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Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?(9 posts)

Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?MichaelM
Aug 15, 2003 11:49 PM
With a 39 X 25 I knew I was overgeared.

I know I'm a bit overweight - but I'm working on that.

Oh how I could have cried, watching my average speed tumble as at on point I was reduced to crawling up the hill for what seemed like forever and my computer showed a speed of 4 - 6 mph.

I'm undecided as whether to go and buy my way out of trouble (38 x 27 ?), or stick with it untill I'm completely happy with my fitness.

Would anyone else struggle on this sort of gradient? or would you maybe change your cassette if you know your going up the steeps. (I have only one bike and one cassette).

re: Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?Will Ross
Aug 16, 2003 5:35 AM
For me, 12% more more than a few seconds is steep, but of course a lot depends on the length of the hill/climb. A mile at 12% would be a challenge; a quarter of a mile at 12% I could handle without too much of a problem. And I'm about 142 pounds and 6 feet, so weight isn't an issue. I've seen people pushing their bikes on even short 12% grades, so just making it over you're doing OK, and you're choosing to see it as a challenge rather than something to be avoided or despised, which is the right attitude. And honestly, I don't think 4-6 mph on a steep hill is anything to be ashamed of. You could always go for an easier gear, but I'm guessing a 25 is probably fine -- what's needed is just more practice riding hills; find your climbing rhythm and it won't seem so bad. Just be careful about knees -- if you experience knee problems on steep hills, I'd be extra careful and consider the 27. Otherwise, keep plugging.
re: Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ? YESB2
Aug 16, 2003 7:18 AM
Go for the lower gearing if you plan on riding slopes like that very much. If you're doing 5mph in 39/25, your cadence is about 40RPM. There's nothing wrong with 5mph on a 12% grade, but you should get your cadence up at least a little bit.

My 2 Cents,
Its definitely not easySprint-Nick
Aug 16, 2003 8:25 AM
Your speed up the hill is very reasonable. I have a 13% hill by my house and even with few thousand km under meI still find myself in a 39x25 not going much faster than 6 mph so don't be alarmed with your speed. Almost anyone short of a pro roadie would not scoff at a hill like this!

As for getting different gearing its your call... some of us weren't meant to climb fast so lower gearing is a good option. But some of us are just too stubborn to get it! Maybe look at how much you use your gears, how much climbing is in your area then figure out how useful it'd really be to change gears especially if your going to use top gears you use a lot when theres only a couple 12% climbs in your area.

Nice climbing, but ...Live Steam
Aug 16, 2003 8:40 AM
the 27 isn't goint to make much of a difference in my opinion. If yoy do go for it you will need to purchase at least two cogs - the 27 and usually the first cog wich is very different from the rest. You can go to for a good chart to work with to determine how you what to set up the cog set. Good luck and keep climbing!
re: Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?geeker
Aug 16, 2003 10:34 AM
Specifics depend on the length of the climb you mentioned, but 12% is pretty steep. If I had to climb a lot of that stuff, I'd want lower than 39/25. I use a MTB cassette with a bailout gear of 39/28.

Interesting item: the Mount Washington hill climb was today. I think it's 7.6 miles with an average grade around 12% (portions 20+%). According to a story at, winner Tom Danielson "rode a LeMond Tete de Corse pared down to 14 pounds with a 30-tooth chainring, a 11-23 cogset and no rear brake".
re: Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?firstrax
Aug 16, 2003 11:45 AM
I just go home from that. Danielson would have set a new record if not for the wind (50 mph). I did the first 4 miles in 38 minutes, the remaining 3.6 in the wind took 50 minutes.
re: Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?Will Ross
Aug 16, 2003 12:31 PM
Major props, firstrax. Love to do it someday, but I'm years of climbing work and a couple of knee replacements away. Very impressive.
re: Is 12% regarded as a steep incline ?il sogno
Aug 17, 2003 4:36 PM
I have a Campy 13-29 cassette, so my ratios are slightly different than yours. Campy's tooth count on the lower end is 21, 24, 26 and 29. If I have to spend anymore than about 30 seconds or so on a 12% grade, I will always go to my 26 tooth sprocket. The 24 tooth sprocket just gets me too out of breath. If the grade is 15% or more for over 30 seconds, I shift into my 29. I don't want to pass out. I don't want to hurt my knees. I don't want to risk a leg cramp. And yes, 12% is steep by any standard. It's steep enough to earn youself appreciative nods from folks by the side of the road and in cars.