Mountain Bike Vs Road Bike Chainring | Best Size

Choosing the right size chainring is one of the most critical factors in defining the gear range of your bicycle and the balance between power and speed. It is necessary to pay great attention and be knowledgeable about the many chainring alternatives to select the right chainring suited to your riding for better performance and comfortability.

We’ve got you covered if you’re looking for a guide to help you choose the ideal chainring. This article will help you understand chainrings better by explaining the difference between a mountain bike and a road bike chainring, chainring teeth, and the ideal chainring size for MTB and road bikes.

So, let’s get started with the basics.

Mountain Bike Vs Road Bike Chainring

What is a chainring?

Chainrings are the circular, toothed gears that connect to your crank at the front of your bicycle. Chainrings are designed to maximize your riding power by utilizing gear ratios on various surfaces for varying amounts of performance. They serve as a point of contact for leg power to be transferred to the chain.

A larger chainring is more difficult to push, while a smaller ring is simple. Most current road cycles have dual-ring gearing, and these double chainrings improve the cyclist’s pedaling efficiency by providing greater gearing possibilities.

Hence, choosing the proper mountain bike or road bike chainring will offer you enough gear range to climb uphill or ride on paved surfaces without spinning out.


BMX Chainrings.

BMX Bikes typically use a single chainring known as a sprocket, chain wheel, or front cog upfront and directly onto the spindle and arm. You only need to make sure that your chainring matches the crank.


Mountain Bike Chainrings.

Mountain bike chainrings have relatively fewer teeth than other cycles. These cycles are specifically designed for off-road riding and they have a single front chainring. Generally, MTB bike chainrings range from 22 to 48 teeth and 12 to 28 teeth on cogs. Some of the MTB have single, double, or triple chainrings, but it is not common. These multi chainrings let the rider easily switch a wide range of gears according to the road condition.

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The number of teeth on the chainring can determine the bike’s gear ratio. Your bike’s gear ratio should be selected based on your personal preference and the riding you do.


Road bike chainrings.

Usually, three choices are available for road bike chainrings setups, while two, the standard double and the compact double, dominate.

  • The double: A standard double chainrings are manufactured with 53 teeth on the big ring and 39t on the small ring (secondary ring).
  • The compact: One of the most used chainrings is 50t on the larger ring and 34t on the small one. Although less popular, other combinations include 50t- 36t, 52t- 36t, and 48t – 34t.
  • The triple: This option has the advantage of lower gearing, and the standard chainrings for triple include 50t- 39t- 30t.


Mountain Bike vs Road Bike Chainring.

Most of the new mountain bikes come with a 1x setup implying that there is only one front chainring. It can reduce the chance of chains coming down and avoids the need for a heavy and expensive front derailleur. On the other hand, most road bikes use 2x setups, implying that they have two front chainrings and one front derailleur.

Road bicycles have larger chainrings for higher gearing, and on the other hand, mountain bicycles have relatively smaller changing. There is a significant difference between the number of teeth on each chainring; MTB bicycles have 30- 36 teeth, and road bicycles have 46 to 56 teeth.

Many road bikes use a compact chainring setup with small front chainrings and larger rear cogs. There are many options for road bike chainrings that contain compact and race-ready arrangements. It limits you at high speeds and allows you to keep paddling at a comfortable cadence, particularly at steeper climbs.


Chainring teeth difference.

The size of the chainring is often presented with the number of teeth on it. Teeth play a vital role in the gearing of the bike. Further, the output you produce when the pedal is determined by the number of teeth in the chainring. For instance, you can pedal farther and faster per pedal when there is a 48t chainring compared to 44t.

If you take a closer look at chainrings, you will see that there are a variety of tooth profiles. Usually, a classic road bike can use a 53t large chainring, while a mountain bike that is more focused on sportive and leisure related riding can use a 50t large chainring. When we compare mountain bike vs road bike cranksets this is one of the main differences of it.

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Chainring derailleur


Can I use an MTB chainring on a road bike chainring?

A mountain bike chainring can work without issue on a road bike if you use spacers as you would on a mountain bike. MTB bottom brackets usually come in 68 or 73mm, and the only problem would be crank clearance for 68mm frames. For 73mm frames, this method would not work. Moreover, make sure that the front derailleur and gear shifter are compatible and enough space chainring and cycle frame.

However, it is recommended to use the approved chainring for your bike, but if you already own a mountain bike chainring, it will not be harmful to try it for a road bike if you are not so concerned about performance.


What do more teeth on a chainring do?

The number of teeth on a chainset can determine the gear ratio of your bike. If there are more teeth on a chainring, the gear ratio would also be high. On the other hand, lower teeth on a chainring lead to a lower gearing ratio. If you replace 30 teeth with 32 or 34 teeth on a flat surface, you can speed up.


Similar Post: Can I put a road crankset on a mountain bike?


Importance of the number of teeth on a chainring

The number of teeth affects the level of effort needed to move the pedal. The more teeth there are on a chainring, the bigger the chainring. There will be more rear-wheel rotations from a single process on the front chainring when the chainrings are larger.

Larger chainrings are great for riding faster on a flat. Smaller chainrings are more appropriate for climbing uphills. Some mountain bikes have triple-front chainrings to climb the precipice quickly.


Best chainring size

The best size of chainring will essentially depend on the riding you prefer. If you are looking for a more manageable gearing ratio, it is better to use a small chainring. It is more suitable for riders who like climbing, riding steeper hills, or carrying extra weight on their bike.

If you like racing or riding on paved areas, it is better to use a bigger chainring to ensure more top-end speed. It is possible to identify two reasons why racers are upsizing the chainrings. The first reason is that they can maintain higher speed, and they do not have a problem climbing with more complex gears as they are faster and fitter than the general population.

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The second reason is that the 1x drivetrain is simple and manageable, but there is an increased chain angle at the extreme of the cassette. It can be a slightly efficient loss if the chains are not straight. Using a chainring that enables you to stay at the center of the cassette can improve the drivetrain efficiency while also reducing friction.


bicycle chain



Best chainring size for a mountain bike

Generally, mountain bike chainrings come in smaller sizes up to 26t. However, it is recommended to try a 30t or 28t. Further, a slight swapping change from 32t to 30t chainring will make your gearing 6.7% easier.


What is the maximum chainring for MTB?

The largest chainring that we can put on mountain bicycle is a 58,50 or 48 teeth chainring. However, your bike’s frame should support larger rings, because if there’s not enough space between the new ring and the frame you cannot use it. A larger chainring is good for riding on a flat surface, but not the best for riding uphill. The ideal chainring size for mountain biking is 30T to 36T. To keep your bicycle running smoothly with less effort on various road conditions (road and off-road) use a multi chainring.


Best chainring size for road bikes

Mainly used chainring sizes for road bikes are 30t, 39t, and 50t, and typically for standard double, chainring sizes of 53t – 39t can offer sufficient gearing for riding on paved surfaces. In other words, bigger chainrings are ideal for riders who ride in flat areas.


Is a bigger chainring faster

A bigger chainring alone will not result in a faster ride as the pedaling forces you make on your pedals will not rise proportionately to the size of the chainring. It will mainly depend on your ability and the terrain you are riding. You can reach a faster ride by keeping your legs straight, pulling harder through the cranks, and pedaling with more weight.

If you pedal the bike as fast as possible and still do not get sufficient pressure on the chain, a bigger chainring can help you ride faster. In contrast, if you are riding at a comfortable cadence while putting enough pressure on the chain, a bigger chainring is unlikely to help in improving the speed.

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