Go Back  Bike Forums > Bike Forums > General Cycling Discussion
Reload this Page >

What makes a great climbing bike?

Notices
General Cycling Discussion Have a cycling related question or comment that doesn't fit in one of the other specialty forums? Drop on in and post in here! When possible, please select the forum above that most fits your post!

What makes a great climbing bike?

Old 04-16-20, 01:36 PM
  #1  
RockiesDad
Senior Member
Thread Starter
 
Join Date: Oct 2015
Location: Bay Area, CA
Posts: 390
Mentioned: 3 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 199 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 11 Times in 9 Posts
What makes a great climbing bike?

Okay we all know that wheels/tires combo, a weight weenie bike and not to exclude the engine riding it makes any bike climb hills better. But what else is there on a bike that makes it a good climber? My guess is probably the frame geometry and stiffness in places that matter. So where are these magic areas? Is it shorter chain stays, shorter wheel base, huge BB etc? By looking at a geo chart, what would give me an indication its a good climbing bike, if there is such a thing? What characteristics do the pros look for when riding long and steep climbs? Just wondering...
RockiesDad is offline  
Old 04-16-20, 02:12 PM
  #2  
HTupolev
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: Seattle
Posts: 3,354
Mentioned: 36 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1508 Post(s)
Liked 390 Times in 221 Posts
The big ones are adequate gearing, light weight, and a good climbing posture.
Adequate gearing is probably the most oft-neglected thing in the road world. Bottoming out your gearing can cost a lot of power, even if you're trying to ride hard.

Tire rolling resistance matters, albeit usually less so than on flat ground.

On unpaved surfaces, short chainstays can be helpful in keeping the rear wheel planted, especially when getting out of the saddle (people usually bring their weight forward and pedal with more choppiness when riding out of the saddle). Beyond that, geometric factors across production bikes are usually minor enough to not matter overly much: a road bike with a 68-degree head angle and 90mm of trail would feel pretty floppy when you're rocking the bike around, but nobody makes road bikes like that.

Marketing and tradition would hold that a huge amount of stiffness is important for climbing due to power transfer, but the reality seems to be more complicated. You'll notice that nobody ever publishes measurements of the purported losses, and furthermore, it's not obvious that bicycle reviewers really know what they're talking about where stiffness is concerned.
There is some evidence that frame flex can have meaningful physiological interaction with a rider's pedaling. This isn't well-understood, but it doesn't seem to be as simple as stiffer = better.
HTupolev is offline  
Likes For HTupolev:
Old 04-16-20, 02:27 PM
  #3  
gregf83 
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: Vancouver, BC
Posts: 8,988
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1051 Post(s)
Liked 174 Times in 104 Posts
Provided they fit there is very little difference in how bikes of the same weight climb. Obviously lighter bikes go up a little faster. Stiffness, wheelbase etc are all pretty much irrelevant.
gregf83 is offline  
Old 04-16-20, 02:36 PM
  #4  
Andrew Sullivan
Junior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2020
Posts: 11
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 2 Post(s)
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Combo tires, wheels and less weight. Thats it
Andrew Sullivan is offline  
Old 04-16-20, 02:49 PM
  #5  
Paul Barnard
For The Fun of It
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: Louisissippi Coast
Posts: 4,375

Bikes: Lynskey Backroad, Litespeed T6, Lynskey MT29, Burley Duet

Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1262 Post(s)
Liked 455 Times in 236 Posts
The rider.
Paul Barnard is offline  
Likes For Paul Barnard:
Old 04-16-20, 03:15 PM
  #6  
hillyman 
WALSTIB
 
hillyman's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Posts: 1,737
Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 249 Post(s)
Liked 307 Times in 145 Posts
Dr Ferrari
__________________
hillyman is offline  
Likes For hillyman:
Old 04-16-20, 09:07 PM
  #7  
50PlusCycling
Senior Member
 
50PlusCycling's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2018
Posts: 306
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 134 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 42 Times in 25 Posts
Light weight and big gears. When I was racing, we had special bikes we used to ride in mountain stages. These had lighter wheels, latex tube, lighter tires, and larger sprockets on the freewheel, and we carried as little as we could get away with. The worst of the climbs was the Alto Angliru in Spain, where some riders used triples and mountain bike cassettes. In those days pretty much every bike used Campy components, so our driveline options were limited.
50PlusCycling is offline  
Old 04-16-20, 09:27 PM
  #8  
texaspandj
Senior Member
 
texaspandj's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2015
Location: Heart Of Texas
Posts: 3,815

Bikes: '86 , '87 , '88 , '89 Centurion Dave Scott Ironman.

Mentioned: 99 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1391 Post(s)
Liked 299 Times in 208 Posts
A compact feeling bike/frame. I've found a one size smaller frame seems to do it...
outside of the things already mentioned.
texaspandj is offline  
Old 04-16-20, 10:45 PM
  #9  
AdkMtnMonster
Airplanes, bikes, beer.
 
