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I am pretty confused by all the gearing options out there when it comes to hill climbing. At the moment my largest gear is a an Ultegra 26 tooth which I can get up most hills ok with, albeit not overly quickly although I find on really steep hills it can be a struggle. (15%)
First of all is it likely that my current set up would allow me an upgrade to the Ultegra 6800 cassette with the 32 tooth sprocket?
Secondly, how much of a difference would this actually give me? What I have at moment gets me by although I would like to be able to climb a bit faster. Longer term I am having mild musings about attempting the 3 Peaks ride next year and if I do would like to investigate what ever is going to make it that bit easier for me! (apart from shedloads of training which I am already looking to build up)
Read this thread : http://www.bicycles.net.au/forums/viewtopic.php?t=66120
About your specific questions:
- No you can't use any Ultegra 6800 cassettes, they are 11 speed and not compatible with any previous version of Ultegra. Assuming your running 10 speed, any shimano or SRAM 10 speed cassette will work, provided the RD is up to the task.
- Assuming your current setup is 6700, two RD models were released, 1 compatible with up to 28t & a later one with 30t ( I think from memory). As a rule, most people who try have success with going 2 teeth beyond what is officially compatible. YMMV.
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Changing to a larger rear gear may not actually make you go faster - but it will be easier on your legs.
Assuming that in your 26 tooth at X cadence you are climbing at 12 km/h, by changing to a 32 tooth at the same cadence (or slightly higher) you may in fact be climbing at around 9-10 km/h...though the gear will be easier to push.
For example, assuming you have a compact crankset and are in your 34/26 gear going at 70 rpm uphill you are likely climbing around 11.1 km/h.
If you were to change to a 34/32 gear, to match that same speed you would need to pedal at 85 rpm, and to ride faster, pedal beyond 85 rpm
Have a play around with this calculator to see for yourself...
So, if you want to ride uphill FASTER, I think it would be better to work on your strength and fitness instead of changing to a much lower gear.
Perhaps running a 28 (instead of your 26) might give you that slight extra edge you need without going down to such a very low gear??
Just a suggestion...
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Hmm, yes I thought that might be the case but wasnt sure if it was just a matter of adjusting the RD. I am pretty sure I have the 6700 set up. I might have a look at something with a 28 tooth.
Yeah I am aware I will be spinning the pedals a lot faster but I can see it wont assist with climbing much faster. Maybe its more so to help with the longer climbs rather than the shorter ones. Especially if I am looking at some really decent climbs rather.
I do need to continue working on my strength and fitness as well although I think I also need to be riding a lot lighter than my current weight. (88kgs)
I notice you mentioned riding a compact crankset, would there be some benefit in looking at something like that instead of a much smaller gear although I might also look at something like a 28 tooth cassette as well.
Yep, the original 6700 RD, launched in 2009 for the 2010 model year has a maximum sprocket capacity of 28T. The 6700-A type, compatible with a 30T big sprocket didn't appear until this time last year, so it will only have been factory fitted to 2013-model bikes.
I had a thought, but it got run over as it crossed my mind.
I think it depends on how often you're tackling these 15% gradients, but I personally would disagree with those saying not to get a compact cranked and instead 'get stronger'.
I haven't been riding for that long, but I live in are abundant with hills 300-500m in elevation with sections of 15-20%. I'm 180cm and 85kg. I started out with a normal 53/39 and 25. After months of struggling to make it to the top of many of these climbs, I switched to a 28 on the back. It helped, but after several more months, I decided to get a compact (50/34).
I have personally seen the improvement in my climbing. I am able to keep a better cadence and stay in the saddle for much more of the climb. I feel being able to stay in the saddle HAS increased the strength in my legs and yes, although I'm using lower gears, I am climbing faster, and improving faster than I was when struggling up climbs with a normal set up at less than 50rpm, hoping one day it would get easier. They key to climbing is cadence, and if you simply can't keep your cadence at a level required to get up the hill, I think you have to either find a easier hill, or get gear that is going to help you with your cadence to get up that hill. That's my 2c.
Depends what your goals are, jace. Are you trying to beat times, or people, or just beat the hill?
Beating Times, get a compact and HTFU. Obviously get yourself a 27 or 28, ideally the smoother the better. 12-27 or even 12-25 is preferable because your cadence will be smoother and more consistent as you go down the gears. Thing is, you'll just have to stand and deliver if the clock is the enemy because you aren't trying to psyche out the clock. Higher gears means you will be faster by default.
Beating People, I might be odd man out but get the new 11-32. You'll be able to spin while the guy in front is cooking, and then once you are feeling comfortable, you kick up a couple gears and break him. Only need 10 seconds of hard effort to snap someone mentally. A lower gear means you can relax while you watch them flail away. Higher cadence at the same speed is always preferable. You don't grind a 34/32. LOL
Beat the hill? Get the 32 just to make sure you get over it. You will not find yourself in the gear often, and if you don't have a clock, a 5kmh grind is enough for any hill.
What he said!
I don't suffer fools easily and so long as you have done your best,you should have no regrets.
Yeah I am a very similar build to yourself, I so far havent come across anything that I cant get over but I am not exactly swamped for massive climbs, steep ones yes but not all that long and I can grind my way over them. Just thinking when I start tackling some real long climbs I am going to struggle. Thanks for the input.
At this stage I am not racing anyone so beating people isnt a big concern, times and the hills are the main concerns. Since I am looking at a bike upgrade in the coming month or so I might so what different gearing options are offered with them. Cheers.
