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Questions for climbers.(38 posts)

Questions for climbers.Juanmoretime
Oct 21, 2002 8:13 AM
I'm sure I will get a wide variety of answers, I'm still interested in everyone's responses.

Triple or double? Short cranks and spin or longer cranks for leverage? What do you use for a cassette?

Thank you,
My setupmass_biker
Oct 21, 2002 8:25 AM
For around here (New England)

172.5mm cranks - double (39x53)
12-23 9 speed in the rear - works for most races around here save a few (Mad River, Tour of the Hilltowns, Westfield) where a 25 would come in handy

As far as pedalling dynamics, I find that a combination of spinning and standing-and-stomping seems to work. Whatever gets you up the hill ahead of the next guy. In that regard, the 172.5 is pretty versatile.

My setupFez
Oct 21, 2002 9:05 AM
I use the exact same setup, cycle in Maryland and VA mostly. 172.5 crank, 12/23 cassette, 53/39 double.

I'm not the greatest climber, but I like the setup. The 23 is a great gear to sit and spin up most relatively steep hills and still keep a decent speed. Anything steeper or longer and I mix in some standing.

I think the most important thing to work on is aerobic fitness first. No setup can make climbing fun if you are not in good shape. But triples can come in handy for those long century rides because it can keep those legs fresh, wherever the hills are.
re: Questions for climbers.outofthesaddle
Oct 21, 2002 8:54 AM
Depending on the length of ride and total climbing.

#1 Option - 5900 double, 12-25, 172.5
#2 Option - 5200 triple, 12-25, 175

I plan on using the triple only on longer rides with lots of climbing (e.g., Death Ride, Terrible Two in Northern California), otherwise the double will be climbing bike.
What is your inseam? (nm)jtferraro
Oct 21, 2002 7:17 PM
Double, 12-27. Not sure I am a climber....but my $.02...BrianNYC
Oct 21, 2002 9:06 AM
I got my new road bike 10 days ago with a 12-27 double. Thought I wanted the triple, but then realized I never used the triple on my hybrid, so I went with the double. I got the 12-27 for Vermont, although I will most likely not get to try it out till next summer on what we consider mountains in this part of the country. Rode in Westchester, NY on Saturday, which is almost all hills, not the Angliru mind you, but some steep ones, and had no problems. I will fill you in on Vermont in about 6 months.
re: Questions for climbers.grzy
Oct 21, 2002 10:07 AM
39/53 and a 12-27 with 172.5 mm crank arms suits me pretty well for just about everything the SF Bay Area and the Sierras can toss at me. The exception is some of the totally sick double centuries (Terrible Two, Deveil Mountain Double) when it's really nice to go to a triple, but there are lots of manly men who'll claim you don't need it. It all comes down to your ability, conditioning, tolerance for pain, and number of knee surgeries.
re: Questions for climbers.Max11
Oct 21, 2002 10:31 AM
I here ya on the part about knee surgeries. I had a ACL done 6 months ago and my knee still can't get me around. Lost all my speed and can't stand up yet on the bike which means I just sit and watch everything go by me. Now instead of riding in the pack, sometimes pulling, chasing and having fun, I just cruise in the back waiting for the group to gather up again. What a bummer!
12-25;172.5,39-53 in upstate n.y..n.m.koala
Oct 21, 2002 11:29 AM
re: Questions for climbers.Spunout
Oct 21, 2002 10:24 AM
53/39 and 13-29, 172.5 33" inseam. Yes, its a Campy setup. I am very close to a triple's range with this gearing, and it suits me fine. I am able to form sprint hills, climbing at 120rpm in 39/29.

Always have a gear for bailout! I'm not a great climber, but am working very hard at it. I ride 1.5km climbs at around 10%, trying to keep speed above 15km/h.
Oct 21, 2002 10:39 AM
Put a triple on if you want, but don't ever call yourself a climber. Climbers earn that title, and it separates them from people who just want to get over the hill by any means necessary. With very few exceptions, a fit rider can get up anything in a 39/53 and a 12-27. If you can't, you might need to climb more hills and get fitter. A 39x27 is a surprisingly low gear.

Normally, I use a 12-25 and rarely use the 25. I ride a lot in the Santa Cruz Mountains, which has more than a few nasty double-digit grades. Your area may have nothing comparable, so adjust accordingly. When I did Climb to Kaiser, I put a 12-27 on and used the 27.

Please, no one tell me Roberto Heras is a great climber and he uses a triple. First of all, except for one specific instance, he doesn't. Second of all, unless you are climbing the Angliru at race pace on every ride, that's an idiotic parallel to make to your own riding.
Amen brother, on all accounts. nmNo_sprint
Oct 21, 2002 10:49 AM
I used a 12-27/39-53 double for CalTripleCrowns.MB1
Oct 21, 2002 11:28 AM
Climb to Kaiser is a lot harder than any of the Doubles I did though. The same 12-27/39-53 was fine for Colorado too.

