Mountain bike cassette: everything about mountain bike rear sprockets

A mountain bike’s cassette is an important part of the drivetrain. The cassette can be found near the rear wheel and is a package of sprockets that are placed next to each other from large to small. On this page I tell you why a good cassette is indispensable and what you should pay attention to when you buy a new one.

What is a mountain bike cassette?

The mountain bike cassette is a package of sprockets that is located at the rear of the bicycle. Today the cassettes are very large, because many mountain bikes nowadays opt for one front sprocket instead of three. There is one shifter, with which you can switch to different sprockets on the cassette via the mountain bike derailleur.

A mountain bike cassette is part of the drivetrain. The cassette cannot be fitted without the mountain bike chain, derailleurs, shifters and crankset.

mountain bike cassette
A mountain bike cassette with eight sprockets. © MTBdex.com

The cassette is exposed to a lot of dirt. Regular cleaning of the mountain bike cassette is necessary for a longer life.

Buying a mountain bike cassette: you should pay attention to this

When you are going to buy a new mountain bike cassette, there are a number of points that you should pay attention to. As I mentioned earlier, the cassette is part of the drivetrain. It is often sold as a component group. Do not immediately think that all parts must be of the same brand; for example, a shifting group from Shimano can work fine with a cassette from SRAM.

The most important thing is that you make sure that the new cassette fits the body of your mountain bike. SRAM and Shimano cassettes often fit on the same body, because they often have the same fit.

Useful buying tips

With the tips below you will soon discover the right MTB cassette.

  • Check whether it concerns mountain bike cassettes and not for racing bikes, for example
  • Check if the cassette is compatible with your current shifting group (e.g. Shimano)
  • Check whether the cassette is suitable for the number of gears of your mountain bike
  • Buy a new MTB cassette from a good brand

But, what are good brands? There are actually only two interesting brands that are often compatible with each other: SRAM and Shimano. I therefore advise you to always go for one of these brands.

oil slick mountain bike cassette
The eye wants something too! A beautiful SRAM oil slick MTB cassette. © MTBdex.com

Frequently asked questions about an MTB cassette

Why is a mountain bike cassette much larger than a road bike?

Mountain bikes usually have one chainring at the front. In order to still have a large shifting range, there are many (and large) sprockets in the MTB cassette.

Can I also buy an MTB cassette separately?

If you put together your mountain bike yourself, you will probably buy the cassette in a component group. This means that you also buy the shifting group and derailleurs. However, if your derailleur is worn out, you can also replace it with a new one. Read more about replacing the MTB cassette here.

What are good brands for a mountain bike cassette?

There are really only two brands that stand out: SRAM and Shimano. I recommend that you choose one of these two brands when you buy a new cassette.

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