Before we get into the details of Deluxe’s new made-to-order 22″ frame, a brief discussion of the progression of the 22″ bike should be had. Seems like yesterday that Eddie Fiola debuted the first ever (I think?) 22″ BMX through the Faction brand, but that was 2009 and at that point, the brief wave of modern 24″ bikes was just starting to die down and at the time, a 22″ wheeled bike seemed completely ridiculous and unnecessary. Fast forward to 2017, and although I haven’t picked up a 22″ of my own, I can safely say that the concept of 22″ BMX bikes makes sense and is here to stay. A lot of younger BMXers might believe that anything bigger than a 20″ is for “the experienced rider”, and on some levels, they are; keep reading though, because depending on how you ride, maybe a 22″ could greatly improve your bike control.
Before we go any further, let me first contradict myself by saying that 22″ bikes are NOT just for the older crowd. Sure, that’s a large part of their target demographic, but anyone who likes to ride at a high rate of speed should consider making the jump. I have lived in the Midwest for over 3 years now, and in those 3 years I have spent my fair share of time both working at & riding at bike parks like Ray’s and The Wheel Mill, and unlike conventional skateparks, both spots draw crowds of all ages AND wheel sizes. It’s never an uncommon occurence to share a deck with a middle aged cross-country MTB rider, or a teenager taking their laps on a 26″ jumper, but the majority of these non-BMXers tend to stick to the rhythm sections, which even at an advanced level, are a lot easier to comprehend than a plaza setup or a bowl. As someone who still primarly rides BMX in my early 30’s, the group of guys I grew up riding with have, for the most part, fallen out of BMX or moved on to bigger wheeled bikes – which is fine, don’t get me wrong, but I personally get a little bummed out when I hear the excuse from guys my age that they’ve moved on from BMX because they can’t ride at a level they used to, or are afraid of getting hurt on a smaller bike. To me, that’s a cop out, and I feel like some of them would feel a lot more comfortable on a 22″. Bigger wheels equal more stability, so in that sense, I understand making the leap, but with a 22″, you can get the stability you’re looking for while still riding a bike that actually looks like a BMX. Modern, freestyle-friendly 24″s were cool at first, but even with updated geometry, the bikes still didn’t feel quite right (in my eyes, at least). With a 22″, you get a longer wheelbase that still actually rides like a 20″ – I have ridden numerous 22″s from different brands over the last few years, and if I was blindfolded (note: don’t ride blindfolded), it would be tough to tell the difference between a 20″ and 22″ when pumping through your average rhythm section. The added bonus of making the slight leap to a 22″ is that many of your current parts will work just fine on a new build – you really just need the frame, fork and wheels to get rolling.
Now that we’ve figured out the ins & outs of 22″s, lets get back to Deluxe’s new frame. Deluxe has been through quite the journey as a brand over the last decade, but they’re finally on solid PA ground under the reigns of Justin & Roth Desko, and trail legend turned reality TV star Kris Bennett. The team ain’t half bad either, consisting of Pittsburgh’s Potoczny brothers, Jeremy Ball, Mark Mulville and a wide range of international trail rippers, so you know these bikes are built to handle the big lines. The Deluxe 22″ is built in Pennsylvania, and is built to order – meaning, there isn’t a shelf of these sitting around waiting to be purchased; you place your order and the bike is built FOR YOU, in any color you’d like. Built from the finest True Temper Supertherm 4130 tubing, the 22″ model features trail-friendly geometry with dual gussetts up front for reinforcement, welded seatstay brakes and integrated chain tensioners. Want to tweak the geo a little bit? Deluxe offers custom framesets as well, and if you’re content with 20″ wheels, the PA Model is usually in stock as well. The Deluxe 22″ can be yours for $500 – place your order at DeluxeBMX.com, and make sure to hit up [email protected] for color & other custom options.