best mountain bike crankset

10 Best Mountain Bike Crankset – Reviews And Buying Guide 2018

Looking for the best MTB crankset for your beloved mountain bike?

Don’t search further!

Whether you’re looking for a replacement or an upgrade for your current crankset, we’ve got you covered in this post.

We truly understand how hard it is for you to get an ideal crankset for your bike when you’re faced with varieties and varieties of options at the market.

That’s why we’ve put up this post (of course, after days of research) to help you get the compatible crankset for your mountain bike.

Below, we’ve paraded a list of 10 brand new cranksets that are sure to boost your pedaling efficiency, grant you smoother efficiency, and increase your cycling speed.

What’s more;

We’ll share with you our easy-peasy method of choosing the perfect chainset for your MTB.

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And once you get one, we’ll show you how to take good care of it for an all-time impressive performance.

Let’s uncover more details:

What’s in a MTB Crankset?

A crankset refers to the component of your bicycle drivetrain tasked with converting the reciprocating motion of your legs into rotational motion that drives the chain which the drives the rear wheel.

In simpler words, a crankset acts as a primary interface between you and your bike.

A typical crankset comprises of the drive assembly- which then includes the spider, crank arm, chainrings, and non-drive side crank arm.

Most of the modern chainset you’ll find on the market today come with an aluminum or steel axle- known as spindle- affixed to the drive side assembly. This axle is usually inserted via the bottom bracket frame shell. And the non-drive side crank arm is then attached to it using a fixing bolt.

For your info, the bottom bracket acts as the engine room of a crankset and consists of an axle that rotates inside sets of bearings.

As for the older models, they do not come with the integrated axle spindle. Instead, they feature a socket for the two bottom bracket ends to insert.

Keep in mind that cranksets come in a wide variety, which explains why it’s always important to pay close attention when shopping to ensure you get the best mountain bike crank set.

In our next step, we’ll take you through detailed reviews of the 10 top-rated cranksets that you can use as a replacement or upgrade for your current chainset today…

Best Mountain Bike Crankset Reviews:

1. Shimano Altus 7/8 Speed Mountain Bicycle Crankset:

Shimano Altus 7/8 Speed Mountain Bicycle Crankset opens our list of the best MTB crankset reviews. Shimano is a world leader in the production of quality crankset for mountain bikes as well as other bike components. This Shimano Altus comes with a budget-friendly price and is ideal for all entry-level cyclists looking for the perfect replacement for bikes with 7 or 8 rear sprockets.

Available in both matte black and grey colors, thus crankset comes fitted with a chainguard to keep your chain into position and at the same time keep your legs away from it when cycling. It also comes with two crank arm length options- namely 170 mm and 175 mm- to suit your specific bike needs.

The Shimano requires 123mm bottom bracket (not included) for effective functioning. Other notable features in this crankset include 3/32” chain compatibility, 954g weight, and 123mm spindle length. Clearly, this model is built to deliver the smoothest, most precise shifting performance.

Highlighted features:

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    7/8 speed compatible
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    Chainguard integrated design
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    Chaincase compatible
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    Requires a 123mm bottom bracket
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    Bottom bracket not included

2. Shimano Tourney Mountain Bicycle Crank Set - FC-TY501:

Also from Shimano, we’ve got the Tourney Mountain Bicycle Crank Set - FC-TY501 model. Like its brother above, it also comes with a wallet-friendly that cannot be matched with its quality design, features, and performance.

This crankset is made for 6, 7, and 8 8 speed drives. It’s also available in two lengths- 170 or 175 mm- so you’ll have an easy time getting your preferred length.

The crank arm is designed using lightweight but durable aluminum; the chainrings are constructed from steel, and spider arm cover is made from resin. This ensures the final product has the ultimate durability to keep it on top of its performance for longer.

Highlighted features:

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    Crankset (3x8-speed)
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    FOR REAR 6/7/8-SPEED
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    Crank arm length: 170, 175 mm
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    Bottom bracket width: 68/73 mm
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    Bottom bracket not included

3. Shimano Deore SL 2-piece 9-Speed Mountain Bicycle Crank Set - FC-M590:

Yes, it’s Shimano again! The Shimano Deore M590 9-Speed Chainset comes designed for the ultimate longevity. Its outer chainring is made from sturdy aluminum while the inner and middle chainrings are made from rugged steel. This makes it a strong and durable 2-piece crankset that’s sure to perform- whether you’re hitting the trails or tackling a downhill event!

When it comes to shifting under load, this cost-effective model performs exemplary well- thanks to the inclusion of Shimano SG-X chainring (plus their bespoke spike pins).

