Are you low on cash but want to build a new MTB out of the components of an old one? Indeed, finding the best MTB crankset is the best way to start.
But why buy a new crankset? Well, outfitting your MTB with a new crankset comes with several benefits:
You get more efficient pedaling
It rewards you with higher speeds
You can count on it to provide smoother shifting
Still, choosing the best mountain bike cranks is a challenge. There are different sizes, setups, and materials to pick. Also, each tends to employ different technologies to improve the riding performance. But that shouldn’t be a concern as I’m here to help you get the most out of your new crankset. I’ll review the best MTB crankset and show you how to pick the best upgrade for your mountain bike.
10 Best MTB Crankset
1. CYSKY Bike Crank Arm Set
You’re more likely to get this crankset from a variety of vendors. So, what makes CYSKY a better choice? Well, the vendor has more excellent packaging and offers quick delivery.
Now, back to this crankset. How does it measure in terms of quality?
Okay, this crank arm set comes in forged 6061 aluminum alloy. It’s extremely strong, stiff, and with tremendous weight savings.
But it doesn’t come with chainrings. So, what chainring setup I’m I looking at?
Well, this crankset has a 4-hole configuration with a 104mm bolt center diameter. It’s compatible with 32T, 34T, 36T, and 38T removable, single chainrings. And as for the chainring brand, you’re looking at the likes of Shimano, FSA, and Gaint.
How long is the crank arm? And what does it mean regarding proper fit?
The crank arm is 170mm, a standard size for most mountain bikes. So, it should be a comfortable fit for riders who are 173-179cm tall.
Now, let’s dwell a bit on the bottom bracket.
It uses the old 68/73mm English shell. Still, it promises tremendous benefits.
It has a threaded design that offers a more secure fit
It’s easier to work on as you only need a special wrench to remove and install
Unlike press-fit bottom brackets, it has little to no creaking noise
Though an old-style bottom bracket, it has one huge improvement. The bearings sit outside the shell, making more room for bigger bearings. So, you get better weight distribution with more stiffness and strength.
Are there any extras included in the package?
Yes, this crank arm set comes with four chainring bolts, a crank screw, and an Allen wrench.
- Suitable for both mountain and BMX bikes
- Aluminum alloy offers durability, strength, and weight savings
- Sleek, stylish, and with superior performance
- Straightforward setup
- Includes bonus Allen wrench
- It doesn’t include the chainring
2. SHIMANO M361 Hybrid Crankset
Here is the Acera FC-M361 crankset. Well, it’s pretty much at the low end of the Shimano family. It’s, however, far much better than Altus and Tourney.
Let me take this moment to say this:
Shimano Acera FC-M361 is among the best track cranksets and perhaps the best MTB crankset for the money.
But what makes it one of the best in the industry?
Well, you can use this crankset on any bike as long as it has a square bottom bracket. Also, you don’t need special knowledge to put it together.
The hyperdrive system is another big plus only unique to Shimano. It makes the ride significantly quieter and smoother. Moreover, it provides stress-free shifting.
The crank arm length. How about the crank arm length?
Shimano goes for a 175mm crank arm for the Acera FC-M361 crankset. It provides an excellent fit for riders who are 185.5-192 cm tall.
So, how’s the setup in this crankset?
Okay, this triple crankset has a 42/32/22T interchangeable chainring configuration. It’s pretty much a lower gearing ratio, making it a good climber. This crankset pairs well with 7/8 speed rear cassettes.
Any bonus features you must know of?
Yes, this crankset comes with a chainguard. Made of tough polycarbonate, it protects the chainrings from damage.
- Light but sturdy construction
- Affordable, ground-breaking components
- Quieter, simple, stress-free shifting
- Three substitutable chainrings
- Compatible with almost any type of bike
- Includes a chainguard
- It doesn’t include the bottom bracket
3. Retrospec Fixed-Gear Crank Single-Speed
Well, there are pretty good reasons why you might want to shift to a single-speed crankset.
It has minimal mechanical issues and very low maintenance costs
A single-speed crankset is more affordable and lightweight
You don’t have to worry about derailleurs and shifters, allowing you to focus more on the ride
But of all the models available, why Retrospec?
Okay, this 3-piece Mantra crankset is an improved model. It’s denser and burlier like never before. Still, it retains a lightweight built, thanks to the forged aluminum construction. Also, it has a removable steel chainring that doesn’t require constant maintenance.
Anything else to like about the Mantra crankset?
Yes, the 170mm crank arm, though standard for most mountain bikes, is re-designed to be much stronger. It provides quicker acceleration and can handle more aggressive rides.
