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Thread: Hill Starts

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Hill Starts

    Curiosity question for those riding SWB bikes. How hard is it to get one restarted on a steep uphill grade? How steep a grade have you restarted one? Without 'cheating.'

    I ask for a buddy who just got himself a Giro. I've found my TE quite easy to restart on very steep grades, far easier than a DF.
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    It helps to remember to downshift before coming to a stop on a hill. The other two factors are how well developed your "recumbent legs" have gotten and the familiarity with the particular bike you ride. I have an Haluzak Horizon and don't remember having a particularly hard time starting out on hills but by the time I bought it, I had several years and many thousands of miles on a recumbent.

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    I had to take a break on Potters Hill during the last day of RAGBRAI 2010, because I just couldn't make it all the way without collapsing. The steepest section of that infamous hill is around 12%, but I stopped on a section that was maybe 9-10% (plenty steep). I was gasping for air, slouched limp and sliding off the front of my seat, and had to firmly apply the brakes the whole time to keep from rolling backwards. Walking cyclists (by far the majority) stopped to ask if I was ok. After five minutes of rest, getting started again wasn't so bad and I made it all the way, with some cramps.

    Here's the thing about hill starts: You have to be in the right gear BEFORE you stop, because once you stop, shifting will be totally impossible. With the right gear ratio, however, it shouldn't be too bad for a fit & rested rider.

    I would think recumbents have less tendency to spin out on hill starts because there's more weight over the rear wheel vs a DF.
    Last edited by Recumbomatic; 02-04-12 at 12:01 PM. Reason: grammar

  4. #4
    Senior Member Grishnak's Avatar
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    +1 Be in the right gear before you stop,unless you have Hub gears that change while stationary.

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    A single big push with your preferred leg, and then clip in with the other before you run out of push.
    Cleats make it so you have to be much more accurate on the first try.

    10%'s about my limit. Even on my DF.

    T

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    I agree with making sure that you are in the right gear before you stop, but I believe the real difference between your friend and yourself is the bottom bracket and seat height. On a Tour Easy with a low bottom bracket and a low seat height, you can have one foot on the ground for balance while stationary,then start to push the pedal with the other, then quickly move the other foot to find the pedal. On a Giro both the seat and the BB are higher. This makes leaving one foot down for balance while stationary a little harder. Then after the initial push, the foot used while being stationary has a great deal of distance to travel to find the it's pedal.

    My best advise is for your friend to practice a lot of starts and stops. I would practice on flat land first and I would alternate using right and left feet. I was really terrible at starts and stops on my Lightning Phantom for the longest time until I started using it for my 8 mile commute. There were 27 stop lights between home and work. It wasn't long before I got good at it. The experience transferred very well to starting on a hill. Hope this helps.

  7. #7
    Free Velo Vol! Dudelsack's Avatar
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    It's a big problem for me but I'm a n00b. I can start on a 2-3% grade max.

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    Senior Member Cyclebum's Avatar
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    Excellent thoughts Grumpybear. Learning curve for lwb lot shorter than for swb, for rather obvious reasons. He's a quick learner. I'll link him to this thread.
    The bicycle is one of the great inventions of mankind. Delights children, challenges young men to feats of daring, and turns old men into boys again.--Me

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    rebmeM roineS JanMM's Avatar
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    Actually, I find it easier to start uphill on my SWB than on my LWB. Might be because it's a dual big wheel high bottom bracket LWB.
    RANS V3 (steel), RANS V-Rex, RANS Screamer

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    Senior Member gcottay's Avatar
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    I too find it easier to start my SWB going uphill than iwith a LWB but, in my case, you could attribute the difference to lack of LWB experience.

    No matter what the bike, I think the keys to uphill starts are 1) right gearing and 2) just relaxing and doing it. "Trying hard" to get going makes it hard. "Taking it easy" even on steepish grades makes it easy.
    George
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  11. #11
    Insane Bicycle Mechanic Jeff Wills's Avatar
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    On a (supported) tour a couple years back, we climbed 5 km of continuous 10 to 15% grade. No problems starting and stopping, aside from getting motivated after we stopped. It helped that low gear was 18 gear inches.
    Jeff Wills

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    Hill starts

    Another thing that helped me was learning not to pull on the handlebars when starting out. Try to keep a very light grip and generate the power with your legs and push back into the seat. I found this got harder when I reclined my seat more on the Corsa. The more reclined your seat the less support you have to push against. It's also good practice when riding uphill to ride with just one hand on the bars. It reinforces the light grip method. I agree with Grumpybear's comments; practice a lot and those uphill starts will become second nature.

    Ed

  13. #13
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    As others have said, the lower the gear the better. The hardest part is till you get the second foot onto the pedal. If you have rested before then you should be able to do it. I find that balancing and steering stop me on a hill before being unable to climb it.

    One thing I have learned by brutal experience is to not try and "reduce" the grade by starting off pointing at an angle other than straight up hill. When you do that, it becomes harder to steer and if you don't get your speed up immediately, then you risk tipping over sideways. Sliding off a recumbent seat downhill and onto the pavement can be exceedingly painful and injurious to your pelvis. In my case, it happened in the middle of a century, and though I was able to finish the century, I couldn't ride the recumbent for the next 6 months and 3 1/2 years later, as I sit here typing, I can still feel the injury. Happily, since I sit on my DF bike saddle in a different spot, I was able to ride it during my recumbent convalescence.
    Last edited by Artkansas; 02-07-12 at 03:39 AM.
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