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  1. #1
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Roadish bike? Hills? How do you deal with gearing?

    Didn't see this issue on the thread list. Assuming you do NOT ride a MTB or hybrid, but have road bike bars, then
    how do you deal with hills of 6, 7, 8%+?

    How have you set up your gearing?

    Just to get it started, my lowest gear is 26[front] x 27 [rear]. This is about 26 gear inches. But starting to get harder
    on steeper hills. Am looking at maybe changing to a 12-34 cassette, which would drop GI to 21 inches. Not sure if that is enough. I'd rather not change front rings unless I really really have to.

    So back to gearing question. For riding up hills without going to MTB's or Hybrids are there any gearing solutions
    that work for road type of bikes?

    Thanks
    Hi 'o Silver away

  2. #2
    POWERCRANK addict markhr's Avatar
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    cyclocross bike

    36/46 (110 pcd compact cranks) with a 13-26 10spd cassette

    That said London is very flat so I only really need the lowest gears some of the time. I previously struggled with a 38x25 so it's a change but not by much as I avoid the really steep hill now.

    The new cassette sounds like the best bet
    or
    change to wide ratio hub gears (rohloff speedhub is the best but it's initially expensive - low maintenance and general bombproof build makes up for that in the long run)
    or
    try and find a set of triple cranks with lower gearing than you currently have (you'll need to change the front derailleur and shifter)

    http://www.rohloff.de/en/products/sp...son/index.html

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  3. #3
    Senior Member bfromcolo's Avatar
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    All my bikes have triples. With the hills around here I can't imagine not. Actually I don't have to imagine, I bought a used Trek 400 with 53/42 f and a 12/25 r and basically was getting off and pushing way too often. I switched the smaller chainring to a 38 and the rear to a mega range freewheel with a 34 tooth big cog. I had to change the rear derailler to support this range of gearing also. This change helped a lot, but once I got my Axis with a low gear of 26 f x 32 r I sold the Trek.

    If you are going to change gears you may want to determine the ratings of your deraillers, both the max cog and range of the rear derailler.
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  4. #4
    Gears? CliftonGK1's Avatar
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    I'm in the 8%+ category here.
    I start my commute home with a left out of the parking lot and a 3/4 mile 10% climb.
    I finish the final mile with 1/2 mile 9% climb. And that's on the easy route.

    The hard route finishes a 12 mile rolling route with a 2.5 mile long climb varying between 6% and 10%.

    I have a roadish bike (Cross-Check complete) with a 36/48 110-BCD crank (which I will be swapping to a 34t small ring this week.) That's paired to an 11-25 cassette which I will swap out for an 11-27 or 12-27.

    Unless you're hauling a lot of extra weight up the hills (either on yourself, or in panniers) an ultra-low triple isn't necessary. You can get away with a compact double up front and a standard short cage rear derailleur will go up to 26/27t capacity. If you need it, a mountain derailleur on the rear will allow you to go up to a 32/34 capacitiy in the back, and you could make a 34fr/34rear combo off of that for anything really really nasty.
    I don't find much use for anything shorter than the 36/25 combo I have, except for one or two hills where I find myself wishing for a 34/27 combo.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member ronjon10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
    Didn't see this issue on the thread list. Assuming you do NOT ride a MTB or hybrid, but have road bike bars, then
    how do you deal with hills of 6, 7, 8%+?

    How have you set up your gearing?

    Just to get it started, my lowest gear is 26[front] x 27 [rear]. This is about 26 gear inches. But starting to get harder
    on steeper hills. Am looking at maybe changing to a 12-34 cassette, which would drop GI to 21 inches. Not sure if that is enough. I'd rather not change front rings unless I really really have to.

    So back to gearing question. For riding up hills without going to MTB's or Hybrids are there any gearing solutions
    that work for road type of bikes?

