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Old 07-16-17, 08:13 PM   #1
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Climbing. New bike?

I ride about 20 miles 4 times per week and one long weekend ride of 60+ miles. I currently have a 2014 Roubaix with Mavik Elite wheels, Ultegra shifters and brakes, 160 crank arms, cassette is 11 - 32. Things are okay but I really struggle on some of the climbs; I'm 5'7", 150lbs., and am in pretty good shape for 60. I have replaced tires, checked the hubs, and checked the bb. I am now thinking of getting a new bike. Any thoughts?
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Old 07-16-17, 08:18 PM   #2
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There are several solutions. You might change your crankset to a super-compact model with 46 & 30t chainrings. See: https://kylesbikes.com/fsa-omega-n-1...waAm8WEALw_wcB

You may also need to interval training to increase you power at lower cadence speeds.
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Old 07-16-17, 08:20 PM   #3
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If the bike is otherwise right and comfortable, you might keep it and simply expand the gearing.

My favorite way to approach gearing for general road/touring use with some hard climbs here and there is a triple front configure with 2 normal range chainings and a "bailout" granny. That also allows a narrower cassette, giving excellent close spaced gearing for the 95% of the ride which is flat to rolling, and a fairly tightly spaced climbing range.

This is the ideal range for riding the southern tier, then looping one of the Finger Lakes and grinding back up to the plateau.
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Old 07-16-17, 08:21 PM   #4
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I would say you're doing pretty good. That's a nice bike. I hope to still be riding that much when I'm 64.
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Old 07-16-17, 08:55 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Hunterdog View Post
............... I am now thinking of getting a new bike. Any thoughts?
for new 2018 Roubaix....just because

We're all different. I'm a 67yo flat land Florida resident riding a Giant Propel with 39/53 and 12/23 for local or a 12/28 for climbing rides like Six Gap Century.... CycleNorthGeorgia.com Home of the Six Gap Century . BIG difference between us is that I ride more miles since it's really flat and that helps with climbing, BUT I do have a 2018 Roubaix Expert on order because it rides better than the Propel.

My thought is to go for the new bike or ride more. Have fin!!!
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Old 07-16-17, 09:05 PM   #6
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Your 160 mm cranks make the gear combinations about 7% harder than a typical 172.5 mm crank. (Shorter crank arms, so less leverage.)

So your 34-32 low gear is about equivalent to a 34-30 with the longer crank arms. That's still pretty good for "reasonable" grades.

