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For a while, 24 or 27 speed were considered the most accepted for mountain bikes, and this meant that three gears up front and 8 or 9 down at the back. Although, downhill mountain bikes have had just one gear up front and 8 or 9 at the rear, just to avoid the chain slap feared by riders, and also because they are designed majorly for going downhill.
The Enduro and Modern Trail bikes are moving to 11 or new in recent times, like in 2017, it moved up to 12 speed. That means a single gear up front and 11 or 12 at the rear. This solves the problem of chain slaps, when the chains make noise as they roll over each other, for most downhill sections, also avoiding the difficulties encountered by the front gear, difficulties such as chain coming off. The rider has a full range of gears that is required to go both uphill and downhill. And the new clutch technology for the rear derailleur has made this possible.
It is possible that while growing up, you rode a 26 inches wheel, although, in the last half decade or so, a few differences have featured on the market, like the 27.5 inches, also known as the 650B, and the 29 inches.
But why do people ride on bigger wheels?
This is because of two reasons:
- One is because lager wheels make them go over bumps easier due to the “angle of attack.” This means a bump will hit the wheel lower down, because of the wider angle it has to the ground, which enables it roll over easier.
- Second reason being: Larger wheels have more momentum, and this helps to maintain speed.
And smaller wheels?
- They are nimble, and this is cool for control through technical trails.
- The less the mass and radius, the more the acceleration, and this is great for going round corners.
Bikes naturally come with flat pedals, but there are alternatives (a few of these). The standard bike pedals are flat, but most mountain bikes providers have other pedal types.
- Downhill MTB spiky flat: the spikes on these ones can shred your shins if you are not careful, so, it is advisable that you wear knee protection and flat shoes.
- Clips – SPD, Crank brothers etc.: They are great for riding cross country and for single track trail riding.