One of the most important specs on a BMX frame, is the chain stay. Your chain stay connects at the bottom bracket and runs all the way to the rear wheel. Usually, the distance can vary from 12.5″ to 14″. Choosing the right chain stay will help with certain tricks and ultimately enhance your riding.
What is the Chain Stay?
The chain stay is the part of the bike that holds your back wheel. It runs from the back wheel all the way to the bottom bracket and seat tube. The length of the chain stay determines how close or how far your rear wheel is from you.
Why is it important?
Knowing how a frame handles will help you get the bike best suited for your riding. So knowing how the chain stay affects the balance point is crucial.
A long chain stay is preferred by flow riders. Think of styles like Corey Walsh, or Chase DeHart. These guys go fast and high. So a long chain stay gives them the control at high speeds. It also makes the bike harder to loop out and easier to control.
A Short chain stay is usually on tech riders bikes. People like Kyle Baldock and Daniel Sadavol ride shorter chain stays to give the bike a more responsive feeling. Having the short chain stay makes it easier to 720, double whip all of those other crazy tech tricks.
Pro Tip: A long chainstay also makes it easier to hop higher and control manuals because the bike has a wider balance point.
Common Chain Stay Length’s
They really vary so much. I have seen 12.2″ (really short) and 13.8″ (super long) Just make sure you know what size is right for you before you buy that new frame.
Does it really matter?
Yes. The length of your chainstay will have a huge impact on your riding. I went from a 12.75″ CS to a 13.25″. The difference was crazy. I felt like I had so much more control. and while it became harder to snap 540’s around, the overall feeling of the bike was better. It also helped with my problem of not being able to air high.