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short, steep hills(6 posts)

short, steep hillsKimberly
Aug 16, 2001 6:12 AM
I'm having trouble with chain-suck on short, steep hills. I know it's pilot error, but I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong. It usually happens when I'm in the middle chain-ring on the back and going from my middle to my smallest chain-ring in the front.

And don't tell me that I wouldn't have this problem if I stayed out of "granny gear." I know that already, and I'm working on it. ;-) it not shifting down?Greg Taylor
Aug 16, 2001 6:29 AM
You can have problems when you are really honking on the pedals when you try and downshift to a smaller front chainring, especially if the rings are worn. The chain just won't drop. Cures are (1) anticipate and downshift before the effort gets too big, (2) check the adjustment of your front derailleur, finding that point where it shifts down but doesn't overshift and drop the chain past the granny, and (3) check your chainrings for wear.
are you standing or sitting?MB1
Aug 16, 2001 6:54 AM
It is tough to make a front shift while standing or pedaling really hard. If you are in your middle cog on the back keep using your rear derailleur.
are you standing or sitting?MikeC
Aug 16, 2001 7:49 AM
Most people don't have a good spin while standing, and many also lose their spin when they try to "muscle" up a hill while sitting. That can cause a world of problems, particularly if you're shifting down from the last gear you were in while maintaining a good spin. Try practicing a smooth spin, and if you're standing, try shifting up instead of down.
a few possibilities are...biknben
Aug 16, 2001 9:58 AM
The most common reasons for chain-suck are worn chainrings, unlubed chain, too little tension in the chain, and peddaling too hard while shifting. This comes from an old MTbiker whose chainsucked way to many times.
I think the biggest factor is chain lube. When I've had chain-suck problems it's usually towards the end of a ride in really nasty conditions. The chain is covered with crap and isn't well lubricated. Try to keep the chain clean and lubed.
Next is chain ring wear. When you started riding the teeth looked like /\ now they look like /(. One side of the tooth is getting curved so it looks like a hook. That hook grabs the chain and pulls it up and wham...Chain-suck.
Another thing to consider is chain tension. The rear deraileur is pulling the chain back and increasing the tension. If the deraileur is worn or you have too many links in the chain there may not be enough tension to keep the chain from sucking.
Lastly, try to soft pedal for a stroke or two while shifting. Let the chain get into the gear before you crunch down on it. This will also increase chain life.

Good luck
re: short, steep hillsWhatever
Aug 16, 2001 10:37 AM
All the advice and comments are good, here's one additional thought...if you are anticipating needing the granny somewhere on the hill, try starting the hill already in the granny and using the freewheel to adjust the gearing to your liking. There are lots of usable gears back there, but many people just thing of the granny as the "little x big" bail out gear. Check out what gearing you started the hill in and see if you can duplicate it in the granny...or at a minimum, shift into the granny earlier on the hill when you are moving faster and can ease up enough to let the front derailleur do its thing.

Starting with a well-maintained bike is always a good idea, of course.

And don't let the racer-wanna-be's tell us that we shouldn't have a granny. The reason that the European pros don't use them is that they can turn their 39x23's at 80+rpm up some monster hills. They don't need one. If you can't maintain a reasonable cadence up the hills, you are overgeared. The racer-boys (of which I was one once) will tell you that grinding away in a higher gear at 50rpm builds strength, and they are right. And I do that, too. Sometimes. Other times, I chose to twiddle, because today is a spinning day not a stomping day. And on even other days, I chose to stomp my 30x23 on hills that even racer-boys don't train on because they are too hard. And it is peaceful!