BMX started in the early 1970s when children began racing their bicycles on dirt tracks in Southern California, drawing inspiration from the motocross superstars of the time. The size and availability of the Schwinn Sting-Ray made it the natural bike of choice since they were easily customized for better handling and performance. BMX racing was a phenomenon by the mid-1970s.

Children were racing standard road bikes off-road, around purpose-built tracks in California. The 1972 motorcycle racing documentary On Any Sunday is generally credited with inspiring the movement nationally in the US; its opening scene shows kids riding their Schwinn Stingrays off-road. By the middle of that decade, the sport achieved its initial critical mass, and manufacturers began creating bicycles designed especially for the sport.

By 1977 the American Bicycle Association (ABA) was organized as an American sanctioning body for the growing sport. In April 1981, the International BMX Federation was founded, and their first world championships were held in 1982. Since January 1993 BMX has been integrated into the Union Cyclist International (UCI).


BMX started in New Zealand around the late 70s, with clubs & formalised racing happening by the early 80s. The heydays of the sport saw thousands of kids in approximately 50 clubs throughout New Zealand ride like their motocross heroes. But as the sport split into freestyle & racing, the participants shrunk as it went out of “style”. New growth in recent years has been down to the generation of riders who were kids in the 80s who now have their own children & see BMX as an option, being a much more refined sport, which in 2008 became an Olympic discipline.​​​​​​​