I was hoping to get some advise on gearing for climbing. Iâ€™m currently running a Ultegra 53/39 and 12-25 on my Fuji SST 2. Recently Iâ€™ve been doing some longer hill rides around Brisbane (Nebo / Glorious) and struggle to keep a high cadence on the steeper sections even when in the granny gear.
I know I could move to a 50/34 chainset but I was wondering if changing to a 11-28 would solve some of the problems and avoid the extra cost of a (more) compact chainset?
Or am I able to just replace the 39 with a 34 chain ring?
Thanks for any help.
11-28 is a pretty wide cassette and there'll be larger steps some performance orientated riders would notice and complain about. With a 53 chainring at the front, you might care to consider a 12-28 if that's the direction you want to go. Otherwise I too am happy with my CT cranksets. Not for everyone, but for my abilities and needs.
Bianchi, Ridley, Montague, GT, Garmin and All things Apple
your gearing is ok , maybe you need to work within your lactate zone and learn to tempo tap .
Hills don't get easier you just get to go faster up them , and if you are starting out .... find your heart zones
"My father touched me like that once. To this day, he still has to wear orthopedic shirts."
At the end of the day , it is the Indian , not the arrow .. so ride what you want
I ride that same area as you.
Only way to get better at climbing is to do more climbing (and maybe lose weight if that is something that you need).
I run exactly the gearing that you have and I am not a little bloke at 6'3" tall and 85kg (on a bad day).
Suffering will improve your climbing in the longer term, cheating with easier gears wont (IMO).
You need to change crank if you want smaller front rings.
I have been contemplating the same question on my bike and put the numbers through a gearing calculator. Essentially you can get the same gearing from a bigger cassette or compact cranks, but the compact cranks have a bigger spread. So the cassette option is ok, but you will lose the bigger gears faster than with the compacts.
I made this chart a while back.
Legal Shimano front and rear gear combos are green. illegals are red.
you can use a 28 rear gear with 53:39 front chainrings and a short cage rear derailleur.
I'd only suggest you go to a compact chainring on the front if you match 2 or more of the following:
- are consistently struggling on hills over 5% gradient and your local rides have a lot of such hills.
- are quite overweight
- are over 40 years old
- have a medical history where strenuous exercise increases health risk
- don't ride more than 3-4 hours a week.
You can always buy a compact chainring set anyways, and hold onto the current one. As you improve you could go back to your current setup.
An Ultegra compact chainset will cost you around $215 (cranks, axle, cogs)
You will need a new shorter chain to go with it though, which will cost around $40-50.
A we have words to describe people that are so finicky as to find the steps on an 11-28 too big. Riders far greater than us were racing on 5, 6, 7 cog bikes without issues. 11-28 on a 10 cluster no different.
I currently ride an 12-28 on a 7 speed cluster. The old 11-21 was ridiculous with my 42 "granny" chain ring. I'm not that strong!
Thanks for the advice. I think you are right and I should train more specifically for climbs. I'm from Cambridge, UK and descent climbs are a novelty. Any suggestions on training for maintaining a high cadence? I'm fine doing laps of Coot-tha but struggle on the steeper sections of Nebo.
Nebo often > 10%
175cm and 70kg
No medical problems
Ride ~ 200km a week
Bollocks. Suffering by grinding a too high a gear can cause injuries. Climbing need not be hard, just more difficult than riding along the flats,
Get a compact, if you are worried about speed make sure your rear has an 11. You won't look back. Grinding sucks, don't do it. Start with granny gear, get your cadence up to say 90, when this feels ok go to the next gear down and repeat. You will become a better climber faster this way than just grinding it out and you may even enjoy it!
40 years old, 69kg, 300km per week and Bgrade racer.
Certified Brand Snob
I have similar issues, and after lots of reading, I've ordered a compact crankset.
I can get up the hills OK when riding alone, but when in a group of other riders on compacts and much younger and fitter than me, I was a hot potato.
The ego did not want to let go of the bigger chainrings, but the head won.
You have officially become your parents.
Nailed it Ken! Your ego will be happy when you start dropping others who can't match your cadence.
Certified Brand Snob
I did not say too high a gear.
39/26 is not a high gear.
Over 40 and still weighing nearly 90kg, I'm tring to spare my joints from low cadence/high force climbing. Not only have I got a compact crankset, but the 105 cassette has come out and an SRAM Apex 11-32 has gone in and I'm loving it!
As someone behind the counter at Ivanhoe Cycles opined, "Spinners are grinners, crankers are w*nkers"
Maybe for you it isn't.
Thankfully, not everyone is you.
Get yourself a compact crankset population100. You'll thank yourself after the first hill climb.
2010 BMC SLC01
Spinning more than you need to is a sure way to get your heart rate up.........that is not good.
Taking the easy route and riding easier gears on your bike is just cheating yourself imo - I have seen many people do this and they cant figure out why their climbing never improves compared to others who are doing the exact same training/riding as them
Having had both and done a bit of climbing I think I can comment on this.
I had a compact plus a 11-28 on the rear. When climbing cootha this setup was great. I could amble up and do 14 minute times with ease chatting to people.
I fitted a standard crank on the front. 39/53. This was all good as long as the time was less than 12 minutes. Then one day I did a slower climb (12:30) and grinding up he hill in the lowest gears at 40 rpm nearly killed me.
Having said that I'm now doing sub 10 and the gearing is great but I'd say if you are struggling than definitely go for a compact.
The catalyst for me to change to a standard was that on the compact I would just stay in the large chainring all the time. With the standard things seem a bit more flexible.
Once you can climb hills on a bike it's all downhill.
Hopefully I'll know what that's like..... one day.
I use a Deore mtb rear derailleur with an 11-32 cassette to make 53-39 more usable, even that was tough for me on Coot-tha.
When man invented the bicycle he reached the peak of his attainments- Elizabeth West.
Not all riders are the same. Some will suit grinding while others will better at spinning.
In my teens, I was a grinder. I went everywhere in the tall gears & rarely got off the bottom 2 cogs on the old 5spd freewheel. Then my knees protested & I was forced out of any form of cycling for the next 25 years.
I came back into it slowly a couple of years ago (on the same bike) & now stick to a lower gear than I would have used years ago. I have had the odd twinge but so far, so good.
1975 Peugeot UO-8 - daily commuter along the Liverpool to Parramatta cycleway (and back again )
**Now living south of Campbelltown so commuting with the help of Mr Cityrail.
Gosh, you have spare time!
Takes me another 10mins to wash all the grease off my hands.
+1 beat me too it.
I run a 34 with a 12-27. That gets me up most climbs, and I can just get up Coachhouse Dr in Adelaide which has several pitches over 15%, and the last one at 20-22%. I couldn't do it with much less.
No ego here.
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