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climbing gearing(16 posts)

climbing gearingEd5
Aug 22, 2001 2:13 PM
New to cycling and just wondering what some you who live in hilly areas use for climbing gearing. My smallest gearing is a little too tall and I am looking to buy a smaller chain ring. Thanks for any input.
re: climbing gearingRich Clark
Aug 22, 2001 2:27 PM
I live in Eastern Pennsylvania, and I suck at climbing. I mean I'm seriously bad, and as a 50-year old guy with heart disease, I always will.

My road bikes are touring bikes with road triples (52-42-30) and MTB cassettes (11-32 9 speed on one, 12-32 8 speed on the other).

I've made it up every hill I've encountered with these setups, albeit slowly at times.

Depends on your local grades ...Humma Hah
Aug 22, 2001 2:29 PM
Dog has a hill with a half-mile grade of and incredible 21% that he routinely rides on a two-ring bike. He sometimes puts a close-ratio corncob on the back so he has to slog up the hill in way to high a gear. Then, when he goes back to normal gearing, it seems easier.

I ride an old cruiser, 42.5 pounds, singlespeed, currently with 42:18 gearing, and I've climbed 1200 feet at about 8% on it.

Too low a gear, encouraging a furious spin, may wind you worse than picking a higher gear and pedaling harder but slower. It takes a lot of trials to find out what's good for you. I'm a slogger -- I climb more efficiently in a relatively high gear, and get winded quickly if I try the granny gear on my MTB, on all but the steepest slopes.

I'm inclined to recommend, if you're on normal roads with about 8% and less grades, stick with a 2-ring setup, grit your teeth, and climb 'til it hurts. If your muscles are sore for a few days (the second day is usually worse), it means you're putting on meat.
It depends...Jerry Gardner
Aug 22, 2001 2:36 PM
It all depends on what you're trying to climb. Choice of gearing for Florida, for example, would be significantly different than Colorado.

It also depends on your weight and fitness level. I can climb anything locally using nothing lower than a 42-23. Others require a 39-28, or even a 32-28 to climb the same grades, and yet others (but not many) can do it in a 42-21.
re: climbing gearingLC
Aug 22, 2001 3:14 PM
Depends where you are at. In Seattle, a skinny in shape guy can get away with a 39 in front and 27 in back, but most others choose a triple with a 30 in front and 25 in back. There are a few hero's I have seen that try to get away with a 39-23, but they are usually the ones to complain about knee problems too.
re: climbing gearingGregJ
Aug 22, 2001 3:53 PM
I'm a lean climber type, I have currently a 39 - 25 as my low gear. I live in Santa Barbara and can climb anything here with that. SB has a lot of great climbs, some long, some really steep and some long and steep. Sometimes on the steepest pitches that does mean standing and dropping the cadence a bit, but those areas don't last long. I used to use a 39-23 but recently age has been creeping up on me, I just turned 40.
When I lived in Iowa and Illinois I used to have a 42-21 as my low gear, but I was younger in those days.
Don't decide too quicklyjtolleson
Aug 22, 2001 4:01 PM
I'm in Colorado, and when I first started road riding seriously, I thought a lot about getting a smaller cog up front. I felt like I was really suffering. And over time, that has just become a distant memory.

If you aren't having to get off and walk, but merely struggle to remain aerobic (vs. anaerobic) or struggle to keep a decent cadence, I'd stick with what you have and just work on fitness. You'd be amazed how fast you'll progress on the climbing curve.

Now I still feel like a suffer when I climb, but then I look at my computer and realize that I climb something steep at, say, 8 mph instead the old 5.5 mph. And I can cruise an easy climb in double-digit speeds, which was never within my reach that first season.

I'd give your setup a season, if you can.
Aug 22, 2001 4:05 PM
It's hard to assess both you and your terrain without knowing anything, but if I had to make a blanket recommendation to a beginner, this is what I would say. Use a 53/39 chainring combo, with a 12-27 cassette. If the 27 cog requires you to stand too much, you need a triple. If you never use the 27, or even the 24, then change to a 12-23 or 11-23.

