To get the most of mountain biking, you want to have the best mountain bike groupset to ensure all the moving bits operate smoothly and effortlessly. Your groupset consists of the crank, chain, chainring, cassettes, derailleurs, shifters, and brakes. Thus, you want all these parts to perform with the utmost reliability and efficiency. A good quality mtb groupset is designed with improved ruggedness and toughness to allow it to handle trail rigors.
With the endless selection of mountain bike groupsets, it can be a daunting task to pick the ideal one for your bike. Below we’ve compiled the list of the 5 best mtb groupsets to make the process easier for you. So, pick a unit that appeals most to you so you can begin to enjoy your cycling adventures at your bike’s optimal performance.
How To Choose A Mountain Bike Groupset – Buying Guide
When you are choosing the best mtb groupset, you must also consider the shifting. Your shifting is what puts the transmission into the proper gear. Cable shifters, otherwise known as mechanical shifters, are manually operated to run your gears and to ensure effective transmission.
Typically, cable shifters are designed with an inner cable that slides through an outer cable housing to effect transmission. This shifting mechanism is effective, and fail safe. Additionally, cable shifters are quite easy to service. However, amongst the three commonly available shifting systems, cable systems also come with drawbacks, especially if you are on a budget.
Due to their construction and depending on their quality, cables can easily corrode or degrade, thus, affecting your shifting speed and accuracy. Depending on the magnitude of their degradation, you may have to invest in new ones. Furthermore, during set up, you may experience difficulty threading the cables through the frames.
An electric or electronic gear shifter on the other end allows you to shift your gears using electronic switches instead of the traditionally and mechanically operated cable shifting systems. Typically, the electronic shifters are normally connected to a small electronic motor and battery pack via a wire or wirelessly. It is the electronic motor that drives the derailleur to change the gears.
The battery pack on the other end is what powers and runs the motor. Of the three common gear shifting systems, the electronic gear shifting system is the most expensive. However, if you are looking for efficiency and quick gear changing, especially if you are a race biker, an electronic system is a good idea.
A good example of a groupset that runs on an electronic shifting system is the SRAM XX1 Eagle AXS DUB Mountain Bike Groupset which provides wireless operation with up to 25-hours of battery life. Compared to a Shimano groupset mtb option, this SRAM groupset is also efficient on the trails thanks to its wireless build which also gives it easy connectivity via your smartphone to access its app during your bike rides.
Unlike cable or electronic gear shifters, hydraulic gear shifters are quite straightforward and operate without depending on cables or batteries. Hydraulic gear shifters also come with several benefits. Thanks to their design, they don’t use any moving parts or technology and therefore, they are quite cost-effective.
All you need is the hydraulic fluid to move within the closed system to create the pressure to move your derailleur and eventually, to shift the gears. Whilst they take considerable time to set up, hydraulic gear shifters require less maintenance compared to other shifting systems. However, their servicing may be a little tricky and complicated.
Additionally, a hydraulic operated mechanism also ensures precision performance. This is because they are not affected by external factors such as degradation, cable contamination, corrosion, and even weather changes as they are tolerant of both hot and cold temperatures. Their pressurized closed systems on the other end don’t have contact with the exterior, thus, wet conditions do not affect their performance.
Furthermore, hydraulic shifters come with the advantage of being relatively new technology. This means that if your bike runs on hydraulic shifters, you are more likely to benefit from newly introduced technology, whether you own a Shimano groupset for mtb or a SRAM one.
A bike shifter, also known as a gear lever or gear control, is what control’s your bike’s gearing mechanism and selects the required gear ratio. Bike shifters are designed to run using a derailleur mechanism or an internal hub gear mechanism. When you are choosing the best mtb groupset, you must also consider the shifters, after all, they contribute to determining whether or not your ride will be smooth.
Generally, most gear shifters are designed to work the same. However, they differ in terms of quality. If you want good quality shifters, you have to be more flexible with your budget. The best mountain bike groupsets come with shifters that facilitate trigger shifting.
Trigger shifters are located below the bike’s handlebars and require the rider to use a thumb button to shift larger sprockets and a small index finger for a downshift. This mechanism means that you can shift your gears whilst still being able to operate the brake levers with your index fingers.
However, some SRAM units also feature a Grip shift system. A Grip shifter operates like a throttle; twisting back and forth to facilitate the shift. Because it is light and allows the rider to shift across the cassette quickly, the Grip shift system is favored by many cross country racers.
Gears depend on derailleurs to operate. Derailleur gears on the other end also form part of your bike’s groupset. They are what moves the chain between cogs on the cassette and chainrings on the crankset. A derailleur moves when it is prompted by a cable from a cable shifter, pressure from hydraulic shifters, or motor power from electric shifters.
The derailleur movement also moves the chain of the track thus, repositioning it in a different gear. Whilst their design differs according to brands, they share a nearly similar running mechanism. Most groupsets run on cassettes with speeds ranging from 11 and above. For example, SRAM GX Eagle series groupsets run on 12-speed cassettes. SRAM 12 speed groupsets normally run on 10 – 50 tooth cassettes.
Compared to Shimano mountain bike groupsets with the same speed cassette, they have one less tooth. Yet, this 1 tooth difference delivers significant variations. Speed cassettes with 10-51 teeth provide better performance as it offers smoother gear jumps and covers even bigger gaps.
Your mountain bike’s freehubs feature a continual rotary mechanism and are where the cassette is mounted. Unlike freehubs, a freewheel mechanism allows you to stop pedaling even when your bike is still moving forward. For freehubs, you have to keep pedaling as long as the bike is moving.
In addition to being durable, freehubs are also easier to set up. SRAM groupsets feature an XD freehubs design which makes their freehubs abundantly available. Shimano on the other end is still quite limited.
Q: How Long Should A Groupset Last?
The duration to which you should change your groupset depends on each part. For example, if you prolong the usage of your bike chain, you may also have to replace your entire cassette around the same time. Typically, you want to change your bike chains at about 3 to 4,000 miles for a 12-speed unit.
Q: Is Upgrading Groupset Worth It?
Yes, it is worth upgrading your groupset if you can afford it. There are different groupset levels, and this ranges from cheaper to more expensive high quality ones. Expensive groupsets tend to be lighter and provide smoother gear shifting and reliable braking. So if you don’t want to invest in a new bike, you can simply upgrade your groupset for better performance.
Q: Is SRAM As Good As Shimano?
Generally, SRAM and Shimano units are similar in terms of performance and quality. Specific units vary in terms of performance, however, for many riders, Shimano units feel more powerful and durable. Yet, SRAM braking systems tend to be more effective and offer a wider range of power.
Globo Surf Overview
The bottom line is mountain biking is certainly one of the best action-packed outdoor sports. However, the mountain bike groupset reviews also prove that you will not enjoy your ride as much without the best mtb groupset.
Whether you are preparing for extreme downhill racing or simply want to burn some calories whilst trail riding, a good quality groupset is essential. So take your time to pick the best mountain bike groupset for your bike so you can enjoy maximum performance during your next mountain biking adventure.