Can You Barspin on a BMX Bike With Brakes? (Beginner’s Guide)

Bar spins are possible with any brake set up, even a straight cable brake system set up. 

U-brakes are standard on most freestyle bikes, and many also incorporate a detangler or Gyro braking mechanism. Many riders also choose to use a straight cable brake system.

The conventional bar spin is one complete turn of the handlebars, however, riders can spin the bars twice, three times, and so on if they have a gyro brake set up.

In this article, I’ll dig deeper into the following:

Can You Barspin on a BMX Bike With Brakes?

You can barspin with any brake setup, but the Gyro-brake setup and, of course, the brakeless setup are the only two that allow you to spin your handlebars indefinitely. 

Depending on the rider’s preference, a BMX bike can be ridden with two brakes, one brake, or even no brakes. The majority of professional BMX bikes have only one rear brake. 


Different Brake Styles

1. Coaster Brakes

Coaster brakes, sometimes known as pedal brakes, are used to stop a bicycle by pedaling backward. This sort of brake is attached to the BMX bike’s rear hub.

2. V-Brakes

V-brakes are controlled via cables, which run from the lever on the handlebars all the way down the bike’s frame.

3. U-Brakes

A U-brake is typically designed with C-shaped arms that intersect and arch over the tire, allowing the right-hand side of the cable to operate the left brake pad and vice versa.

4. Gyro / Rotor / Detangler

Between the head tube and the stem, the Gyro has an additional crucial component. This unique component divides the brake system between two parts, allowing for a complete barspin without tangles.

To avoid constraints when performing barspins, most freestylers opt to attach a gyro/detangler or ride without brakes. 

However, if the brake cable is long enough, you can spin the bars once with a straight cable brake setup, but you’ll have to spin them back the other way with an opposite barspin or a standard tail whip thereafter. 

Even in freestyle BMX competitions, many single cable riders perform barspins, but they normally prepare something, like the two techniques I mentioned, to bring them back around. 

Overall, it’s entirely possible to barspin on a BMX bike with a standard brake system.

How Do BMX Brakes Not Get Tangled?

BMX riders are constantly performing tricks that cause their handlebars to move and their bike frames to twist, causing their brake cables to tangle and become twisted in the process.

The detangler, also known as a Gyro or rotor, is a freestyle BMX bicycle brake design that allows the handlebars to rotate 360 degrees without the brake cables becoming tangled. 

To counteract or avoid twisted brake cables, BMX riders either remove the brake system entirely or add a Gyro (Detangler) system, which allows the handlebars to rotate 360 degrees without the brake cables becoming tangled around the bike.

U-brakes are standard on most freestyle bikes, and many also incorporate a detangler or Gyro braking mechanism. 

With the Gyro braking mechanism, the brake cable is fed down the forks to the rear brake pads by the gyro, which is located just beneath the stem and handlebars. 

If you have a gyro system installed on your bike, you will be able to twist the handlebars and frame in any direction without being tangled. 

You’ll be able to do as many tricks as you want while still being able to manage your speed and stop on a dime with a gyro system placed on your bike. 

The detangler was created for the barspin and tailwhip, two of the most common, simple, and popular BMX freestyle tricks. 

Barspins and tailwhips necessitate a 360-degree turn of the handlebar, making them problematic to perform with a standard single cable brake system because the cable may become tangled around the bar, limiting its rotation.

If you don’t want to use detanglers and prefer to use a straight cable brake configuration, I’ll explain how to still execute a barspin below.

How to Barspin on a BMX Bike With Brakes

It is not necessary to have a bike without brake cables to conduct a barspin. However, because the brake cables limit the range of motion of the handlebars, some adjustments will be required, like the length of the cable.

If you’re working with a long enough brake cable you will be able to spin the bars at least once with a straight cable brake setup. After the barspin, you’ll have to spin them back in the opposite direction.

Before that though, let’s cover the basics of how to barspin on a BMX Bike. Here’s a short tutorial video that shows the steps pretty clearly, and then we’ll elaborate on the steps below:

1. Bunny Hop

The first step in completing the barspin, is actually to perform another novice bike trick called a “bunny hop”. If you’re unfamiliar with the bunny hop, it’s when you “hop” both wheels of your bike off the ground.

You start by shifting your weight to the back of your bike and pull up the handlebars till your front wheel is off the ground, then your back wheel follows to accomplish the bunny hop. 

Make sure your pedals are level and try to stand up while executing the bunny hop to make balancing your bike simpler.

2. Spinning the Handlebars

Next, it’s time to tackle the second element of this trick, spinning the handlebars. To start practicing this part, lean against a wall while lifting your front wheel and attempting a full 360-degree turn on your handlebars.

Try spinning your handlebar with your dominant hand while raising your front wheel. When you first start, you can just do a 180-degree spin until you’re comfortable catching the handlebar after spinning it.

3. Combine the Bunny Hop and the Barspin

Now you bring parts 1 and 2 together, to get a proper barspin.

Begin by doing the bunny hop and get your wheels in the air for as long as possible. The longer you can be in the air, the easier it will be to finish the barspin.

Pinch your seat with your legs to maintain balance while holding your front wheel up, and then try to spin your handlebar for at least 180 degrees. Continue practicing until you can move quickly enough to complete a full 360-degree spin.

And that’s all there is to it! That’s how simple a barspin is. 

If you’re riding with a single cable brake setup, you can still follow the steps above to perform a barspin. You’ll just untangle your brake cable after.

How to Improve Your Brake Set up for Barspins

Using a BMX gyro brake setup is the easiest and most established way to accomplish barspins while having brakes. 

While barspins and tailwhips are still possible, a straight cable can’t handle double barspins or double tailwhips, and you must untangle your cable every time. 

The video linked below shows a BMX gyro installation from start to finish.

I’ll admit, it’s kind of a complicated process. So if you’re not confident that you can do it, then it might be best to have a professional bike mechanic handle the installation for you.

With that said, the gyro is the best brake setup for barspins and in general, as it allows you to move your bars freely while still allowing you to slow down or stop, unlike a brakeless setup.


JJ here - I've spent a lot of time on a bike, including completing the 3,000+ mile Southern Tier Route (CA to FL). I started Cycling Beast to "demystify" cycling topics, and to help people overcome roadblocks and level-up their skills.

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