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  1. #1
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Friction Shifting on Short-But-Steep Hill

    Quote Originally Posted by jimshapiro View Post
    There is one area where friction shifters have a decided advantage over indexed shifters and that is when you want to move from a large cog to to a smaller one several gears away. As far as I know, very few indexed shifters and none of the more recent indexed systems can jump more than 3 gears at a time "pulling" and only 1 gear at a time "slacking off". One of my bikes is a 15 speed Centurion with friction shifting (both front and back). When I am in the largest cog pulling a hill and reach the summit, all I have to do is move the right downtube lever all the way forward and, voila, I'm in my highest gear. On either of my indexed Bianchis it's here-a-click, there-a-click until I finally reach the desired gear. Or is there a way around this one-at-a-time shifting that I don't know about?

    Jim
    < Am I the Last Friction Shifter ?? >

    I really like riding my heavier touring bike on the Kensington metropark (paved) bikepath. The loop is a little over 8 miles. Lots of pod people walking around, but that's okay if you want to stay between 10-13 MPH ... and give them the right-of-way for safety purposes. It's kind of like a roller-coaster ride because of the curves and dips.

    Except for that one short-but-steep hill. From bottom to top, and if you could stay at 15 MPH ... it would take about 15 seconds to crest the hill. I enjoy my friction bar-end shifters, but I haven't mastered this short steep hill yet. With my 9-speed 12-27 ... and 24/36/46 crankset ... and DA barcons ... this is what I've been doing to almost crest the hill:
    * Try to reach 15 MPH ... in the outer 46-T chainring ... before reaching the bottom of the hill.
    * Friction shift down several cogs in about 6 seconds ... one cog at a time ... until about halfway up the hill.
    * Friction shift from outer chainring to middle chainring.
    * Friction shift down a couple of cogs in about 6 seconds of time ... but run out of momentum.
    * I run out of momentum before I have enough time to shift from the middle chainring to the granny.

    The thread I pasted above ... about friction shifting ... is news to me that you can skip over cogs with friction shifters. With that in mind, any recommendations on how to shift up this short but steep hill? For example, is it possible to start the incline in the middle chainring ... skip some cogs to a lower gear ... then downshift from middle chainring to granny? This might be possible, but I may have to start the incline at a lower speed than 15 MPH ... and force me to mash gears at a slower speed?

  2. #2
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    First, I love friction shifting because of its reliability and flexibility. If you are getting stuck in any gear, you are waiting too long to shift; keep those pedal RPMs up, and downshift before you really need to.

    On a 3x5 15-speed, from middle front / 2nd back, I would next drop to granny front / 2nd or 3rd back, then start working down through the remaining cogs to the lowest. You do not want to be going too fast when shifting into the largest cog, to minimize damage in the event of an overshift into the spokes.
    "Early to bed, early to rise. Work like hell, and advertise." -- George Stahlman
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  3. #3
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    In the MTB world we have some wonderful grip twist shifters from SRAM (the good expensive ones, not the plastic !#@ made to work with Shimano derailleurs) that will allow you to jump as many as 9 gears in a single twist. If you do this however you had better be prepaired for the difference at the pedals!

    These shifters will work fine on a flat bar road bike just as well as any MTB. With just a little practice you can accomplish the chain ring change in front along with going to the appropriate gear in back in a quick motion of both hands.

  4. #4
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    I agree with John E that you must be shifting too late if you are getting stuck in a gear.

    I don't know what gear you want to be in at the hardest part of this hill. But if you can figure that out, work out a way to get into that gear with a minimum of changes. Possibly starting in a small cog in the rear and the middle ring, shift to the granny ring and when you start getting resistance, sweep the rear in one move to the target gear. Taking several short steps is likely to leave you grinding it out in a higher gear than you want and unable to ease up on the pedals enough to make a clean shift.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  5. #5
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    Three possible points.

