Via our trade-in program, we received a very unique bicycle—a vintage Mongoose Decade BMX bike, circa 1990. Join us as we embark on a search to uncover the history of this bike, investigate BMX culture in general, and explore skate parks and trail riding right here in New York City.

Before we get started, Bicycle Roots is currently hiring PROFESSIONAL BIKE MECHANICS with at least 2 years shop experience. We offer unbeatable discounts, a great working environment, and a great team. If interested, please email your resume and references to info@bicycleroots.com.

Mongoose Decade

Darnell posing with the Mongoose Decade. Received via our trade-in program, this bike is a vintage BMX freestyle bike from the 90’s.

As we get older, cycling becomes much more complicated than it used to be. It’s easy to get consumed by the technical specs of the latest components and gear, obsess over our RPMs, and push ourselves to beat the crowd and our own personal bests—even on the way to the office.

Are you tired of taking yourself so seriously? Longing for the carefree joy you felt as a child when you and your friends would hop onto your bikes and ride into trouble? BMX embodies the free-wheeling, fun-loving part of cycling. When hopping on a BMX bike, suddenly you feel like a kid again, not just because of the smaller wheels and undersize frame. You find yourself transported back to a simpler time, when the ride was all about the joy of life on two wheels—and getting as far away from your parents’ watchful eyes to wreak as much havoc as possible.

Maybe it’s because it’s fun to see your friends fall down and hurt themselves while learning a new trick. Maybe all those failed attempts and near –disasters make it all the more satisfying when you actually do land a stunt for the first time. Maybe it’s about how BMX allows riders of all ages to get together to defy the laws of gravity, logic, and the self-preservation instinct. Unlike most forms of cycling which seem to be performance-driven, BMX encourages riders to get creative and use their bicycles and balance skills as a form of self-expression.

Jean Padilla

Jean Padilla grinds at the Astoria Park skate park.

Part of the ethos of self-expression in BMX is reflected by the endlessly customizable nature of BMX bikes. Producers of BMX components manufacture hubs, rims, chains, and headsets in a variety of colors and finishes so you can really let your personality through. Many frames are decal-free, allowing you to customize your frame with stickers from your favorite companies and causes—kind of like bumper stickers for a bicycle.

Although it is serious fun, BMX requires serious athlete ability. Whether you’re racing BMX on a dirt course or freestyling on the streets, you’ll be pushing the limits of what body and bicycle can achieve. It takes strength and a certain amount of grace to be able to balance your bicycle on one wheel, lift yourself out of the saddle and spin yourself around the handlebars. Freestyle BMX is equal parts anarchy and ballet—a ballet because it is mesmerizing and expertly choreographed, and anarchy because many stunts seem to completely defy the laws of physics.

The high level of athleticism required by BMX is being recognized the world over. This year’s Olympics in London will feature BMX racing, which made its Olympic debut in 2008 in Beijing. The X Games has been showcasing the talent of elite BMX riders for two decades, helping to legitimize the sport the world over. The King of New York, the city’s own BMX competition, is held every August at Tompkins Square Park on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and has been going strong since 1994. In May of this year, The King of New York presented at the New Amsterdam Bicycle Expo, representing BMX to the wider New York bike community.

Jean Padilla

BMXer Jean Padilla demonstrates the proper way to pull of an endo.

With all the athletic prowess and sheer audacity on display in New York’s various skate parks and vacant lots, you can spend entire afternoons just watching BMX’ers show off their skills. If you’re brave and not afraid a few bruises, you may even be inspired to give BMX a try to discover for yourself this very unique community and style of riding. You may even find that an hour or two at the skate park works muscle groups you had forgotten you even had, in spite of the fact that you ride regularly.

All of these are great reasons for exploring the world of BMX riding. But then again… Maybe it really is all about watching your friends fall down.

FAIL!

There are plenty of reasons to explore BMX: for community, for self-expression, for the extreme athleticism it takes to complete more complex stunts. But no matter what your reason for BMXing, everyone can agree: part of the fun is in watching your friends fall down. A lot.

Special thanks to Jean Padilla for guest starring on this blog post and demonstrating stunts for all our readers.

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