How many gears should a mountain bike have?

How many gears should a mountain bike have

How many gears should a mountain bike have?

If you ride a mountain bike, then the chances are that you don’t think about your gears. Instead, you just focus on riding it. But if you’re like me, then gearing is one of the first things that come to mind when someone asks about mountain bikes.

How many gears should a mountain bike have?

How many gears should a mountain bike have

The answer to this question depends on so many factors, from a rider’s fitness and skill level to the size of particular trails. The bike frame size measurement is just one of such factors.

For most riders with average fitness levels, gears up to seven would probably be good enough (if you can handle it). However, that all depends on where in your area that you live as well as what type of terrain there is around. One enduro bike might just have six internal gears and an easy/intermediate chainring with a derailleur for superbike-like performance. The other enduro bike might have more than that, but it also needs to be lighter and stiffer in order to maintain its ability to climb quickly (but not quite as well over rough terrain due simply to the lower gearing).

Gearing Characteristics

Most single-speed mountain bikes today come equipped with either one or two speeds. These are governed by clutch transmissions which make it difficult to adjust the gear ratio on these bikes. Even if your bike has multiple gears, the lowest gear is usually just one speed and higher ratios are often beyond the capabilities of a clutch transmission due to both weight and being overly complicated for what should be an easy-to-use system. Single speeds also have less functionality when compared with multi/double drivetrains. Keep reading

The Future

The two biggest factors in determining what gear ratio your mountain bike will have are regardless of whether it is a single speed or not. The first would be the top tube length and its relationship with the seatpost size as well as frame geometry/design; too short, you’ll have multiple gears below your lowest pedal sprocket but only one above it (like riding a triple instead of a double). Too long, however, and wheels will grab the ground and be too slippery to maintain traction. The second factor is whether or not there are any pedals mounted on the frame itself. If so, you’ll need at least one more sprocket for a triple. 

Otherwise, your top tube length would make multiple gears impossible (like riding a single speed). In a future post, I’ll go into more detail about gearing and the pros and cons of each type. I think, much like bicycles, mountain bikes have so many variables in them that different people will see success or failure depending on the setups/gears they select. For example, if you find yourself at 40psi riding very steep climbs, you might want to be running less overall air pressure (going with lower gears) but instead, run a lower air pressure for more efficient power transfer (higher gears) to get yourself up the steepest of hills. 

Likewise, some riders thrive on screaming down technical trails in high gear but probably shouldn’t be anywhere near their top speed if they are going through tight twisty sections as it is likely that technically speaking either both ends will sometimes be out of sync with each other or you could potentially lose momentum and your bike could spin prematurely causing you to crash.

The only other concern I have with my current setup is that the non-drive side of the chain of the crankset rubs against a piece on my front derailleur, but FSA neglected to build in enough room for it, so they had no choice but created a wider axle spindle as opposed to just increasing its length. That’s fine because both sides are used equally and make the crankset fit better. A solution to this problem, I considered, was adding spacers, but as you can guess, it would likely make cleaning my old frame very difficult or even too much hassle for me at that stage in my life.

Advantage of gears in Mountain bike

Aside from the fact that they make mountain biking a lot more fun, there are also other advantages to having different gears.

User-friendly 14 speed cassette drivetrain possible by using higher front and lower rear gear ratios (1st – 11th), you can achieve an easier shifting experience. In most cases, it is not necessary to use your shifters even if running 10 speeds with multiple step-up/down ratio options at your disposal. However should you wish to do so, you can just shift the front in one step up or down and then coast (by pushing your pedals backward) onto the next peg. 

Or, if using a non-derailleur equipped bike, you could also “coast” without shifting at all by simply telling your drivetrain which gear ratio to use via shifter body movement – this is achieved easily by placing the index finger on top of the shifter while riding the bike. There is an easier way with derailleur equipped bikes by using a shifting lever (my current one, below). 

By just pulling it into the “velo” position where also hardware shifter usually puts this mode – you could achieve a roughly 1:1 ratio without any actual shifting as your front and back gears are in proper alignment to give you full use of both cassettes.

Disadvantage of gears in Mountain bike

On a road bike or mountain bike equipped with regular cassette hubs, gears provide the easiest shifting experience, but if you want to use both bikes together commonly two-sided drive (look at this picture of my group), it will be nearly impossible to make them align properly unless they are in gear and attached by belt.

There may also arise compatibility issues when paired with other drivetrains as front/rear shift would happen on different sides – for example, this is not uncommon when used with Shimano 8/9 speed drivetrain.

On 2-speed hubs, you could use the two or three easy rear sprockets to cable tie them into position, but in most cases, the front pressed the lever on such shifters would only pull 5 teeth out of 60 teeth sprocket – as it does not support its full range (more about that later). A lot of modern derailleur equipped Mt b are designed to be compatible with the derailleur, so you could use 2/3 sprockets for trail setup and just shift the smaller 3-speed chainwheel using the index finger on top of the shifter. As one day, he mentioned that hitchhikers, if they keep biking, their gear will eventually all come snarled up into a single string.


The number of gears a mountain bike has can be crucial to its performance. Knowing how many gears you need will help you make the right decision when buying one. It’s also important to consider your intended use of the bike. If you plan on riding on trails, you may want a bike with more gears so that you don’t have to change up your pedaling style too often.

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