44t vs 42t chainring (2024)

Cubist Posts: 73

May 2012 edited May 2012 in MTB general

for general trail/xc riding with a fair bit of road thrown in, do 44tooth chainrings offer a significant advantage/disadvantage over 42tooth? A mate of mine has recently installed a FSA 44/32/22 (I think) chainset to his bike and reckons that the 44t big ring will give him a massive speed advantage over my 42/32/24 setup. Im wondering, if thats the case, why it seems most mtb's of this type come with a 42t outer ring.
Obviously the proof of the pudding will be when the two of us get out there! But Im still keen to learn some of the science behind the subject and also opinions. Also, how easy is it to convert existing chainsets - should the need arise! 44t vs 42t chainring (2)

  • supersonic Posts: 82,708

    May 2012

    A 44toother is a harder gear by 4.76%. Shimano dropped to 42t so the gear change to the 32t wasn't as steep.

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  • Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035

    May 2012

    Your mate's talking none sense . It's less than 5pc difference. It'll make no top speed difference unless you're in the smallest rear cog.

  • Cubist Posts: 73

    May 2012

    supersonic wrote:

    A 44toother is a harder gear by 4.76%. Shimano dropped to 42t so the gear change to the 32t wasn't as steep.

    Steep in terms of being noticeable to the rider, or in terms of some shifting aspect mechanically?

  • Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035

    May 2012

    The latter.

  • vanamees Posts: 75

    May 2012

    Power makes you faster not gears.

  • Cubist Posts: 73

    May 2012

    vanamees wrote:

    Power makes you faster not gears.

    Ok then. So two people, equal fitness, equal power. Same bike - except one has the 42 ring and one has the 44 ring...

  • MountainMonster Posts: 7,423

    May 2012

    Cubist wrote:

    vanamees wrote:

    Power makes you faster not gears.

    Ok then. So two people, equal fitness, equal power. Same bike - except one has the 42 ring and one has the 44 ring...

    At full whack, you may notice a difference, but it will be very marginal. Although the rider is must more important than any component on the bike for power and speed!

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  • vanamees Posts: 75

    May 2012

    Cubist wrote:

    vanamees wrote:

    Power makes you faster not gears.

    Ok then. So two people, equal fitness, equal power. Same bike - except one has the 42 ring and one has the 44 ring...

    At 90rpm both chain rings give ca 30 mph - you hardly can ride so fast off road, even on road. Advantage is theoretical.

  • Cubist Posts: 73

    May 2012

    vanamees wrote:

    Cubist wrote:

    vanamees wrote:

    Power makes you faster not gears.

    Ok then. So two people, equal fitness, equal power. Same bike - except one has the 42 ring and one has the 44 ring...

    At 90rpm both chain rings give ca 30 mph - you hardly can ride so fast off road, even on road.

    Top speed on the flat rarely proves advantageous on variable terrain, but what about acceleration? With a greater circumference ring acting upon the same rear cog, applying more teeth (however marginally so) upon it via the chain per revolution? Physics alone seems to favour the 44t.

  • Twelly Posts: 1,437

    May 2012

    Cubist wrote:

    vanamees wrote:

    Cubist wrote:

    vanamees wrote:

    Power makes you faster not gears.

    Ok then. So two people, equal fitness, equal power. Same bike - except one has the 42 ring and one has the 44 ring...

    At 90rpm both chain rings give ca 30 mph - you hardly can ride so fast off road, even on road.

    Top speed on the flat rarely proves advantageous on variable terrain, but what about acceleration? With a greater circumference ring acting upon the same rear cog, applying more teeth (however marginally so) upon it via the chain per revolution? Physics alone seems to favour the 44t.

    Smaller chainring = better acceleration

    You wouldn't accelerate from a stand still in your largest gear would you?

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  • vanamees Posts: 75

    May 2012

    " With a greater circumference ring acting upon the same rear cog, applying more teeth (however marginally so) upon it via the chain per revolution? Physics alone seems to favour the 44t." - only if you are powerful unlimited.
    Even pro XC riders often use 38-40 T chain rings.