This 5-bolt crankset is also highly compatible. It has a single-plateau teeth design that accepts virtually any chain. Unlike most fixies that only use 1/8-inch chain width, the Mantra crankset also accepts 3/32-inch chain width. So, besides mountain bikes, this crankset can fit BMX, track, and road bikes.
And did you know?
The Mantra crankset comes in different chain-wheel sizes to suit your style. You get it in 44, 46, and 48-teeth configurations.
- Highly versatile and reliable
- Provides stronger, faster, more aggressive riding
- Smooth cadence with every revolution
- Available in three chainring sizes
- Multiple color choices
- It doesn’t come with a bottom bracket
- The pedal threads are a bit tight and tricky to fit
4. SRAM S600 Crankset
For the fans of SRAM cranksets, the SRAM S600 is a good start. It’s among the TRUVATIV line of products renowned for providing unwavering style and dependability.
So, how does it measure up regarding quality?
Well, you can always count on SRAM to deliver top-quality products, and the S600 crankset is no exception. It’s cold-forged for strength, toughness, and weight savings. Also, it has steel chainrings that are ramped and pinned for smooth-shifting performance.
Now let’s get down to the specifics.
SRAM S600 is a triple crankset with three removable 42/32/22T chainrings. It pairs with 8/9-speed rear cassettes, providing a wider gear range for climbing.
The 175mm crank arm, though long for short users, offers a bit more leverage. Also, this crankset fits classic square bottom brackets purchased separately.
Are there multiple color choices?
Unfortunately, SRAM S600 only comes in black. Still, the labeling and finish coordinate well with all drivetrains in the SRAM family.
- Combines good looks and dependability
- Lighter and stronger
- It runs smooth and quiet
- Compatible with 8-and 9-speed cassettes
- A wider gear range for different terrains
- You have to buy the bottom bracket separately
5. Shimano Ultegra R8000 Standard Crankset
Ultegra R8000 is a second-tier crankset in the Shimano family and a staple for most professional MTB riders. It comes a bit expensive but packs more cutting-edge features.
Well, Ultegra R8000 heavily resembles the new Dura-Ace crankset. The re-designed asymmetric arm, however, gives it a beefier look for stiffer power transfer.
And hey, have you ever heard of Shimano Hollowtech II technology?
Okay, it’s a patented arm construction technology and a heavily guarded secret at that. Well, Shimano uses it on the Ultegra R8000 crankset to keep the forged arms and outer chainring hollow. Hence, it reduces the weight dramatically without sacrificing stiffness.
Those after super-sized cassettes will also love the Ultegra R8000. But why?
Well, this double chainring crankset pairs with 11-speed Ultegra rear cassettes to provide an even larger gear ratio.
And there’s a ton of options for the crank arm length and chainring sizes.
You can pick 165mm (36/46T), 170mm (34/50T), 172.5mm (36/52T), or 175mm (39/53T). Indeed, Shimano Ultegra R8000 offers endless options for different riding styles and rider heights.
Also, this crankset is re-designed to provide a wider gear pitch. But what does that mean?
The wider gear pitch increases clearance between the leading teeth and the chain. It provides more room for better compatibility with modern frames.
Who is this crankset for?
The Ultegra R8000 is for anyone who desires speed and quick acceleration. Also, it’s ideal for riding multiple terrains.
- Optimized power transfer
- Flawless shifting
- Hollowed-out design sheds weight
- Industry-leading stiffness
- Greater frame compatibility
- A wider range of gear and crank arm combinations
- A bit expensive
6. CDHPOWER Single-Speed Crankset
Are you looking for the best single-speed crankset? Well, hear what the CDHPOWER crankset has to offer.
First, you get a durable build quality that comprises sturdy crank arms. But just how good is the construction?
Okay, CDHPOWER uses solid carbon steel for the chainring and forged aluminum alloy for the arms. That makes it remarkably durable and also very light.
But how much weight are we looking at?
Well, there are two versions of this crankset: 32T and 36T. The weight is 515g and 620g, respectively, without the bottom bracket.
So, what bottom bracket sizes work best with this crankset?
CDHPOWER crankset accepts 68x118mm, 68x120mm, and 68x122mm square taper bottom brackets.
And now, to the crank arm.
You get 170mm for the 36T version and 165mm for the 32T version. Hence, there’s something for both tall and short users.
Are you wondering which pedal and chain size to use on this crankset?
This crankset is compatible with 9/16-inch pedals. Also, it accepts 1/8-inch chain width.
- Durable, lightweight materials
- Smooth riding performance
- Available in two sizes
- Easy to remove and install
- Compatible with most big box store bikes
- No bottom bracket
- The fixed chainring design demands a new crank if it gets damaged
7. GANOPPER Square Taper Crank Arm Set
GANOPPER crankset is a great way to convert to a 1x setup. Also, it has room to upgrade to 2x or 3x in the future.