The way I see it; how often are you going to think you NEED a 53/11 vs how often you could really use say a 34/27. Personally I'm not in to breaking land speed records, so a 50/11 is plenty for me on descents and flats, and the 34 is extremely useful when climbing.
Can't overlook the importance of being able to cruise in the 39/15 for example - I think that's something that often gets lost in this. You can't just look at the bottom gear unless you are driving to the start of the climb. My ride up Bowen Mountain had me finish the climb after 110kms. Keeping your efficiency before the climb starts will help you get up the climb. I'm feeling like I'm going to test out a 36 tooth inner ring for my compact with my 11-23 just to help smooth out the transition between big and granny gears, and get some more viability from the rolling hills.
Our old mate 34 is not a good cruise gear if you're a vaguely strong rider, and most people are using wide gaps at the bottom of their cassette. This means you lose smooth cadence staying in the big ring and changing the RD, and you lose smooth cadence moving the FD. The smaller your inner chainring the larger the change in development between each gear. So yes, you'll really enjoy a nice low climbing gear on the 34, regardless of cassette, but you might suffer from being unable to use the upper half of your cassette using the inner ring. There are practicalities of course - 52/42 chainrings were recently favoured, and have big benefits if you're trying to cruise in the hills, but they aren't going to let casual or older riders get up the big climbs. Keeping your gears tight is the key to efficiency by cadence, it's just hard to keep it tight if you're going anaerobic
39-15 is almost identical to 50-19, which is on the most common 11-25 cassette (and I am sure many others). So you dont need the 39-15 you can use your 50-19.
Also 'efficiency by cadence' what the hell is that? If you can only put up with 90 cadence and cant vary it 5rpm either side then you need work varying your cadence. That much variety is going from say (80rpm on 39-15) 26.9km/h to 30.2km/h (90rpm), then if you go up to the 14 on the rear you are back to 28.8 (AT) 80RPM so there is a big overlap there. IMO there is way too many gears on a bike you dont need to only have 1 tooth gaps the whole way (only exception here is possibly on a trainer).
Actually bigger inner chainrings will have larger changes in the gear inches between the gears. For eg. the difference between a 14 and a 15 rear with a 34 front is 4.4inches for a 39 it is 5 inches (0.3 and 0.4 change in meters developed respectively).
Except that in the range you are talking about you will be using different cogs on the back. A 14 - 15 rear with a 34 are 65.6 and 61.2 GI respectively. With a 39 you would use a 16 - 17 to give you 65.8 and 61.9 to give you a smaller change in ratios for a 1 tooth difference.
1 tooth gaps will always be bigger for smaller chainrings. For tooth counters with a gear calculator there will always be a different way of achieving the same thing.
Agreed vander - they are the same gear inches, except the gear NEXT to it is less friendly to move to on the 50. The next one, even more so... as you climb, you get a better "run" down the gears if you are using a 39 than a 34, assuming you are chugging along at 25kmh and decide you want an easier gear. You can spin around it, but sometimes it is hard work when it isn't needed.
I think my point is that, assuming you are riding at av25kmh when you're going through rolling hills or you are knackered, and 30-40 on the flats, you'll encounter a friendlier range of gears on the 53/39 combo than the 50/34. Easier to switch between FD and RD options for that preferred speed range.
It's not about a specific gearing. It's about the options you have available. Sadly, you do lose a lot of your climbing ease when you seek to improve your "normal" riding options. But how often are you suffering through that? Could you stand and deliver? Riding isn't just about the 10 minutes of death but the other 3 hours. But I'm happy to agree to disagree on that.
Dredging this up, and coming in late on the discussion.
To the OP (Jace), to put things in perspective, coming into the road bike scene, I have found there is a certain nostalgia surrounding the old standard crankset. I don't know if I'd describe the reasons as intangible - I think for some riders, particularly those who don't spend time on climbs, they are tangible - but Gavin said it well.
I think his point was oversimplified when he stated 53/11 as the only benefit of standard cranks (as Xplora pointed out, certain gear/speeds can be more favorable for some riders with a standard crankset).
But what it really comes down to is the type of terrain you're riding. Personally, I ride a mix of hills - some are longer with lower average grades, some shorter and very steep. As a rule of thumb I don't call a climb a climb unless it's covering at least 300-400m elevation.
And as far as steep stuff goes - I consider anything under 100m elevation gain a short pitch when you're talking about grades of 15%+.
That's not an ego wank, I'm just trying to put my views in perspective.
Moral of the story? Well... If you're like me, and ride lots of climbs (300-400m and up) and steep sections (15% in bursts of 100m+ elevation) and see rides with average elevation of 0.05% and upwards (i.e. 1000m in 50km, 2000m in 1000km), then seriously, you can't go past a compact crankset.
But if you're not chasing those sort of elevation numbers, there is a chance you can get away with staying on standards. Definitely shift to 28t on the rear. I don't know what you're like, but I hate spending money when I don't have to. So for me, this is a different discussion than if you were looking at buying a bike and had the choice between standard and compacts.
So - just get the 28t, see how that goes. And by all means, if you think it's possible, lose some weight too. Re-assess the situation in a couple of months and make a decision then.
Personally, I tore my quad around 8 weeks ago and am just getting back into the swing of things. Over that time I put on 5kg, which I put down to a massive drop in exercise and being lazy with my eating habits (which riding usually covers up). I have definitely noticed the difference in my times... and look forward to a couple of months time when weighing 73kg will be a distant memory!
And just finally, as others have said, a lower cassette probably won't make you faster... you're just going to be more comfortable. Compacts, at the limit, might make you faster... you might be able to stay seated up steeper stuff, which I find is a more efficient way to ride quick up hills.
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