Determining the best MTB crankset for you

Mountain bike cranksets, also known as chain sets, comprise of component parts – cranks, bottom brackets and chain rings and are a hugely important part of your bikes drivetrain. Crank sets need to be strong and durable but light.

The best mountain bike chain set for you is not only determined by the type of bike you are riding – road, BMX, mountain but also the style of biking you enjoy. Mountain bikers often favour durable and lightweight cranks that will remain sealed from the elements, whilst BMX riders tend to opt for stronger (often heavier) components that can cope with a variety of jumps and stunts.

Finding the best MTB crankset for you

Crank Arms

Two crank arms are mounted either side of the frame at 180 degrees to each other, connected by an axle. They are connected to the frame by the bottom bracket and attach the pedals to the bike.

Crank length?

A key consideration when upgrading or replacing crank arms or crank sets is crank length. Most cranks for road and MTB use are 175mm long, but riders with legs shorter or longer than the average may feel more comfortable on cranks that better match their measurements. In addition, a higher end crank will be stiffer and lighter, equalling greater pedalling efficiency and better front shifting to improve acceleration!

Body size is often a good place to start with fitters looking at dimensions such as height, femur length and foot size (primary lever arms in pedal stroke). That said, other factors such as pedalling style should also be considered. Many triathletes decide to invest in shorter crankarms in order to open up the hip angle at the top of the pedal stroke as the seat rises, which allows them to produce more power and acceleration from a more aerodynamic position.

Chain Rings

A chain ring is what drives the chain or belt – such as the Gates drive – from the crank to the rear wheel. Middleburn offer chain rings from singles like the UNO and MONO, the doubles such as DUO, to the triple sets often seen on older mountain bikes, road bikes, touring bikes and tandems.

Chain rings come in various tooth patterns and spider fitting. The tooth pattern being identified by such listings as 32t or 40t, with “t” being the actual number of

teeth on the chain ring. It’s important to also consider the number of speeds your bike uses as some chain rings cannot work with chains designed for say 12 speed chains etc.


Middleburn 5 Arm Chainring

Middleburn Chainrings

Single vs Double vs Triple?

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one true drive chain solution’ for all mountain bikes, each option delivers its own unique advantages.

  • A single chainring set up will simplify your drivetrain and make it more reliable, however will also reduce your gearing range which can cause problems for lengthy rides in steep terrain.
  • Double chainrings are arguably the best suited set up for the majority of riders, working for modest, steep or downhill climbs. Unfortunately, they do lack the reliability of the single set up and can also be noisy!
  • Triple chainrings are becoming less common on mountain bikes, however if your ride is mostly on fast-rolling surfaces such as tarmac, a larger outer chainring of a triple may still be the best option.

Much will come down to personal preference and the type of trails that you ride. If your trails are fast, flowing and you never opt for ridiculously tough long climbs, then a double set will work fine. However, if your trails are slower paced and more technical with the occasional lengthy climb, a triple will often be the most comfortable option.

Ever considered Cranksets from Middleburn, Made by BETD?

Cranksets and MTB chain rings from Middleburn & BETD have been developed to endure. Manufactured from Aluminium 7075 aerospace, the strongest and highest specification alloy available, we offer chain sets for Road, MTB & Fat Bikes.

Parts can wear with time and our range of replacement spiders, bearings, bolts and spacers will help prolong the life of your chain set, keeping your transmission running as smoothly as it should.

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