But there’s more to this 104mm crankset than the future-proof design.
The crank comes in stiffer, durable, and lighter 6061 aluminum alloy. Also, it uses 7075 machined aluminum alloy for the chainring.
Like the crank, the arm comes in forged 6061 aluminum. It’s wider for strength and durability and grooved to shed weight. Also, it has a standard length of 170mm and fits 9/16-inch pedals.
So, what design is the bottom bracket?
Well, the package doesn’t include the bottom bracket. Still, this crankset is for square taper bottom brackets known to provide an easy fit.
And if you must know, there are different sizes and colors to this crankset.
You can go with 32T, 34T, 36T, 38T, or 40T chainring configurations. Also, it’s available in five different colors. It provides endless options to match your riding style.
So, what rear cassette should I consider for this crankset?
Well, this crankset fits 9, 10, and 11-speed cassettes. So, again, it offers a wider gear range for a variety of terrains.
- Stiffer, durable, and lightweight aluminum alloy
- Upgradable to the double and triple-chainring crankset
- A wide range of gear combinations
- Multiple color choices
- The bottom bracket isn’t included
8. SRAM GXP 165mm 48T Omnium Track Crankset
Before I go on, there are some things you should know about the SRAM Omnium crankset.
It’s the first track crankset to have an external bearing
It’s among the ultimate choice for street and track performance
As you can see, SRAM Omnium isn’t your average crankset. It’s the ultimate fixie crankset and a go-to choice for world-class track racing. Indeed, that explains the slightly expensive price tag.
And did you know? The GXP name is more than just a nickname.
Well, it stands for Giga X Pipe, a technology that allows compatibility with a wide range of bike parts.
You’ll also be glad to know that SRAM Omnium uses the strongest and stiffest materials. It comprises forged 7050 aluminum arms and 7075-T6 anodized aluminum removable chainring. Well, such a combination makes it the most robust in the SRAM category.
And thanks to the higher 48-teeth count, this crankset offers a higher gear ratio. Also, those after quick acceleration will love the short 165mm crank arm.
Perhaps what makes this crankset even more lovable is the all-in-one package. It comes complete with the bottom bracket and a 68mm English shell.
Are you trying to figure out the best chain size for this crankset?
Well, you don’t have options as SRAM limits you to the 1/8-inch chain size.
- The stiffest and strongest in the SRAM category
- Includes the bottom bracket and the shell
- Quicker acceleration for track racers
- Better weight distribution
- Easy to install
- A bit expensive for beginners
9. Shimano FC-M640 Zee 10 Speed Crankset
Are you a free-rider or downhill specialist looking for an indestructible, heavy-duty crankset? Sit tight as I introduce the FC-M640 Zee Crankset.
But what makes it so robust?
Well, this 2-piece crankset has thick-walled 170mm aluminum arms and a removable chainring. Also, it uses stronger steel for the axle and pedal inserts. Such a combination makes it tough enough to withstand the rigors of gravity riding.
Are you looking for a compatible bottom bracket?
Don’t worry since the package includes the BSA 68/73mm threaded bottom bracket. This English shell offers a more secure fit. But what I find more impressive is that it also allows for a press-fit install.
So, what chainring sizes do I get in this crankset?
Well, this crankset is available in 34, 36, or 38-teeth chainrings. Hence, you can choose the one that works best for you. Also, it’s designed to pair with 10-speed cassettes.
- Highly affordable
- Indestructible, heavy-duty construction
- Includes a bottom bracket
- Available in three chainring sizes
- Elegant design
- The crank arms are prone to scratches
10. SRAM S300 Courier Crankset
Are you looking to upgrade from your old-school, square-tapered crankset? I bet you’ll love the SRAM S300 crankset.
But what gives it an edge over square-taper cranksets?
Well, the S300 uses a spline-drive sprocket. It offers far better alignment, ride quality, and power transmission.
As it turns out, the construction quality is also pretty sound. You ask how?
Okay, SRAM S300 is a well-engineered, well-made crankset. It comes in forged 6061-T6 aluminum that’s stiffer and lighter than its predecessor.
Also, the bottom bracket boasts the Gutter Seal Technology. Because of that, it’s very stiff and durable, hence maximizing performance.
Again, you get Powerglide CNC machined chainring. Unlike your average chainring, it offers precise and optimized shifting performance.
Do you know what else is fantastic regarding this crankset?
Well, it has clean laser etching on the face of the arms. It’s something that’s going to stay on for a long time. Moreover, it has washers that fit the arms for pedal installation. Hence, you’re less likely to mess them up.
We don’t ride the same size of bike, do we?