    Thanks

    You're not going to get much smaller than 26 up front. 22's do exist for touring setups which can be put on a road bike, but I don't think you'll get as much benefit as you think. Switching to a rear 11-34 MTB cassette on your road bike will help a lot more (you will need a mtb derailleur).

    To be honest though, at some point you're just going to have to keep working and just get stronger. I have a bike set up with low gears (30 front, 34 rear) and another bike set up with a compact set up (34 front, 28 rear) and I don't think it's much easier to climb in the 30/34. Ultimately, you're still pulling weight against gravity. I find at really low speeds on the 30/34 setup, some of the work moves from pedal power work to balance work so it's work either way.
    just being

  6. #6
    Senior Member Wogster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
    Didn't see this issue on the thread list. Assuming you do NOT ride a MTB or hybrid, but have road bike bars, then
    how do you deal with hills of 6, 7, 8%+?

    How have you set up your gearing?

    Just to get it started, my lowest gear is 26[front] x 27 [rear]. This is about 26 gear inches. But starting to get harder
    on steeper hills. Am looking at maybe changing to a 12-34 cassette, which would drop GI to 21 inches. Not sure if that is enough. I'd rather not change front rings unless I really really have to.

    So back to gearing question. For riding up hills without going to MTB's or Hybrids are there any gearing solutions
    that work for road type of bikes?

    Thanks
    Lower gear inches don't always help, my bike has MTB gearing, that goes down to 17.8, and that's not practical for road use, because of control issues with this particular bike, at 2km/h the bike is hard to control, and with clyde torque, I tend to unload the front wheel at those gear ratios. Usually when a hill is that steep, I just walk up, or take a different route that avoids that particular hill. There is one hill that is really bad at the beginning of the season (Mid March), I often bail 1/3rd of the way up, by Early June I an get up it pretty well, but with careful gearing and some effort, by late September, what hill? Same bike, same gearing, the difference is training.

    If you have a lot of hills of that type. then I suggest that you try and find alternate routes, or do some hill training. One option is to get some topographical maps of your area, to map out routes. Another option is look at the gearing on touring bikes, as they often need to go into mountain goat range, while carrying and extra load.....

  7. #7
    Banned. Mr. Beanz's Avatar
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    You can use any gear you like. If you don't train, it will never get better. I've done a 22% climb, and centuries with 10,000 to 12,000 ft of climbing on my standard double (39/25).

    What do you mean,how do you deal with hills with roadbike bars? I don't climb down in the drops. I climb with my hands on the hoods or on the flat section of the bars. Pretty much the same as an mtb or hybrid.

  8. #8
    The Site Administrator: Currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes,please contact my assistnt admins for forum issues Tom Stormcrowe's Avatar
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    Here's the broad range on My Allez. I did it quick and simple, the triple crank's range and the lowest/highest ratios on the rear cassette


    Source is from Sheldon Brown, of course, thanks, Sheldon and good times and tailwinds on your next life.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    Last edited by Tom Stormcrowe; 02-05-08 at 06:35 PM.
    on light duty due to illness; please contact my assistants for forum issues. They are Siu Blue Wind, or CbadRider or the other 3 star folk. I am currently at home recovering from a couple of strokes. I am making good progress, happily.


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  9. #9
    Senior Member ronjon10's Avatar
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    I've used that tool. The line "The small version of the chart...blah blah.. and taped to your bicycle.." always makes me laugh.

    As if I'm going to sit there while I'm riding and need to know how many gear inches I'm currently running.
    just being

  10. #10
    don't try this at home. rm -rf's Avatar
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    I'm not a Clyde, but on anything over 8-10% on my 34-26 gearing, I'm standing up. I have all my weight on the downstroke, and I slow the bike speed and cadence way down, or I'll run out of breath. On really steep grades, 15-20%, I'm balancing at about 3 mph, and doing 30 rpm (one pedal stroke per second).

