The Short Answer is:
Yes, BMX bikes have gears. Old models had a greater gearing ratio of 44/16, while newer models have smaller gearing ratios such as 22/8, 23/8, 25/9 up to 36/13. Flatland BMX bikers typically prefer short gearings, while other styles vary. BMX racers often use tall gearings.
BMX bikes are single speed bicycles that are “geared” by nature, with a very low gear ratio compared to most bicycles.
Bicycle gearing is the aspect of a bicycle drivetrain that determines the relation between the cadence and the rate at which the rider pedals.
In recent years, there has been much debate in BMX circles about gearing. Trek Bikes offers a range of geared and gearless bikes for different types of cycling adventures.
NuVinci is an innovative technology that provides an alternative to traditional bicycle drivetrains, offering riders more control over their gears.
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The Anatomy of a BMX Bike’s Drivetrain
The anatomy of a Bmx bike’s drivetrain consists of several components, including the pedals, cranks, chainrings, cogs (cassette) and derailleur.
The crankset is typically made of aluminum or carbon fiber and consists of two crank arms connected by a spindle.
It is attached to the frame by the bottom bracket and rotates around it, while the cassette refers to the cone-shaped stack of chainrings that are assembled in order from small to large.
Chains are made of steel or alloy and pass through relevant derailleurs before connecting with the rear wheel.
Derailleurs allow riders to change gear ratios on their bikes, while hubs provide stability for wheels and bearings support them.
How BMX Bikes Generate Speed Without Gears
BMX bikes are single-speed, meaning they have a freewheel which allows coasting when not pedaling. This promotes fast-rolling and makes them faster than fixed gear or multi-speed bikes.
To increase the speed of a BMX bike, riders can ride in groups to share the burden of cutting the wind, adjust their brakes for maximum efficiency, use lighter weight components such as aluminum frames and carbon fiber wheelsets, and practice proper riding technique.
Additionally, riders should be aware that some geared BMX bikes feature multiple cogs with different ratios to account for higher speeds and bigger jumps.
The Advantages of Gearless BMX Bikes
Gearless BMX bikes offer several advantages over traditional single speed cycles.
These include being easier to use and maintain, costing less than other geared cycles, providing a relaxing ride in the evenings, helping with weight loss and staying in shape, offering an affordable mobility solution, being lightweight for easy maneuvering on plain roads, and having no gear changes or shifting required.
Additionally, they are great for exercise as they allow riders to pedal faster without exhausting their legs, making them ideal for beginners.
However, there are some disadvantages associated with gearless BMX bikes such as difficulty in learning how to cycle due to lack of knowledge about gear combinations or shifting accurately, potential risks from riding downhill due to lack of control over the bike’s speed, and increased risk of injury due to sudden acceleration or deceleration.
The Pros and Cons of Gears on BMX Bikes
BMX bikes are designed for short leaps on flat terrain and have no gears, making them ideal for stunts and performances.
They are lightweight, inexpensive, and easy to transport. Mountain bikes, on the other hand, come with multiple gears or speeds which make it easier to climb hills and control speed.
Geared bikes also require more maintenance than single-speed bikes due to their complex moving parts such as derailleurs, shifters, chainrings and rear cogs.
Additionally, mountain bikes can be faster than BMX bikes due to their ability to run miles charged with speed.
BMX Bikes with Gears: Understanding the Gear Ratio
BMX bikes can have gears, with the most common gear ratio being 44/16. This ratio is considered to be low compared to other bicycles.
Gear inches are used to give a numerical value to how a particular front chainwheel and rear cog combination will perform.
However, newer models of BMX bikes have smaller gearing ratios.
Choosing the Right Gear Ratio for Your BMX Bike
Choosing the right gear ratio for your BMX bike is an important factor in improving performance and safety.
The most popular gear ratios are close to 44/16, which has approximately 55 gear inches, but newer models may have different ratios such as 22/8, 23/8, 25/9 or 36/13.
To determine your gear ratio, you can use a calculator that takes into account your chainring size, cog size and rear tire size.
It is also recommended to ride with a guarded sprocket for increased speed and stability. For those just starting out in BMX racing, it is suggested to run an average gearing of 28-9.
How to Shift Gears on a BMX Bike
Shifting gears on a BMX bike is achieved by pulling a trigger connected to the derailleur via cables.
The left shifter controls the front derailleur and swaps the chain between the front chain rings, while the right shifter controls the rear derailleur and moves the chain into smaller or larger cogs.
It is important to remember that there is no perfect gear as shifting often can help stay active and efficient on the bike.
When riding in different terrains, it is recommended to shift down one gear at a time and then make micro-adjustments with the rear cogs using the right-hand lever depending on the shifting slope.
For beginners, it is best to start with a base of 44/16 which has 55 gear inches, before playing with the front sprocket. This will give you an idea of how much power your body needs for pedaling.
Maintaining Your BMX Bike’s Gears
Maintaining your BMX bike’s gears requires regular maintenance and cleaning. First, use a small brush such as a tooth brush and plenty of hot soapy water to scrub inside and under the front chainrings.
Then remove the outer cable cover from the stops on the frame and slide it along the cable so you can lubricate the shifting cable.
Next turn your attention to the rear mechanicals and make sure the jockey wheels in the rear derailleur are clean and free of oily gunk that has built up over time.
Finally, take a “flossing” rag and run it between all the rings, then wipe down the bike for dust every time you ride.
You should also check tightness of pedals and pegs before each ride, inspect brake pads for wear or damage, adjust gears regularly, and keep an eye out for any sudden changes in performance or handling.
Frequently Asked Questions about BMX Bike Gearing
How fast can a gearless BMX bike go?
A standard BMX bike can reach speeds of up to 35mph (56 kph), while a freestyle BMX bike is the slowest of all and can reach up to 30-35mph. Gearless cycles rely on the rider’s pedaling speed, so the faster they pedal, the faster they go.
What is a single-speed BMX bike?
A single-speed BMX bike is a type of bicycle with a single gear ratio and no shifters or derailleur hangers. It typically has a frame made of steel or alloy, with forks made of steel or aluminum. BMX bikes are single speed, meaning they only have one gear and no shifting capabilities.
Can I add gears to my BMX bike?
Yes, it is possible to add gears to a BMX bike. However, the frame’s dropouts must be able to accommodate a multiple-speed wheel hub.
This may require rebuilding the back wheel and installing a rear derailleur between the axle and dropout. Adding gears is an easy way to give your bike more versatility and options for speed and power.
Do gears make BMX bikes more difficult to ride?
Yes, gears can make BMX bikes more difficult to ride. Taller gearings require more effort to pedal and can make it harder to reach maximum speed. Single speed BMX bikes are simpler and lighter, but require more effort to ride long distances.
Can I use a BMX bike with gears for freestyle riding?
Yes, a BMX bike with gears can be used for freestyle riding. However, some riders prefer to use a single gear system as the gear cables can make it difficult to perform tricks like a tail whip. When choosing a BMX bike for freestyle riding, look for one designed specifically for flatland tricks and aggressive street riding.
In conclusion, BMX bikes typically do not have gears, although some models may feature a single gear. The number of teeth on the chainring is an important consideration when it comes to BMX gearing. These bikes are designed to withstand the rigors of various BMX courses and are built for speed and agility rather than comfort. While there is some debate about whether or not BMX bikes should have gears, many riders prefer the simplicity and challenge of riding without them.