  • Cubist Posts: 73

    May 2012

    Im getting a lot of good feedback here. Obviously when I said acceleration I wasnt referring to largest front ring and smallest rear cog from standstill - thatd be a daft way to measure things! I meant moving up the gears as you do when you ride a bike. Im no road cyclist, but bloody hell, they dont half give mountainbikes a good leathering when you try to climb against them on one - and look at the size of their chainrings.
    That said, straight line speed isnt going to count for everything on my local trail, so Im very interested to see how my mates new setup works next weekend.

  • chez_m356 Posts: 1,893

    May 2012

    Cubist wrote:

    Im no road cyclist, but bloody hell, they dont half give mountainbikes a good leathering when you try to climb against them on one

    let them ride up a muddy hill in a field and see how good they are 44t vs 42t chainring (16)

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  • Chunkers1980 Posts: 8,035

    May 2012

    Of course a road bike will beat an MTB up hill for lots and lots of reasons none of which is their top gear.

  • Twelly Posts: 1,437

    May 2012

    Chunkers1980 wrote:

    Of course a road bike will beat an MTB up hill for lots and lots of reasons none of which is their top gear.

    Exactly, the fact a road bike will dick all over you up a paved hill is nothing to do with the size of the cogs.

    Low weight, slick skinny tyres, stiff frame, no suspension, different riding position/geometry

    These are the reasons why.

    There are a lot of threads recently about people pissed off their mountain bike won't do 400mph on the road and what they can buy to make it into a better bike for them to get to work on...

    You bought a mountain bike, if you are riding to work on roads and pavements and you want to go fast, you should have bought a road bike.

    Really, it's like saying "What air freshener can I put in my Land Rover to stop all these Ferrari's overtaking me on the A34??"

    /rant

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  • snotty badger Posts: 1,593

    May 2012

    You must be riding very tame trails to be using your top gears! Is it just fire roads?

    I run a 36t chainring and only ever use the bottom two cassette sprockets on road sections..

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  • Cubist Posts: 73

    May 2012

    TwellySmat wrote:

    Chunkers1980 wrote:

    Of course a road bike will beat an MTB up hill for lots and lots of reasons none of which is their top gear.

    Exactly, the fact a road bike will dick all over you up a paved hill is nothing to do with the size of the cogs.

    Low weight, slick skinny tyres, stiff frame, no suspension, different riding position/geometry

    These are the reasons why.

    There are a lot of threads recently about people pissed off their mountain bike won't do 400mph on the road and what they can buy to make it into a better bike for them to get to work on...

    You bought a mountain bike, if you are riding to work on roads and pavements and you want to go fast, you should have bought a road bike.

    Really, it's like saying "What air freshener can I put in my Land Rover to stop all these Ferrari's overtaking me on the A34??"

    /rant

    Haha! Good point! My original post was just a matter of my being curious. I mean 44t setups must have some applications or nobody would make them! Im not unhappy with my 42/32/24 by any means - was just wondering out loud whether my mate was going to get the advantage he expects from his larger ring. (Hee hee - I just said "his larger ring!")

  • stubs Posts: 5,001

    May 2012

    I have gone from a 3 ring 44/32/22 set up to a 2 ring 36/24 and I can tell you

    off road

    your mate will definitely go 0.0000000000000000001% faster than you with his extra 2 teeth. Unless of course you are a fat wheezy custard and he is a member of the GB team. On road going down hill with a hurricane behind him he might get as much as a couple of mile an hour faster than you for about 1 second.

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  • Dr Avinuon Posts: 26

    May 2012

    I have recently gone from a setup with a 48x12 to 42x11 and it has made little difference to my top speed even on the tarmac hill out the back of my house. As for off road top speed I fine it’s the size of your testacies thats limiting factor and not the gears you have.

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44t vs 42t chainring (2024)

FAQs

Is 42T chainring good for climbing? ›

With a 42T chainring, your gears are 31.5-103.1 inches/9.4-30.7mph at 100rpm. If you want an easier climbing gear, you can opt for the $79 Apex 1 cassette, 11-42T.

How fast is a 42T chainring? ›

It's easy to spec anything from a 28t to 48t chainring, but most gravel builds go with a 42 as it will handle everything from steep 4mph climbs to 35mph descents without issue. For loaded touring or more trail riding a 40t or 38t chainring can make sense while more road-biased riders have gone as high as 46t.