For the East Coast, I need gears.
Which ones?grzy
Oct 22, 2002 11:19 AM
Not to take anything away from you. Kaiser is a "fun" ride, but the Terrible Two is simply evil. I found coming down from kaiser harder than going up due to the friggin' heat and headwinds. It felt like I was riding into a blast furnace.
Oh, Pul-leezejtolleson
Oct 21, 2002 12:01 PM
Another equipment snobbery discussion where you need to be climbing like a Cat 2 or you don't count.

I've been riding for over a decade, the last 8 years in Colorado. Mt Evans, Triple Bypass, Copper Triangle, Independence Pass. I consider myself a climber. I have a triple. Granny is used for desperate moments (the 15 percent stretch on the Mt Rushmore century or the last mile into Ward up Lefthand Canyon).

Other issues factor into the choice, including age and knee condition.

Don't want a triple? Bully for your. But this "don't call yourself X if you have/don't have Y" is really tiresome.
Right Onvindicator
Oct 21, 2002 1:31 PM
"Triples are for wimps" is a rather silly attitude to me. If anyone here is in the same physical condition as Heras, they should be making top dough as a pro in Europe.

Fact is, none (or at least almost none) of us have the ability of the top pros or we wouldn't be here. But it's that top ability which enables them to do the big climbs with a double in front and a 23 in back. Anyone here who is making gearing decisions based on what Lance uses for similar climbs is just scheduling their knee surgery appointment early.

Obviously, if the test for being a "climber" is to be able to keep up with the best pro climbers, then none of us here are climbers even if we can make it up a 20 mile 20% mountain pass in a 53-12!

In my mind, the test of a "climber" (within the context of us ordinary folks) is how fast they get up the hill, or even better, how fast they complete an entire route which includes multiple hills. If the other guy kicks your butt by spinning up the hills in a 30-25 while you're showing what a "stud" you are by standing in your 39-23, then he's a better climber than you, period.

It ain't the gearing, it's the rider!


Oct 21, 2002 3:37 PM
Mr. Spin is one of the "manly men" I was refering to.

I climb all that stuff in the SC Mtns b/c it's where I live, but if you're going to spin up most of those hills then you're going to need a triple - plain and simple. Alba and Jamison aren't for the faint of heart or weak of knee. Fact is with lower gearing you can dust the macho men if the ride is long enough. Mr. Spin might need a name change.

A climber in the elite sense is a racer, but for the rest of us mortals it's anyone who likes to climb, regardless of how long it takes you to make it up the darn thing. 50% of climbing is mental and the fact that you seek out climbs and complete them makes you a climber. I know some very fit tri-geeks that start whimpering and the very mention of certian grades by name.
BULL SH!TRay Sachs
Oct 22, 2002 6:13 AM
Comparing ourselves to Roberto Heras in ANY way is a stupid exercise to begin with. Further, it's possible to be a climber without being a racer or even particularly fast rider.

I myself am a climber. I know this because I love to climb and do lots of very hilly rides. That said, I'm a damn SLOW climber, as JL and other local riders can personally attest to. But I'm steady and relaxed and happy going up hill. I ride a double with a 34x34 low gear. And I occasionally even USE the 34x34. When I'm doing a weeklong tour with a lot of climbing, I may even add a 24 tooth granny ring to that setup and may use THAT occasionally too.

Enough with the "you're not a rider/climber/true cyclist/WHATEVER if you can't climb the Alpe D'Huez in a 39x23 or if you can't turn a 53x11 in a sprint attitude. If you CAN, congratulations and more power to you - you have nothing but my respect. But LOTS of us can't and wouldn't even want to try - we're having every bit as much fun riding as you are. Maybe more.

-Ray "its not ALL about speed" Sachs
Isn't a climber anyone who climbs? Hmmm...lets see what Webster says, shall we?Kristin
Oct 22, 2002 11:59 AM
climb·er Pronunciation Key (kli'-mar)
*One that climbs, especially a person who climbs mountains.
*Sports. A device, such as a crampon, used in mountain climbing.
*A plant that climbs.
*A person who avidly seeks a higher social or professional position.

Well, by the definition above, I'm kind of a climber, as I haven't ridden up any mountains yet. But technically, I still fit the definition.

To date, no officially recogonized classifications exists by which to define ones skill as a climber. So no one can really say what kind of a climber I am, or what kind of a climber you are. Once someone creates a system that can measure and categorize climbers by skill, then you guys can have a real pissing contest.
Who's Webster? What kind of bike did he ride? nmdzrider
Oct 22, 2002 12:42 PM
I love to climb & can go fast when I want. Triple/12-34/172.5MB1
Oct 21, 2002 11:18 AM
Saturday we rode a fairly mixed 200K with an off road ATB section and lots of good climbing. Sunday on the same bikes we met the older racers and did a crazy fast hilly 60 miles.

