ASK MBA: DO I REALLY NEED A DIRT JUMP BIKE?
DUELING PUMP-TRACK BIKES
DUELING PUMP-TRACK BIKES
Q: I’ve been riding MTBs for two years and have a couple of buddies who keep telling me to get a dirt jumper to help with my skills on the mountain. I have a Polygon Siskiu D7 trail bike I got last year that I do well with on the trails, but I always feel like it’s too big for the pump track. I used to ride BMX and am wondering what the advantage of getting a dirt jumper over another BMX might be.
A: We’re of the mind that dirt jumpers are an excellent way to build skills you’d be hard-pressed to learn on a full-suspension bike. BMX bikes and dirt jumpers are inherently similar in usage and, as you know, often inhabit the same space as each other at dirt jumps, skateparks and pump tracks. Differentiating between the two is easy by sight, but even more in the way they’re ridden and your position on each bike. Generally, BMX bikes are much twitchier and more unstable than their 26-inch counterparts. If you’ve ridden them for any length of time as you said you did, you’ll know they’re easy to learn tricks on and are built as tough as nails to handle the associated failures.
Dirt-jump bikes are, in essence, mountain bikers’ trick bikes. The geometry is much more similar to what you’re used to on your Siskiu, and the wheel size, though smaller, provides a level of stability that’s not possible on even the longest BMX bikes. Other things like front suspension, more powerful brakes, and mountain bike bars and stems all help make the ride a little less harsh.
So, back to the question at hand. It’s true you’ll be able to learn the same basic fundamentals on both bikes, and that doing so is better than trying to learn it on your trail bike. Our recommendation is that you get a dirt jumper for the simple fact that it’s more similar to your trail bike, thus making it easier to transfer the skills learned between the two bikes. There is a bike that came out recently that has intrigued us, and that is the new Specialized P.Series dirt jumper, but more specifically the P.4, which has 27.5-inch wheels. This bike will be excellent on pump tracks and is even more similar to your trail bike than the 26-inch P.3.
Any way you decide to go will be an advantage to your trail riding, and with BMX bikes on the whole being so much cheaper than dirt jumpers, we’d totally understand if you chose to forgo one. But, if you do go that route, look for a BMX bike more specifically designed for dirt jumping with long chainstays and good brakes. This will give you the best chance of transferring everything you learn to the big bike while also shredding in the mountains.