Written by 12:23 am MTB, MTB Gears

Best Mountain Bike Cranksets (Reviews & Buying Guide)



Best for bikers looking for very lightweight cranksets
Crank length: 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
Ring sizing: 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 tooth
Weight: From 14.9 oz to 15.3 oz
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The best option for triple riders looking for a lightweight top of the range gear
Crank length: 180mm
Ring sizing: 24/32/42
Weight: 860g
Durable construction
Easy to install
Maximum power transfer
Quite expensive
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Best for riders looking for an easy to replace cranks with outstanding performance
Crank length: 175mm
Ring sizing: 28/38/48
Weight: 891g
Easy to replace
Compatible with square bottom bracket
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Best for road cyclists, ultra-endurance athletes, and gravel racers
Crank length: 47.5 mm
Ring sizing: 43/30T
Weight: 692 g
Wider range of gears
Allows more clearance for fatter tires
Gearing not low enough for steeper trips
A little bit expensive
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great performance of a carbon crank without spending too much
Crank length: 170, 175mm
Ring sizing:32t
Weight: 561g
Great performance
Very good looking
Crazy stiff
Well priced
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Durable and dependable crankset
Crank length: 165/170/175mm
Ring sizing: 32t
Weight: 798 g
Easy to set up
Handles demanding trails easily
Change chainring quickly
A little bit pricey
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  • Crank length: 165mm, 170mm, 175mm
  • Ring sizing: 30, 32, 34, 36, or 38 tooth
  • Weight: From 14.9 oz to 15.3 oz
  • Pros: Lightweight, Durable, Performance
  • Cons: Expensive


  • Crank length: 180mm
  • Ring sizing: 24/32/42
  • Weight: 860g
  • Pros: durable construction, easy to install, lightweight, maximum power transfer
  • Cons: it is quite expensive


  • Crank length: 175mm
  • Ring sizing: 28/38/48
  • Weight: 891g
  • Pros: easy to replace, performance, compatible with square bottom bracket
  • Cons: heavy


  • Crank length: 47.5 mm
  • Ring sizing: 43/30T
  • Weight: 692 g
  • Pros: Wider range of gears, Allows more clearance for fatter tires, 
  • Cons: Gearing not low enough for steeper trips, A little bit expensive


  • Crank length: 170, 175mm
  • Ring sizing:32t
  • Weight: 561g
  • Pros: Great performance, very good looking, Crazy stiff, well priced
  • Cons: No cons


  • Crank length: 165/170/175mm
  • Ring sizing: 32t
  • Weight: 798 g
  • Pros: Easy to set up, Durable, Handles demanding trails easily, Change chainring quickly
  • Cons: A little bit pricey


We all know how a crankset is important to the rider. This is one component that allows you to shift gear smoothly and without any problem. With the best crankset, you will be able to shift gear when you are riding downhill or you are trying to ascent those ridiculously steep ascents. So make sure you choose the best one. Don’t be in a rush; always take your time and pick the best. Here is what you need to factor in at all times

Construction materials

A crankset is usually made up of two main parts; chainrings and crank arms. They come connected to each other; however, they come made from different materials. It could be Chromoly steel, carbon fiber, alloy, titanium or even aluminum.

So what material should you actually go for? The answer to this will depend on a number of things. Durability, weight, and performance are some of the things that will come into play.

For example, if you are looking for something lightweight and stiff, carbon fiber is the best option. Additionally, that carbon fiber look helps you achieve a very unified look of your machine.

For durability and reliability, Chromoly steel makes sense. In other cases, if you have extra money and you want to spend on a durable part, there is no way you will go wrong with titanium.

Crank Arm Length

When it comes to crank arm, the standard length you will find in most mountain bikes is 175mm. However, they are those designed for short riders, especially women and those usually measure around 165mm.

Typically, lengths range from 165-180mm and that is to suit different people. For example, short arms are the best for uphill rides and longer arms will do you greatly when it comes to downhill riders.

Ideally, the length of your crank arm must be proportional to your leg’s length. This means short cranks are meant for short legs and long cranks are for longer legs.

While there is no definite answer as to why this is the case, just take your time and experiment with different sizes. This will give you a clear picture of what we really mean. There is that length that works for you.