If you’re looking for the perfect 9-speed chainset to replace or upgrade your current crankset, this model will offer you great value. The manufacturer recommends you to have it initially installed at a bike shop for super facing and fit.

Highlighted features:

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    HOLLOWTECH II 2-piece crankset for increased stiffness, durability
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    Super-narrow HG for 9-speed use
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    Outer aluminum chainring, inner & middle steel chainrings
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    BCD (bolt circle diameter): 64/104 mm
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    BB (bottom bracket) included

4. Shsyue 42/34/24T Mountain Bicycle Bike Road MTB Crankset:

The Shsyue 42/34/24T Mountain Bicycle Bike Road MTB Crankset won a place on our list due to its exceptional shifting performance and a remarkable set of features. It features the Fluid Drive Plus technology- which individually promotes optimal shifting performance.

Other than that, this Shsyue features a design of durable material ONLY. These include the sturdy aluminum outer ring and a rugged steel inner ring. And this makes it a long-lasting model that will serve you for longer than any other crankset you’ve used before.

It’s also important to note that this set of cranks comes with the riveted chainring. It comes with a crank arm length of 170 mm, axis length of 110 MM-113 MM. Above all, it comes with an affordable price, making it suitable for cyclists on a tight budget.

Highlighted features:

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    Fluid Drive Plus technology
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    Aluminum outer ring, Steel inner ring
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    Riveted chainrings
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    170mm aluminum crank length

5. Vuelta MTB Comp Crankset Review:

Since 1991, Vuelta has earned a well-deserved reputation and worldwide recognition as one of the top manufacturers of top-rated, made-in-the-USA mountain bike products- including cranksets. In our fifth spot, we take a closer look at their MTB Comp Crankset.

One thing that makes this model a favorite product among mountain bike owners is the performance it brings to the table… it features104/64mm BCD triple steel chainrings that are engineered for indexed shifting. Its arms are designed using a cold-fogged alloy, plus a durable black finish, for maximum performance in the roughest cycling conditions imaginable.

The crank arm comes in two sizes- 170 and 175 mm. The crankset is made to fit square taper 110 mm bottom bracket. The crank bolts are included in the package.

Highlighted features:

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    Cold forged arms
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    Durable finish
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    Comes with crank bolts
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    Steel chainrings designed for indexed shifting 104/64mm BCD triple steel chainrings
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    Fits square taper 110mm bottom bracket

6. Race Face Chester Mountain Bike Crankset:

The Chester Mountain Bike Crankset brings the legendary Race Face’s DH/FR crankset technology, styling, and performance to an impressively low price point. This particular crank id ideal for the AM, DJ, DH or FR rig. The manufacturer employs extensive engineering plus finite element analysis to maximize the strength and durability of this net-forged 6066 alloy crank while keeping its weight at a low.

Moreover, this crank features the patented I-lock CrMo steel inserts to give it DH strength in the critical pedal interface. The 3mm chain line adjustability capability makes it much easier to achieve the perfect drivetrain alignment- even with complicated suspension frame designs. Not to forget that this adjustability is great for fine-tuning shifting chain guide setups. This handy feature is only present in the Race Face cranks.

Because this crank also comes with the friendly “EXI” spline interface, installing and removing it becomes extremely easy and fast. The crank bearings come factory filled with Phil Wood waterproof grease- which has been tested and proved to prolong the bearing life.

Highlighted features:

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    Durable 6066-T6 alloy crank arms
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    3mm chain adjustability
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    Extended spline interface length
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    EXI interface for easy installation/removal
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    Middle-weight strong AM BB spindles

7. Shimano FC-MT700 DYNASYS 11S MTB Bike Crankset + BB 36/26T:

We’re yet to exhaust the Shimano line of top-rated MTB bike crankset. In our 7th position, we introduce to you the Shimano FC-MT700 DYNASYS 11S MTB Bike Crankset. Similar to all the other Shimanos we’ve reviewed above, this model also strikes a good balance between quality and cost.

Featuring the 36/26T chainring range, this crankset allows you to use it with a broad-range Shimano 11-speed cassette- for an extended range of gears to easily tackle all train situations. Thanks to the included HG-X technology on the crank’s chainrings (with strategically situated ramps and pins) you’ll a super smooth gear change.

The outer chainring comes constricted from carbon fiber reinforced material while the inner chainring features lightweight, sturdy aluminum construction. This results in overall durable cranks that will endure the toughest trail conditions.