New bikes are always good, but gearing is what gets you up the hill. A lightweight bike or the lowest rolling resistance tires will cut some seconds off the climb, quite small improvements.

~~~~

You are doing enough riding each week to keep your fitness up, and your weight is good.

What's the details
on the climbing that you are having trouble with?

--Really steep, having to grind up the hills? How steep is it?
--Do you stand up on the steep climbs?
--Are you trying to keep up with stronger climbers, or riding your own pace?

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Old 07-16-17, 09:16 PM   #7
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What's the details on the climbing that you are having trouble with?

Really steep, having to grind up the hills? How steep is it?
Do you stand up on the steep climbs?
Are you trying to keep up with stronger climbers, or riding your own pace?
Hills and grades are very different person to person. One man's wall, is simply a steep climb to another, and maybe even just a climb to a third.

But the OP lives in an area which, despite not having real mountains, has some extremely steep climbs. (see relief map) Of course it depends on exactly where he rides, but if he heads north he comes to the Finger Lakes. These are essentially fresh water Fjords, with steep sided U-shaped valleys, so there's some tough climbing to be had.

As you point out, gearing is key, that and the reserve power to make hard vertical climbs.
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Old 07-16-17, 09:34 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by Hunterdog View Post
I ride about 20 miles 4 times per week and one long weekend ride of 60+ miles. I currently have a 2014 Roubaix with Mavik Elite wheels, Ultegra shifters and brakes, 160 crank arms, cassette is 11 - 32. Things are okay but I really struggle on some of the climbs; I'm 5'7", 150lbs., and am in pretty good shape for 60. I have replaced tires, checked the hubs, and checked the bb. I am now thinking of getting a new bike. Any thoughts?
Man, I wish I had your current bike; it would make MY climbing so much easier!

(one man's ceiling is another man's floor)
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Old 07-16-17, 10:46 PM   #9
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As the OP described the bike, I thought "man, that's a pretty nice bike for climbing", minus the short crankarm length. Tough climbing is relative term. On one of our local "hill climbs" there are some who ride the 3.5 mile hill at twice my average speed. Is it a tough climb? Depends on how fast I'm trying to ride, or more aptly in my case, how slow.
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Old 07-16-17, 11:12 PM   #10
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If you want to deal better with the hills, a "wide" compact 46/30 (see post no. 2) makes a lot of sense where you live and is a fairly easy change. If you want a new bike, go for it. But what you need is to deal with the gearing whether you get a new bike or not.
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Old 07-17-17, 03:51 AM   #11
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Thanks for the comments. A couple of responses: the hills that I am talking about are, at least to me, quite steep but no more than 2 or 3 miles. There are a lot of hills, not mountains, in the Southern Tier and Fingerlakes area of New York. On more gradual inclines I am slower than many other rider but chalked that up to being older. Other riders do seem to have a better cadence than I do. I did a computer bike fitting a couple of years ago and was recommended the shorter crank arms (that has helped with right hip pain by the way) but maybe I should try 165 or 170 arms to see if that helps. I like my current bike but this spring did win I had disc brakes a few times! I know that Shimano is coming out with Ultegra cassette with 11 - 34 gearing and maybe I'll try that or go to the triple crank.
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Old 07-17-17, 04:57 AM   #12
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I'm thinking that at 5' 7" and having been fitted, there's probably no need for longer cranks if your inseam doesn't require them. Just not going to help. Gear down if you prefer that route or simply build up strength/endurance.

Keep us posted.
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Old 07-17-17, 05:09 AM   #13
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oops-duplicate

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Old 07-17-17, 05:49 AM   #14
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Um Hunterdog, you are aware that steep hills are SUPPOSED to be hard work?
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Old 07-17-17, 06:48 AM   #15
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Yeah, don't get longer cranks, your 160s sound just right for you.

~~~
Extended range cassettes
Some local riders have switched to 11-34 (I think) along with an inexpensive mountain bike rear derailleur. It has to be a derailleur with the correct cable pull to work with road bike shifters. They had it done at one of the local bike shops. You might call a few shops to see if they've done this before.

Cadence
My bike computer shows cadence, using the sensor magnet on the crank arm. Before that, I counted 20 seconds of revolutions x 3, which gave me an idea of my cadence. But the sensor is always on, and I find that I start dropping to a lower cadence at times. It's helpful to me to see it on the display.

