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  1. #1
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    Folder climbing advice

    Hi,

    I am fairly new to cycling (started this summer as a commuter and put in about 110-120 miles a week).

    I ride in NYC and have a few hills, most notably the bridge crossing) and though I keep decent speed with the full size bikes on the flatlands, I am passed repeatedly by road bikes when climbing the bridge.

    At first I tried to justify that it is the lack of inertia of my smaller wheels, but I am starting to doubt that that is the case. I am riding a Dahon speed p8 with Big Apple Tires. I am light for my size (6'2" - 163lbs) and in fairly good shape.

    Any suggestions as to why this is occurring? Is it a technique issue, or is it a bike issue?

    Thanks,

  2. #2
    Part-time epistemologist invisiblehand's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trumpetology View Post
    Hi,

    I am fairly new to cycling (started this summer as a commuter and put in about 110-120 miles a week).

    I ride in NYC and have a few hills, most notably the bridge crossing) and though I keep decent speed with the full size bikes on the flatlands, I am passed repeatedly by road bikes when climbing the bridge.

    At first I tried to justify that it is the lack of inertia of my smaller wheels, but I am starting to doubt that that is the case. I am riding a Dahon speed p8 with Big Apple Tires. I am light for my size (6'2" - 163lbs) and in fairly good shape.

    Any suggestions as to why this is occurring? Is it a technique issue, or is it a bike issue?

    Thanks,
    How do you climb with the folder?

    How do you normally climb?

    Is the fit the same? Are there any other differences with the bikes?

  3. #3
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    If gear inches are the same, i'm never sure (like your 70" and their 70" goes exactly the same distance on one turn of the crank). There shouldn't be much diff but probably they have really light road bikes since the dahon is in the high 20's for weight. And with bigger wheels they carry alot more momentum going up hill while your wheel loses alot more energy as it spins and slow down.

    But in the end it'll pay off as your bring your bike into your office safely while they have to hope it's still on the lock by the end of the day .

    if you want to take on road bikes you might want the speed pro TT that'll chase down those bandits! but you won't have the probably more comfortable ride as your P8.
    Last edited by Azreal911; 09-21-09 at 10:15 AM.

  4. #4
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    I don't have another bike, so I'm not sure on how I would climb regularly, hence my confusion.

    I do love having the safety of my folder, and I have no desire to switch to a road bike, I just want to make sure it's not some huge failure of my technique and that there are some reasonable explanation for my slowness

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    There's always going to be someone faster than you (and me) and they might be on a highend road bike, a folder or a tricycle. I had the same thoughts when I got my first folder, the Dahon Mu P24, last year. Then I learned to relax and not worry about how others ride and to focus on getting better than myself as the weeks went by.

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    Senior Member boston blackie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mup24 View Post
    There's always going to be someone faster than you (and me) and they might be on a highend road bike, a folder or a tricycle. I had the same thoughts when I got my first folder, the Dahon Mu P24, last year. Then I learned to relax and not worry about how others ride and to focus on getting better than myself as the weeks went by.
    +1 Good advice!

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by mup24 View Post
    There's always going to be someone faster than you (and me) and they might be on a highend road bike, a folder or a tricycle. I had the same thoughts when I got my first folder, the Dahon Mu P24, last year. Then I learned to relax and not worry about how others ride and to focus on getting better than myself as the weeks went by.

    oh yeah but after a month of your commute you'll become stronger and find you have more stamina by then. I sometimes make it an effort to pass full size bikes on my strida. It's funny to see they're getting passed by someone on a funny looking clown bike, I rarely run into road bikes and they are fast with their better gear ratio than me. with the one gear I just pretend i'm in a spinning class. it's great until I hit that 7.3% grade at the end of my trip and it's funtimes getting that last 300m stretch home.

  8. #8
    Eschew Obfuscation SesameCrunch's Avatar
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    It seems to me there are two parts to your question:

    1) Is there a difference between the performance of road bikes and folding bikes, and
    2) Why can't you keep up with road bikers on the climbs when you can keep up with them on the flats?

    My thoughts:

    1) Yes, there is a difference in performance between folding bikes and road bikes. Your Dahon is heavier, flexier, and has less gearing than typical road bikes. Plus, you're sitting up higher and catching more wind resistance. Given the same fitness level, you will not keep up. I ride a lot and have owned about 15 folding bikes and 3 road bikes. There is at least a 2-3mph difference, in my experience.

    2) You can keep up on the flats because the differences in human and bike performance don't show up as much on the flats. You don't feel the weight of a heavy bike as much on the flats, but as soon as you start climbing, gravity starts working on the extra 10lbs that you have on the Dahon. Hills are what separate the men from the boys in cycling.

    Finally, there is no way any of us here can tell you why you can't keep up with the roadies you run into. We don't know your fitness level compared with the roadies you're seeing. However, you do point out that you're a new biker, and those roadies have ridden enough to have invested a couple of thousand $$s into their bike and riding gear. They're likely to be more serious and frequent riders than you.

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    for me it is the opposite...i pass ppl that is on full size bike going up hill and they pass me on flat. those ppl i'm talking about are "ordinary" ppl (not serious biker like roadies who wear spandex). maybe i know how to use my gear and they dont? but who knows.

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    Professional Fuss-Budget Bacciagalupe's Avatar
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    The extra weight of a Dahon is not going to make any sort of performance difference on a climb as short as the ones you're describing. Even on Alpine (a 2 mile climb iirc) you're talking about a few seconds.

