BMX World Champion is on his way to Tokyo 2020 right now with a prototype 2-speed BMX bike that is sure to shake up the Olympics, if not just the conversation. A carbon, geared hardtail with a Zee DH rear derailleur, a chain guide, and flat mount XTR disc brakes, yeah that’s not what usually comes to mind when I think BMX racing. But I’m certainly not one to judge the World Champion, and cyclist Twan van Gendt surely knows what he’s doing, having refined his Olympic start in his backyard in The Netherlands for the last nine months on a Tokyo-replica start ramp…

OMG 2-speed geared Meybo Olympic BMX bike of Twan van Gendt

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt

all photos c. Twan van Gendt

So let’s first get this out of the way… apparently yes, gears are UCI legal for BMX.  “Multiple speed gear systems are permitted” according to UCI Part VI BMX regulations Section 4, 6.1.079. Disc brakes are fine too, and so should be the chain guide as long as it’s not “superfluous”.

But why add a rear derailleur to a BMX bike in the first place?

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt, training

The trick seems likely to be the unique start and opening straight of the Tokyo 2020 BMX track. Unlike most UCI World Cup BMX tracks, this Olympic BMX track is described as having three, more flowing jumps in the opening stretch designed to be more egalitarian for both men & women athletes. And explaining that 80% of BMX races are decided before the first corner”, van Gendt says, “I have to make the difference at the start”.

It’s so important that Red Bull and the rest of Twan van Gendt’s support team built a replica of the start at his local BMX club, just 10 minutes from his home in The Netherlands so he could dial in the perfect start.

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt, Red Bull ramp

Head to RedBull for the full story, and the 18minute All or Nothing documentary on van Gendt’s Olympic prep, including subtitles.

Suffice it to say, this geared BMX bike wasn’t built on a whim. Twan van Gendt is convinced that the perfect gearing for the first straight is NOT the perfect gear for the rest of the track, so he’s built the first 2-speed BMX race bike we’ve seen in several decades to go faster!

Geared 2-sp BMX – Tech details

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt, non-driveside

Van Gendt’s Olympic hopeful ride is an all-new Meybo HSX Carbon BMX frame that was created to be ultra-stiff (30% stiffer than its alloy predecessor) and super-fast.

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt, drivetrain detail

48T x 14/16

His drivetrain consists of two rear cogs moved by an ultra-short cage Shimano Zee M640 rear derailleur, and shifted by what appears to be a Zee 2-Way release shifter mounted upside down on the top, lefthand side of van Gendt’s bar. He’s likely only going to need to hit one shift in the race, so the ergonomics should be easy to manage.

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt, cockpit

We’re not 100% sure on his individual gearing choice, but it looks like a combination of 14T & 16T cogs out back. Up front is a single narrow-wide 48T chainring on a Shimano DXR BMX crankset, with an XLC CR-A18 chainguide mounted backward off the tiny BMX seattube to keep the chain aligned behind that massive ring.

Olympic BMX prototype 2-speed derailleur gears Meybo bike, BMX World Champion Twan van Gendt, training

all photos c. Twan van Gendt

The new 2022 Meybo HSX Carbon frame itself features standards we’ll recognize from MTB, like a 1.5″ tapered internal headset, a wide BB368 EVO bottom bracket, flat mount rear disc brake mounting, what appears to be a 15mm rear thru-axle, and a replaceable derailleur hanger. Conventional singlespeed BMX drivetrains use an integrated Meybo chain tensioner, which obviously van Gendt has replaced with a derailleur. It includes internal routing for the rear brake line, but not for the unconventional derailleur cable.

The only question remaining, is whether the unique 2-speed BMX drivetrain will give Twan van Gendt the edge he needs to repeat his World Championship win on the Tokyo 2020 Olympic BMX track.

MeyboBikes.com

Olympic BMX Competition: How To Watch

Tune in to the Ariake Urban Sports Park racing action which kicks off with Quarterfinals on July 29th, then Semifinal & Finals on the 30th.

Check out our full Olympic BMX feature to learn more about the racing (and new BMX Freestyle) and to stay up-to-date on how & when to watch Olympic BMX.

31 comments

  1. Chris on

    Interesting how the shifter is mounted. I guess he only needs to shift if once during the race. It is also funny to see a seat on a bike that will never get used.

    Reply
  2. Gillis on

    I know various attempts have been made at 2spd systems in the past, but perhaps not at the Olympic level. The bmx fb group I saw this on first was was crying out that it should be banned and that it would be the end of bmx if it were normalized. lol

    Reply
  3. Tenacious E on

    When competitors from some countries have replica tracks made for them…You can hardly call the Olympics fair.

    Reply
    • James on

      Every country has a replica track, some have just the first straight and some have the whole thing. A bmx track isn’t that expensive to build, especially if it only needs to last a year or so.

      Reply
  4. Galen on

    Why didn’t he use the Classified system. Quicker shifting, no external bits to break, still a single chain for simplicity and chainline, and can shift under huge load.

    Reply
    • Zach Overholt on

      Most likely because the Classified system is designed with road and gravel bikes in mind, so the hub spacing, axle diameter, and freehub is not compatible with BMX bikes like the Meybo which appears to use a 120mm spaced hub with a 15mm thru axle. The bike above technically has a cassette body capable of running multiple gears, but they’re usually much shorter – just wide enough to run a few individual SS cogs with some spacers.

      Reply
  5. Dockboy on

    I really want to know why they didn’t use a front shifter. You can get a front shifter to work a single rear shift if you want.

    Reply
  6. Brian on

    Multi-speed BMX bikes have been around for ages, have been used by pros, and there are quite a few examples during the last 2 decades…heck, my daughter ran a 2-speed for specific races.

    Reply
  7. Dylan Sutton on

    In other news, competitors in skateboarding are using four-wheeled skateboards for the first time in Olympic history.

    Reply
  8. Bernard on

    So he’ll use the harder gear for the start and shift down after the first straight? Of will he use the easier gear to pick up speed in the first few strokes and shift up?

    Reply

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