The Bikes Way

what does a clutch do on a mountain bike

What Does a Clutch Do on a Mountain Bike?

Many people have no idea, but mountain bikes also have a clutch. They are primarily found on the rear derailleur of mountain bikes.

But what does a clutch do on a mountain bike? The mountain bike clutch restrains the rotation of the derailleur around the pivot point, eliminating or reducing derailleur bounce and chain slap. This prevents the bike chain from slipping or getting damaged.

How Does a Clutch Work on a Mountain Bike?

When you flip the lever and engage the clutch on a mountain bike, it tightens the pivot point of the derailleur by adding additional friction around it. Due to this, it makes it restrains the movement of the derailleur arm around the pivot on rough terrain.

clutch off
Clutch OFF Position (Lever Down)
clutch on
Clutch ON Position (Lever Up)

It helps maintain adequate tension in the bike chain, eliminating or reducing shocks from chain slack on very rough and uneven terrain. This dramatically reduces the risk of damage to the bike or the chain slipping. And one more thing, if you use a narrow, wide chainring with a clutch derailleur, you will see an even more significant improvement in your experience.

Do You Really Need Clutch Mountain Bike?

If you are into racing, then getting a clutch mountain bike can be very beneficial for you. Since the chain is more likely to slip on rough roads, having a clutch derailleur reduces it considerably. So, if you do a lot of off-road riding for long periods or ride on rough terrain, a mountain bike with a clutch may be a better choice. However, if you mainly stick to paved roads or smooth trails, you can use a non-clutch derailleur bike.

Clutch vs Non-Clutch Derailleur

Clutch DerailleurNon-Clutch Derailleur
Reduce chain noise.High Chain noise on rough terrain.
Greatly reduces the chance of the chain slipping on rough surfaces.More chance of chain slippage on rough surfaces.
Protects the chainstay from the bouncy impact of the chain.Does not protect the chainstay against the bouncy effect of the chain.
Better control of chain shock and vibrations, when you suddenly stop pedaling at high speeds.No control over chain shock and vibration, when you suddenly stop pedaling at high speeds.
Make shifting stiffer.Slightly softer shifting.
Complexity increases in the shifting mechanism.Fewer complications in the shifting mechanism.
Higher price.Cheaper as compared to clutch derailleurs.
The average price is $60 for 7/8 speed.The average price is $25 for 7/8 speed.
Clutch vs Non-Clutch Derailleur

Do I need a clutch derailleur for 1x?

If you spend a lot of time off-road riding or riding on rough terrain, then choosing a mountain bike with a clutch even in a 1x drivetrain bike can be a good option for you.

Best 3 Derailleur with Clutch:

1. Shimano Deore XT M8000 Shadow Plus Rear Derailleur – Overall Best


  • Brand: SHIMANO
  • Color: Black
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Size: 11-speed

Shimano Deore XT M8000 11Spd Shadow Plus Rear Derailleur Shimano has always been the leader in bicycle components and this rear derailleur is no exception. This derailleur is easy to install and requires minimal adjustments, making it much easier to set up than other brands. And with quicker and more precise shifting, it provides the best overall performance. The excellent build quality ensures that it will last for years without any maintenance or adjustments even after 1000 miles of rough road, gravel, and trail riding. The reliability of this product is also unmatched, making it a must-have for any serious rider.


  • Shifts are quick, crisp, and precise.
  • Very easy to install.
  • Quiet and smooth operation.
  • Shifts easily with 20% less effort.
  • Best overall performance.
  • Excellent build quality and is lightweight.


  • No major cons were found.

2. Sram MTB Gx Type 2.1 Long Cage Rear Derailleur – Best Value


  • Brand: SRAM
  • Color: Black
  • Material: Plastic
  • Size: 10-Speed

If you are on a tight budget, this Sram MTB Gx Type 2.1 Long Cage Rear Derailleur can be the right choice. Once it adjusted, it worked flawlessly, delivering smooth, precise shifts every time. It can handle any trail perfectly, making your ride safer and more enjoyable. It’s also quieter than other models, so you can focus on the trail ahead without distraction. Plus, with its quieter operation, easy adjustability, and high build quality, this product will surely last you for years.


  • Best value for money.
  • Compatible with up to 36-tooth cassette.
  • Smooth shift.
  • Easy to adjust.
  • Less noise of chain.
  • Good build quality.


  • The quality and fitting of the adjustment screw are not that good.
  • In some cases, the B-screw is not line up correctly with its stop.

3. BOX COMPONENTS Four Rear Derailleur 8 Speed Wide cage Black – Best for Beginners


  • Color: Black
  • Material: Aluminium + Plastic
  • Size: 8-Speed

This BOX COMPONENTS Four Rear Derailleur 8 Speed Wide cage Black is perfect for those who are looking for a budget-friendly option that still has all of the features that they would want in a derailleur. The shifting is crisp and speedy, making it perfect for those who want to quickly get up those hills. The tough build means that this derailleur is sure to last you for years to come. While the only downside is that installing it is a little bit of a learning curve, it’s well worth it for all of the benefits that you get from this product.


  • Best for entry-level bikers.
  • Affordable cost.
  • Quick and smooth shifting.
  • Strong and reliable construction.


  • It does not work with Shimano 8-speed shifters.
  • Some parts are made of plastic.

You may also like to read:

How Long Do Mountain Bike Disc Brake Pads Last?

How many gears does a mountain bike have?

Can You Put Road Tires on a Mountain Bike?

Bike Chain Slipping When Pedaling Hard: Cause and Prevention

Are Mountain Bikes Heavier Than Road Bikes?

Are Mountain Bike Disc Rotors Interchangeable?

What Gear to Use When Going Uphill on a Mountain Bike?