30 Vs 32 Chainring? (Which one I would Choose)

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Chainring on a mountain bike

A common question regarding mountain biking is, will a new chainring make my life easier when I’m out enjoying the trails? When the question 30 vs 32 chainring is asked, to some, there isn’t much of a difference, but to seasoned mountain cyclists, it may mean a great deal. But which one should you use?

If you’re someone who enjoys endurance biking and you find yourself climbing a lot of high heels or steep trails, switching your chainring from a 32t to 30t will give gearing that is around 7% easier. 

This article will debate and answer the question; 30 vs 32 chainring. So keep reading! We have everything you need to know about the debate; 30 vs 32 chainring.

Standard Chainring Sizes

When it comes to chainring sizes, there is a lot of information to consider. An individual chainring is basically the essential cog in the machine that is your bike. It’s responsible for the energy needed to power your bike as it turns the crank that moves the rear wheel via the chain. 

The size of a chainring is expressed by the number of teeth it has, i.e., a standard road bike chainring may have around 53 teeth, whereas your classic mountain trail bike will usually have about 32 teeth. 

The chainring has a direct role in your bike’s gearing, and larger rings mean a bike will be harder to pedal. If your bike has a  smaller chainring, it will be easier to pedal. Thus if you’re going up a lot of hills, it’s probably best to have a lower ring count.

Most trail and enduro mountain bikes have gotten rid of multiple front chainrings, and now usually, they only have one medium sized chainring. This was done in an attempt to save weight on the front of the bike while also ridding the bike of some niggly moving parts. 

So then, we know that there’s a difference between a road bike’s 53 teeth chainring and a mountain bike’s 32 teeth ring, but if we ask the question, 30 vs 32 chainring is there a huge difference, and if so, which one is best for me?

30 vs 32 Chainring 

When it comes down to the question, 30 vs 32 chainring it usually depends on preference. There usually isn’t much of a difference to the beginners of the mountain bike world. However, it’s probably best to try both as they have their benefits when it comes to trail riding. 

If you change your chainring from a 32t to a 30t, it can significantly improve an enduro mountain biker’s riding experience. If you swap out for a 30t chainring, you will give yourself gears that are around 7% better for steep and uphill trails. 

Chainrings for mountain bikes are available in multiple sizes. It could have 32 teeth, or it could have as little as 26 teeth. It’s recommended that if you are going to be doing a lot of uphill riding and climbing steep trails, swapping out your 32t for a 30t chainring is a great idea.

30 vs 32 Chainring On A Mountain Bike  

Most good mountain bike manufacturers usually equip their trail or cross country bikes with 32t chainrings. This is based on the assumption that most XC riders want better top end gearing when they are on fast terrain.

Whereas the majority of endurance trail bike riders often find themselves having to ride up a lot more hills and steep trails when they take their bike out. Thus, a 30t chain link offers them an easier gear that, in turn, makes their long uphill climbs easier on their legs. On top of this, enduro riders don’t often pedal that much on the rough descends they favor, so the 30t is optimal for their chosen task. 

A 32t chainring will take slightly more energy to get you to the top of a steep incline or hill, but you will most likely get there faster. So, while it seems like a 32 teeth chainring gives you a little extra speed, it requires a little more energy. This is because a larger chainring simply gives you more resistance; thus, your gears will take you further with each pedal spin. 

How Can You Tell If You Have The Right Chainring?

When trying to figure out for yourself the answer to the question; 30 vs 32 chainring, there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly, you need to check out the size of your crankset. Usually, these average around 53t/39t. 

As we’ve already mentioned, you can change your chainring to have a different tooth count, but you should always be aware that if there is more than a 16-tooth difference between the little ring and the larger ring, you may have shifting issues. 

Another way you can assess if the chainring on your bike is the right one is by the amount of time you end up in either the smallest or largest sprocket. If you have been watching this, and feel like you’ve been in both of them an equal amount, then this is the correct chainring for your bike. 

You should be aware of how long you spend at the limitation of gearing, i.e., largest chainring to the smallest sprocket and smallest chainring to the largest sprocket. If your mountain bike only has one chainring, then it will be how long it spends in both the largest and smallest sprocket. 

Can I Change The Chainring Myself?

If you are new to mountain biking and would like to change your chainring from a 32t to 30t or vice-versa, you may wonder how easy this is. 

First of all, you can certainly change the chainring on your crankset, but remember that not all chainrings will fit all cranks. Many cranksets have various amounts of direct mount interfaces, i.e., the area that connects the chainring to the crank. However, with some research, you can find a chainring to fit your crankset. 

Once you have researched and found a chainring that fits your bike’s crankset, swapping out the old chainring for a new one is a simple task. Below are a few steps that will help you swap out your bikes chainring for an alternative:

Step 1 – Removing The Chainset

Firstly you’ll want to remove the chainset; this can be a tedious task and requires a little patience to complete. A video on the internet for those who are new to this kind of work is probably the best idea. 

Once you remove your chainset, you’ll want to find the chainrings postion on the crank and remove its bolts. Normally these are fitted with allen key around 5mm, so you’ll want to grab one of those as you won’t be able just to twist them off. 

Step 2 – Removing The Ring

Once you’ve removed the bolts, you will want to leave place them somewhere safe. After this, the next step is to remove the chainring from the crank, and depending on your plan; you may want to clean your old one or replace it with a new smaller chainring.

It’s easy to recognise a replacement is needed for an older chainring. If your chainrings shape resembles that of a shark’s fins, then it’s time to replace them.

Step 3 – Clean The Bolts ; Add New Chainring

Once you have removed the old chainring (It will only be one if it’s a mountain bike usually) you are now ready to insert the new one. Firstly clean your old bolts with a degreaser and then add some fresh grease to keep them well protected. 

Now you are ready to put it all back together by bolting in your new chainring and then attaching it back to the chainset. Don’t forget to check for the alignment arrow, which indicates where it needs to line up with the crank. 

If at any part of the project you get lost or forget a minor detail, just remember you can search the web for a video tutorial, and there will be plenty to choose from. 

30 vs 32 Chainring – Which One For Me?

When it comes down to the question 30 vs 32 chainring how do you know which one is for you? While they are similar in style and practical use, if you’re a mountain bike rider, there will be a few minor differences that will make up your mind on which one is best. 

So, as we previously mentioned, if you’re someone who rides an enduro mountain bike, you’re likely to encounter steep hills and longer uphill climbs, often on a heavier bike. In this case, you’d appreciate an easier gear from a 30t chainring.

If you enjoy cross country trail biking and you may only find yourself on steep inclines from time to time and don’t mind pushing yourself a little harder at these points, then a 32t chainring will be perfect for you. 


Now that you know the fundamentals of a chainring and the answer to the question; 30 vs 32 chainring, you’re ready to decide which one is best for your personal needs. However, like all things, if you can’t make your mind up, give both a try, as you now know how to change a chainring by yourself. 

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Paul Tuthill
Growing up in Scotland, Paul developed a love for the outdoors and a desire for adventure from an early age.