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How to choose a mountain bike chainring: Chainrings are point of contact where leg power translates to the chain. Unless protected by a bashguard, they are constantly at risk of being bent by rocks and roots lurking somewhere on the trail. There are models with precisely machined teeth to facilitate smooth shifting between chainrings and others that are built to work alone.



There are two types of chainrings: those used with a front derailleur and those that aren't. Models designed for use with a derailleur have special teeth on them that create smoother shifts, both up and down. Chainrings designed to be used alone or with a chainguide have identical teeth all the way around to maximize chain security and pedaling efficiency.


Chainrings differ in size according to bolt pattern and the number of teeth. There are three bolt patterns found on mountain bikes:

  • 4 bolts with 104mm center-to-center bolt spacing and a 64mm small ring (most common),
  • 5 bolts in with 94mm spacing and a 58mm small ring,
  • or 5 bolts with 110 mm spacing and a 74mm small ring.

Chainrings range from 22 tooth inner rings (known as "granny" gears) to 48 tooth outer rings.

Things To Look For

There are three things to take into account when purchasing a new chainring: the number of teeth, the bolt pattern and whether it will be used with a front derailleur. Choosing the number of teeth can be done based on the chainring you're replacing, or on personal preference. Bolt patterns are extremely important to look into because the pattern of your crank and chainring must be identical. Finally, if you have multiple chainrings, then purchasing a model designed for use with a front derailleur is necessary to ensure proper shifting. Riders using a chainguide or only one chainring will benefit from models purpose built for this application.

How Much To Spend

Chainrings range in price from $15 to $200.

The $15-$50 price range has all types of granny rings, middle rings, and single ring models to choose from. This price range offers great replacement parts from trusted brands.

Moving up to the $50-$125 range, precision machined chainrings increase strength and shifting precision while reducing weight.

Top of the line individual rings for every style of riding, size, and bolt pattern are available in the $125-$200 range. These are designed specifically for an expensive crankset, or are sets of three high performance chainrings designed to be installed together.

Product Reviews

Before buying, be sure to do your research and read product reviews. Reviews are a great way to find out specifics about a particular model, user impressions, and things to watch out for. After you've purchased a product and had enough time to thoroughly test it, we encourage you to leave a review for other people to see when they are researching bikes and parts on the web.

We hope you've found this information to be helpful. If you have a question that isn't answered in this guide, our mountain bike forums are a great place to get advice from knowledgeable riders. Your local bike shop is also a great resource.

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