Spinning in the 90 rpm range on the flatter parts is helpful to keep my legs fresh during the ride.

~~~~~~~

How fast you climb is all about power to weight, of course. I like hill climbing -- but I go at my own maximum pace, not trying to keep up with the stronger riders. (The group rides do get me to go all-out, probably a harder effort than I might do on my own.)



I have a 30 front - 29 rear on my all-day bike. That's almost a 1:1 gearing. Very nice, but I still would like to have even lower gearing!

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Old 07-17-17, 07:06 AM   #16
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I've rarely seen anyone using cranks that short. You also don't mention the ring sizes on that crank.
Climbing is partly about doing a lot of climbing and getting your mind and body used to it.
I'm three years older and 60 pounds heavier and I do lots of climbing with a 34x29 low gear.
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Old 07-17-17, 07:35 AM   #17
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I've rarely seen anyone using cranks that short. You also don't mention the ring sizes on that crank.
Climbing is partly about doing a lot of climbing and getting your mind and body used to it.
I'm three years older and 60 pounds heavier and I do lots of climbing with a 34x29 low gear.
Yea, I thought I missed the chainring sizes too. We're all presuming it's a compact double, but is it?

It's hard to say without knowing how steep those climbs are. Pretty much everyone struggles up the steeper climbs hereabouts.

Certainly, there is no need for a new bike. That bike is reasonably light, and you can always change the drivetrain to get the gears you need. But if you're hankering for one and can afford it, go for it.
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Old 07-17-17, 07:52 AM   #18
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You must have meant to type 170 for the crank arms. To make hills easier just change you fron chain rings.
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Old 07-17-17, 08:07 AM   #19
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I agree on the 160 cranks. Too short. My wife is about your height and has 170 mm cranks. Everything says I should use 172.5 (I'm 5'11"), but I use 175. I have an older bike with the same ratios on a compact crank with 172.5, but my main carbon bike with 175 mm is so much easier. We have lots of hills here, I average about 11 metres climb for every km ridden. Four years ago my wife did some rides in Umbria, Italy, on rented bikes and the cranks were only 170 mm. It was hell, though I managed one 80 km ride with 2000 metres vertical. I just couldn't get the leverage I am used to.

Other things that may help is proper fitting of the bike, and a stiff frame converts energy more directly into forward motion. Whether it is worth the price though, is another matter. I had a Cervelo R3T before my current Marinoni Genius. Both are excellent stiff frames but I bought the Cervelo on a whim at an end-of-year sale and the frame was one size too big. I bought my Marinoni last year, in a size medium and had everything properly fitted. Immediately after acquiring the bike I was setting PRs on all my climbs. Same gearing, same compact crank ratios with 175 mm arms, both stiff carbon frames. The difference was the fit, I am so much more comfortable on the new bike. So now the Cervelo is for sale.
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Old 07-17-17, 08:43 AM   #20
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160 sounds awfully short. A friend is about your size, 5'7" or 5'8", a little less than 150 lbs, and has 170 cranks (I think he was considering trying shorter cranks on one bike as an experiment). He's stronger on climbs than I am.

I'm 5'11", 33" inseam, and have 175mm cranks on one bike and 172.5 on another. Subjectively it feels like the longer cranks offer a bit more advantage on climbs. Hard to tell since the bikes don't weigh the same and are geared differently. But with the lighter bike and shorter cranks I feel like I'm struggling, even when I'm faster, while the other bike feels easier, more efficient.
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Old 07-17-17, 09:57 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hunterdog View Post
Thanks for the comments. A couple of responses: the hills that I am talking about are, at least to me, quite steep but no more than 2 or 3 miles. There are a lot of hills, not mountains, in the Southern Tier and Fingerlakes area of New York. On more gradual inclines I am slower than many other rider but chalked that up to being older. Other riders do seem to have a better cadence than I do. I did a computer bike fitting a couple of years ago and was recommended the shorter crank arms (that has helped with right hip pain by the way) but maybe I should try 165 or 170 arms to see if that helps. I like my current bike but this spring did win I had disc brakes a few times! I know that Shimano is coming out with Ultegra cassette with 11 - 34 gearing and maybe I'll try that or go to the triple crank.
If 160's resolved a painful issue, it might be beneficial NOT TO MESS WITH THEM and work around it with gearing.
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Old 07-17-17, 10:46 AM   #22
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Old 07-17-17, 10:47 AM   #23
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If 160's resolved a painful issue, it might be beneficial NOT TO MESS WITH THEM and work around it with gearing.
+1

This is a simple, easily fixed, gearing issue. There's no need to replace the bike, or make wholesale changes, or reverse a change taken for a valid reason before.

There are multiple ways the OP can get lower gearing more suited to his needs, and until/unless he does that, other changes won't solve his problems. In fact, they may make things worse.

However, gearing isn't magic. It will make climbing easier, but at the cost of making it slower. The ONLY way to climb both easier and faster is to increase the engine's power.

So, if the problem is climbing without thigh/knee pain, then lower gearing. But if the problem is simply being pokey in the hills, than he needs to accept that and work to up his power, or find more patient friends to ride with.
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Old 07-17-17, 11:56 AM   #24
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"I am now thinking of getting a new bike. Any thoughts?"

Try to demo any new bike options on a hill you're having trouble with to make sure it meets your expectations.

As FBinNY stated, there are short cat 4 & 3 climbs all over that regionsome of which will significantly challenge even young riders, so, you want to make sure the drivetrain combination does what you expect. I would think compact 50-34 x 11-32 would cover most of your needs if you're fitness and power is acceptable.
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Old 07-17-17, 12:13 PM   #25
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Crank length is 160 and rings are 53/34. I think I will try 11 - 34 cassette and maybe longer crank arms. I guess you will also work on strength/power. I like is the bike except from time to time in spring I wish I had disc brakes.
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