Why Do Mountain Bikes Only Have 11 Gears Now

Why Do Mountain Bikes Only Have 11 Gears Now? – [Explained]

As a beginner, I always wonder why mountain bikes have 11 gears now. After thorough research, I found that nowadays, mountain bikes have 11 gears because they are lightweight, simple, and ultra-quiet.

There is a single chairing, and you need a shifter on the right side of your handlebar. Shifting is more effective, offers better cadence, and has nearly the same gear range.

I’ve already made an article about “ Why Do Mountain Bikes Not Have Kickstands? “, which I recommend you read.

reasons to justify the 11 gears of modern mountain bikes:

Gears on mountain bike

Pros of 11 gear mountain bikes:

  • A mountain biker loves to keep things straightforward and effortless. With an 11 gear system in mountain bikes, there are fewer risks of having something go worse.
  • The best part is that such gears need less repair and low maintenance. If there are two or three chairing systems, the chances of issues are higher.
  • With 11 gears, a mountain biker needs single chairing, which makes everything ultra lightweight. To be honest, I don’t think there is any weight difference when you switch from two chairing to one.
  • However, when you are using a mountain bike with three chainring, and you go to one chairing, then it can make a difference of up to 300 grams.
  • If you have one chairing, there is no need for a front derailleur. Honestly, the front derailleur is not reliable. During shifting, it can increase the dangers of chain falling off the first, second and third chairing.
  • The main benefit of one chainring is that it eliminates such risks.
  • You need one sifter on the right side of your handlebar to shift with an 11 gear system in mountain bikes. This is handy as it helps to free up the left handlebar.
  • You can put a dropper post remote on the left handlebar. It allows moving the seat up or down. It also helps in better control and power for pedaling when you are going up or down a hill.
  • When you are shifting with two or three chainring, it is recommended to slow down to ensure the chain shifts properly.
  • The front derailleur doesn’t shift like the rear one. With single chairing, you don’t need to worry about such risks. Shifting with a single chainring is quicker, which is best for mountain biking when you are looking to shift to moments’ notice compared to pavement riding.
  • Pedaling cadence is essential to maintain the power and speed of your mountain bike. One chainring system has thicker and longer tooth with no release points for shifting.
  • It also helps to create a more durable drivetrain. The chain can handle more powerful pedaling and also won’t fall off, which is ideal for rider safety.
  • The tooth are usually shorter with release points on two and three-chainring systems. Such a design is also useful in shifting. The chain may get stuck or slip in these chainring systems.
  • When it comes to 11 gear system mountain bikes, a single chainring setup completely eliminates these problems.
  • Using 11 gear designs ensures not using as many gears as those with two or three chainring.
  • However, the difference is not significant. You can maximize or minimize the one chainring size for easy or hard pedaling according to your needs.

Gears on mountain bike

Cons of 11 gears mountain bike:

If there is a benefit, there must be one hidden drawback of every product.

  • The first dark side of the 11 gears system is that you can’t use many gears between the highest and lowest gear. However, this isn’t a serious problem for mountain bikers as when they are riding on the trail; they don’t require such precision gear riding.
  • If you can successfully handle the mountain bike over various types of terrains, you can easily master the skill.
  • Another drawback of the 11 gear mountain bike is that you will run out of gear during fast downhill riding. The pedals will begin to freewheel or spin as you can’t pedal any faster.
  • In case you are using SARM, you can get smaller or larger cassettes like 12-speed. You may get a smaller or bigger front chainring. They are effortless to take on and off. All you need is to remove a few bolts.
  • The chain line isn’t so straight, as the front derailleur is absent. However, it happens only when the bike chain is at the bottom or top of the cassette. In such a position, if you are looking to backpedal the chain, it can derail certain mountain bikes.

How to install one chainring 11 gear system on a mountain bike?

gears on bike

There is no rocket science to install the single chainring 11 gear system on your mountain bike. Here is how you do this easily and quickly.

  • You need a narrow-wide chainring to improve the chain security because it will stay on better. Such chainring type sticks to the chain perfectly and prevents the chain from bouncing off.
  • If you are a racer or ride aggressively, it is better to use a chain for maximum security. You will surely ride on rough terrains loaded with rocks and roots. This may cause your mountain bike to shake seriously, jarring the chain up and down quickly.
  • It is recommended to use 10-42 cassettes as it offers the biggest range of ratios. The large ratio means faster speed. The size of the chainring is typically based on your personal preference. You can select between 32 and 36 tooth on the chainring.
  • Most riders prefer 34, but if you are a strong rider, it is better to go for the higher number, such as 36, for fast speed.
  • Remove the front shifter and also the front mech to reduce the weight of your mountain bike.
  • Ensure that the chainring fits the cranks. When you are buying a chainring, bring the cranks with you to find the right fit.
  • Bolt Circle Diameter, commonly known as BCD, is one essential thing you should know. Match the BCD of your chainring with the diameter of the crankset.
  • It is wise to play around with the chainring for a while to get a perfect fit on the crankset.
  • It is critical to ensure you have an excellent chainline to the back of the mountain bike.
  • Make sure to place the chainring in the previous position.
  • For the backside, utilize a 1-by-11 drivetrain gear setup. Don’t forget to use a clutch mech, as it helps with chain retention.
  • Always use 10-42 cassettes to get the maximum range.

Final words

Mountain bikes are different from typical bikes, and therefore they have different mechanisms. Modern mountain bikes have 11 gears because they are lightweight, easy to use, and best for mountain biking.

These gears shift quickly when running into rough terrain. However, riding experience is an essential factor to consider before choosing the type of gear for your mountain bike.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Is 11 speed faster than 9 speed?

Yes, 11-speed is faster than 9-speed as a 9-speed cassette features large steps between the gears whereas 11-speed has smaller steps. You need to pedal at a slower or faster cadence to maintain the speed, or a pedal bit softer or harder to maintain a cadence than you can with an 11-speed cassette.

How many gears should a mountain bike have?

A mid-range mountain bike has 10 or 11 gears, whereas a high-end mountain bike feature 12 gears.

Is 11 speed mountain bike good?

11 speed mountain bike offers an ultra-smooth and more progressive shift ratio. It is an excellent choice for both normal riding and climbing.

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