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  1. #1
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    Steep Urban Hills

    I live in Salt Lake City. The only place I can ride from my front door is straight down. It's been 25 years since I last bought a bike. What would be the best type of bike for very steep paved urban hills?

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    I feel your pain -- I live at the *bottom* of a very steep hill, so all of my rides start with a steep uphill.

    To answer your question, it's not so much the type of bike -- it's the type of gearing.

    A great way to solve this problem is getting a bike with a triple chain ring; the inner ring should be very small (22 to 28 teeth) so that you have a very low range of gears. Your aim is to have a low gear of around 20 to 25 gear inches.

    Once you know the size of the chain ring and the gears on the cassette of a bike you're looking at, you can plug the values into this calculator and determine the gear inches...

    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/

  3. #3
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BengeBoy View Post
    To answer your question, it's not so much the type of bike -- it's the type of gearing.


    http://www.sheldonbrown.com/gears/
    I live on the east end of the Ouachita Mountains. Every thing is hilly around here.

    A hard-tailed mountain bike with street slicks should do you well. Check out the gearing. A lot of utility bikes have equally wide gearing that should do you well too.
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    Senior Member Bill Kapaun's Avatar
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    Hills means you want to keep the weight down.
    includes tires too. Skinny, easy rolling tires and "mountain" gearing.
    Get a triple on front and 8 or 9 on back.

  5. #5
    Time for a change. stapfam's Avatar
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    Depends on the steepness of the hill and how much residual fitness you have. Whether it be road bike- Hybrid or Mountain bike does not matter as long as you have the lowest gearing possible---Initially.

    Road and Hybrid bikes are available with low gearing, Which although still higher than a mountain bike, will work just aswell. A mountain bike will have lower gearing- but they are heavy and a change of tyres to slicks will be necessary.

    I rode Mountain bikes exclusively for 15 years and come the hills on the road and I was in the lower gears on a small front chainring of 22 and rear sprocket of 32. 22/32 gearing is very low. When I went road- I had higher gearing with a lowest gear of 30/28 but that was because I could not get any lower. Hill gear was the 30/28 and up the same hills as the lowest gear on the MTB. I did not struggle any more than on the MTB because the bike was lighter- the tyres rolled a lot better and I did not have Front suspension holding me back.

    So it will be down to you. Whatever bike you get- Expect to be walking occasionally till your fitness comes up but after that You will find out one of the prime rules of a Newbie starting out. The first bike will only be an indicator of what bike you should have bough in the first place.
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  6. #6
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan20 View Post
    I live in Salt Lake City. The only place I can ride from my front door is straight down. It's been 25 years since I last bought a bike. What would be the best type of bike for very steep paved urban hills?
    As everyone has said, gearing and strength is what will get you up hills. What type of bike you want is a different question. What type of bike do you want? Do you want a drop bar road bike? Do you want a more upright type of bike like a comfort bike? Do you want something in between like a fitness hybrid? Do you want a bike that can handle riding dirt roads, gravel paths or even offroad trails? These questions determine what type of bike you'll want. The hills determine what kind of gearing you'll want to have on that bike.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by BluesDawg View Post
    As everyone has said, gearing and strength is what will get you up hills. What type of bike you want is a different question. What type of bike do you want? Do you want a drop bar road bike? Do you want a more upright type of bike like a comfort bike? Do you want something in between like a fitness hybrid? Do you want a bike that can handle riding dirt roads, gravel paths or even offroad trails? These questions determine what type of bike you'll want. The hills determine what kind of gearing you'll want to have on that bike.
    Well said; you speak my mind.
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    Quote Originally Posted by jonathan20 View Post
    I live in Salt Lake City. The only place I can ride from my front door is straight down. It's been 25 years since I last bought a bike. What would be the best type of bike for very steep paved urban hills?
    You need a road bike with custom gearing. I've had road bikes since '75 and always had to change the gearing as I can't ride like Lance Armstrong.

    I'd use a mountain bike crankset which has 22/32/44 rings (need not be expensive) and a 12 to 27 Ultegra cassette. Use a long cage rear derailleur and a triple front derailleur. It'll all fit fine on a road bike. I've used this set up a few years until I switched to a TA 22/36/46 crankset. My wife still uses a mountain bike crank set.

    Some bike shops will change out the parts and give you a trade-in. It's easy to do Yourself if you buy the tools and use the Park web site. I've been building our bikes for a number of years so I can get what I want right off the bat.

    If you eventually build up your strength/endurance and can ride like Lance, you can switch back.

    I personally would go with drop bars and try to get your back angle around 50-degrees or less (from the horizontal) when on the hoods. Much greater back angle than that makes climbing harder as you can't bring some of the bigger muscles into play.

    Al
    Last edited by alcanoe; 08-03-08 at 11:01 AM.

  9. #9
    Banned. The Weak Link's Avatar
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    I'd recommend an Orbea Orca with a triple chainring and with a mountain bike cassette, something like a 12-32. Fit it with a Brooks B17 saddle, use Conti 4000S tires, Keo pedals, and Sidi dominators, and you should do just fine.

  10. #10
    just keep riding BluesDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    I'd recommend an Orbea Orca with a triple chainring and with a mountain bike cassette, something like a 12-32. Fit it with a Brooks B17 saddle, use Conti 4000S tires, Keo pedals, and Sidi dominators, and you should do just fine.
    I don't know what I was thinking. This is obviously the only possible solution.
    The more you ride your bike, the less your ass will hurt.

  11. #11
    feros ferio John E's Avatar
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    The steepest paved street in California is reportedly Fargo St. in central Los Angeles. One of my friends built a bike with a double-reduction gear system, which enabled him to tackle the 32-33% grade at 2.2 mph and a comfortable 100 RPM crank cadence. I don't know whether I would have the nerve to descend that one!
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  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Weak Link View Post
    I'd recommend an Orbea Orca with a triple chainring and with a mountain bike cassette, something like a 12-32. Fit it with a Brooks B17 saddle, use Conti 4000S tires, Keo pedals, and Sidi dominators, and you should do just fine.
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