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  1. #1
    Senior Member BikeManDan's Avatar
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    Newbie climbing difficulty

    Im a MTB newbie for the most part and have recently started trail riding

    I think Ive established that my main issue is with climbing. For some steep inclines I just lose it and either nearly flip on my head or come to a dead stop and barely escape my SPDs before toppling over.

    I ride a Gary Fisher Montare hardtail, Marzochi Bomber, SRAM 9spd, etc. I consider it a pretty nice bike and its all aluminum so its pretty damn light. From what Ive been told its an excellent setup specifically for climinging. Sooo...Im ruling out the bike on this one, it just must be me.


    Situation is I come to a sharp incline, if I gear down low I find my front tire wanting to come up off the ground and me tumbling backwards (ouch)
    If I keep a mid gear I can make a good ways up the incline but then just come to a dead stop.




    Is there some technique here that Im just not using?
    Tips?
    Pointers?

    Thanks in advance for any advice

  2. #2
    Lost in the Black Hills mx_599's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwoloz
    ...a dead stop and barely escape my SPDs before toppling over.
    Tips?
    Pointers?

    Thanks in advance for any advice
    you can try platform pedals.

    your welcome

  3. #3
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    use momentum to get up the bottom of the climb, lean forward so your front doesn't want to come up, but leave enough weight over the back so you don't spin in the dirt. When in the saddle, try to climb with your arms parallel to the ground.

  4. #4
    Noob ScareyH22A's Avatar
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    Maybe you should try hills with less incline to train yourself.
    I'm not a great climber and this is what I learned.
    Get into the small front gear before the hill approaches.
    Lockout my shock/fork if necessary. Or adjust travel to lowest setting if available.
    Shift the rear ring to a gear that I can feel slight tension in my pedaling.
    Sit on the nose of my saddle.
    Grip the bar with my thumbs on top and tuck my elbows in towards my waist.
    Lean forward.
    Pedal.
    While climbing, shift the rear as necessary but never too much because you'll make too much torque and either slip the rear tire or wheelie the front.
    That's all I can add.

    BTW, using momentum is the worst thing if you can't make the climb normally because you'll be in too small of a rear ring while approaching the hill, to get as much speed as possible, so when you lose that momentum, which eventually will happen, you're in the wrong gear and often come to a complete stop.

  5. #5
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    My advice woiuld be to work on your leg muscles. Find a nice hill & just keep riding UP. Find a short steep hill & keep trying to ride UP. (that's in addition to the above advice)

    Try to use a mid range gear & keep your cadence level - for practice, anyway.
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  6. #6
    got the climbing bug jsigone's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ScareyH22A
    Maybe you should try hills with less incline to train yourself.
    I'm not a great climber and this is what I learned.
    Get into the small front gear before the hill approaches.
    Lockout my shock/fork if necessary. Or adjust travel to lowest setting if available.
    Shift the rear ring to a gear that I can feel slight tension in my pedaling.
    Sit on the nose of my saddle.
    Grip the bar with my thumbs on top and tuck my elbows in towards my waist.
    Lean forward.
    Pedal.
    While climbing, shift the rear as necessary but never too much because you'll make too much torque and either slip the rear tire or wheelie the front.
    That's all I can add.

    BTW, using momentum is the worst thing if you can't make the climb normally because you'll be in too small of a rear ring while approaching the hill, to get as much speed as possible, so when you lose that momentum, which eventually will happen, you're in the wrong gear and often come to a complete stop.
    thats how I used to climb before going to singlespeed, now its all about charging the hill HARD and using that momentum to keep your legs moving keeping you going up that hill, yes you will slow down, but then you have to get off the saddle and hammer up, still using that momentum. Sit down rest a few strokes and get up and hammer again, repeat and don't lose that momentum, cuz you'll lose your cadence which makes it harder.

    Or you can just get into the super granny gear and spin up the hill at a slow pace that one lil twich will stop you cuz you have no momentum at 3mph

    Two completly different ways of climbing, try both and see what works. Climbing techy stuff is almost an artform, there's many way to get power to the pedal and line to follow. Climb more and you'll see.

  7. #7
    Noob ScareyH22A's Avatar
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    Singlespeed? Forgive me master. =P

  8. #8
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    It seems like people are making it seem too hard. Yes, do hill climbs and gain some muscle in your legs. Just stand up and pedal. If the hill is steep enough, most of the weight is going to be mostly on the back tire so it wont slip too much. Just stand up and pedal your arse off.
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  9. #9
    Old School Rad mtnbiker66's Avatar
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    Most things like this work themselves out with time on the bike. You will be amazed at the improvement you will make in one year of steady riding.
    Like a circus monkey on a stolen Harley......

  10. #10
    I=Your Mother
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    Lean way over your bars while sitting down, almost have your chest to them, put it in a low gear, pull upwards on your pedals as well as push down. Those are the things that i do.

  11. #11
    Mountain Bikes are Art
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roxter
    Lean way over your bars while sitting down, almost have your chest to them, put it in a low gear, pull upwards on your pedals as well as push down. Those are the things that i do.
    That is what has worked best for me too (relative noob)
    Bob S.
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  12. #12
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    ScareyH22A has got it. Classic XC technique for climbing. Learning to ride the nose of the saddle can be a little disconcerting, but after you get used to it, the benefits outweigh the nasty "I'm being violated" feeling. Also learn how to pick a line up the hill. Often, a straight line is worst [AMHIK], so take a look at what's in front of you and keep an eye out for the easy line, even if it twists and turns a little.
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  13. #13
    '05 NUEser EJ123's Avatar
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    Lean forward;D

  14. #14
    Type 1 Racer rydaddy's Avatar
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    Excuse my lack of terminology... another tip would be to take some spacers from below your stem (on the steering tube) and put them above. You'll lower the handlebars enough to make a difference. It worked for me.