Join Date: Jan 2020
Location: Off the front
Posts: 282

Bikes: Canyon Endurace CF SL 8.0

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 152 Post(s)
Liked 326 Times in 127 Posts
Agreed that a properly sized (or slightly small) frame feels much more nimble when the road points upward compared to a long, stretched out bike. Also, a head tube that is at the right angle (with a matched fork and corresponding rake) which feels stable out of the saddle at lower speeds whilst you’re stomping away, out of the saddle, clawing your way up the steepest grade any man has ever had the guts to scale, all the while swearing, sweating and spitting, determined to get that KOM this time... well, lads, *THAT* is what makes a bike a great climber. That, and a couple of sinewy, monstrous thighs.
AdkMtnMonster is online now  
Old 04-17-20, 06:45 AM
  #10  
tgenec86
Rouleur
 
tgenec86's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2019
Location: Central NY
Posts: 144

Bikes: Felt FC (SRAM Red), Nashbar Carbon (SRAM Red), Felt BR2 (SRAM Red), Salsa El Mariachi 29'er - solid steel, Peugeot PX-10 1972

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 70 Post(s)
Liked 141 Times in 56 Posts
A great climbing bike is the easy part. Lightweight, nimble, tight wheelbase, proper gearing. A great climber is an entirely different story. Think Egan Bernal... Slight, wiry, blessed with the right ratio of slow / fast twitch muscle fiber, large lung capacity, and a high VO2 Max. Some of us climb all the time, but have nothing but slow twitch and naturally well developed aZZes... I do the sweating, swearing, spitting determination part with the best of them, but that KOM still remains a minute out of my grasp - and that's pushing up to 375-400 watts. Ces't la vie...
tgenec86 is offline  
Likes For tgenec86:
Old 04-17-20, 07:28 AM
  #11  
Kabuki12
Senior Member
 
Kabuki12's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2016
Location: Ventura County ,California
Posts: 1,020

Bikes: 1973 Windsor Profesional,1976 Kabuki diamond formula with full Campy, 1977 Raleigh Competition GS , 1971 Stella original Campy equip. 1978 Raleigh Super Grand Prix, 1972 Italvega Gran Rally ,1972 Super Mondia Special,Medici Pro Strada

Mentioned: 13 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 226 Post(s)
Liked 257 Times in 179 Posts
A bike with a motor!
Kabuki12 is offline  
Likes For Kabuki12:
Old 04-17-20, 05:10 PM
  #12  
TiHabanero
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2012
Posts: 3,023
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1036 Post(s)
Liked 304 Times in 171 Posts
A friend of mine was on a team sponsored by Bridgestone. CAT 2 level racing out in Colorado. Their mountain stage bikes were simply standard geometry with the exception of shorter chain stays. Gearing was lower and lighter wheels. That was it.

My personal favorite climber is the V11 Moto Guzzi parked in my garage. Really climbs well! Aside from that my touring bike is next favorite climber due to the low gearing options available. Will be putting a 36/50 crank on the road bike this summer (new frame) and will compare that to the touring rig for climbing.
TiHabanero is offline  
Old 04-17-20, 08:17 PM
  #13  
thehammerdog
Senior Member
 
thehammerdog's Avatar
 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: NWNJ
Posts: 3,152

Bikes: Road bike is a Carbon Bianchi C2C & Grandis (1980's), Gary Fisher Mt Bike, Trek Tandem & Mongoose SS MTB circa 1992.

Mentioned: 6 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 423 Post(s)
Liked 114 Times in 82 Posts
Originally Posted by RockiesDad View Post
Okay we all know that wheels/tires combo, a weight weenie bike and not to exclude the engine riding it makes any bike climb hills better. But what else is there on a bike that makes it a good climber? My guess is probably the frame geometry and stiffness in places that matter. So where are these magic areas? Is it shorter chain stays, shorter wheel base, huge BB etc? By looking at a geo chart, what would give me an indication its a good climbing bike, if there is such a thing? What characteristics do the pros look for when riding long and steep climbs? Just wondering...
a small light fellow with big lungs and powerful legs.
thehammerdog is offline  
Likes For thehammerdog:
Old 04-17-20, 08:35 PM
  #14  
CAT7RDR
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Hacienda Hgts
Posts: 699

Bikes: 1999 Schwinn Peloton Ultegra 10, Kestrel RT-1000 Ultegra, Trek Marlin 6 Deore 29'er

Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 235 Post(s)
Liked 388 Times in 229 Posts
For the other 90% like myself who have no aspirations of ever racing or grabbing a KOM, a bike that tracks well, is solid on the descents, and I can ride all day in comfort, is a great climbing bike. Oh yeah, give me adequate gearing with a lazy susan cassette and compact crank set to get my bellowing carcass over the top as I heave.
CAT7RDR is online now  
Likes For CAT7RDR:
Old 04-18-20, 03:22 PM
  #15  
Fredo_Adagio
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2019
Location: Smithfield, Virginia
Posts: 115
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 51 Post(s)
Liked 62 Times in 38 Posts
It's the rider.

The gradient has to be severe for the bike to make much of a difference.


That being said, the gearing is important. I like the third chainring on my touring bike.
Fredo_Adagio is offline  
Old 04-19-20, 06:27 AM
  #16  
Germanrazor
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2019
Posts: 220

Bikes: Trek Madone

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 77 Post(s)
Liked 58 Times in 41 Posts
I am sorry but I will be the flamer here.....other than some of the things posted here it comes down to the rider and their physical condition. I can see a pro or even an good amateur on a GMC Denali < el piece of junk in my book, outride many up a climb on a tour riders highest of high end < simpleton terms there, bike that is even dialed in for the weekend warrior.

Yes, there are many things that go into that right mix but ultimately if you have the genetics of a climber, then a Sears CroMo frame will be better than anything of professional status to a weekend warrior.

I would say get out and ride and train for climbs and they will come easier. Bottom line, people hate climbs but love the back side of one. I like a rolling terrain rather than constant flats as they are boring. Extreme climbs......shooooo, glad they only happen every so often.
Germanrazor is online now  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.