Change cassettes before chainrings. One or two teeth difference on the chainring won't make much difference.

re: climbing gearingDINOSAUR
Aug 22, 2001 4:45 PM
I ride nothing but hills and have learned to get by with a 39-25.
At first I was relying a lot on that 25 gear, gradually I geared up to the 23 and now I use the 21 for most of my climbing, but I'll drop to the 23 if it's really steep or if I am bonking. I would think you could get by with a 39-27. Going with a triple means you are doing a lot of spinning and waisting energy in my book. Unless of course you are climbing in the Rockies with panniers and then you would probably need all the gears you could get.
Learning to climb is like weight training, you have to gradually build up the load over a period of time. Otherwise you can injure your knees. Climbing takes time to master, do it often enough and sooner or later you will learn what works for you. Let your body guide you, experience is the best teacher...
re: climbing gearingVelocipedio
Aug 22, 2001 7:00 PM
I'm in Montreal, which isn't Seattle or San Francisco by a longshot, but has some pretty nice climbs up Mount Royal [Houde Parkway, Westmount, whatever]. I find the 39-25 works perfectly well. I'd want a lower gear if I was doing a 10km, 15% climb, but the 39-25 works for everything I've found so far...
39 x 30Ron B.
Aug 22, 2001 9:11 PM
I use a regular 53 x 39 on the front and a 12 x 30 mountain bike cogset in the back. It works really well in the hills and mountains but is a geared a little far apart for riding on the flats.
Used a 38 and 12-27 on Death RideLWL
Aug 22, 2001 9:45 PM
The 38 chain ring along with the 27 made the ride enjoyable. That one tooth makes a big difference, I think 1 in the front = 2 in the back.
re: climbing gearinggirodebirdman
Aug 22, 2001 10:32 PM
I am new to cycling (2 months) but have been able to climb everything around here (Oregon) with a 39-23. That includes grades up to 17% (standing, barely getting the pedals to turn over), sustained 10% grades (sitting at a slow cadence, occasionally standing) and 6.5%, 9 mile grades (spinning at a fairly high cadence in a 39-21). Since I am a novice, I am sure I have lots of power to gain, but, in my short experience, I can't see going with more than a 39-23. Maybe that will help you out, you are probably in the same boat as me. Then again, I don't weigh much, and ride alone (I live in the boonies) so I don't know what everyone else who rides these roads uses. The guy who climbs on the cruiser at that gearing must be mad strong. Climbs sure are fun though, aren't they?
Aug 23, 2001 3:36 AM
I'm fairly new to road riding. I started last year at age 49,
and I ride in hilly upstate NY. I have a 30/40/50 triple
with 13-28 cassette. If I spin up the hills, I can do long
rides (50-100 miles) without knee problems. If I go up those
hills in my middle ring at a lower cadence I have knee pain
the day after. But it does give me a feeling of accomplishment
to stay out of the granny ring.

If your knees are in good shape, you could probably use a double,
but be careful if you have knee problems.
Why all the knocks on triple chainrings?MB1
Aug 23, 2001 5:35 AM
For the Triple Crown Double Century series lots of riders use triple chainrings. There are some pretty good riders there of every age. With a triple you don't have to ever worry if you have a low enough gear and you can use a close ratio cassette. I really liked the 30/42/53-chainring setup with a 12/21 cassette. Nice tight cluster with low gears too.

Of course now that I live on the East Coast I run a 12/25 for the all endless short but steep hills we like to ride on.

That is when we are not riding the fixtes (it is amazing what you can climb with only 1 gear). I can pretty much climb anything in a 39/15 or 16. Miss M doesn't weigh much and generally uses 1 tooth less on the rear than I do. I wonder are gears overrated?
I would probably not be riding...Rich Clark
Aug 23, 2001 3:47 PM
...if I didn't have my triple. Or at least I wouldn't be riding a road bike.

I am very slow, and I climb like a bowling ball.