  15. #15
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    I was given some great advise once - there is no shame in walking up part of a steep climb.

    This was a relief for me because there are hills that are not climbable for all of us (we all have a different limit). Of course, the more experience you get, the fewer "unclimable hills" there are.

  16. #16
    one less horse cryptid01's Avatar
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    Two words: shuttle vehicle

  17. #17
    '05 NUEser EJ123's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gastro
    Two words: shuttle vehicle
    There we have it.

  18. #18
    Caustic Soccer Mom apclassic9's Avatar
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    oh gosh, words from the DH weenies!!
    As with mud, life, too, slides by.

  19. #19
    Rat Bastard mcoomer's Avatar
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    Several others have said it but yeah...get up on the front of the seat to get some weight forward, get your arms tucked in to your body and low. This will put you over the front of the bike and keep some weight on your front wheel to keep it on the ground. Don't worry about trying to hammer up the hill in some insane gear, drop it all the way to the bottom if that's what it takes and then just keep your seat and pedal.

    Guess what? You're going to suck for some time like the rest of us did. You're going to end up doing the hike-a-bike just like the rest of us did. But, if you keep with it you'll build muscle and skill and before long you'll be taking on climbs and finding them easier and easier.

    Good luck.
    It's better to burn out than fade away...or slip out of your pedal and face plant on the side of the road!!!

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  20. #20
    DNPAIMFB pinkrobe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gastro
    Two words: shuttle vehicle
    Why don't you make it even easier, and get an ATV?
    Proud Member of the HHCMF
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  21. #21
    Life is short Ride hard
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    Not alll hills are climbable (sp? ) such as hills in beach like sand I cant climb those can you?
    The Ferrari ('05 Bianchi Forza) had a flat (Stupid Glass) the Japanese wagon ('77 Nishiki with Arkel Utility Basket) was in the body shop (On my bench being repainted...repent ye rust)
    so I took the SUV ( Cannondale V2000 Active 100SL)

  22. #22
    Senior Member mlh122's Avatar
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    i like to shift into a harder gear and build up as much momentum before the hill as possible, then try to gauge how steep the hill is going to be, then shift into a gear that fits it. the hills around here require the granny chainring and the 2nd or 3rd cog to maintain a steady pace without much wheeling, and going fast enough to not fall. i rarely need the 1st cog, thats too easy for most hills. after a bit of practice you'll be able to pre-estimate what gear you'll need. also, practice, find hills and go up them. we have short hilly inner-city hobo trails that are great for this, i just do them over and over forwards and backwards for training. if you get into speeding up on a downhill to try to get up the next uphill, watch out for mud at the bottom!

  23. #23
    I'm simply not credible. Terrapin Ben's Avatar
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    i had this very same problem when i began riding my bicycle again. coming from the midwest to a mountainous region presented a lot of new challenges for me, climbing being the one i struggled with most. after consulting Ned Overend's Mountain Bike Like a Champion and the board here, i learned a few things. Sliding up to the front of your saddle will do wonders! It might not be the most comfortable, but getting to the front of your saddle will really make a difference in how you climb. i also started using barends, which might not really improve anything, but made climbing more comfortable and managable for me. and last but not least, don't be afraid to lay over your bars on the real steep sections. Having your chest an inch or two above your bars effectively shifts your center of gravity, applies more pressure on your back tire which will give you better traction, and will really help you keep your momentum which inturn will prevent you from toppling over on the steep climbs. Keeping your momentum while going into an uphill always makes it way easier to climb and willl help you work on better shifting. Momentum is key when you have a lot of up down kinda climbing. find you flow, happy trails, and even longer climbs to you friend!
    Every time that wheel turn round,
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    - J. Garcia

  24. #24
    Senior Member RomSpaceKnight's Avatar
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    Get a lower stem. My old Mielle Pegasus came with a real real high stem and the bike would try to wheelie up the shortest of hills. Switched to a Zoom stem with almost no rise and away I went, like riding a whole new bike.

  25. #25
    Dog is my co-pilot 2manybikes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwoloz
    Im a MTB newbie for the most part and have recently started trail riding

    I think Ive established that my main issue is with climbing. For some steep inclines I just lose it and either nearly flip on my head or come to a dead stop and barely escape my SPDs before toppling over.

    I ride a Gary Fisher Montare hardtail, Marzochi Bomber, SRAM 9spd, etc. I consider it a pretty nice bike and its all aluminum so its pretty damn light. From what Ive been told its an excellent setup specifically for climinging. Sooo...Im ruling out the bike on this one, it just must be me.


    Situation is I come to a sharp incline, if I gear down low I find my front tire wanting to come up off theground and me tumbling backwards (ouch)
    If I keep a mid gear I can make a good ways up the incline but then just come to a dead stop.

    Is there some technique here that Im just not using?
    Tips?
    Pointers?

    Thanks in advance for any advice

    Do you have bar ends? That's first. The kind with a bend on the end so you can hold on to the bike farther forward.

    You could angle them forward more. You could drop the bars a little.

    It's about forward and backwards balance. Start out a little too far forward, if the tire slips a little move a little weight to the rear. Practice, practice, practice.
    Practice being smooth, pedaling too hard all of a sudden tends to lift the front too. Control how hard you pedal, don't pedal really hard on something very slippery, for instance. Practice with platform pedals. Anticipate far ahead so you know what's coming next. Don't go any faster than you have to at first. Don't charge the hill, keep a steady pace that will give enough energy to get to the top. Smooooooth and steady. Be in the low gear before you need it.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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