Short Chainstay VS. Long Chainstay on a BMX Bike – Which one is right for you?

The back end of a BMX bike really varies depending on the bike you choose. They can range anywhere from 12.7″ to 13.8″. With each 1/10th of an inch having a slight affect on how your bike will handle. In general terms, a short chainstay length gives you a really responsive bike that is easy to spin. A long chainstay length will give you a really controlled feeling bike. It is best to choose based on your style of riding and BMX goals. Let me explain.

Short Chainstay

Anything under 13″ is considered a short chainstay. More technical riders will be riding a short chainstay on their BMX because of the quick spins and snappy feeling that it provides. Back in the day, BMX frames would have a chainstay of 14″+ but due to the evolution of crazy tricks on flat, people because more interested in optimizing their technical tricks.

Pro’s of a short chainstay

  • Spins will feel easy
  • Fast cornering in bowls
  • Good for technical street/park riding
  • Manuals are easy to get in to
  • Shorter wheel base

Con’s of a short chainstay

  • Manuals will loop out easy
  • Airing high is hard
  • Going fast will feel unstable
  • Feet can hit the back peg when pedaling

Who should ride a short chainstay?

A short chainstay is best for a rider who likes to be really technical when riding street or park. This will help you maneuver the bike like the pros. Garrett Reynolds is a great example of a rider who does technical street with a short chainstay. While Logan Martin is a great example of a rider who uses a short chainstay for technical park riding.

Long Chainstay

A chainstay over 13″ is considered a long chainstay. Riding with a long chainstay will give you a more stable and controlled bike. Especially at high speeds. With a longer chainstay and therefore a longer wheelbase, the bike can hold up at high speeds without feeling uncomfortable. You will see riders like Corey Walsh and Chase Hawk riding a long stable chainstay.

Pro’s of a Long Chainstay

  • Very stable
  • Feels good at high speeds
  • Manuals are easy to control
  • Airing quarters is easier

Con’s of a Long Chainstay

  • Spins are harder
  • Feels kinda “bulky” when doing tricks
  • Manuals are harder to get into initially

Who should ride a Long Chainstay

A long chainstay is a good choice for a rider who likes to go high and fast. It is super important to have a stable feeling bike when you are ripping around at high speeds. Riders like Kris Fox, and Gary young are riding a longer chainstay. Most dirt specific riders will be on a longer chainstay too since it will give them more control when riding big dirt jumps.


All in all, it is way more important for you to get a bmx bike and start shredding. After riding for a while and learning what you love/hate about riding you can buy aftermarket parts that will better suit your style. I see so many people get caught up in analasis paralasis, instead of making a decision.

Build the foundation skills and then get more technical later.

Douglas Laird

Douglas is a 23-year-old BMX rider who got his first true BMX bike for his 13th birthday and has been riding nonstop for over 10 years. “Bmx has taken me too well over a hundred skateparks across multiple states and countries.” was born to help people understand the sport that has changed my life for the better. My goal is to help you with everything BMX related. With over 200 BMX posts and counting, is quickly growing to be one of the best bmx related websites.

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