These are the biggest mountain bike gears you can buy

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To conquer the steepest hills, you can never have too much gearing. (Photo: e*thirteen)
To conquer the steepest hills, you can never have too much gearing. (Photo: e*thirteen)
  • For those riders who refuse to get off and push, this e*thirteen cassette could be the answer.
  • It offers a wider spread of gears, than the dominant cassettes from SRAM or Shimano.
  • And you can replace worn bits, without having to bin the entire cassette, reducing running costs. 


How many gears, are too many gears? This is a question that no committed mountain biker, has ever asked.

The gradients involved in proper mountain biking necessitate as many gears as possible. Riders who want to clear the steepest climbs without walking, need some big gears spinning that rear wheel.

Mountain biking has undergone a significant drivetrain revolution, since SRAM introduced its XX1 system in 2012, triggering the standardization of 1x drivetrain systems, with only a single front chainring.

In this new 1x12 drivetrain world, you can spin up the steepest climbs, but for those mountain bikers who need even more climbing leverage, there is a new option. Look beyond mountain biking’s two dominant drivetrain companies (Shimano and SRAM), and there are niche suppliers who can fulfil some unusual requirements.

One of these, is the American mountain bike brand, e*thirteen. It produces a new rear cassette that offers more generous gearing than anything else, including Shimano and SRAM’s own 1x12 drivetrain components.

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Huge range for the steepest climbs

If you need a granny gear to climb to the moon, the e*thirteen Helix R is a 12-speed cassette with massive gears. The smallest gear has nine teeth and the largest, totals 50.

To set that in perspective, the Helix R cassette’s 9-50t configuration delivers a 556% range of gearing, compared to the largest SRAM (520%) and Shimano (510%) options.

The fundamental gearing and wheel theory at play with e*thirteen’s Helix R cassette spinning at the rear of your drivetrain, is that if you can’t climb an off-road gradient in its largest gear, even the indigenous mountain goats would probably have struggled.

For South African mountain bikers who are keen to clear some of the country’s more iconic climbs, such as the Tokai mast, Hans se Kop in Grabow or Swartbergpass, having the additional range of e*thirteen’s Helix R could prove very beneficial.

How many gears, are too many gears?
How many gears, are too many gears? (Photo: e*thirteen)

Replace only what you need

Drivetrain components are expensive and local dust is amongst the world’s most abrasive. Most mountain bike drivetrains have a one-piece cassette, which means that once those big gears are worn, you have to replace the whole unit.

Product panners at e*thirteen have created a more budget-friendly assembly for the Helix R cassette. The two largest gears (40- and 50t), which work hardest when climbing and take the most strain, are made from aluminium and can be replaced separately from the other ten ratios, which are a single steel assembly. 

If you choose to pair your SRAM or Shimano 1x12 drivetrain with e*thirteen’s Helix R cassette, and it has worn a touch, you can purchase the two largest gears as a replacement set. A simple 3mm hex key is all that one requires to disassemble the Helix R cassette and add your new replacement gears.

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