Gearing for climbs

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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby Drunkmonkey » Wed Nov 30, 2011 12:38 pm

Scouse wrote:
Drunkmonkey wrote: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 :?

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.


Most people dont know how to climb properly, they just do what is needed to get over the hill......or slight incline in some cases!!
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by BNA » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:53 pm

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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby boyracer » Wed Nov 30, 2011 1:53 pm

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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby zephy » Wed Nov 30, 2011 3:49 pm

good to read other's experiences....

recently swapped to a compact (from 52/42) 50/34 and 14-28 and find I'm climbing faster usually 34 and 20 rear while remaining seated on the bike as much as I can.... one thing that bugs me, despite adjusting the front derailer both physical height and H/L settings is that if I drop to fast (this is an older bike with stem shifting) I drop the chain.... sometimes it doesn't happen, one night it happened 3 times.....

is this something that can be fixed? both for me and something others thinking of going compact need to be aware of or potentially worry about?...

one chap suggested to remove a link or two from the chain? I'm not keen to do this though as as I build fitness I plan on switching back to the 52/42... I need it, 50-14 isn't always enough on the flats or with tail wind or downhill....

I find I'm running on the 50 except when climbing.....
Just an ol' man, riding an ol' bike.... every hill feels like Alpe d'Heuz....
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby whitey » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:01 pm

zephy wrote:
is this something that can be fixed? both for me and something others thinking of going compact need to be aware of or potentially worry about?...



Would a chaincatcher help http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bike_acc ... /100261414
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby sogood » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:06 pm

zephy wrote:recently swapped to a compact (from 52/42) 50/34 and 14-28 and find I'm climbing faster usually 34 and 20 rear while remaining seated on the bike as much as I can....

This doesn't make sense, to attribute your better climbing performance on the CT. 34/20 combo gives 44.7", a gear ratio that's well covered by the standard double through 39/23 (44.6"). Fact is, CT typically gives around two extra gear steps beyond 39/25 on the standard double. Unless your climbing is dependent on those two extra gear ratios, you are not gaining any benefits from a CT setup.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby zephy » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:09 pm

whitey wrote:
zephy wrote:
is this something that can be fixed? both for me and something others thinking of going compact need to be aware of or potentially worry about?...



Would a chaincatcher help http://www.bikeexchange.com.au/bike_acc ... /100261414



worth looking into.....
Just an ol' man, riding an ol' bike.... every hill feels like Alpe d'Heuz....
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby zephy » Wed Nov 30, 2011 4:16 pm

sogood wrote:
zephy wrote:recently swapped to a compact (from 52/42) 50/34 and 14-28 and find I'm climbing faster usually 34 and 20 rear while remaining seated on the bike as much as I can....

This doesn't make sense, to attribute your better climbing performance on the CT. 34/20 combo gives 44.7", a gear ratio that's well covered by the standard double through 39/23 (44.6"). Fact is, CT typically gives around two extra gear steps beyond 39/25 on the standard double. Unless your climbing is dependent on those two extra gear ratios, you are not gaining any benefits from a CT setup.


I don't know about the maths, but I do know 42 - 28 was a real struggle when I started repeated hill climbing (the standard chainrings are 52/42)

Switched to a compact and started at 34 -28, now down to 34 - 20 and probably ready to switch back to the 52/42? this particular bike is a ten speed - 2 chainrings and 5 cogs on the rear and probably 12kg :twisted:
Just an ol' man, riding an ol' bike.... every hill feels like Alpe d'Heuz....
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby sogood » Wed Nov 30, 2011 5:35 pm

zephy wrote:I don't know about the maths, but I do know 42 - 28 was a real struggle when I started repeated hill climbing (the standard chainrings are 52/42)

Switched to a compact and started at 34 -28, now down to 34 - 20 and probably ready to switch back to the 52/42? this particular bike is a ten speed - 2 chainrings and 5 cogs on the rear and probably 12kg :twisted:

The math is all important. And looks like I missed your earlier quote on odd 42 small ring (standard double uses 39). The extra few teeth in your 42 would explain the difference and the CT would make a far more dramatic change. If you replace your 42 with a common 39 ring, then it may be adequate for your needs.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby lethoso » Wed Nov 30, 2011 7:15 pm

population100 wrote: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.


Really? I didn't think there was anything on Nebo that was much more than 10%. The worst sections of it aren't much different to Coot-tha, plus you get rest breaks.

Glorious from Samford though, that's a bit of a bastard. I was wishing for a compact when I went up that way a few months ago.

There's nothing you can do to boost your cadence on climbs except get fitter, HTFU or change your gearing.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby ireland57 » Wed Nov 30, 2011 8:23 pm

When I first brought my roadie it had 53/39 x 11/23 with 172.5mm cranks and due to chronic knee problems, lack of core strength, low flexibility and poor bike fitness I couldn't climb diddly on it. Well, not without standing up for a whole climb (i.e. about one hour for one of them). I did ok but it was painful.

I temporarily swapped to a triple (Nov 2010) (165mm crank) and it was the best thing I could have done for my knees. It made everything easier right away. In two weeks I went from dropping off on 30 km group rides to completing 100 km groupies.

Now my legs are slowly getting stronger I use a 170mm double 53/39 and vary from 12/23 to 11/28 depending on what rides I'm doing for the period.
I'd like lower gearing to lift my cadence right now from about it's normal 50 - 60 rpm (seated climbing a 10 - 12% hill) to about 75rpm. It would be much easier and I'd be quicker.

That said (with some coaching) my training times up my hill are now 1 minute quicker than they were 3 months ago i.e. 15.5 mins to 14.5.

