Can I Use an MTB Crankset on a Road Bike? (Explained)

If you’re a cyclist interested in exploring all types of riding, you may be wondering if you can mix and match parts from different bikes. Specifically, can you use a mountain bike (MTB) crankset on a road bike? While it is possible to do so, there are a few important factors to consider before making the switch.

Can I Use a Mtb Crankset on a Road Bike

Can I Use an MTB Crankset on a Road Bike?

It is possible to install an MTB crankset on a road bike, but it requires specific technical requirements. MTB cranksets have longer spindles than their road bike counterparts, which means you need to install an MTB bottom bracket to make them work together.

However, not all bottom brackets are compatible with MTB cranks. Square-taper bottom brackets are the exception and can be used with square-taper MTB cranks.

If your road bike uses a press-fit or threaded bottom bracket, you will need to purchase an MTB version that is compatible with the frame’s dimensions.

It can be challenging to install an MTB crankset on a road bike, but with the right knowledge and components, it is a feasible customization option. [1]

Compatibility Issues

When considering using an MTB crankset on a road bike, it’s important to keep in mind the compatibility issues that may arise.

1- One major issue is the length of the spindle/axle on the MTB crankset, which is longer than that of a road bike crankset. This means that the MTB bottom bracket must also be used, as it can accommodate the longer spindle.

2- Most road bike bottom brackets are not compatible with MTB cranks, unless they are square taper. If you have an external bottom bracket on your road bike, you will need to replace it with an MTB one and use spacers to make up for the difference in width.

The Difference between MTB Cranksets & Road Bike Cranksets

MTB cranksets and road bike cranksets may look similar, but there are important differences between the two.

MTB cranksets are designed for mountain bikes, which have a different gear ratio and require more torque.

Road bikes, on the other hand, focus on speed and efficiency, and require a crankset that maximizes energy transfer to the wheels.

While the two types of bikes may look similar, their cranksets greatly differ in design and function.

Firstly, MTB crank spindles are longer because of the wider stance required for stability on rough terrain. Road bike cranksets have shorter spindles as they are built for speed and agility on smooth surfaces.

Secondly, MTB cranksets are usually heavier and stronger as they are designed to handle tough terrains and heavy loads. In comparison, road bike cranksets are lighter for increased speed and maneuverability.

Finally, MTB cranksets generally have smaller chainrings, making it easier to pedal when climbing hills or carrying heavy loads. Road bike cranksets, on the other hand, typically have larger chainrings for faster speeds on flatter surfaces. [1]

Technical Requirements for Mounting MTB Cranksets on Road Bikes

To mount an MTB crankset on a road bike, there are certain technical requirements that must be met.

The main consideration is to ensure that the new MTB cranks and the bottom bracket are compatible. Most road bike bottom brackets are not compatible with MTB cranks due to their longer spindle/axle.

To resolve this, an MTB bottom bracket should be used instead.

Another challenge is adjusting the chainline and compensating for the gap created by the longer axle between the bottom bracket’s cups and the cranks, which can be resolved by using extra spacers.

It’s also important to note that MTB cranksets tend to have smaller chainrings compared to their road bike counterparts, which alters the gear ratio, making pedaling easier but slower.

By ensuring that the technical requirements are met, it is possible to install an MTB crankset on a road bike. [2]

Choosing the Right MTB Crankset for Your Road Bike

When it comes to choosing the right MTB crankset for your road bike, there are several factors to consider:

1- You need to make sure that the crankset is compatible with your bottom bracket. As previously mentioned, most road bike bottom brackets are not compatible with MTB cranksets, so you will need to find an MTB bottom bracket that fits your frame.

2- You need to consider what type of riding you will be doing. If you are a tourer and plan to carry a lot of baggage, then a smaller chainring MTB crankset may be more suitable for easy pedaling.

However, if you are a road racer or a cyclist who values speed and efficiency, then a larger chainring road crankset may be a better fit.

Advantages & Disadvantages of Using an MTB Crankset on a Road Bike


There are several advantages and disadvantages to using an MTB crankset on a road bike.

One of the biggest advantages is that using an MTB crankset can give you a wider gear range than a typical road bike crankset. This can be especially useful for long tours or hilly rides where you need a wider range of gears to keep your legs fresh.

MTB cranksets are also generally stronger and more durable than road cranksets, which can be beneficial if you’re using your road bike for commuting or touring with a lot of gear.


There are also some disadvantages to using an MTB crankset on a road bike.

MTB cranksets are typically heavier than road cranksets, which can make your bike feel slower and less responsive.

Additionally, the wider stance of an MTB crankset can also affect your pedal stroke, which could cause some discomfort or even injury if you’re not used to it.

Maintenance Tips for MTB Cranksets Used on Road Bikes

Maintenance is essential to ensure that your MTB crankset functions efficiently and effectively on your road bike.

Firstly, it is important to regularly clean the crankset to remove any accumulated dirt or debris that may cause buildup and wear over time. Use a degreaser and a soft brush to clean the chainrings, cranks, and bottom bracket.

Additionally, check that the chainring bolts and crank bolts are tightened to manufacturers’ recommended torque specifications to avoid any unexpected loosening or cracking.

Secondly, inspect the teeth of the chainrings and replace them if badly worn.

Lastly, ensure that the chain is lubricated to prevent wear on the chainring teeth and prolong the lifespan of the chain and crankset. Proper maintenance of your MTB crankset on your road bike will ensure a smooth and reliable ride. [3]

Different Opinions on Using MTB Cranksets on Road Bikes

People in the cycling world have varying opinions about using MTB cranksets on road bikes.

Some believe that contrary to popular belief, using an MTB crankset on a road bike does not cause any significant issues as long as the bottom bracket and spindle are compatible.

Others caution that using an MTB crankset on a road bike can lead to chain drop, unstable pedaling, and affect the overall performance of the bike.

It is also important to consider the gear ratios and chainring sizes as MTB cranksets may not be suitable for faster riding and road racing.


Using an MTB crankset on a road bike is possible but can come with challenges. The main issue is the difference in spindle length, which requires a compatible bottom bracket with spacers for proper alignment. For those with a square taper bottom bracket, the process is much simpler as square taper MTB cranks fit right in. However, for those with external bottom brackets, replacing it with an MTB one and using spacers is necessary.

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