Tips for getting your MTB gearing right

Good sprocket selection can help you ride faster for longer

Get your cadence right on climbs and tackling obstacles will be much easier

Riding in the right gear can save you energy and help you ride faster and better on technical terrain.


To work out the most effective gear to be in you’ll need to have a good idea of your cadence, which is the number of full revolutions your legs make per minute. You can count this as you ride to check you’re within the right range.

1. Long gradual climbs

If you’re riding a long fireroad climb it’s best to spin at around 80 to 90 revolutions per minute (RPM).

Resist the temptation to grind a big gear — it might impress your mates but you’ll burn your legs out more quickly.

2. Short technical ascents

On shorter, more technically challenging climbs with obstacles such as roots, rocks and tight turns, aim for around 60rpm.

This will give you good traction if it’s slippery and make it easier to lift your front wheel up onto ledges.

3. Getting up to speed

If you’re spinning out or pushing a gear that’s too hard, you won’t be able to apply maximum power to the pedals when accelerating.

Spin hard up to about 100rpm, then drop down a gear at a time at the back. You can downshift under power. 


4. Bigger isn’t better

Pushing too big a gear is tough on the legs and can also make it harder to negotiate trail features such as roots and stumps, and to recover after unexpected losses of grip.