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Folding Bikes Discuss the unique features and issues of folding bikes. Also a great place to learn what folding bike will work best for your needs.

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Old 06-29-12, 01:01 AM   #1
mtalinm
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folder for hill climb?

I'm doing some hill climbing this summer (including Mt. Washington in NH) and am torn between my trusty Xootr Swift and a more traditional road bike.

I love the folder for many reasons but especially because it's easy to get Really Low Gearing with the small wheels. I currently have a 24t chainring with an 11-32 cassette on 406 wheels, for 14 gear-inches.

All of my cycling buddies tell me I'm insane and that I should use a "real" bike for the hills. I suppose I could get an 11-36 cassette plus rear derailleur (for $200) but even then the gearing wouldn't be quite as low.

moreover, I could be totally out to lunch on this, but anecdotally it feels like the folder has an easier time getting going on an uphill. not that I plan to stop much, but it seems easier for some reason. no strong opinion on which is less likely to have the front wheel lift off the ground on really steep parts though.

the road bike is a bit lighter, to be honest...

so should I just ignore the "advice" of my biking buddies? I'm inclined to , but maybe they know something I don't.
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Old 06-29-12, 08:44 AM   #2
fietsbob 
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IDK about your specific bike, but once the gear reduction ratio is so low
the momentum drops off so quickly when you try to restart on a hill
that it is a challenge to get your other foot on the pedal, particularly
clipping in.

mid 17" low .. less than that or steeper than rideable,
walking keeps my heart rate reasonable.


bikes: road 700c 24/28, tour 24/34
R'off.. trekking 26", 16/38, BiFri 20" 16/53,
Brompton 16" AW3& mountain drive 2 speed, 15/54(21.6)

Prev test bike: mountain tamer quad [46-36-26-16] 26" MTB

Last edited by fietsbob; 06-29-12 at 09:03 AM.
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Old 06-29-12, 09:29 AM   #3
mfredrickson
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The conventional wisdom holds that lighter wheels (less rotating mass) are better for climbing. It seems to me that the Xootr would be the better choice because your 20" wheels will be lighter than your 700c.

Your anecdotal evidence might lend some credence to this theory. I'd stop listening to your buddies and start listening to your legs.
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Old 06-29-12, 10:57 AM   #4
idc
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Do some test riding on both, and decide based on that! Have your cycling buddies tried your Swift?

I know jur has done some serious climbing on his modified Swift.

I've done a decent bit on my Swift as well (it's not quite stock either). I would say if you are doing a long steady climb at a reasonable gradient, and correspondingly long descents I'd choose the big wheels. If you're doing more rollers with more acceleration/stops and some steeper grades I would prefer the folder. I don't know if my folder's wheels are any lighter than my road bike but the smaller size wheels are nice for varied climbing, and out of the saddle stuff. My Swift is 5-6 lbs heavier than my road bike though...

Really though I don't think it'll make too much difference.
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Old 06-29-12, 04:48 PM   #5
jur
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The problem with roadies is, they don't really know about folders - they all think that folders are toys and are much more difficult to climb with. So I get continuous comments like, "you're doing THAT with THIS!?" And always the same question, "Isn't it hard to climb with those little wheels?" Even salted riders with much experience will not realise what it takes to climb - #1 is and always will be the engine. Oh, with a super-light bike you might shave off a few % of your climbing time, but if you can't do a climb with the Swift, even the best roadie won't help you out either.

So my advice is, stick with the Swift, you will appreciate and use the lower gearing. While your buddies are experiencing excruciation grinding their roadbikes up Mt Washington in the lowest gear, you will be spinning easily.
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Old 06-29-12, 10:43 PM   #6
BassNotBass
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
... All of my cycling buddies tell me I'm insane and that I should use a "real" bike for the hills...
Any 'cyclist' who regards a good and competent folding bike as less than a 'real' bike should be regarded as the ignorant person he/she is. I've toured the Presidentials (you should be aquainted with them), Rockies and Scottish Highlands on a folder and I've never wished that I had a 'standard' bike.
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Old 06-30-12, 01:42 AM   #7
rodar y rodar
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtalinm View Post
so should I just ignore the "advice" of my biking buddies? I'm inclined to , but maybe they know something I don't.
...or maybe you know something that they don`t.
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Old 06-30-12, 08:40 AM   #8
itsmoot
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You can keep a decent cadence up with small wheels due to the super-low gearing available. While my friends have to stand and mash up a hill, I can spin at 70-80 rpm. Then when we reach the top I'll often hear "man you were pedaling awful fast, NOW don't you wish you had bigger wheels?". It's all a matter of perception and they're in the dark, having never tried a small-wheeled bike.
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Old 07-01-12, 02:44 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BassNotBass View Post
Any 'cyclist' who regards a good and competent folding bike as less than a 'real' bike should be regarded as the ignorant person he/she is. I've toured the Presidentials (you should be aquainted with them), Rockies and Scottish Highlands on a folder and I've never wished that I had a 'standard' bike.
I'm not familiar with Presidentials, but which folder do you have?
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Old 07-01-12, 03:23 PM   #10
JGaerlan
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Having the correct gear inches tailored to your strength and riding style is all that matters esp on climbs. We have a few Dahons and homebuilt mini velo bikes. My favorite is still the wife's bike with a 30t ring in front and an 11/34 cst on 406mm wheels. I can climb the steepest of hills in the San francisco area sitting down. Spin smoothly and lean forward so the wheels won't lift. I remember an electric bus tailing me one time up Sacramento st from the water to taylor st. Bus driver gives me a thumbs up as he passes me on the summit.

On the downhill, you just have to coast as the gears won't be high enough on a single ring 30t crank. Enjoy the climb
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Old 07-01-12, 03:30 PM   #11
alhedges
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Everything else being equal, people on small-wheel folding bikes should have the advantage when climbing.

Descending, less so...
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Old 07-12-12, 06:30 PM   #12
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I use my Bike Friday Pocket Companion for hill climbing whenever a full-size bike is impractical to transport to the start of the ride. I'm almost convinced that it climbs better than my Specialized Dolce Triple road bike. I put mtb gearing on both bikes. On the BF all I had to do was replace the stock 30t small chainring with a 24t.

I have also climbed the steepest streets in San Francisco with the BF. Here's a thread with pictures and video of my latest SF fun.

Here's my original SF climb thread, with steeper hills. The only hill I failed to climb was the 38% Broderick Street, and I blame the engine for that, not the bike.

One more thread with pics and video of steep climbs.
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