Well, to meet such diversity, this crankset comes in three different sizes, comprising 165mm and 170mm crank arms.
- Well-made and balanced
- Lightweight, durable material
- Includes a bottom bracket
- A stiffer bottom bracket guarantees a smoother ride
- Available in three different sizes
- A bit difficult to remove the chainring from the crank
Best MTB Crankset: Complete Guide
The construction material is pretty much the first thing to consider when looking for the best mountain bike crankset. So, what are my options regarding the best material for MTB cranksets?
Generally, cranksets come in aluminum, carbon fiber, steel, or titanium. Also, it’s more likely that the crank arms and the chairing come in different materials.
Mostly, I would advise you to look for a material that coordinates other bike components. For instance, if your bike has aluminum components, you’ll probably want to have an aluminum crankset.
Meanwhile, let’s discuss the benefits of each crankset material.
Carbon, though expensive, is lighter than aluminum and stiffer than steel. It’s, however, more expensive. Hence, most cranksets tend to combine carbon and aluminum to keep the cost down.
Aluminum is pretty much in the middle and provides a great compromise. It provides both stiffness and a lightweight build. Mostly, you have the option of 6000 and 7000 series aluminum alloy, with the latter being the better option.
Steel, though strong, isn’t nearly as lightweight as carbon or aluminum. In fact, it’s the heaviest. But if you should go for steel, settle for Chromoly steel since other forms of steel are less durable.
Titanium cranksets are quite rare and more expensive. And in recent years, they have been largely superseded by carbon cranksets.
Crank Arm Length
Well, 175mm is pretty much the standard crank arm length for mountain bikes. Still, you’ll find shorter 165mm arms, mostly on smaller frames and women-specific mountain bikes. Generally, crank arm lengths for MTBs range from 165-180mm.
The crank length needs to be proportional to your leg length. Hence, those with shorter legs should go for short crank arms, while those with longer legs will be better off with long crank arms.
Also, the ideal crank length depends on your riding style. If you like to ride downhill, a longer crank arm will suffice. But if you want to make climbing less exhaustive, a shorter crank is better.
Tooth Count/Gear Ratios
Do you want higher or lower gearing? Typically, you want to choose lower gearing for hard ascents. A higher gearing ratio, on the other hand, is for speed and maximum power transfer. Such a setup is ideal for downhill and flats.
But how can I tell a lower gearing ratio from a higher gearing ratio?
Well, it’s easy. Compare the number of teeth on the chainring to the number of teeth on the rear cog. If the chainring has more teeth, then it offers a higher gearing ratio. However, if the chainring has fewer teeth, then you get lower gearing. Often, higher gearing demands more energy.
A crankset can have single, double, or triple chainrings.
A single chainring setup is ideal for those who desire a simpler, lighter, and less expensive crankset. And with rear cogs getting larger, single chainrings are slowly replacing doublets and triplets. Unless you’re into racing or hard ascents, a single chainring is probably the best.
The double chainring setup has a smaller inner ring and an outside cog. It’s the best choice for boosting speed.
Triple cranksets give you a wider gear range for a variety of terrains. However, they come with a weight penalty.
Bottom Bracket Style
Well, bottom bracket compatibility is essential. After all, different bike frames come with different size bottom brackets. Also, the shape tends to vary.
Some cranksets come complete with a bottom bracket; others don’t. For the latter, you can use an existing bottom bracket or buy a new one. Moreover, some manufacturers have bottom bracket adapters to improve compatibility.
MTB Crankset FAQs:
Question: Is a crankset upgrade worth it?
Answer: Yes, an upgrade will create a noticeable difference. You’ll be able to shed more weight and improve stiffness. Also, you’ll benefit from better materials and craftsmanship. More often, this results in improved riding performance.
Question: What’s the best MTB crankset for climbing?
Answer: Well, look for a crankset that offers the lowest gear ratio. It will keep you from getting fatigued quickly. Such cranksets tend to have smaller chainrings.
Question: What’s the best crank arm length for MTB cranksets?
Answer: Most MTB crankset arms are 175mm. Still, you can also get them at 172.5mm, 170mm, and 165mm. A rider with longer legs, for instance, will feel more comfortable pedaling a longer crank arm, say 175mm. So, it’s all about getting the right fit.
Still, you’ll find a shorter crank arm more ideal for climbing. A longer crank arm, on the other hand, is better for descents.
Getting the best crankset for mountain bikes is mostly about having the right fit. Still, there are a ton of others features to consider when picking the best MTB crankset. It will improve overall riding performance and also ensure you get more value for money. But what’s your take regarding our best mountain bike crankset review? Moreover, which MTB crankset would you settle for? I’ll definitely be glad to know in the comments.