  11. #11
    Senior Member tpelle's Avatar
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    My Surly LHT is set up with:
    48-32-26 in the front
    11-13-15-17-20-23-26-30-34 in the rear

    I figure that gives me about 21 gear-inches.
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  12. #12
    Senior Member jaxgtr's Avatar
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    I don't have any mountains, but bridges and parking garages. I have a compact double with a 53/34 that I like a lot.
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  13. #13
    Gorntastic! v1k1ng1001's Avatar
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    I don't think I've ever paid any attention to this stuff except when I'm replacing my cassette.

    I have a double and I just ride it. Even if you blow up on a particular hill, your body will eventually adjust if you keep riding it.

  14. #14
    Senior Member Pinyon's Avatar
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    There is only so low of a gear that you can go over 3.5 mph and still spin over 60 rpm. Lots of variables to consider with what your choices are. Your weight, leg strength, muscle/body type (bulky fast-twitch muscles to long and slender endurance muscles), and aerobic conditioning. I ride vintage road bikes, which are geared pretty stiff. My rear cogs are 14-28 teeth, and tend to only use my 52 tooth front chainring for everything under 8% slope. I also ride it up 12% to 18% slopes, but sometimes have to stop and walk if that section of the hill takes more than 15-20 minutes before May. After May, I just barely make it up there without puking. .

    I prefer to have a bail-out gear, though. I have ridden some bikes with a 30-tooth, inner, triple chainring, and a 11-25 on the rear that felt really good on those steep hills. I'm thinking about building up another vintage bike soon, with a compact crank on the front for wider ranges (52-34 - they make 52 tooth rings for 110 mm compact cranks), and older 8-speed dura-ace components on the rear (11-25). Being able to go faster downhill makes up a lot of time for my slow ascents.

  15. #15
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    I went from a standard 53/39 front chainring to a compact 50/34 on my new road bike. I am running a 11-25 cassette on the rear, with 172.5 mm cranks.

  16. #16
    His Brain is Gone! Tom Bombadil's Avatar
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    Your current gearing of 26 front and 27 rear is already pretty low for a road bike. Going to 12-34 would be a big difference, another 7 teeth on the rear is not a trivial change.

    What derailleur do you have on the rear? You will need a mountain bike RD to handle a 12-34 range. Most road RDs are limited to a total range of 37-39, which is calculated by subtracting the smallest sprocket from the largest sprocket for both your front crank and rear cassette, then adding those two numbers.

    Thus a 48/36/26 front crank and a 12-27 cassette would be (48-26) + (27-12) = 37. That's the rated maximum range for many road bike rear derailleurs, although most will handle 38 or 39 if you push them.

    But a long cage mountain bike rear derailleur usually has a range of 45 or so. So it could handle 48/36/26 and 12-34.

    Unfortunately, if you install a mountain bike RD, you'll have make sure it works with your shifters, which many will not. So you may be looking at having to change out the cassette, RD, and shifters to go this route. Best to work with your LBS to determine your options.

    Harris Cyclery sells a 13-30 cassette which was designed to provide lower gearing for road bikes. This would work out to (48-26) + (30-13) = 39. This is beyond the stated range of many road RDs, but a lot of them can still work. Many have reported getting Shimano 105 RDs to work.
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  17. #17
    Senior Member piper_chuck's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Stormcrowe View Post

    Source is from Sheldon Brown, of course, thanks, Sheldon and good times and tailwinds on your next life.
    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    I really like Sheldon's gear tool, but I use a different output. I've never been able to get a good grasp on how gear inches equate to pedaling, but I have a good idea what speed I can maintain on a hill and I know that I would like to spin at a minimum of 80 RPMs going uphill. So, I choose the MPH at 80 RPMs option of the tool. This gives me a table that shows how fast, or slow, I will go in each gear at my target cadence.

    Using this for the OP's gearing, the tool shows that the 26x27 will give a minimum speed of 6.0 MPH at 80 RPMs. Changing to a 26x34 would drop the speed to 4.8 MPH. That's a pretty sizable drop, especially if one is faced with long hills.
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  18. #18
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Bombadil View Post
    Your current gearing of 26 front and 27 rear is already pretty low for a road bike. Going to 12-34 would be a big difference, another 7 teeth on the rear is not a trivial change.
    .

