The Basics of Mountain Bike Gears and Cadence

The Basics of Mountain Bike Gears and Cadence


The cadence of your pedaling on a mountain bike is the rate at which you turn the pedals. Typically, it is measured in revolutions per minute (RPM), just like your car. There is a lot of very intense debate amongst cyclists of all types about the proper cadence. There are some who subscribe to very low gears and very slow cadences.

There are others who like high gears and a fast cadence. The differences are more than superficial, though, they reflect different approaches to cycling and different muscle groups worked. So, when you are choosing mountain bike gears, you should consider which cadence you prefer.

Low and Slow

For those who like to keep their gears low and pedal slowly, they will need larger gears. Much like a vehicle, low gear is used to deliver the most power possible. The low gears are the largest gears; they translate your pedaling into revolutions of your tires most effectively. Low gears are also the most difficult to pedal, however, and they require the most strength from your legs.

For some people, that is the goal. For those who are buying mountain bike gear in Malaysia and want to work their leg muscles, big gears are better. Big gears allow you to travel very quickly at a relatively slow cadence, though they put a lot of stress on your leg muscles. For those low and slow gears, many people will keep their RPMs somewhere in the 40-60 rpm range.

High and Fast

The other school of thought insists that you should use higher gears and pedal faster. Higher gears are smaller gears that are used to reduce the amount of stress on your leg muscles. When you shift into the higher gears, you will have to pedal more revolutions to turn your tires, but there will be much less work for your legs. The low and slow approach works the leg muscles, the high and fast approach works your heart and lungs much more effectively.

While both approaches are going to work your legs and your heart, the focus is different. When you are pedaling very fast with low resistance, you’ll be relying on your cardiovascular system to pick up most of the stress. That is great for people who want to lose weight and boost their endurance. If those are your goals, you should look for mountain bike gears that come in a very wide range of speeds. You’ll want to have a lot of options because changes in terrain will require changes in your gearing.

Most people find themselves somewhere in the middle. They choose low gears when they are climbing hills early in their ride, however, as they get more tired, they tend to shift into higher gears to move the stress away from their legs. If you’re in that camp, you need to invest in good gears that offer you a range of options. Just make sure that they are quality gears made from quality materials; you don’t want them to bend or break while you’re riding.

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