How Do Gears On A Mountain Bike Work?

How bike gears work is a question asked by most mountain bikers. Some of us bikers will just jump on the bike and start pedaling without giving a second thought about how the gears work. Not really spending time to understand how the gears work. Today, the gears in mountain bikes are getting more and more complicated.

Changing your gears is one of the most basic functions of the bike. By getting an understanding of the gears and how they work will not only improve your speed but also increase your endurance on longer rides. And makes the ride more comfortable.

In this post, we will go through how to do gears on mountain bikes work and you can get started into mountain biking with confidence. Let’s get started!

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How Do Gears On Mountain Bike Work?

The idea behind gears on bikes is to allow the rider to crank the pedals at a constant pace no matter what kind of slope the bike is on. You can understand this better by picturing a bike with just a single gear.

Each time you rotate the pedals one turn, the rear wheel would rotate one turn as well so 1:1 gear ratio. If the rear wheel is 26 inches in diameter, then with 1:1 gearing. One full twist on the pedals would result in the wheel covering 81.6 inches off the ground.

bike chain oiled

If you are pedaling at a speed of 50 RPM. This means that the bike can cover over 340 feet of ground per minute. This is only 3.8 MPH, which is the equivalence of walking speed. This is ideal for climbing a steep hill, although bad for ground or going downhill.

To go faster you’ll need a different ratio. To ride downhill at 25 MPH with a 50 RPM cadence at the pedals, you’ll need a 5.6:1 gear ratio.

A bike with a lot of gears will give you a large number of increments between a 1:1 gear ratio. And a 6.5:1 gear ratio so that you can always pedal at 50 RPM, no matter how fast you are actually going.

On a normal 27-speed mountain bike, six of the gear ratios are so close to each other that you can’t notice any difference between them.

Gears are very important in mountain biking as they help the rider manage their overall speed, climb slopes, and hills. It is important to understand the gears and if bikes didn’t have gears you wouldn’t be able to build speed or adjust gears for climbing slopes.

How Gears Does A Mountain Bike Have?

Generally speaking, mountain bikes can come with 1, 3, 18, 21, 24, or 27 gears. So a bike with 21 gears is a 21-gear bike.

The low numbers are the low gears while the high numbers are the high gears. The first gear is low gear. Twenty-first gear is the high gear.

Should You Pedal While Changing Gears?

Yes, you need to be pedaling when you changing the gears. This is because the chain needs to be moving for the derailleurs to “derail” the chain from one sprocket to another sprocket.

If you try and change the gears without pedaling, the gears will not change until you do start pedaling. Plus you may hear some funny noises from the chain.


Is A High Gear Easier To Pedal?

No, it is not easier. The reason is that because you are using the largest front chainring size with the smallest rear sprocket means you are putting in more effort for 1 rotation when you pedal.

Remember that high gear is hard for pedaling but good for descending.

With actual use, bike riders tend to choose a front sprocket suitable for the slope they are riding on and stick with it. Although the front sprocket can be difficult to shift under a heavy load. It’s much easier to shit between the gears on the rear.

If you are cranking up a hill, it’s best to choose the smallest sprocket on the front then shift between the nine gears available on the rear. The more speeds you have on the back sprocket, the bigger advantage you’ll have.

Wrapping Up

Finally, there are all types of gears available in mountain bikes, all of which will help you build up a lot of momentum if you use them the right way. By getting a better understanding of the gears it improves your performance in terms of speed and comfort.

And that’s it for now! I’d love it if this post on how do gears on a mountain bike work, was helpful to you. Let me know if you have any questions and let me know if there is more to add.

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Gears On A Mountain Bike Work