    The only caveat is that most of the other cyclists you saw were probably using clipless pedals, which allow the rider to use more muscle groups when climbing.

    One thing to keep in mind is that on a normal bike, you will want to pull back on the handlebars when climbing. This is not advisable on a Dahon, due to the handlepost design; it increases the chance that you'll break it. This is not a big issue in the short run, but if you're going to stick with this bike, I recommend you train yourself to sit in the saddle and spin rapidly when climbing.

  11. #11
    Senior Member edwong3's Avatar
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    I echo what everyone is saying here. There are just too many variables to point out what is it exactly that makes road bikers faster than you uphill except for some facts. Road bikes tend to be lighter, stiffer (more efficient power transfer), more aggressive riding position maximizing their applied force, among other factors.

    Don't give it too much thought. Gear down and spin up the hill rather than try to "crank" your way to the top. Enjoy the ride, and arrive at your destination much fresher. Give yourself some time, and you'll find that you will become stronger, and improve your hill climbing ability.

    Happy trails,

    Edward Wong III
    Qile Duo 5 Speed 20" Folder



    Quote Originally Posted by trumpetology View Post
    Hi,

    I am fairly new to cycling (started this summer as a commuter and put in about 110-120 miles a week).

    I ride in NYC and have a few hills, most notably the bridge crossing) and though I keep decent speed with the full size bikes on the flatlands, I am passed repeatedly by road bikes when climbing the bridge.

    At first I tried to justify that it is the lack of inertia of my smaller wheels, but I am starting to doubt that that is the case. I am riding a Dahon speed p8 with Big Apple Tires. I am light for my size (6'2" - 163lbs) and in fairly good shape.

    Any suggestions as to why this is occurring? Is it a technique issue, or is it a bike issue?

    Thanks,

  12. #12
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    my Bike Friday Crusoe

    My BF Crusoe is built up with contact points identical to my normal road bike. This includes drop bars, Brooks saddle, and clip in pedals. I think I notice the inertia quotient of smaller wheels, but other than that I can stand up on the pedals and climb just as if I was on a fast upright normal bike. I know my Crusoe is not the typical folder in some ways, but that is why I like it a lot.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  13. #13
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    Let me try here. In general, the small wheels tend to be slower because they tend to deform more than larger wheels. With a folder there is additionally the factor of a short wheelbase, due to the compromise in trying to achieve small size for the folded bike. With a shorter wheelbase, your weight shifts very close to the contact point with the ground for the rear wheel, when you ride uphill, making the rear wheel extra deformed compared to a bicycle with the longer wheelbase. With this, your losses additionally increase, compared to a standard bicycle.

    How is that for a theory?? The conclusion might be to pump up the wheels and especially the rear one. You can't speed much on a folder downhill anyway .

  14. #14
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    Flex in your handlepost will depend on how extended it is, with it in the lowest position there's very little flex and it feels much better to pull on. But of course with a road bike you can shift your weight forward for a much more efficient pedalling action due to the drop bars, that'd be the main factor I'd imagine.

  15. #15
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vincentnyc View Post
    for me it is the opposite...i pass ppl that is on full size bike going up hill and they pass me on flat.
    It's often the same for me...and I don't bother to bring my bike shoes with me on my trips, I just use the platform side of my pedals.

    Last trip I passed someone on a Cervelo while climbing the park at Torrey Pines (San Diego)! I said "nice bike" as I passed on my clown bike. Was that mean?

    On flats and downhills I have no chance of keeping up, my fat tires, suspension, and lack of top-end gearing keep me slow. Uphills are the only place I might keep up or pass someone on a road bike.

    Although I'm slower climbing on the folder than I am on my road bike (heavier weight and suspension not to mention the tendency to wheelie on steeper bits), if I am in better climbing shape than someone else and the grade is steep/long enough, that will outweigh bike differences.
    Countries I've ridden in: US, Canada, Ireland, UK, Germany, Netherlands, France, China, Singapore, Malaysia
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  16. #16
    jur
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    If the slope is long enough, say more than 60s of riding, climbing prowess is _completely_ dominated by aerobic fitness ie how many watts per kg you can put out and sustain. The bike is fairly irrelevant (unless it is a completely execrable ultra-heavy steel clunker from wally mart). Once I got fit I was able to leave sleek-looking smooth-shaved lycra-clad carbon-riding Lance-wannabes blowing in my wake while riding my heavy Raleigh Twenty. (Doesn't happen often I admit but it does prove a point.)
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  17. #17
    I Fold bykerouac's Avatar
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    Lots of sense in this thread. May I add that bar ends improve leverage during climbs. I stand on the pedals sometimes, just as I would on my other nonfoldable bikes.

  18. #18
    jur
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    Here's a blast from the past.

    Does climbing differ from flat riding?

    Executive summary: The lighter you are the faster you would be for a given effort. Plus you have to be able to sustain that effort.
    My folding bike photo essays www.dekter.net/

  19. #19
    crazy bike girl msincredible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by msincredible View Post
    Last trip I passed someone on a Cervelo while climbing the park at Torrey Pines (San Diego)! I said "nice bike" as I passed on my clown bike. Was that mean?
    I forgot to post the route: http://www.bikely.com/maps/bike-path...-Pines-steeper
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    It's all about the engine and very little to do with the bike

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