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Old 11-03-07, 11:00 AM   #1
yamcha
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Low gear or stand up?

The other day I was going up a steep hill and I was in my lowest gear and pedaling like nuts and then these kids just burned pass me up the hill in their bmx and mountain bikes. They were stand/pedaling (and laughing at me.) It made me feel kind of lame. I think from now on I'll skip the low gear up hills and just stand pedal on one of the mid gears. Probably more efficient that way too.
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Old 11-03-07, 01:13 PM   #2
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To hell with the kids...
stay in your low gear and keep spining...
it's so much better for your knees.

I often wonder what those kids knees will be like when they get old... they all ride with their seats way to low
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Old 11-03-07, 02:01 PM   #3
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Youth gives you very flexible and strong joints. When they grow older their knees will likely be like yours.
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Old 11-03-07, 03:12 PM   #4
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No no guys, there is nothing wrong with my knees and I am in good shape. I just am thinking that spinning up a hill might not be as efficient as stand pedaling and probably uses more energy.

Last edited by yamcha; 11-03-07 at 03:18 PM.
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Old 11-03-07, 03:21 PM   #5
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For a short hill, I can probably get up faster by standing up. Similar to a sprint.

For long hills, I alternate between spinning a small gear and then standing and pushing a big gear at a low cadence. I do this just to use different muscle groups.

On really steep, long hills, I stand up and push my smallest gear at a low cadence!
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Old 11-03-07, 08:21 PM   #6
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No question that I can get up a hill faster by using a higher gear and standing, but I don't confuse that with efficiency.

I'd never give up my low gears!

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Old 11-03-07, 09:15 PM   #7
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I stand.
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Old 11-03-07, 09:33 PM   #8
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I read in some bike magazine that long about an 18% grade standing or sitting will not matter. That it would be better to just get off and push. Works for me if no cyclists are watching.
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Old 11-03-07, 10:38 PM   #9
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No question that I can get up a hill faster by using a higher gear and standing, but I don't confuse that with efficiency.

I'd never give up my low gears!

Speedo

Nobody is telling you to give up anything and how do you know standing isn't more efficient?

Last edited by yamcha; 11-04-07 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 11-04-07, 02:54 AM   #10
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Do some research, standing is not more efficient but it allows you to deliver more power for a short spell at the cost of burning a lot of energy.
Efficiency is staying seated and spinning, but it is slower.
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Old 11-04-07, 08:51 PM   #11
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how do you know standing isn't more efficient?
Try doing a longish ride standing the whole time. If it was more efficient it would be no trouble at all.

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Old 11-04-07, 08:55 PM   #12
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Try doing a longish ride standing the whole time. If it was more efficient it would be no trouble at all.

Speedo
Good point.
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Old 11-04-07, 09:38 PM   #13
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One problem is that muscles do not have equal efficiency at all speeds. You can just push on a stationary wall and tire your muscles without moving the wall. Result is zero efficiency. Applied to biking up a hill, if you are doing it in high gear, you just about HAVE to go up it fast- trying to do so slowly actually tires you out even more. It's a major strain on the legs (and a good workout for them). However, you can totally exhaust your legs going up the first hill and be going really slow on the second one.

Net result: If the hill is something you can go up in high gear without unduly tiring yourself, great, do it. If not, spin at whatever speed works best for you. If you're spinning like nuts, maybe you need to upshift some instead of using the lowest gear and pick up some speed.

Bicycling with a seat too low can be very tiring- it's an inefficient position for the legs. Riding a typical BMX bike up a hill without standing could be a major challenge for that reason.

On my old cheap mountain bike, putting too much load into the pedals would tend to make unpleasant sounds and movements in the chain/ rear sprockets- not sure if they were bending the derailleur sideways and trying to shift or just hopping a tooth- but it wasn't good. Maybe that's not an issue with a higher quality bike, but you are putting a lot more stress into the drivetrain when you go up in higher gears.

Yiou can't worry too much about what other people do. There will always be somebody fitter and faster, or trying harder. You may be on the 10th mile of your trip and get passed by a guy that left his house 30 seconds ago. And he may ride like mad for 5 minutes and then stop and rest for a half hour, you just don't know. Just pick a gear and a speed that suits you and go with it.
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Old 11-05-07, 12:07 AM   #14
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Stephen, your post was very good! Could you please comment on this thread too, I want to know what you think.
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Old 11-05-07, 09:48 PM   #15
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Try doing a longish ride standing the whole time. If it was more efficient it would be no trouble at all.

