can install the brake arms into the correct position on the brake mounts.

Step 3: Installing the brake arm springs.

  • Next, you will need to install the brake arm springs correctly.
  • To do this, align the hole in the brake arms with the springs.
  • Then, tighten the springs.
  • Test the brake arm to ensure it is not rubbing on the rim. 
  • Push the brake arm towards the rim to test it.
  • The brake arm should spring back in your direction when you push it.

Step 4: Fix the brake cable.

  • Put the tip of the brake cable into the lever and push it through the barrel.
  • Make sure the cable goes through the appropriate line for the cable lining.
  • You can strap the cable to the frame with a velcro or zip tie to secure it firmly.
  • Next, fix the cable bridge through the barrel adjuster.
  • Do this until the end of the cable and let it slack a little bit to allow the cable to move freely whenever forces pull the lever.

Step 5: Installing the brake cable.

  • In this step, you will attach the straddle cable to the brake cable you initially put through.
  • Then put the head of one of the hooks into the brake arm.
  • Repeat this process for the other side.
  • Next, use a lot of force to pull all the access slack of the brake cable through the straddle cable.
  • Tighten the screw on the straddle cable to secure the brakes tight.

Step 6: Rounding-up

  • Cut off some extra cables to get a cleaner brake installation. However, make sure to leave a few centimeters for future adjustments.
  • Ensure the brake pads align with the rear rim; you can adjust the brake arms to ensure this.
  • To do this, you need to loosen the pads, then hold the brake with little pressure.
  • Without releasing the brake, you should wiggle the brake pads until they align with the rim.
  • Once the pads are in position, increase the pressure on the brake and pull it a little tighter.
  • Then, tighten the brake to secure it back in place.
  • Aligning the brake pads to give you accurate friction in the right position whenever the rim stops is essential.
  • Finally, make sure you check everything and confirm the bolt’s tightness.
  • You can now take your BMX bike out for a ride to enjoy your new brakes.

Is It Safe to Ride a Brakeless BMX?

It is not safe to ride a BMX bike without brakes. Brakes are essential to help you stop during an emergency. Plus, riding a brakeless bike is risky for the rider and everyone around.

Riding a brakeless bike is a different cycling style; you need proper practice. In addition, you need to be fully focused and aware of your surroundings.

Additionally, you need to be able to anticipate your next move without missing a beat. 

The braking technique has to become a natural part of you because any mistake could expel you off the bike and cause serious injuries.

The first step to staying safe on a brakeless BMX is being able to skid both sides with your left and right foot forward.

Then, practice more with brakes, but avoid using the brakes throughout your practice. Use your legs to stop the bike until it becomes a part of you.

Once your instinct doesn’t prompt you to use the brakes and you can stop without getting injured, then you can uninstall the brake on the bike.

At the same time, you will have to learn to ride a brakeless bike with adequate protective gear like a helmet and straps.

You could get serious injuries, resulting in losing a body part or death. So, you need to make your safety a priority.

Even after perfecting a braking technique, you need to be conscious of everything around you because you may accidentally run into someone or an object.

Although brakeless bikes have some advantages, it is best to consider the disadvantages simultaneously.

The table below outlines the pros and cons of riding a brakeless BMX.

It reduces the bike’s weight.It limits your riding speed.
You get to look cool.Riding at full speed prevents you from stopping the bike immediately.
The bike gives you endless barspinsIt prevents you from performing brake tricks.
It makes it easier to perform tricks.It causes more accidents.
It boosts your confidence.Braking with your foot damages the sole of your shoe.
The bike looks cleaner.You could get arrested for riding the bike.
Josh Matthews

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