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Chainsets for bicycles come in many forms: compact, semi-compact, standard, 1x, triple. Luckily, we stock a wide range of chainsets for road biking, gravel cycling, and mountain biking, from the biggest brands, including Shimano, SRAM, Campagnolo, and more. Whether you’re looking for a big gear chainset to compete in road races, something friendlier on the knees for tackling alpine climbs, or something simple for a bikepacking adventure there’s options here for everyone. You can also check out our components and cranksets page too.

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What is a chainset?

A chainset is the term for the combination of bike components that rotate when you turn the pedals: the crank arms (right and left), crank spider, and chainrings. It has two sides, a drive side (right) and the non-drive side (left).

The drive side is the ‘meatier side’. It is where the crank arm attaches to the chainrings, via the crank spider. The left side is a crank-arm only and is attached to the drive side via a spindle, which is in turn attached to the crank set. The spindle passes through the bottom bracket of the bike, which is a set of bearings which enables the power you put through the pedals to be transferred into forward motion.

What to think about when purchasing a new chainset?

If replacing or upgrading your chainset you’ll need to consider whether the new one will be compatible with your bike’s components. There are varying types of bottom bracket, for one. Additionally, your new component will need to work with the other drivetrain components on your bike, like the chain, cassette, and derailleurs. For example, if you previously had a 52-tooth big ring and you’re changing for a 50-tooth compact chainring, you will need to look to see if you need to change your chain as well.

1x, Double, Triple

The cycling industry isn’t known for simple to understand terminology and chainsets are no exception, here’s a few key terms that refer to the number of chainrings you’ll have:

• 1x (one by) / singlespeed – as the name suggests, a singlespeed offers only one chainring. This is most common off-road or on city bikes, but there are some using this setup for road riding too.

• Double – this is the most common setup these days, like you’d see as part of a Shimano 105 chainset. Following the logic of “singlespeed” a double has two chainrings, a “big ring” or “outer ring” and a “small ring” or “inner ring”.

• Triple – these have three chainrings and are much less common now, particularly as component makers continue to add more sprockets to cassettes.

Compact, Semi-compact, Standard…

You need to consider both the number of chainrings and the size of said chainrings. The size of a chainring is referred to in “teeth”. The more teeth it has the bigger the gear and the higher potential to go faster. But as it is a bigger gear, it’s more difficult to turn. Here’s some key terms:

• Standard – as is implied by the name, this was until recently the de facto norm for chainsets, at least among bike racers. A standard will have a 53-tooth big ring and 39-tooth small ring, commonly referred to as “50–39”.

• Semi-compact – since we aren’t all blessed with the legs and lungs of professional cyclists, a semi-compact option exists, which is a 52-tooth outer ring and 36-tooth inner chainring.

• Compact – For amateur riders or if you’re looking to tackle mighty mountains the compact is the way to go these days: the big ring is 50-tooth and the small ring 34-tooth.

• Sub-compact – if you do a lot of climbing or gravel riding you might want to consider something even smaller. A sub-compact will usually be a 48- or 46-tooth outer ring and 32- or 30-tooth inner ring.