Some of the riders I hang with (A, B, C grade roadies; Elite mtn bikers) do not understand the leg issues I have. When they want speed they change up gears. It's simple.
But it's not like that for most of us.

Whatever you do it needs to be right for you and some sensible thought needs to be put in. HTF up is good too but not on it's own.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby Baldy » Wed Nov 30, 2011 10:15 pm

I have a 52/36--11/28 on my good bike,seems to be a good allrounder. The other bike has regular 50/34--11/26. Thing is the good bike is roughly 3kg lighter and much stiffer, which seem to soak up those extra gear inches.

Soogood has a point though, you can notice the difference in the gaps. Even with only a 2 tooth difference its noticeable. For general riding and even racing its not enough for me to care. The only time it was a bit of an issue was during a TT, I have only done one[20km] and there were times it felt like I needed half or 3/4 of a gear to be comfortable.

I say just ride what is comfortable for you and that will most likely change over time. When I replace the cassette on the good bike it will be a 12-26. Because for me I hardly use the 11 and it feels like I need the 28 less and less.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby MichaelB » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:00 am

zephy wrote: Switched to a compact and started at 34 -28, now down to 34 - 20 and probably ready to switch back to the 52/42? this particular bike is a ten speed - 2 chainrings and 5 cogs on the rear and probably 12kg :twisted:


Ah, a 5sp rear end. If 14 is too low for those flat runs, how about getting a different rear cluster ? No idea what is available in 5 sp though
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby clackers » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:15 am

Drunkmonkey wrote:Most people dont know how to climb properly, they just do what is needed to get over the hill......or slight incline in some cases!!


Well, if you think only noobs are spinning, DM, listen to Lance Armstrong's coach:

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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby sogood » Thu Dec 01, 2011 11:24 am

clackers wrote:
Drunkmonkey wrote:Most people dont know how to climb properly, they just do what is needed to get over the hill......or slight incline in some cases!!

Well, if you think only noobs are spinning, DM, listen to Lance Armstrong's coach:

Ummm... Looks like many people really don't know how to climb properly. :mrgreen:
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby clackers » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:24 pm

You versus Lance up the Alp d'Huez, I know who my money'd be on, Sogood, drugs or no drugs! ;-)
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby sogood » Thu Dec 01, 2011 12:37 pm

clackers wrote:You versus Lance up the Alp d'Huez, I know who my money'd be on, Sogood, drugs or no drugs! ;-)

I'll be on a Ducati and he'll be in his NIssan LEAF. I think you should rethink where to place the bet. :wink:
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby Ken Ho » Thu Dec 01, 2011 7:37 pm

My lowest gear will be a 34/25, so I'll still be working.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby winstonw » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:29 am

clackers wrote:As someone behind the counter at Ivanhoe Cycles opined, "Spinners are grinners, crankers are w*nkers"


hahaha...haven't heard that before.


The chart below shows the range of kph's achievable between 70 and 110 rpm for each gear combo (50:34).
In addition to helping with hill climb gearing, a chart along these lines can help understand gear selection when figuring optimal torque:cadence for accelerations in races. Though a chart that incorporates wattage would be more informative. Of course, what helps most is to get out and experiment.

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Last edited by winstonw on Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:47 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby clackers » Fri Dec 02, 2011 5:38 am

winstonw wrote:hahaha...haven't heard that before.


And he was a big unit, too - had the build of Shane Perkins rather than Alberto Contador!
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby austy37 » Fri Dec 02, 2011 7:20 am

i ride an 8kg alu bike with 34/26, but i rode my mates cervelo 6.8kg, carbon with 39/25 the other day, we rode the same climb on each others bike and i found it just a bit easier with his carbon/stiffer/lighter bike. so maybe weight is a bit of an issue too?
also, didnt contador ride a few giro stages a few years back with a compact?
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby sblack » Fri Dec 02, 2011 8:19 am

austy37 wrote:also, didnt contador ride a few giro stages a few years back with a compact?

And an 11-32 on the rear. Sram said this was the inspiration for the release of the Apex groupset. Juan José Cobo also used 34x32 on his way to win the Vuelta this year.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby Daccordi Rider » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:19 pm

Yeh, nothing ghey about compacts!
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby winstonw » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:37 pm

Pros use compacts depending on the gradients. This year's Vuelta had some particularly testing climbs.
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby Clubagreenie » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:10 pm

population100 wrote:
Clubagreenie wrote: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


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.


Learn to breath with your stomach opening up the lower portion of your lungs with your diaphragm
Learn to sit upright with your hands loose on the bars , keeping your torso straight
Learn to cycle your breathing , and get a rytheme in your head and stick to it
Your heart rate should be that , that you can breath deep and tap on the pedals .. so if your Rested heart rate is 80 and your max is 185 then around 150-165bpm would be good starting point.
Cadence is your friend , do not go into a hill with the expectations of changing down half way or you will lose momentum

Find a training hill to start on , work that hill twice a week to start , then move to a more graduated hill and work that one once a week with the other hill twice a week ... and just concentrate on tempo and technique . Don't worry about attacking on a hill for a bit yet .

Hope this helps
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Re: Gearing for climbs

Postby Drunkmonkey » Fri Dec 02, 2011 4:15 pm

clackers wrote:
Drunkmonkey wrote:Most people dont know how to climb properly, they just do what is needed to get over the hill......or slight incline in some cases!!


Well, if you think only noobs are spinning, DM, listen to Lance Armstrong's coach:



There is a difference between spinning just enough to keep your legs moving, and spinning too much. Lance was a known high cadence rider, and he didnt spin anywhere near as much as some of you are :roll:
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