Bicycle moto-cross (aka BMX) is back. Tobias Jones reports on a scary new trend
IN THE murky world of street-fads, nothing has come back into fashion with quite such a vengeance as bicycle moto-cross, better known as BMXing. The solid stunt bike, with its U-bend handlebars, strong frame and thick treads, was as Eighties as shoulder-pads, but was soon eclipsed by the new crazes for in-line skating and mountain-biking.

Now, though, the BMX is back. Brian Barton, national secretary of the BMX Federation, will spend this weekend at a race he's organised in Coppull, Lancashire, which is expected to attract over 400 riders. "All around the country trails are being built," he says. "The standard of riding is higher than ever."

Geoff Catlow is organiser of the King of Concrete event at Southsea Skatepark at the end of August which ten years ago attracted 60 people but this year expects in excess of 2,000. "A lot of cities now have trails on derelict land," he says. "Councils are taking notice. Bikers are individualists who have found a niche for their personalities in what they do."

The readership of Mark Noble's Ride magazine has doubled year-on-year for the last six years; it now stands at 25,000. "Bikes are better. They are stronger so you can do quite a lot more," he says.

Will Smyth, editor of the rival Dig magazine whose circulation has more than trebled to 10,000 in a year, puts the new-found popularity down to television coverage. "The exposure made it respectable for people to pick up their bikes again. It encouraged sponsorship, which now means that a couple of hundred guys are even paid to take part. Nowadays everyone on the street is wearing skateboarding or BMX fashions from five years ago: the baggy army pants and T-shirts with logos on."

One of the new breed of sponsored bikers, Steve Grace of Team Extreme, is on what he calls "a good package": sponsored by G-shock watches, Diesel's sports clothing - 55 DSL, Curtis Bikes and Etnies trainers.

Even Hollywood is tapping into the craze. Hurricane Streets, which arrives in June, plays on the counter-cultural side of biking and BMXs are used as getaway vehicles by young criminals. Gummo, the new film by Kids author Harmony Korine, also focuses on Generation BMX, and the delinquent children who freestyle their way around Ohio. And if you needed any more proof that it's the right decision to dig that bike out from under the rubbish in the garage, this month's edition of the relentlessly hip magazine The Face devoted a column to BMXs.

Happy pedalling.