Speedo
It seemed to work quite well for Lance Armstrong!
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Old 11-05-07, 09:54 PM   #16
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It seemed to work quite well for Lance Armstrong!
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Really? Which race did he stand the whole way?

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Old 11-05-07, 09:58 PM   #17
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Really? Which race did he stand the whole way?

Speedo
What champion do you know of who sat down the whole way?? and won the Tour de France??
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Old 11-05-07, 10:00 PM   #18
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What champion do you know of who sat down the whole way?? and won the Tour de France??
The point, if you bothered to read through the thread, was over whether standing is more efficient. Over the same course and same speed, you would burn more energy standing the whole way.

Interestingly, I believe that Miguel Indurain used to stay in the saddle for most of even the most serious of climbs.

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Old 11-05-07, 10:12 PM   #19
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Indurian, sat most of the way, but not all of the way. There must be something to standing?
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Old 11-05-07, 10:43 PM   #20
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Indurian, sat most of the way, but not all of the way. There must be something to standing?
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Standing is better for acceleration - watch bike racers on the track or in road race field sprints or break-aways on the mountain stages and you will see the riders stand as they want fast acceleration. It also uses slightly different muscles than sitting and spinning so that too is good in a race.

I have a friend who has spine problems that force him to only ride standing. We did a week long tour in Northern California and I was in awe of his ability to stand all day long as he rode. I was in good shape but could never ride standing all day long like he did. I have to sit to keep riding all day.

For me there is no question that for long distance riding sitting and spinning is more efficient, but for quick acceleration nothing beats standing. Having a couple of recumbents one of their weaknesses is climbing. After about 1000 miles on the recument I could still ride faster up hills on a regular road bike. I decided one of the good things about a normal bike is that you can stand and use your body weight to help drive the pedals, something which is not possible on a recumbent. Especially for short steep grades I like to stand while I climb, but for long hills I prefer to sit and try and spin.
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Old 11-06-07, 08:13 AM   #21
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Standing is better for acceleration - watch bike racers on the track or in road race field sprints or break-aways on the mountain stages and you will see the riders stand as they want fast acceleration. It also uses slightly different muscles than sitting and spinning so that too is good in a race.
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For me there is no question that for long distance riding sitting and spinning is more efficient, but for quick acceleration nothing beats standing.
+1

It's not standing I have a quibble with. It is the idea the it is more efficient than sitting.

Most bikes are geared so high today that, when faced with a very steep big hill, riders have little choice but to stand. I am an experienced, but aging, rider. My bike has touring gears, the lowest being 19 inches. I made the following interesting observation when riding with some stronger riders on a tour this summer. On shallow hills I could keep up with the stronger riders when we were all sitting. On moderate hills, they ran out of gears, stood and would drop me. On really steep hills, they would struggle even with standing, and I could keep up staying in the saddle.

There's a lesson in there somewhere....

(edit) Oh, and to tie this back to folding bikes, the reason I have such low gears is that the bike is a folder with 20 inch wheels. (end edit)

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Old 11-06-07, 08:37 AM   #22
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Another consideration: climbing out of the saddle can put more stress on the folding/extra long parts of a folder, particularly when one's technique isn't good. Even while seated, new riders often 'haul back' on the handlebars when trying to power up a hill in a higher gear. When standing, however, I've seen some riders throw a lot of weight onto their bars -- forwards and backwards and side to side -- not great for a long, folding handle-bar post.
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Old 11-06-07, 09:39 AM   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leigh_caines View Post
To hell with the kids...
stay in your low gear and keep spining...
it's so much better for your knees.
I agree with Leigh_caines. I know I have bad knees now.
Ciao,
Timothy
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Old 11-06-07, 11:21 AM   #24
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I own two folders, a '68 Schwinn run-a-bout and a '69 Legnano, both bikes are equipped with 3 speed hubs and stick-shifts. I would NEVER trust the "boys" with this combo.......so I never stand up.
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