Highlighted features:

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    Chainrings: 36/26T
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    Speed: 11 BCD: 96mm, 64mm
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    Hollowtech II technology for the crank arms
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    BCD: 4-arm, 96/64mm
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    Carbon reinforced outer chainring, inner aluminum chainring

8. Shimano M361 Hybrid Crankset:

One more Shimano crankset for your mountain bike shows up on our list. This is Shimano M361 Hybrid Crankset, which comes with the standard crank arm length of 175mm, just like most of the other Shimanos we’ve reviewed earlier.

The crankset comes with replaceable chainrings as well as shifting guides which significantly improves its performance. It comes packed with three chain rings- 48/38/28- and is ideal for anyone who wants to upgrade their MTB.

The extremely easy to install crankset comes with a chainguard. This not only helps stop your chain from getting off its track but also helps keep your legs and trouser off the chain during pedaling. The Shimano is compatible with the Square bottom bracket.

Highlighted features:

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    175mm crank arm length
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    Comes with three chainrings - 48/38/28
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    Comes with a chainguard
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    Square bottom bracket compatible

9. Race Face Ride Mountain Bike Crankset:

Our second last spot goes to the Race Face Ride Mountain Bike Crankset. This is the Best 1x crankset you can get at a bargain price today. The entire package includes a durable axle plus arm with quality single chainring, and even a bottom bracket. The crankset has evolved over the years to become a stiff model with an acceptable weight of 995g.

While the earlier versions of this crankset have teething issues, this new model comes with a more secure, quieter spindled EXI axle that runs without any problems on a wide range of bikes. The included ‘EXI’ interface external bottom bracket facilitates easy installation and removal of the crank.

The narrow/wide ring that’s mounted on the one-piece drive side arm and spider is a laser-etched piece- giving it unbeatable quality. The entire package comes with 32 or 34-tooth rings. And the crank's spider can work with both double- and triple-rings.

Highlighted features:

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    Crank arms net forged from sturdy 6066 aluminum
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    3mm chain line adjustability
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    995 w/triple rings and bottom bracket
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    EXI interface external BB simplified crank installation/removal
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    Lightweight, forged Chromoly steel EXI spindle

10. MOWA Five XC MTB Mountain Bike Triple Crankset:

Closing our Mountain bike crankset reviews list is the MOWA Five XC MTB Mountain Bike Triple Crankset. This particular crankset comes with crank arm length ranging from 170 to 175. This makes it a versatile model that can be used on a variety of bikes, by different riders.

Similar to our previous model, this MOWA is also designed using the durable, lightweight 6066 aluminum. This gives it a high strength to weight ratio, so it’ll serve you for a longer period of time.

This set of cranks is 3 x 9 speed / 44-32-22T. It works with the BSA, English BC 1.37" BB bottom bracket. And it can work with all chainrings with 104/64mm bolt circle diameter (4-mount).

Highlighted features:

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    Material: AL-6066 T6 full CNC
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    Lengths: 170mm / 175mm
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    Compatibility: 3 x 9 speed / 44-32-22T
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    BCD 104/64mm, 4-Arm
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    BB: BSA, English BC 1.37" BB

MTB Crankset Buying Guide For Beginners

With all the different types (thousands of thousands actually) of mountain bike cranksets available on the market today, getting the right model can become confusing for beginners.

In this section, we’ll share with you the selection method we promised you at the beginning of this post. This will help you make a wise decision when buying your bike’s chainset.

Here’s how to pick a crankset for your MTB:

Choose the right crank arm length

The first step to finding a crankset for your MTB involves checking the crank arm length.

The standard length for the mountain bikes is 175mm. However, the smaller frames, as well as the women-specific frames tend to come with a slightly shorter length of around 165mm.

In general, the length ranges from 165 to 180mm. While the shorter arms are great for uphill, the longer ones work great for downhill.

When selecting crank arm length, you should factor in your leg length. Longer Mountain bike crank arm lengths are ideal for longer legs, and shorter cranks are suitable for shorter legs.

If you’re not sure what length will work for you, you can resort to the trial and error method- by experimenting with different sizes until you get a comfortable length for you.

Construction material

A crankset usually comprises of two main parts- the crank arms and chainrings- connected together. Each of these parts might be designed using different materials- like carbon fiber, chromoly steel, titanium, aluminum alloy, etc.

When buying a crankset, it’s important to check the material used to design them and compare them with your other bike components materials. For instance, if your bike has carbon fiber parts, you’d want to look for carbon cranks that are equally stiff and lightweight.

This also helps you maintain a unified look of your MTB.

If you prefer steel, then make sure its Chromoly steel as it’s more durable and reliable than other forms of steel.

