Do BMX Bikes Have Gears? (Solved!)


I’ve been riding BMX bikes for years, and one question I get asked a lot by those interested in trying it is – Do BMX Bikes have gears?

BMX bikes do have gears. Initially, BMX bikes had a greater gearing ratio of 44/16. But the newer models of BMX bikes have smaller gearing in the ratios 22/8, 23/8, 25/9 up to 36/13.

There are a range of different BMX bike designs around, and they all have quite different gear ratios, and gear designs.

In this post I’ll outline exactly what you need to know about BMXs and their gears, and I’ll also link gears to the BMX’s overall bike design as well.

BMX bike wheel close-up on the gears

Do BMX Bikes Have Gears? 

BMX bikes have fewer gears (mostly just one) as compared to other heavy-duty bikes present but the gear exists.

Two types of gearing exist in bikes, tall and short gearing. In tall gearing, there is a larger ratio present between the teeth count of the sprocket and the cog in the rear wheel whereas it’s the opposite in short gearing. 

In tall gearing, it is harder for the rider to pedal to generate a greater momentum of speed whereas short gearing is easier to pedal. Different kinds of riders prefer different types of gearing.

Where on one hand the flatland riders will prefer short gearing, while on the other, racers generally choose taller gearing. The more teeth there are in the sprocket the taller the gear ratio is and vice versa for the short gear ratio. 

The Ratio of Bike Gears

Even though BMX Bikes don’t have multiple gears, the important thing to look at is the number of teeth on the chain-ring and sprocket and the ratio of these two entities. The higher the ratio of these two, the harder it is to pedal, and the lower the number, the easier the pedaling. 

For you to determine this ratio, you will need to divide the number of teeth on the chain-ring (for example 25) by the number on the sprocket (say 9) and as a result, you will be left with 2.78.

This means that the rear wheel of the bike will likely roll over two to three-quarter times with every rotation on the chainring. 

This is a foolproof way to calculate gear ratio to determine the speed and agility of your bike, but it can fluctuate depending on the wheel size and width of the tires. A lot of things combine in the BMX bike to give you a smooth, agile ride. 

The most common and popular gearing of the BMX evolved over the years to 44/16 which has 55 gear inches. The best gear ratios come close to 55 gear inches, which is generally suitable for all types of riders from flatland and park, to racers and stuntmen. 

In researching this post, I found this extremely helpful youtube video that tells you a little bit more about BMX and gears:

A quick video that explains BMX gearing

What Exactly Is a BMX Bike?

A BMX bike is an off-road bike that is used for professional and rookie racing and stunt riding. The term BMX stands for bicycle motocross and it was formerly designed for motorcycle fanatics who wanted to have a bike they could ride on, on dirt courses. 

These bikes are smaller but stockier than all the other bikes out there and have a basic frame setup.

They are designed specially to withstand pressure, rigor, speed, and the stresses that come with performing stunts on dirt jumps and skating rinks while including as few moving parts as possible. 

Due to the function that these bikes are used for, they have to be lightweight, sturdy, and easy to maneuver.

Fortunately, these bikes are optimized for speed and mobility and are made from light but sturdy materials with great workmanship to ensure they are stiff and agile when in use. There are different variations of BMX bikes according to their level of professional use. They are generally differentiated into the following five types:

  1. BMX Bikes that are used in skate parks or indoor ramps are known as free-style. 
  2. BMX Bikes that are ridden on streets or urban infrastructures like stairs, railings, and pavements are known usually as flatlands. 
  3. BMX Bikes that are used by skilled riders often for the purpose of performance art. 
  4. BMX Bikes that are ridden on dirt jumps and berms are another type. They are also used for performance and tricks.
  5. BMX Bikes that are used in professional racing.

What Are The BMX Bikes Made of? 

The versatility of the BMX bikes comes with the versatility in their building materials too. Freestyle or entry-level BMX Bikes are usually made from a steel alloy known and Cromoly 4130.

Although steel is the preferred material for these bikes, some professional bikers also opt for aluminum and carbon fiber frames that make the bike even lighter and absorb the additional vibrations. 

These materials are used in the body of the bikes to make them resistant to the bumps and fatigue they are bound to face in the field. The careful process of building the frame and choosing the material is done with the comfort of the rider in mind. 

The Technicality of BMX Bikes

BMX bikes are used for various purposes but the one thing that is common among all is the rigor with which they are used.

The materiality of the bikes ranges from a number of materials like steel, Cromoly, aluminum, and carbon fibers yet there is still a delicate science behind the arrangement of all of the pieces of the bike. 

Let’s take a look at how the different components of a bike affect its mobility and strength:

Tires

Being the first and most important point of contact, the tires of a BMX bike play a really important role in its working. The tire that you choose to put in your bike will influence the speed, grip, and overall handling of the bike. 

Smooth-rolling and wider tires are preferred for street and park riding while dirt jumpers and stuntmen require a larger number of treads for traction and friction on the dirt.

An average BMX tire can take up to 110 Psi of pressure which also offers protection to the rim under hard pressure. The tires on these bikes, though, can be easily repaired or replaced if you feel the desire to change them.

Pedals

Since the entire bike is designed to be as lightweight as possible, the choice of material for the pedals of these bikes tends to be plastic.

Other than being light and inexpensive, these pedals are easier to maneuver.

Because the pedals are made lightweight and made of plastic, they require less force to generate maximum power and get the bike to its highest speed. 

If you are a professional biker or racer, SPD or clip-in pedals are recommended which provide the rider with maximum speed with minimum exertion. 

Handlebars

The chosen material for the handlebars is Chromoly, aluminum, or steel. Aluminum is lighter but easily fatigued while steel is heavier but absorbs the maximum amount of vibrations.

The handlebars of the BMX bikes have a low crossbar and minimal sweep. They are designed and manufactured keeping the use of the stuntmen, racers, and riders in mind.  

Gears 

When compared to a mountain bike or a road bike, the gearing on the BMX bike is generally different. BMX bikes almost always have one single gear which makes the configuration important based on the rider of the bike and his needs. Sprockets, cassettes, and cogs when connected through a chain form the gear of the BMX bikes (source).

Martin Williams

Martin has been tearing up all sorts of trails on a range of bikes ever since he was young. He once cycled across France, and once fell into a canal on a hybrid. He writes about everything to do with cycling on our site. You can find out more about him at bicycle2work.com/about-martin-williams/

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