Yes, BMX bikes have gears. Specifically, it contains two gears: one is located at a chainring, and the other is found in the cassette (known as the sprockets and set of cogs, respectively). Moreover, these gears are connected through a chain, allowing riders to rotate the wheels as they pedal.
For those who didn’t know, newer BMX bike models have smaller gearings compared to older versions. Take note that these gears play essential roles in how fast or slow your cycling mechanism could be since they’re primarily connected to the wheels.
To know more about how BMX bike gears work, this article will help explain the process. You’ll get to know the different types of gear ratios and the best gear system for a BMX bike. With these said, let’s get started.
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BMX Bike Gearing Explained (How To Determine the Gear Ratio?)
A BMX bike’s gear system is different from any other bicycle you could think of (mountain or road bike). There are two types of gear existing: tall and small gearings.
To make BMX gears work easier for you, you’ll need to apply some basic mathematics. You can simply determine your BMX bike’s gear ratio by counting the number of teeth on the sprocket and cassette. Then, divide the number of teeth of the front sprocket by the number of cassette teeth. The result is your bike’s gear ratio.
For example, let’s say your front sprocket has 30 teeth while the cassette has 9 teeth. Dividing 30 by 9 gives you a gear ratio of 3.33:1.
Taller (or bigger) gearing usually have a ratio of 44/16, which are typically encompassed in older BMX bike models. This also means that the sprockets have many teeth, making the BMX bike harder to pedal. Yet, it only needs fewer cranks to get the maximum speed in an instant.
Meanwhile, smaller gearing does the opposite. BMX bikes with small gearing would fall under the ratio 22/8, 23/8, 25/9, and so on. Thus, a smaller gear ratio implies that the BMX bike would be much easier to pedal. However, they contain lesser teeth, which means that you’ll need more cranks to get your bike’s maximum speed and performance.
A much larger chainring is used on BMX race bikes to allow the rider to produce speed and power. Gearing selection on a BMX race bike becomes really adept as cycling becomes more advanced. Since there are differences between wheel sizes and tire widths, it ends up going further than simply ratio.
BMX racers will select and adjust gear ratios to complement the groove and supply of various speedways or merely to suit their performance or skill level. Regardless, different riders have their preferences. While some opt for taller gearings, some appreciate a smaller gear ratio for better ground clearance and improved grinds and stalls on the street.
What Are the Best BMX Gear Ratios Out There?
With the explanation above, you can easily calculate your BMX bike’s gear ratio. In this section, we’ll delve more into the best and most preferred gear ratios by BMX riders. According to the BMX experts, the best BMX gear system should have a ratio of not exceeding 2.8/1.
Nevertheless, it’s still important to know the gear ratio where you’ll find yourself comfortable without compromising your performance. Below can be considered as your preference when buying your next (or new) BMX bike.
1. 44/16 (2.75:1) Gear Ratio
A 44/16 gear ratio lets you ride your BMX bike with faster and easier acceleration. However, it encompasses a lower top speed, which means that a 44/16 gear ratio would be more suitable if your aim is leisure traveling or biking. Nonetheless, it’s ideal for commuting to work or riding around with friends on the weekends. If you live in a mostly flat area with no hills, a BMX bike with this gear ratio is the best option.
2. 25/9 (2.78:1) Gear Ratio
Another gear ratio that most riders appreciate is the ones that have a 2.78/1 value. This just implies how easy it would be to pedal your BMX bike forward.
3. 30/11 (2.73:1) Gear Ratio
Finally, the 2.73:1 gear ratio is another outstanding ratio to look for in a BMX bike. Some experts even state that the 30/11 is the perfect gear ratio for any rider who wants to keep grinding. Not only it makes it easier for you to pedal, but also it creates a great privilege to level up your BMX stunts and skills.
Types of Gears for Each BMX Type
1. For Pure BMX Bikes
You could quickly determine a pure BMX bike for its mechanisms due to the aesthetics of the late 60s or early 70s. Choose a gear ratio of 2.8:1 for pure BMX bikes; this would make your racing and stunts livelier, faster, and better.
2. For Dirt Jump BMX Bikes
Dirt jumping is one of the most popular BMX competitions, in which riders perform a couple of jumps in the air. In this case, bikers select a BMX bike that can withstand the impact of landing. Opt for a gear ratio within 2.8:1 for dirt jump BMX bikes.
3. For Freestyle BMX Bikes
For freestyle BMX bikes, make sure to have a gear ratio not exceeding 2.8:1 (yes, the same as the categories mentioned above). BMX riders perform stunts and tricks on a flat surface. Freestyle riders, in general, prefer light and short BMX bikes for ease of control and maneuverability. Moreover, this gear value guarantees your ride with lesser turnovers and a faster pedal mechanism.
Why Do BMX Bikes Have Small Sprockets?
BMX bikes, as opposed to road and mountain bikes, are built for stunts. Thus, this type of bike is the best category for dirt jumping, off-roading, and performing some smooth tricks. These characteristics cannot be obtained with other types of bikes, such as your regular or mountain bike.
Aside from those characteristics, BMX bikes have smaller sprockets. This allows the BMX bike to have incredible speed and acceleration. To get the best speed performance, make sure that the front sprocket is bigger than the cassette, creating a gear ratio of less than 2.8:1.
As such, BMX bikes with smaller sprockets actually have more advantages over those with bigger ones. For instance, the sprockets would obtain less damage from doing stunts. This also implies that your bike’s sprockets don’t get in your way when performing tricks. And finally, smaller sprockets mean reduced weight to your BMX’s overall weight, making it easier to lift the bike for air jumps.
Do BMX Bikes Have Fixed or Single-Speed Gears?
Generally, BMX bikes feature single-speed gear, which means they incorporate a gear in the front and a freewheel in the back. Moreover, single-speed gear is different from those bikes with fixed gear; they encompass a single-speed mechanism but with a fixed cog in the rear wheel.
Meanwhile, fixed-gear bikes are bicycles that encompass a gear drive train fixed to the rear wheel. Meaning, the rider needs to pedal their move forward whenever the bike is moving.
The mechanical distinction between fixed and single-speed gears is how the single cog is connected to the rest of the drivetrain. In this case, the freewheels are outfitted with a cog that can rotate freely in one direction but becomes stuck in the other. This implies the process wherein the cog turns the rear wheel once you press the pedal. Yet, it can become a freewheel once the wheel turns faster than the cog.
Having said this, BMX bikes aren’t a fixed-gear system. Bikers and cyclists perceive single-speed mechanisms as a great way to control their BMX bikes and perform the tricks they intend to do. And, take note that those fixed-gear bikes won’t allow riders to do such stunts because they lack breaks and gears.