If you have some bucks to spend, you can go for the titanium cranks.

Check the chainrings (and the gear ration)

The cranks gear ratio is also an important consideration as it directly determines how hard you’ll need to work to turn your bike wheel. The ratio is determined by comparing the number of front chainring teeth to the rear cog teeth number.

The higher gear (a bigger front chainring to small rear cog) requires more energy input but rewards you with more speed and power- making it suitable for downhill and flats.

Low gear (smaller front chainring to big rear cog) takes less energy to generate less power- making it suitable for hard ascents.

Before buying a crankset, be sure to check the number of chainrings it comes with and- as well as the available sizes- and compare them to the rear cog.

Bottom bracket style

Lastly, you should check the compatibility of your crankset with the bottom bracket (BB).

A crankset attaches to a bottom bracket bearing assembly which then fits insides the bottom bracket shell of a frame.

Each crank runs on its own BB design, so it’s essential that you match your new crankset to a compatible bottom bracket.

Here are more details on how to select the right bottom bracket that matches your cranks.

How To Take Care Of Your Crankset?

As you already know, a bike is a collection of various parts that work together to help you explore the world.

The crankset, in particular, comprises all the parts between your pedals and acts as your bike transmission- transferring your leg energy into pedals, the chain, and eventually the rear wheel.

That said, taking care of your crankset is a crucial exercise that will help it perform at its best at all times.

The process isn’t quite hard, and only requires you to do the following:

1. Start by cleaning your crankset thoroughly

The first and the most important thing you’ll need to do to take care of your bike is making sure it’s always clean and dry. Dirt and grime tend to easily build up the crankset- affecting the overall bike performance.

Given that most of the modern models come with sealed bearings, you don’t have to lubricate it. Just wash it after every use/cycling.

And when washing the bike, avoid spraying water directly to the bearing area. Additionally, never use a power sprayer.

For even better cleaning results, be sure to use a stiff brush (say a toothbrush) plus solvent.

Grab a screwdriver and wrap it with your cleaning rag or Q-tip to help you easily clean the hard to reach areas.

2. Regularly examine your chainset for any issues

Regular examination of your chainset involves the following steps…

i). Examine the crankset after every ride to ensure all its parts- including the chainrings and crankarms- are in decent physical condition. Be on the lookout for any dents, cracks, as well as other damage signs.

ii). Also, check the crankarms for play. Doing this is as simple as grabbing either arm and trying to rock it back and forth- perpendicularly to your frame. Pay attention to any movements that might suggest that the bearings require adjustments or are damaged. Also, confirm that crank bolts are loose.

iii). When pedaling your MTB, check if there’s any bending in your MTB crank arms or pedal. You’ll easily detect this during pedaling as it feels like back-and-forth motion or an up-down rocking motion.

Immediately you detect such movements;

Take off the pedal, hold it by the attaching to your crankarm and spin it (the pedal). If it doesn’t spin smoothly, it’s most likely broken down, and you’ll need to repair it. If it turns smoothly, however, then the crankarms might be the problem, and you’ll need to replace it.

What to do if you get any of the above conditions?

What you just need to is fix the problems on time, to prevent them from growing into serious issues. I’d recommend you to take your bike to a reliable, trusted local bike repair shop for professional repair.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What parameters should I consider when choosing an MTB crankset?

The key parameters to help you pick the right crankset for your bike include the crank arm length, chainrings, and bottom bracket compatibility. For more details about these parameters, check our buying guide above.

2. How do I know that my crankset isn’t working correctly?

Detecting problems with your cranks is quite easy…if it is wobbly, or there’s noise produced between your pedal and the cranks, then you’d want to check your crankset for any underlying issues.

3. How do I overhaul my crankset for inspection?

First, it’s important to note that you shouldn’t attempt to take apart your crankset if you don’t know anything about it; instead, consider taking your bike to a reliable repair shop for professional servicing.

As for the DIYer, overhauling your crankset for inspection/repair is quite easy. Follow this simplified guide for more details.

Final Verdict

See, we delivered our promise!

We’ve just taken you through an encyclopedic guide- teaching you everything you need to know about buying the Best crankset for mountain bike.

The key factors to help you get the right crankset include the construction material, crank arm length, gear ration and chainrings number, and the bottom bracket compatibility.

If you don’t wanna go through all the stress and headaches of selecting the best mtb crankset for your bike, go to our reviews section and order one of our top 10 brand new cranks available on the market today.

After buying you brand new cranks, remember to follow our advice on how to take good care of it, so that it can give you the best performance at all times.

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