    First, you may not be shifting fast enough. Maybe practice going back and forth between the gears on both front and rear so you can hit each gear exactly without hesitation and without searching for it. Shifting on the front will never be as responsive as the rear.

    Second, rest on the previous downhill and apply power as you reach the bottom of the hill and are going at maximum speed. As you approach the bottom of the hill tentatively pedal and shift to make sure you are in a gear that gives you a fairly high cadence but also not so fast that you can't keep up. Apply power as you start up. Try to keep this moment up the hill for as long as possible. Then quickly shift via the rear derailleur to the next lower gear. When is best to do this depends on the bike, the available rear gear spacing, the hill and can only be learned by experience. The steeper the hill the faster and more accurate must be you shift. Try to keep a relatively high cadence since this will allow you to transfer more power with less pressure on your knees. It is good if you can keep enough momentum to get over the hill without resorting to the front derailleur since this will not shift as smoothly, will produce a sudden discontinuity in gear ratios, and slow you down. That's why some people will stand on the pedals for the last few feet to get them over that last little bit without resorting to the front d.

    Thirdly, you might have to resort to the front d. Now a lot depends on the difference between the front rings. I have 46/36/26 (almost like your situation) on my touring bike and this is a fairly large difference (46/36 = 1.28). If you know you are going to be forced onto the middle ring, you are going to have to do it early when you still have low gears left to use on the rear. One strategy is to use as much of a relatively high gear on the outer ring as possible but still start up the hill with at least 90 rpm cadence if possible...Really try to maintain as much forward momentum for as long as possible up to the steeper part of the incline without using the rear d. Your cadence is going to drop below optimal before you shift on the front because when you do shift there will be a larger difference (about 30%) than if you were using the rear (less than about 10%) and you want to enter the next gear with optimal cadence so you can apply power and maintain momentum. So likely you are looking at fading to about 75 rpm cadence before the switch to 75*46/36 = 96 rpm after the switch using the front d. By the time you apply power after the switch the cadence will probably have dropped to maybe 90 rpm because the delay will cost you some momentum. Then power up, down-shifting on the rear as necessary.

    I think the overall aim should be to maintain as much momentum early on the uphill. Do this using a high cadence and a good effort early on. This early investment will put less overall pressure on your knees and hopefully carry you over the top with less downshifting.

    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by The Smokester; 12-09-07 at 11:40 AM.

  6. #6
    Senior Member CrossChain's Avatar
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    As above.....sometimes the need for a downshift comes quickly and you suddenly find yourself quadpopping in way too high a gear while caterpillaring up some incline-- and then beware of "chainsuck" as you try to shift to your granny-- all that released chain tension sends it flying over the granny ring to get stuck between crank and bottom bracket. And you, unless your're quick out of those cleats, slowly ... topple...over.

    Anticipation and knowing when to shift (usually earlier than you think) is important.
    Riding and aging don't get easier, you just get slower at slowing down.] (FiftyPlus observation inspired by G. Lemond.)

  7. #7
    Senior Member zonatandem's Avatar
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    Stand!

  8. #8
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CrossChain View Post
    As above.....sometimes the need for a downshift comes quickly and you suddenly find yourself quadpopping in way too high a gear while caterpillaring up some incline-- and then beware of "chainsuck" as you try to shift to your granny-- all that released chain tension sends it flying over the granny ring to get stuck between crank and bottom bracket. And you, unless your're quick out of those cleats, slowly ... topple...over.

    Anticipation and knowing when to shift (usually earlier than you think) is important.
    That's what my n-gear jumpstop is for......whole handfuls of gear along with a convincer that bangs that chain right back onto the granny. Setup time under an hour. Use time priceless.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Road Fan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Motorad View Post
    < Am I the Last Friction Shifter ?? >

    I really like riding my heavier touring bike on the Kensington metropark (paved) bikepath. The loop is a little over 8 miles. Lots of pod people walking around, but that's okay if you want to stay between 10-13 MPH ... and give them the right-of-way for safety purposes. It's kind of like a roller-coaster ride because of the curves and dips.

