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Beginnings of BMX Culture

Marie Starr

Thirty-three BMX riders came together last Saturday morning July 23rd for Myanmar’s first ever organized BMX event. Street Series Yangon was the inaugural event held by the group Myanmar BMX Riders. The event had been promoted as all-inclusive with promotional posters reading, ‘Come ride with MBR (Myanmar BMX Riders).’

They began their ride starting from under the Hledan Bridge, biking around the city in convoy and stopping at 8 Mile Bridge, Peoples’ Park and Sule to perform tricks, show their skills and promote the group.
Participants were aged upwards of 13 years old and three riders came all the way from Mandalay for the event, riding the train to Yangon alongside their bikes.
“Fifteen years ago there was a small unofficial group of [BMX] enthusiasts. Then we got internet, Facebook and Youtube. [The riders] began to teach themselves street-style BMX,” says Kabyar Oo, one of the main organisers of the event.

Organiser of ‘Street Series Yangon’, Kabyar Oo explains the route for the BMX ride

The event was sponsored by BMX Shop Myanmar which has their shop in Hlaing Township. They import bikes from abroad for the BMX riders of Myanmar.
“Second-hand bikes can be bought from Thailand for about 150,000 Kyat. New bikes are imported from Taiwan and cost around 450,000 Kyat,” says Htet Wai Yan, one of the dedicated riders who travelled from Mandalay for the event.
“There are two styles of BMX riding-flat land and street style,” explains organiser Kabyar Oo. “Flat-land is artistic while street-style is more aggressive.”

Riders can practice in People’s Park, before the police come

He understands that many youths in Myanmar today waste their time on social media and internet games or adopt unhealthy habits like smoking and drinking alcohol. BMX however gives them a focus and keeps them fit and strong-
“Most kids spend their time on videogames, so I respect these guys.”

BMX rider under the Hledan Bridge, one of the two spots riders can practice

BMX riders in Yangon struggle to find a suitable place to ride and practice their techniques. They can sometimes be found practicing at People’s Park where there is plenty of space and stairs for them to improve their moves. However,  security guards often don’t allow them to stay there, telling them to leave the park.
Families of the BMX riders are often confused about the hobby which is unconventional in terms of hobbies of Myanmar youths and requires a relatively costly bike. They initially tend to think that it is bad and that the riders should spend their time more meaningfully. However, later when they gain an understanding of the hobby and realise that it’s keeping them active, they are inclined to accept it.
When asked about the future of BMX in Myanmar, Kabyar Oo says MBR hopes to have more events like this one and eventually hold competitions with participants from across the country.

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