I'm modifying my CX bike to double as a lightweight tourer. I'm currently running a 1x10 SRAM Force/Rival drivetrain. I'd like to replace my single front chainring with a "mountain double" to utilize the latter's low gearing. My question is whether or not there is a difference between "mountain" and "road" 10 speed drivetrains? Can the same chains be used on both? How about "mountain" chainrings in the front and "road" cassettes in the back? Is the distinction just marketing rubbish or is mountain 10 gear heavier duty?

  • Are you keen on running the wider q-factor (width between your feet) of a mountain crank? Also, what kind of bottom bracket do you have? What shifters do you use? I'm fairly certain that front shifting cable pull is the same between SRAM mountain and road components.
    – WTHarper
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 14:04
  • Yeah I should have emphasized that the crank will be the only 'mountain' component. Currently running a MegaEXO BB. Will q-factor always be wider on a mountain crank vs road?
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 15:14
  • The only issue is whether the new rings are thin enough for a 10-speed chain. To my knowledge all 10-speed systems run the same chain width, so any "10-speed" front should be fine. (I have no idea what is supposed to distinguish a "mountain" crankset from a road one, other than maybe gear ratio and weight.) Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 15:27

2 Answers 2


The distinction is gearing and a weight/durability tradeoff. Spacing and cable pull is the same within brands + speed groupings (eg 10 speed SRAM). You can even mix and match your cassettes, cranksets, and chains between SRAM and Shimano within a speed grouping- just make sure you don't mix and match derailleurs and shifters as the cable pull is different. Note that I left Campagnolo out of the mix- just don't go there.

  • Currently the bike is all road 10 speed components. Crank is the only component I wish to make 'mountain' with a road SRAM Force front derailleur and shifters.
    – Andy
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 15:16
  • Keep in mind if you were not dealing with SRAM. There may be an issue mixing some shimano road 10-speed and dyna-sys 10-speed mountain shifters/derailleurs. However, I don't think SRAM has this issue.
    – Benzo
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 15:20
  • I cannot make this claim based on personal experience, but from what I have heard Dynasys components are compatible with road components despite shimano's claim that they are not.
    – joelmdev
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:04
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    To clarify, that is in terms of the chain rings, cassette, and chain. I do believe that cable pull is different on road vs mtb 10 speed for Shimano.
    – joelmdev
    Commented Sep 6, 2013 at 16:13
  • chainring, cassette and chains should be cross compatible in 10 speed, principally cranksets. I have often mixed them, road and MTB. Commented Nov 8, 2017 at 20:47

10 speed Shimano MTB & Road are not compatible. You can however get around this by using a 9 speed shimano MTB derailleurs and SRAM cassettes to get a bigger gear range on a Shimano Road groupset.

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