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Optimizing fit for seated climbing

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Optimizing fit for seated climbing

Old 08-14-23, 08:54 PM
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Optimizing fit for seated climbing

Assuming you've already got a good ball park fit, what are some things you might tweak to the fit (if at all) to bias towards being better at putting out power on seated climbs (eg, as opposed to optimizing for TT on flats)? I'm thinking about things like adjustments to saddle height, saddle tilt angle, saddle fore/aft, stem height, stem angle, stem length, crank length, handlebar tilt, etc.
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Old 08-15-23, 11:53 AM
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Most all my climbs are seated. Standing is just for when I run out of a lower gear and can't keep my cadence up. Essentially it's a last ditch effort to keep from walking the bike over the hill. I should practice it more though because standing really uses different muscles or at least it uses them differently.

I've always liked my saddles further forward and am willing to carry weight on my arms. So if your seat post has a lot of setback, then maybe look for a zero setback post. Having my saddle closer to the BB's vertical centerline is what I feel helps me put more power into the pedals while climbing. And of course the saddle needs to be what is considered the proper height for a road bike. If you like your saddles low, then you'll be wasting some energy because of the angle between your pelvis and upper leg as well as the angle between your upper and lower leg, IMO.

A high cadence also helps for climbing seated. For short climbs I want to get up quickly, I'm 90 rpm or better. For just cruising I'm in the mid to low 80's. And I don't have what I'd call strong leg muscles, so I use a gear combo that doesn't take a lot of muscle. That way I don't burn out my legs before I get to the top.

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Old 08-15-23, 01:40 PM
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Thanks for chiming in. My intuition was similar: set the saddle high (within acceptable range of course), push it forward, and maybe angle the nose downward a bit more.
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Old 08-15-23, 07:18 PM
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Originally Posted by tFUnK
Assuming you've already got a good ball park fit, what are some things you might tweak to the fit (if at all) to bias towards being better at putting out power on seated climbs (eg, as opposed to optimizing for TT on flats)? I'm thinking about things like adjustments to saddle height, saddle tilt angle, saddle fore/aft, stem height, stem angle, stem length, crank length, handlebar tilt, etc.
Adjustments... Depends where you are set to begin with...
My Opinion (and I've rarely known any accomplished riders, especially those who might be considered accomplished climbers who setup for climbing in a varied terrain ride) - 'setting' for climbing is considered in the overall 'road' setup.
What I've found is that slopes below 5 % (for me) rarely need much adjustment. But going into steeper climbs, they increasingly require me/a rider to get 'on top' of a gear earlier in the stroke. Climbing encounters a quicker dissipation of 'momentum', so to keep a gear turning at a cadence you wish to use or just keeping it turning, becomes an objective...
To do that, the downstroke pressure has to be exerted earlier and with greater force. To do that one tends to slide back on the saddle a bit...
If one finds they can't maintain the desired cadence, or they bog down, getting up, out of the saddle is the usual technique... then re-seating once they have the gear/cadence moving.
When that happens is determined by the physio of each rider. Some riders can exert more power and are comfortable out of the saddle for longer, some do better by loading the cardio requirement more and can use a higher cadence. Speed is determined by power to weight... and how much you're willing to suffer.
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Old 08-16-23, 04:59 AM
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Don’t forget to sit up a bit when climbing. Open hip angle gives more power. It’s less aero but at climbing speeds that is not a major issue.

It drives me nuts when I see someone trying to close a gap on a climb all bent over/aero. That helps at high speed because aero but power drops a bit because of closed hip angle.
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Old 08-16-23, 07:15 AM
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I don't agree with sitting up to climb. Some of my climbs I'm over 16 mph. And a few I top out during a all out effort with 21 mph average. On those high effort climbs I find that staying in the drops not only give me a advantage from being aero, but also by putting my arms at a better angle to offset the power I'm putting into the pedals.

While I don't always climb in the drops, I wouldn't sit up. The more I sit up the less power I can put into the pedals.

Of course I'm only talking about the climbs in the rolling terrain around me which is 20, 30 and 40 foot climbs at 4 - 6% grade. However even for a long continuous climb I still can't see the value in sitting up.

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Old 08-16-23, 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by datlas
Donít forget to sit up a bit when climbing. Open hip angle gives more power. Itís less aero but at climbing speeds that is not a major issue.
In my experience sitting up is more to facilitate breathing. My sitting "power angle" for climbing is the same as for flats--hands throttling the hoods and elbows bent. Obviously, this is not sustainable for long intervals in the red zone.
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