Is a bigger chainring better? ›

Bigger chainrings are more efficient

The short answer is that bigger chainrings are, all else being equal, more efficient than smaller ones. We know this thanks to testing by the likes of Friction Facts – a previously independent company specialising in drivetrain friction testing, now owned by CeramicSpeed.

Is it better to have more teeth on a chainring? ›

The general rule of thumb is that the more teeth a chainring has, the harder it is to pedal. However, the opposite is true for the rear cassette, the more teeth there are, the easier it is to pedal.

What size chainring do pros use? ›

Look at pro MTB and gravel racers and you'll see many using bigger chainrings. Many top male pros use 36-38t chainrings on XC mountain bikes and 46-48t chainrings on gravel bikes. There are two main reasons high-level racers upsize chainrings. First, they are fitter and faster than the general population.

What gearing is best for steep climbs? ›

Gearing for Road Climbs

If your climbs are steep and long, a compact crank is recommended. In both cases, a cassette with large cogs of 28-32 teeth will give you a wide range and excellent gear ratio. Check the capacity of your rear derailleur as some can only handle cogs up to a certain size.

What size chainring is best for a gravel bike? ›

For all-round gravel riding, we'd recommend a 40-tooth chainring, paired with the 9-42 cassette for a range that goes down below 1:1 and a top ratio that's almost as high as the 50/11 of a compact road groupset.

Which is faster oval or round chainring? ›

As a direct consequence, Oval rings enhance a cyclist's ability to spin with a smoother power delivery and feel much easier on legs while climbing. Meaning you will go faster and get less tired. You will actually feel your pedal stroke to be more "round" with an Oval chainring than with a round chainring.

Does a smaller chainring make it easier to pedal? ›

The smaller chainrings are great for getting started or for climbing hills. It doesn't take as much force to push the pedals when you are in the smaller chainrings, but your bike also doesn't go as far each time you pedal.

What is the best chainring size? ›

The 52/36 or 50/34 chainring combinations are much more abundant today and are better suited for most riders. Smaller chainrings also provide easier gears for climbing, and most triathletes would say they want easier gears for climbing before they want harder gears for screaming down canyons.

Do I really need a narrow wide chainring? ›

Narrow-wide chainrings vastly improve chain retention without creating excess drag. However, due to the tight fit between the chainring teeth and the chain links, it's important to make sure you clean your chain and chainring. Grime and dirt can prevent the system from working properly or increase chain wear.

Why are SRAM chainrings so small? ›

This gives the rider greater control over their cadence for a given speed they want to maintain and means you are never trying to find the right gear. When you do make a front shift, the required change in cadence is reduced when the difference between the two chainring tooth counts is reduced as well.

What gear combination is best for going uphill? ›

Low Gear = Easy = Good for Climbing: The “low” gear on your bike is the smallest chain ring in the front and the largest cog on your cassette (rear gears). In this position, the pedaling will be the easiest and you'll be able to pedal uphill with the smallest amount of resistance.

Is 10 speed enough for a road bike? ›

A road bike can have as many speeds as you feel it needs. It's all a matter of how you plan to use the bike. Most new road bikes will have either one or two gears on the crank and eleven or twelve on the cassette. If you're looking for an older, used bike to ride, nine or ten gears in the rear is a commonly found.

Do I need to change chain when changing chainring size? ›

Yes. These changes affect the chain length needs of the system and the position of the upper pulley, which is essential for the best shifting performance. You must check the correct chain length (using the AXS app or Eagle Transmission Chain Length Chart and adjust the chain accordingly.

What is the difference between 50t and 52T chainring? ›

More is always better, but the difference between a 50t ring and a 52t is only 4%, about 1/2 of a typical gear change. You might notice the change so give it a try, but I wouldn't bother until the 50t wears out.

Is a 36T chainring good for climbing? ›

Assuming a 36T chainring will fit your bike without hitting the chain stay or screwing up the chain line, going to a 36T chainring with a 51T cassette cog (19.5 gear inches) will make climbing slightly easier than a 34T chainring with a 46T cassette cog (20.4 gear inches).

What is the best mountain bike gear ratio for climbing? ›

A small chainring, such as a 28t or 30t, will give you the lowest (easiest) possible gear for climbing. A big chainring, such as a 34t or 36t, will enable you to pedal faster in the highest (hardest) gear. Most mountain bikes come with a 32t chainring as standard, because it provides a solid middle ground.

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