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Does climbing in the wrong gear damage the bike?

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Does climbing in the wrong gear damage the bike?

Old 07-26-16, 10:57 AM
  #1  
Liz33
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Does climbing in the wrong gear damage the bike?

Hello again
I just found out yesterday that I was going up the "hills" (just little elevations) in the wrong gears. No wonder I've been finding them so challenging and would wonder how could people go up those big hills I want to do so much. I'm not sure how to explain what I was doing, but basically, I was doing all the contrary to what you are supposed to do climbing. Good thing about it all is that I was for sure getting a heck of a workout like that lol
Anyway, I was getting stronger doing it that way and conquering little by little those elevations. When I tried it doing it in the right gear I couldn't believe how much easier it was for me to climb! So....I wondered last night about what if I just keep riding the way I was just for the sake of getting stronger and getting a bigger workout? Then whenever I use the right gear to go up a hill it will be a lot easier. But then I wondered, what if doing that messes up my bike? Thanks for letting me know.
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Old 07-26-16, 10:59 AM
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I mean if you're in the big gear in the front and the biggest in the back and cross-chaining, there's a possibility that you could do damage. But cross-chaining is the extent of it...

Climb in whatever gear you want, but when you're going to hit that big/big combination, it might be time to shift the back OUT a few and the front IN one at the same time, etc.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by Liz33 View Post
Hello again
I just found out yesterday that I was going up the "hills" (just little elevations) in the wrong gears. No wonder I've been finding them so challenging and would wonder how could people go up those big hills I want to do so much. I'm not sure how to explain what I was doing, but basically, I was doing all the contrary to what you are supposed to do climbing. Good thing about it all is that I was for sure getting a heck of a workout like that lol
Anyway, I was getting stronger doing it that way and conquering little by little those elevations. When I tried it doing it in the right gear I couldn't believe how much easier it was for me to climb! So....I wondered last night about what if I just keep riding the way I was just for the sake of getting stronger and getting a bigger workout? Then whenever I use the right gear to go up a hill it will be a lot easier. But then I wondered, what if doing that messes up my bike? Thanks for letting me know.
It is bike riding, not weight lifting. Hammering up hills in big gears is inefficient. I would be more worried about the stress on my knees than I would about wearing out a chain, bottom bracket, or crankset.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
It is bike riding, not weight lifting.... I would be more worried about the stress on my knees
Lol that made me laugh... in a good way. I guess you are right, but I don't like weight lifting at the gym and I can feel for sure how much stronger I'm getting as I continue biking, so i just thought what if.....but yes, I didn't think about the stress on my knees. Thanks. I'll keep it in mind.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:12 AM
  #5  
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There is no wrong gear to climb in.


/thread
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Old 07-26-16, 11:12 AM
  #6  
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Do a search of "Spinning vs. Mashing"; lots of useful info available...
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Old 07-26-16, 11:17 AM
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You only get better at going up hills by going faster up hills. The gear doesn't matter. However, more efficient gears (say spinning instead of mashing) will allow you to go up hills further and more often.

No, you will not damage the bike.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:20 AM
  #8  
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The goal in climbing a hill is getting to the top. Unless you are the type of rider that worries more about a Stava KOM or segment and needs to get up that hill as fast as you can, use whatever gear you need to reach the top without damaging your knees or wearing out your legs. If you do either of those in the middle of a ride, it's not going to be a fun trip back to where you started.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:20 AM
  #9  
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Originally Posted by MRT2 View Post
I would be more worried about the stress on my knees than I would about wearing out a chain, bottom bracket, or crankset.
^^^ this

My 47-year-old knees always let me know when mashing and I need to shift into a smaller gear.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:26 AM
  #10  
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Originally Posted by John_V View Post
The goal in climbing a hill is getting to the top. Unless you are the type of rider that worries more about a Stava KOM or segment and needs to get up that hill as fast as you can, use whatever gear you need to reach the top without damaging your knees or wearing out your legs. If you do either of those in the middle of a ride, it's not going to be a fun trip back to where you started.
This. I had an epiphany some years ago about using lower gears on longer rides. It is easier to recover from a hill if you handle it in a lower gear. And quick recovery is important on longer rides.
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Old 07-26-16, 11:42 AM
  #11  
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Thank you everyone
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Old 07-26-16, 11:52 AM
  #12  
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Originally Posted by rmfnla View Post
Do a search of "Spinning vs. Mashing"; lots of useful info available...
Ohhhhh thanks. I Just read a little about it. I do both all the time. What I usually do is Mashing and then when I'm feeling like I'm going to be tired soon, I start spinning to rest my muscles while still pedaling and soon after that, I start mashing again to keep the speed and work out a little until I start feeling like I'm going to get tired again and I keep going from mashing to spinning back and forth all the time trying to keep the same velocity. That's how I can ride longer now without stopping, I kind of rest on the same bike lol
Hills is a different story....
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Old 07-26-16, 12:24 PM
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There is really no reason to work harder at climbing just to build up your legs strength. Cycling involves more than just your legs and by using lower gears on the bike, you still work out your legs, but heart and lungs too and they in return become more efficient together.