Nice thing about the 12-34 is not having to shift out of the big ring on the fast climbs and still being able to climb anything no matter how steep/dirty/long. People quit laughing at your gears when they are just barely hangin on on the climbs.
What'd you use on Hilly Hundred?4bykn
Oct 21, 2002 12:38 PM
I used a double, 12-27:39-53, with 172.5 cranks. Only used the 27 on about 4 or 5 climbs, but glad it was there when I needed it!
What'd you use on Hilly Hundred?Juanmoretime
Oct 21, 2002 12:53 PM
For the Hilly I used a 53 -39 172.5 double with a 12-23. I would save the 23 as a bail out gear which I used a few times. I'm considering going to the Triple ByPass next year and don't think I can use the same cassette.
Triple Bypassjtolleson
Oct 21, 2002 5:21 PM
Even though I used the Triple Bypass as an example of a ride I did as a "climber" even though there's a triple on my Seven...

You may not need to change your cassette. The Triple Bypass is NEVER overly steep. It just goes on for miles. There are rides that I consider more brutal in the grade dept., by far. The Triple is just cumulative.

Now, looking at the grades on the Death Ride I could see using granny. Much steeper it appears!
You weren't the guy who was hummingKristin
Oct 22, 2002 12:01 PM
as he climbed Mt. Tabor last year were you? I can't get up that thing at all, let alone with a 23!!! Good job.
re: Questions for climbers.Mike Prince
Oct 21, 2002 2:42 PM
Where I live (Blue Ridge Mtns. in NC) most of our group's "big" climbs are 2-3 miles long, avg grades 7-9% with the max in the 15-19% range. I use 53/39, 12/25 and survive 'em all pretty well.

Tried a 12/27 earlier this year and just didn't like it, so I'm back to the 25. I don't notice too much difference between the 27 and 25 and didn't like the big jumps on the larger cogs (21-24-27).
re: Questions for climbers.Mike Prince
Oct 21, 2002 2:42 PM
Oops, didn't answer all of the questions - 175mm crankarms
What is your inseam?(nm)jtferraro
Oct 21, 2002 7:35 PM
92cm (nm)Mike Prince
Oct 22, 2002 5:30 AM
I enjoy climbing, but may not be a 'climber' by definition...rwbadley
Oct 21, 2002 4:12 PM
We have some pretty nice hills around here.

On the Paramount I run a 42-53 with 172.5 and vary the rear cassette from 12-21 to 12-28 depending on the ride. Really the only time I switch from the 12-21 is for the Markleeville ride.

The Bianchi cross bike is a triple, and I have used all the gears at times, and been happy for them. Something like a 34-40-48 with 13-28 cogset

The fixie is set at 42-17, soon to be a 42-16.

If you live in hilly area, or have lots of headwinds, go for the triple & don't worry about it. Not a strong climber? Climb hills, you'll get better. If you think the 39-25 or 27 is low enough, then that is fine too. Be flexible and enjoy 'what ya got'.

re: Questions for climbers.mapei boy
Oct 21, 2002 4:50 PM
172.5 cranks. 13-29 Campy cassette. 39 chainring. I live in L.A. My climbs include 1/4 to 1/2 mile bouts of 14-18 percent, measured via a Specialized Speed Zone Pro bike computer. With the gearing mentioned above, I'm unafraid of anything...except that 32% climb that exists in Echo Park. The knees never pop. It's the damn lungs that go. The Colnago helps me get up the hills a little bit, too.
Legs 'n Lungsjtolleson
Oct 21, 2002 5:23 PM
They are definitely interconnected. To me, a climb needn't feel like 20,000 leg presses. Sure, try to do 'em quick and you'll feel like the "lungs" go because it is quickly anaerobic.

Lower gears, for many devoted "climbers" are simply a method of staying aerobic (AND saving knees perhaps) on long steep climbs.
I'm not a climber, too, but I love to climb.look271
Oct 21, 2002 6:40 PM
53x39, 12-27, with 175 mm cranks. Works for me but there are times that I wouldn't mind having a lower gear. IMHO, triples aren't a bad thing. May just get one on the next bike,and if that is too far down the road, I may do it before then!
Just curious - what is your inseam? Thx. (nm)jtferraro
Oct 21, 2002 8:47 PM
About 32 1/2 inches. Why? (nm)look271
Oct 22, 2002 8:00 AM
Trying to figure out what size cranks to go with - I'm a 33". nmjtferraro
Oct 22, 2002 8:24 AM
custom campy 10 sp. 12-27, 172.5, 52x39 - alpes/pyrénées (nm)philippec
Oct 22, 2002 12:31 AM
adding more stats..Juanmoretime
Oct 22, 2002 1:51 AM
6' 1", 170 lb, 35" inseam, 45 years old.