How Mountain Bike Gears Work?

How Mountain Bike Gears Work

In this short answer guide, I will be answering your question of how mountain bike gears work.

Mountain bikes have gained so much popularity in the past few years. There are millions of avid bikers all over the world who prefer these bikes to every other bike. The majority of those fans are concentrated in Europe, particularly the UK. There are many features and other knick-knacks in mountain bikes that cheaper bikes don’t have, and the riders are all for it.

They don’t buy mountain bikes to get from point X to point Z; they have a unique affiliation and affection with these bikes, and rightly so. These bikes are useful for both on-road and off-road rides. From suspension to gears, mountain bikes are all about bells and whistles. 

Talking about gears, well, they are one of the fundamental organs of any bike. There are gearless bikes available too, but they are only good on flat tracks. They also tend to be slower than the ones having gears. Gears allow you to take on steep climbs with fewer efforts.

They help you ride more efficiently while going uphill, downhill, or on a flat track. If you don’t have a geared bike when going uphill, you will grind to a halt. Long story short, they ensure smooth rides. 

Mountain bikes come with an extensive gears range. There are many options that a buyer can choose from. 1, 3, 18, 21, 24, 27 gears that are generally available, and you can choose any of them according to how and where you want to ride your bike. Nowadays, the industry has started to see more mountain bikes with 11 gears. The obvious reason for this is that the bikes with 11 gear are lighter and simpler than having more gears.

Furthermore, 11 gears are fine for your bike to ride on a variety of terrains. It’s not that more gears are useless, but 11 gears also do a fine job. Moreover, you won’t have to worry too much about the right gear combinations. 

How Mountain Bike Gears Work?

With that out of the way, a question that arises here is that how do gear in a mountain bike work? Many people who use this bike must have thought about it. For better performance and experience, you have to have a basic knowledge of your bike. You should know how mountain bike gears work.

Most people only know the actual count of gears, and they don’t know the working of gears, which can come in handy in some situations. If you have the right knowledge of gears, you’d know the problems which you might face. And knowing the problems is important to address that problem. So, let’s delve further into it without any further ado.

The first and most basic thing to know is shifters. These are placed on the handlebars of mountain bikes, and as the name suggests, they are used to change gears.

Cassette is another important thing. It is a collection of different cogs and sprockets on the rear wheel. Talking about chainrings, there are generally 1, 2, or 3 chainrings in a mountain bike. The pedal turns them. The chain connects it with the cassette. 

Then we have the derailleurs, there is one derailleur at the back, and if your bike has more than one chainring, you get one at the front too. They have been given this name because they derail the chain. It guides it from one sprocket to the next. They make the gear shifting incredibly seamless.

One thing to bear in mind is that you should give it enough time to penetrate a chain’s rollers when you lubricate your chain. That ensures the smooth manoeuvre of rollers.

Outside spacing on chains changes with the change in speed. You have nine-speed, ten-speed, 11 speed etc. They differ from each other, which means you can’t just use any chain on any bike. However, some gears are compatible. They should have the least difference; for example, ten-speed and 11 speed are compatible. 

Now that we have discussed the components let’s discuss when you should change the gears. Knowing this will have a direct impact on your riding and will make it a lot easier.  When going uphill, you should switch to lower gear using that shifter on the handlebar.

That will make the pedalling easier and faster, and ultimately, this will save a lot of your effort and time. That will make sure you don’t put too much effort and end up scratching your head with frustration. This process is called downshifting. You can also use downshifting when you’re in a hurry and need to get to someplace quickly.

Vice versa, you should change your gear to a bigger one when going downhill. That will make pedalling difficult, and you will be able to travel downwards smoothly. That is called upshifting. It would be best if you worked on shifting gears as this could make you a veteran biker. 

How Mountain Bike Gears Work


How do you use gears on a mountain bike?

There are two processes, i.e. upshifting and downshifting. The ethical implication of these processes will make your biking smooth. While going uphill, you should shift to a lower gear to gain speed and make pedalling faster and easier. Similarly, it would help if you shifted to a higher gear when going downhill, as it will make pedalling difficult. Ultimately, you will have low speed while going downhill.

What do seven gears on a bike mean?

Seven gears or seven speeds on a bike means it has seven gears. A 7-speed bike could be used on a variety of terrains, including uphill and downhill. As compared to a 3-speed bike, you can drive with more authority and control. These bikes are especially recommended to riders who ride on a variety of terrains.

How can I bike uphill without getting tired?

Biking uphill can be tiresome. To avoid that, make sure your bike is not too bulky. Also, proper shifting of gears can make a lot of difference. Shifting to a lower gear would save a lot of your effort when going uphill. 


Mountain bike gears are a complicated topic. It seems like no matter how much you read about them, there is always something new that can be learned. If you’re looking for help understanding the basics of mountain bike gearing and what it takes to get started with your own setup, we have some resources here on our site that may be able to point you in the right direction.

Johan Oakley

Hi, I am John Oakley- The Guy behind this site. I am an avid hiker and love to try new mountain bikes. I love to experiment with new gear for biking and cycling and this site is a result of my passion for reviewing and checking the best mountain bikes and accessories.

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