Chainrings and Gear Ratio

This often directly affects how hard you will need to work in order to turn the wheels. This explains why it is a very important consideration when you are buying a new crankset. The ratio is usually calculated by comparing the number of front chainring teeth to the rear cog teeth number.

Technically, a relatively higher gear, which is a big front chainring to small rear cog, will need more energy. However, you will get more speed and power. This actually will be the best option for flats and downhill rides.

Low gear; which is small front chainring to big rear cog, will take a relatively lower amount of energy to generate less power. It is a more practical option for those steep ascents.

Ideally, when choosing the best crankset, make sure you confirm the number of chainrings it has and the available sizes. Once you have it, compare to the rear cog.


Chainrings commonly use 1, 2 or even 3 rings, depending largely on the intended use

  • Single ring

This is basically designed for downhill riders. These are the riders who don’t need a wide range of gears. However, aimed at making them even much better, most brands have widened gear ratio and you can now do quite a number of things with a single ring including cross country and enduro.

  • Double ring

Still being used by most riders, however, their gearing ranges have been equaled by the vast ratio achieved by 11 and 12-speed cassettes, which are used in the single-ring crankset. Although they are quite heavy, most riders still prefer it because they are cheap and can be a really good saving.

  • Triple ring

The creation of huge cassettes has also led to the designing of triple ring cranks. Triple rings are fast becoming obsolete on mountain bikes, and you will find them on entry-level budget bikes.

Bottom Bracket Style

Is the crankset compatible with the bottom bracket? It is important the two are compatible. Normally, the cranks attach right to the bottom bracket bearing assembly. It then fits inside the BB shell of a frame. We have the cranks run on their own bottom bracket design. So it is really crucial you match the new crank to a bottom that is compatible with it.


The amount of durability your crankset comes with is paramount and must be factored in as well. The material that has been used often to determine the level of durability you are going to get. Nonetheless, the choice you make should be able to withstand any kind of abuse.

If you are looking for great longevity, nothing beats steel. It is, however, quite heavy, but it is the best option if you are a very abusive rider.

Carbon cranks, on the other hand, are very stiff. They are lighter than alloy. They are expensive and are likely to be damaged in case you are involved in a crash. Definitely not the best if you are looking at striking great durability.

Lastly, if you are looking for great strength for the best value of your money in and around the market, alloy cranks should be on top of your list.

Power Meters

Technology has advanced in recent months; you can now get some great add-ons for your bike. One such example is the power meter. This will ensure power output from pedaling is measured and stored, especially when it comes to racing. 

Power meters can now be integrated with your bike’s crankset. However, if this is something you need you may want to check before you get a new crankset. The two need to be compatible. Plus, this useful feature will actually add some hundreds of dollars to the price of the crankset.

Deal with popular brands only

This cannot be overemphasized enough; with cheap cranks from a little known company now found in almost every corner and with them coming with low prices, you can be tempted to go for them. Well, that could cost you a lot of money in the long run. Only deal with reputable companies like Shimano and SRAM. You will have to dig dipper into your pocket for their crankset design, but it is worth it. They are of high quality and do what the company says they do.

How to care for your crankset

There is no better thing you could do today to make the crankset work optionally and for the longest time, than taking good care of it.

The first thing you need to do is to make sure it is always clean and dry. Over time, dirt, and grime can build up right in the crankset and that can affect the overall performance of your bike.

Rather than lubricated it, just it give it a clean wash by spraying water directly to the bearing area. You can also use a brush if you want the best results. It will get every piece of dirt off the crankset. Most come with sealed bearing and you can get access to the interiors.

Secondly, after every single ride, take your time and do a quick examination of the chainset. Make sure all the parts are in good condition. Look for those dents and also cracks.

How can you know there is a problem with your crankset?

Usually, detecting an issue with your crankset is relatively straightforward. If it is wobbly and it starts producing a lot of noise emanating between the pedal and the cranks; that is a clear indicating, the crank isn’t working as expected. Check for your crank for any underlying issue.

Final Words

In the end, really, there is a lot that goes into the whole crankset selection process. With the number of options available, making a choice can be quite difficult. It can even be made worse if you have never had to make a choice before. What you need to do is figure out your needs and you work onwards from there.

Updated on July 1, 2021 by Ben

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