Blog : Skills instruction : Online school : Store


Our man Chris Powell is too smart for his own good, and here is his latest creation.

The racers didn’t gear up on the hyper-fast OTC track. They sprinted, spun, tucked and pumped.

Why don’t BMX bikes have gears?
Over the years, BMX racers (including Brian Lopes) have experimented with multiple gears, but they have never taken off. Possible reasons:

BMX racers are immensely powerful. Narrow chains, ramped cogs and derailleurs aren’t as secure or durable as an old-fashioned single speed chain and non-ramped gears. – Stuff happens in BMX. You don’t need to be bending your derailleur hangar in your first moto. Dude—can you imagine racers aiming for each other’s derailleurs? “I so Dura-Aced that guy in the first turn …” – BMXers can accelerate. They train for strength and power, and they are up to speed in just a few cranks. Coach Greg Romero measures these guys at 2,000 watts off the line. – BMXers learn to spin. A good BMXer can spin at 180 rpm. Jason Richardson has been measured at 225 rpm—and he can squat more than 500 pounds. That’s a very wide powerband. Why shift? – Bandwidth. On the first straight of a BMX race, a whole lot happens in a very short time. Thinking about shifting would detract from the other priorities: 1) power, 2) power and 3) power. – Tradition. Nobody is using gears.

Why did Chris build this thing?
Mr. Powell does most of his riding at the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista, CA. That course is BIG and FAST.

Chris, also a pro mountain bike racer, student and soon-to-be husband, sees no need to squat 500 or spin 225. Shifting is easier.

Nice and clean.

Mandatory chain guide.

Note the Saint cranks. Chris actually bent a pair of XTRs casing the second double on the OTC track.

That looks like two speeds: braaap and BRAAAP

September 17, 2008 : Posted In: BMX,Equipment : Comments (10)


  1. Eric Says September 17, 2008 @ 8:56 am

    Ok, I’m not a pro racer nor can I squat 500lbs (anymore :))but I have raced BMX and running a mtn. bike in place of a cruiser on a track with gears you end up have them skip and not really shifting much anyway. I tried a two speed setup before and while it had less gear jump issues…I still don’t see the need.

    BMX is a sprint race, you hammer out of the gate and then how well you can pump and jump determines where you’ll place more than having an easier/harder gear to go to. It’s over in 40 SECONDS.

    Gears on BMX bikes? Why not gears on Track/Velodrome bikes? They at least race longer time and distance.

  2. MW Says September 17, 2008 @ 9:38 am


  3. Paul Says September 17, 2008 @ 1:06 pm

    i agree Hammerschmidt then you could shift in mid air

  4. leelikesbikes Says September 17, 2008 @ 2:05 pm

    Eric—I don’t think Chris is optimizing for BMX racing action. I think he wants to boost those 40-foot doubles without spinning his patellas off their mounts.

  5. leelikesbikes Says September 17, 2008 @ 2:07 pm

    From Chris Powell:

    “As for shifting at the track: Easy gear for a start, shift at the kink (near where the light is) and then leave it in the diesel gear all the way around. Perfect for me, I’m not the best at spinning because MTB has programmed my legs to shift after a certain rpm.”

  6. sean Says September 17, 2008 @ 8:36 pm

    hammershmidt is too big of a gear ratio gap, only if someone would invent a two speed internal bmx hub…

  7. Chris Says September 17, 2008 @ 11:13 pm

    Sean is right. Hammerschmidt is equivalent going up or down a front ring (10 teeth). Unusable for BMX.

    Hammerschmidt is a beefier, inelegant copy of the Schlumpf. Both are 1:1 or 1:1.6. I rode a Schlumpf around the Sea Otter XC course on a gorgeous steel Spot 29er and it blew my mind. You press a button on the crank bolt with your heel so no shifter pod. Singlespeed simplicity.

  8. Eric Says September 18, 2008 @ 3:48 pm

    Lee and Chris, I know the theory behind it (ie easy gear for holeshot, harder for rest of the track) but especially if you aren’t racing, sorry don’t see the point. Your bike has a nice setup though! I do wish I could do some laps on the Olympic track, even though I wouldn’t be doing 40ft dubs ;D

    I could see a Hammerschmidt type setup working well IF the gear gap wasn’t huge. That would actually be pretty slick seeing as how you could shift while not pedaling.

  9. ste h Says January 20, 2009 @ 12:54 pm

    is that an avent frame???

  10. giant Says April 30, 2009 @ 9:20 am

    “is that an avent frame???”

    LOL You must not know Chris well or was that sarcasm

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

© 2017 Lee McCormack, Lee Likes Bikes LLC. All rights reserved.
Contact or questions:

Know more. Have more fun!
Join the leelikesbikes mailing list

Huge thanks to my supporters:
Fox Racing Shox
The Fix Bike Shop
REVO Physiotherapy and Sports Performance