I tend to build momentum at the bottom of a short climb (say 1/2 mile or less) and then stand up and mash in about 2 gears higher than the "spinners" until I need to shift (if I need to shift), then I sit, shift and spin my way up the balance of the hill. This usually puts me at the top first but this certainly does not work on the longer climbs, because for those, only spinning works well.

The more I ride (almost a year so far) the more I see other riders spinning their way up the hills and think while my way is working for me, it might be draining me more than I realize.

Now, does that hurt the bike? Might stretch your chain and wear out your BB sooner than normal but like others have said, listen to your knees and show them love.
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Old 07-26-16, 12:50 PM
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W=FD
Work = Force X Distance

If you turn the crank 1000 times or 100 times to get from the bottom of the hill to the top in the second case you will be exerting 10 times the force per turn of the crank. The energy each way will be the same and the number of calories you burn will be the same.

Go to the gym and do 100 bench presses with 10 pounds and then do 10 with 100 pounds and do them over the same amount of time and decide if your body is better suited for one or the other.
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Old 07-26-16, 12:54 PM
  #15  
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Might break the chain. I've seen that happen exactly... once.

A fellow on the MUP was pulling a trailer with his kidlets. One of 'em dropped her doll. I retrieved it and handed it to the kidlet while dad had stopped the bike. When he started up again it was on an incline, in too big a gear and the chain snapped under the load. No biggie, they were within walking distance of their parked car.

But for most normally loaded bikes the chain will probably be strong enough to handle climbing in whatever gear feels comfortable to you.
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Old 07-26-16, 01:15 PM
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Doesn't hurt the bike; may hurt your knees.
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Old 07-26-16, 01:18 PM
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I think the biggest danger to the bike is if you realize you're in the wrong gear and shift the front derailleur under heavy load on the hill, which can damage the teeth on the chainring. I've seen the tips of the teeth on the chainring sheared off by the force of the chain as it is slipping down to the smaller gear. Also if you shift badly and throw the chain, you can do all kinds of damage, depending on where the chain ends up, and if you keep trying to pedal after it's slipped off.
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Old 07-26-16, 01:21 PM
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@canklecat Yup, my bike is definitely not normally loaded. It has 75 extra pounds that I need to lose lol so thanks, I'll be careful
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Old 07-26-16, 02:15 PM
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If it's a long hill you may want to mix it up. Spin for awhile in an easy gear, then stand and shift to a harder gear for a bit.
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Old 07-26-16, 04:15 PM
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Originally Posted by Liz33 View Post
So....I wondered last night about what if I just keep riding the way I was just for the sake of getting stronger and getting a bigger workout?
You won't get a better workout.

When climbing more than a highway overpass strength isn't your limit - it's aerobic capacity, or how fast you can clear waste products from your muscles.

Climbing mountains we're doing at least 3600 reps an hour, or 360 for a short 10 minute climb.

Building strength takes 8-12 reps of a weight you can just handle.

Your workout may be worse because you make less power and burn fewer calories due to being unable to recruit as many muscle fibers, premature fatigue, and injury to your knees which gets in the way of more riding.

But then I wondered, what if doing that messes up my bike? Thanks for letting me know.
No, although with big ring x largest cog a worn ring is more likely to cause an unintended shift to the small (or triple middle ring). You can crash when that happens out of the saddle with your weight forwards.
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Old 07-26-16, 05:52 PM
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Many of you guys would change your minds about what you wrote if you rode fixed gear. I ride 48-16 fixed gear regularly, as in 3 or 4 times per week, and over hilly terrain. It has made me a stronger climber.

@corrado33 in post number 7 and @indyfabz in post number 5 are the most accurate posts.

You may not get a better workout pushing a big gear but you will get a different workout. There is a time and a place for everything including pushing big gears up hills. It is an effective exercise, strengthening the muscles so that you can spin one or two gears higher at the same speed and cadence.

It is minimal risk to your knees once one is past the initial phase and starts to build strength. People hear about the risk and are told to always spin and they never learn to push a harder gear. They wind up in the smallest gear all the time.

Last edited by TimothyH; 07-26-16 at 05:56 PM.
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Old 07-27-16, 07:26 AM
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Your bike is ruined forever.
Ship it to me with 20$ processing fee and I'll properly dispose of it.
You're welcome.
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Old 07-27-16, 10:51 AM
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Originally Posted by kzin View Post
Your bike is ruined forever.
Ship it to me with 20$ processing fee and I'll properly dispose of it.
You're welcome.
Now this thread can be closed...
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Old 07-27-16, 10:59 AM
  #24  
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Originally Posted by TimothyH View Post
Many of you guys would change your minds about what you wrote if you rode fixed gear. I ride 48-16 fixed gear regularly, as in 3 or 4 times per week, and over hilly terrain. It has made me a stronger climber.
So would carrying a backpack full of lead weights with a few cinder blocks strapped on to the rear rack. I prefer not to unnecessarily make my bicycle riding a chore or an unpleasant bodybuilding task as if it were calisthenics or a spinning class ; to each their own though, eh?
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Old 07-27-16, 11:01 AM
  #25  
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No but it's hard on the engine.
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