    Except for that one short-but-steep hill. From bottom to top, and if you could stay at 15 MPH ... it would take about 15 seconds to crest the hill. I enjoy my friction bar-end shifters, but I haven't mastered this short steep hill yet. With my 9-speed 12-27 ... and 24/36/46 crankset ... and DA barcons ... this is what I've been doing to almost crest the hill:
    * Try to reach 15 MPH ... in the outer 46-T chainring ... before reaching the bottom of the hill.
    * Friction shift down several cogs in about 6 seconds ... one cog at a time ... until about halfway up the hill.
    * Friction shift from outer chainring to middle chainring.
    * Friction shift down a couple of cogs in about 6 seconds of time ... but run out of momentum.
    * I run out of momentum before I have enough time to shift from the middle chainring to the granny.

    The thread I pasted above ... about friction shifting ... is news to me that you can skip over cogs with friction shifters. With that in mind, any recommendations on how to shift up this short but steep hill? For example, is it possible to start the incline in the middle chainring ... skip some cogs to a lower gear ... then downshift from middle chainring to granny? This might be possible, but I may have to start the incline at a lower speed than 15 MPH ... and force me to mash gears at a slower speed?
    Hi, Motorad!

    Why can't you shift several cogs at once? Is it that the DA bar-end levers are constrained to ratchet?

    I have several friction setups with downtube friction shifters, and they can all shift several cogs at once. I think if you could shift several gears at once you'd be able move into the correct gear as soon as you need it and not lose momentum.

    I find that on sudden hills like at Kensington and next-door Island Lake, I need to get into the climbing gear before I load down and especially before my heart rate skyrockets. If I can find a balanced climbing pace early on the hill, I can make it with energy left over.

    Road Fan

  10. #10
    Senior Member BlazingPedals's Avatar
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    What the others have said. Start in the middle ring - 15 mph may be above the path's speed limit but it's not exactly burning up the asphalt, and easily done in the middle ring. Keep rpms up and shift when you start losing foot speed - not after you've lost it. Friction shifting is no different from indexed in that respect - the chain needs to be moving, preferably with little tension, or the shifters can't do their job.

    I do Kensington a half-dozen times per year, although when I go, I spend most of my time on the other side of the highway, doing out-and-backs at Island Lake Recreation Area. I'm guessing the part of the trail you're talking about is where it crosses Potawatami Drive?

  11. #11
    Road Nazi Hunter Donegal's Avatar
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    Friction Shifters

    Hi Guys;

    I don't know what your legs are doing while you are attempting to shift the whole cogset in one motion.
    With STI Shifters (of decent quality), properly set up, I can throw 2-3 gears a second in either direction. This is with both my Campy and Shimano shifters. If you need more than that, you are not pedaling very efficiently or are holding onto a car. When you top a hill, you need to spin up a few gears at a time to accellerate as quickly as possible. When running downhill, 2-3 gear changes at a time should keep you in the power range. If you can give me a situation where you need to shift the whole cogset in one motion, please let me know.
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  12. #12
    Small Member maddmaxx's Avatar
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    You just came around a corner, hit mud and deep water and dropped about 12 mph in 20 feet.

  13. #13
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    The Shimano bar end shifters should shift as many gears as you wish, including all of them, whether in friction or indexed mode. There is nothing to stop it from moving through the entire range at once.
    Last edited by BluesDawg; 12-10-07 at 08:47 PM.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  14. #14
    Peddlin' Around Detroit Motorad's Avatar
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    Thanks very much everyone. If anything, I'll make it a point to take the touring bike to Kensington in March, and do nothing but practice going up that little cliff. I'll use the advice everyone gave, and in particular, jumping from high cog to low cog with my friction barcons. Especially to practice is the dual-shifting of cogs and chainrings during a 30 second climb.

    I hate that little cliff. ARRRRG.

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