    Interesting. I've decided against the german one enclosed shifter. It's is great for even shifting, but range is only 19 to 95. 95gi is way too low.

    Yeah I know it's low. It's not really a road bike. Actually a touring bike where I have changed the gears. It has a deore rear derailer. I think it is long cage. Initially was vanilla 30.42.52, but currently 26.42.53. Initial rear was 12.23 but that did not allow low enough gears for me so I switched to 12.27. This will handle most hills, but some are still a tad too much. I had stayed away from the 11.32, 11.34 gears because of the bad shifting characteristics, but in rebrowsing the forums I found a comment by Stefan that 11.32 is not bad.

    So with my setup, it seems like the best way to go is to go back to the Giant default of 11.34 on rear, that will drop to 21GI.
    What I don't know if I can handle a 24.x.52 front and 12.34 rear. That would be ideal as the shifting on the 12.34 is better than on a 11.34. If starting fresh, I'ld probably change front to 22.x.48 but would rather go to a higher large ring. I'ld put up with some ackward shifting just to have the option of dropping to granny sometimes.

    I wish I could drop to a small ring of 22 as that would keep my smooth shifting and allow me to drop to 22gi. Alas I don't think the shifters would handle it.

    I appreciate all the advice and input. I was mainly looking for practical comments on how smooth the shifting is between gears on these cassettes:
    11-32
    11-34
    12-34

    And then what ring sets people are using with the cassettes. I have been disappointed in the new 10s cassettes, as what they have added is a middle gear where it is not needed and have not either extended the range or eliminated a bad shift jump.
    Hi 'o Silver away

  19. #19
    Lanterne Rouge
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    If you wanted the Rohloff, you could always just use a smaller chainring, or a larger cog to shift the whole range lower in gearing.

    I have a setup intended for touring, and with that Deore RD you can definitely run a 34 tooth large cog on the rear. I will say that for me, with a 30-39-5x triple, and an 11-34 cluster on the rear, it's gearing that is so low that I end up losing traction on the rear tire from that much torque on hills that are sufficient to need it. I currently have a 12-25 on the rear, and that's adequate for everything I normally do, though really steep sections of mountainous terrain have proven difficult when I've travelled in the past.

    I have to echo what some other folks here are saying: you can go to an 11-34, and see how it feels, but you are going substantially less than 1 wheel revolution per crank rotation, and that's REALLY slow for the aerobic input.
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  20. #20
    Senior Member Ranger63's Avatar
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    Road Gearing for hills

    Ok caveat here: Like the guy near london,the 'hills' I cycle arn't Pa.or Co. style.
    I went to a stronglight compact running a 34/46 and 12-26 on my 91 Paramount OS
    The biggest challange is the escarpment up in niagara county (western ny) The thrall road hill (mildest of the climbs up )is 7% and this gearing allowed me to get up the 1/2 mile climb and still have legs and lungs to continue on.

  21. #21
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by HiYoSilver View Post
    Interesting. I've decided against the german one enclosed shifter. It's is great for even shifting, but range is only 19 to 95. 95gi is way too low.

    Yeah I know it's low. It's not really a road bike. Actually a touring bike where I have changed the gears. It has a deore rear derailer. I think it is long cage. Initially was vanilla 30.42.52, but currently 26.42.53. Initial rear was 12.23 but that did not allow low enough gears for me so I switched to 12.27. This will handle most hills, but some are still a tad too much. I had stayed away from the 11.32, 11.34 gears because of the bad shifting characteristics, but in rebrowsing the forums I found a comment by Stefan that 11.32 is not bad.

