BMX, Bicycle Moto Cross, is widely perceived as the 'new kid' in the world of cycling but the truth is that it's nearly 40 years old and an Olympic sport. It's definitely here to stay. By MICK ALLAN.

BMX has its roots in early 1970s California when kids started riding and racing their bicycles on dirt tracks. Schwinn Sting-Rays, Huffys and other similar 'muscle bikes' of the era were the natural bike of choice and these evolved into the racing BMX we know today (just as Schwinn balloon-tyred adult bikes evolved into the modern mountain bike). The original frames, wheels and other components were barely up to the job and it wasn't long before small manufacturers such as Redline and Profile Racing started up producing lighter and stronger aftermarket parts such as forks, chainrings and handlebars. By 1974 the sport had became so popular that companies such as Diamond Back (named after a snake) and Mongoose (a predator of snakes - see what they did there?) were producing complete bikes. In April 1981, the International BMX Federation was founded, and the first world championships were held in 1982.

In the early eighties the bubble burst. Sales figures plummeted as BMX went into a long decline. Thankfully in the intervening years a few hardcore fans kept the dream alive and the sport slowly recovered. BMX was made an Olympic sport in 2003. Today BMX is more popular than it has ever been.

The tricks and stunts side of BMX has since come to overshadow the racing, first with machines dedicated to flatland, vert and dirt-jumping and in more recent years towards park and street riding. Although there is much crossover, each discipline has its own particular set of design requirements: frame geometry component choice and other parameters vary accordingly. Buying a BMX bike isn't so straightforward anymore.

Good quality BMXes are now available with wheel sizes from 18" to 29" to fit anyone on the planet. Though many BMX bikes will never see a dirt jump, a race track or a skate park they have evolved into tough, reliable and simple to maintain machines and this has made them the bike of choice for millions of youngsters all over the world.  The basic concept of a simple tough and durable bike has timeless appeal.

BMX bikes in Cyclorama