    So with my setup, it seems like the best way to go is to go back to the Giant default of 11.34 on rear, that will drop to 21GI.
    What I don't know if I can handle a 24.x.52 front and 12.34 rear. That would be ideal as the shifting on the 12.34 is better than on a 11.34. If starting fresh, I'ld probably change front to 22.x.48 but would rather go to a higher large ring. I'ld put up with some ackward shifting just to have the option of dropping to granny sometimes.

    I wish I could drop to a small ring of 22 as that would keep my smooth shifting and allow me to drop to 22gi. Alas I don't think the shifters would handle it.

    I appreciate all the advice and input. I was mainly looking for practical comments on how smooth the shifting is between gears on these cassettes:
    11-32
    11-34
    12-34

    And then what ring sets people are using with the cassettes. I have been disappointed in the new 10s cassettes, as what they have added is a middle gear where it is not needed and have not either extended the range or eliminated a bad shift jump.
    I've never had a problem with 11-34 and shifting on any of my bikes. Everything I own has an 11-34 in the back. Granted most of them have smaller chainrings in the front but I have run 52 tooth outers with that combination and everything shifts fine. The Deore derailer you have will handle the 34 just fine.

    Now most of these hosers...no offense...may ride hills but they ride hills at probably 4000 feet lowere in elevation...and that's their high point Sure their roads may have steeper pitches but they aren't dealing with the problems we do. I've ridden at those altitudes and it's much, much easier even on a steep incline. There is no shame in riding low gears here in Colorado, especially considering that from our start point we have 20% less air then they do. It only gets less the further west from here you go
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  22. #22
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    I have a standard 10speed with a triple ring in front and I was able to climb the 22% incline at the hilly hundred. I was huffing and puffing and my heart wanted to jump out but I made it.
    So with a triple in front and enough training and willpower you can overcome more than 20% on standard sized gearing.

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  23. #23
    Rides again HiYoSilver's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    I've never had a problem with 11-34 and shifting on any of my bikes. Everything I own has an 11-34 in the back.
    Thanks but just to double check. My question is not with shifting but with cadence. Specificially on shifts on cassette
    from 13t to 11t [ring 1 to ring 2]
    from 20t to 17t [ring 5 to ring 4]
    from 30t to 26t [ring 7 to ring 6]

    These are 18.2%, 17.6%, and 15.4% changes in gearing. So my question is under load, can you change gears without losing much cadence, i.e. change under 10 revolutions.

    thanks
    Hi 'o Silver away

  24. #24
    Genetics have failed me Scummer's Avatar
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    With modern gears you can change gears under very high load, meaning you should be able to keep your cadence nice and steady without losing to much speed during the shifting process. Or so the manufacturer proclaims.

    From my experience, to shift gears on the rear under full load works pretty well, but to change gear on the front rings under high load.. not such a good idea.

    I had my chain jump off the front rings during a high load shift. Kinda throws you off balance when that happens.
    Gelato aficionado.

  25. #25
    Senior Member howsteepisit's Avatar
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    I finally accepted some basic realities, one that I am a lot fatter than I used to be, (current weight of 215, vrs a bicycle racing weight of 170) and that I am 52 years old and smoked for some 25 years before I quite 4 years ago, and that i don't have the inclination to ride as much as I'd need to to ride hills comfortably, and lastly that i live in the northern Rockies where the hills are not so steep but that are long.

    Given all that, when I built up my current bike I went with a Sugino 46x36x24 front triple and a 11x32 9 speed rear. The lowest gear is 20" which is about as low of gear that I can ride without wobbling severely. To do this I had to go to a long cage rear derailleur.

    The other big thing is technique. One thing I had to learn here at 5000 foot elevation is I have to take it easy on the hills. Other riders may pass me by, or not, but I have to ride with a smooth cadence 70-80 on the uphills and gear down as needed to keep my breathing heart rate from going over the top. Eventually, I get there, not as fast as my former racer ego would like, but still living to hit the next hill
    Recycle, Reclaim, Reuse and Repair
    The 4 Rs to save the planet

    "Toes"

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