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Questions about Gears and Climbing

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Questions about Gears and Climbing

Old 04-14-21, 05:23 AM
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SoFloGirl68
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Questions about Gears and Climbing

My daughter (age 21) and I are going to be driving from Portland, OR to Irvine, CA and stopping along the way to do various rides of 20-40 miles. We are from South Florida so we ride almost completely flat trails here. We are looking for routes that don't have too much elevation gains because we know we are not prepared for big climbs but we know, realistically we will have elevation gains to deal with. I'm riding a 2012 Surly Disc Trucker but my daughter has an old Raleigh Venture with 7 speeds and the gears are small. We went to a local bike shop (for another reason) and ended up looking at some bikes they had in stock. She REALLY liked the Giant Roam 2. However, it only has 9 gears but the back ones are much larger. Other differences are the new bike has 700c wheels (hers has 26") and new bike has disc brakes (hers has rim brakes). My main question is will this bike be reasonably better than her current one for climbing. We hope to keep our elevation gains to 2000-3000 ft over the 20-40 miles. We both ride regularly and don't expect a new bike to be magic. We're not too proud to walk our bikes up the hill, we just want to get as far up the hill as we can before that happens!

Gears on possible new bike.

Gears on current bike.
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Old 04-14-21, 06:26 AM
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freeranger
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The more teeth on the largest cog of the rear cassette, and the less teeth on the small front chainring, the easier it will be to climb a hill. You want something with a 1 to 1 ratio, or less. So if the large cog on the rear has 34 teeth, you would want the small front chainring to have 34 teeth, or less. Most modern bikes will be geared like this. The number of gears on the rear doesn't make it climb any better, it just makes the ratios between shifts closer together, so there is less of a "jump" between shifts. But it does make the effort spent from one gear to another less when going from one gear to the next. Of course, other factors also determine how well a bike will climb, hope I've simplified the gear end of things tho.

Last edited by freeranger; 04-14-21 at 06:34 AM.
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Old 04-14-21, 07:49 AM
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Kapusta
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Without giving us numbers to work with, this is really not answerable.

tell us what the chainring sizes and cassette ranges the two bikes have. Or at the very least, what the smallest ring and biggest cogs are.

And what are you going to be riding on? The road or trails?
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Old 04-14-21, 08:06 AM
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prj71
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The picture of the Roam above shows a 1x setup.

Giants site indicates 11 x 36 with 40T chain ring. Hills might be a little difficult

https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/roam-2-disc-2021

If the shop happens to have a Giant FastRoad in stock...that would work better on the hills.
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Old 04-14-21, 08:59 AM
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If your daughter likes the Roam, the Roam 3 disc specs show a 30/46 crankset and 11x34 cassette, meaning the large cog on the back is 34 teeth, small chainring on front is 30--this would be good for climbing. The Giant Escape 2 disc has the same gearing, is a slightly different style of frame, might be another she could consider. You might find other brands in your area to try. Just remember for climbing, you want the smaller front chainring to be the same, or less, number of teeth than the large cog on the rear cassette.
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Old 04-14-21, 09:19 AM
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Moisture
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In all honesty, the heavy and useless suntour fork on the roam will easily negate any potential benefit you might gain from slightly improved gearing in the rear cassette.
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Old 04-14-21, 09:23 AM
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I would not choose a bike like the Roam for the type of riding you plan to do. For a bit more money the ToughRoad offers much better gearing and dispenses with the heavy suspension fork:
https://www.giant-bicycles.com/us/toughroad-slr-2
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Old 04-14-21, 09:28 AM
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If both her and you in decent riding shape and when riding there in the flat lands and y'all are riding mostly on the smaller half of the rear cassette or freewheel (high gear ratios) then both of you will probably do well enough on the hills of any route you've considered that doesn't have real steep grades.
But there might be sections of a route that has mostly easy grades where for even as short as 20 or 50 feet you encounter a really steep grade that will cause any of us to grunt a little. No shame having to walk that if you aren't prepared.

Some places do have shops that rent bikes. I've none near me that do, I've been to other places that do. Might be worth checking into. Buying a bike or changing your current bikes specifically to handle those hills might leave you with a bike that isn't geared well for most of your riding where you live. Just make sure your bikes shift easily and correctly to all the gear combos possible.


Though I'm not against owning more than one bike.

Last edited by Iride01; 04-14-21 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 04-14-21, 09:41 AM
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It's not the number of gears in the back that's important as much as the number of teeth (the "size") of the cassette and crank. You generally want larger cassettes and smaller cranks for climbing.

If you can count the number of teeth on the individual cogs and crank rings, you can use a gear calculator (such as https://sheldonbrown.com/gears ). Gear inches is the traditional way to compare gears: over 100 gear inches is fine for pedaling downhill during a race, less than 20 gear inches and you can pull stumps -- at least figuratively. If your small chain ring has as many teeth as your largest cog in the back, you'll have a low gear of 27 gear inches; that's fine for short, moderate hills while you're fresh and not carrying much of a load. If you want to see what it's like to climb a long, steep mountain at the end of a long day, or a shorter easier climb while carrying camping gear, you'll want something like your LHT that's approaching a 20 gear inch low.
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Old 04-14-21, 09:53 AM
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I would think 46-30 chainrings with an 11, or 12-36 would be a good choice. Keep in mind the more you ride the stronger you’ll get.

I’m assuming your are coming down the 5 and then heading to the 101. Hit the wine country, maybe north of San Francisco, lots of nice riding in Santa Cruz mountains, Monterey, San Luis Obispo, but you can always go inland to Yosemite and ride the valley. But you will have options as to how much or little climbing you need or want to do. Irvine is relatively flat.

I’m sure others can talk about Oregon and Northern California.

Have fun.

John
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Old 04-14-21, 10:04 AM
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If you come down I-5, you’ll have 400 miles where the steepest climb is going to be an overpass.
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Old 04-14-21, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by SoFloGirl68 View Post
My main question is will this bike be reasonably better than her current one for climbing.



Gears on possible new bike.

Gears on current bike.
Just looking at the pics, heck yeah the new bike will be better for climbing. It's not a climbing race bike per say, but looks much better than the old bike.

Just the bike frame itself looks much better than what is shown in the old pic as far as the frame and style of bike. The old on is a tank from what I can see. Not to be snobbish, just honest. I think the new bike actually looks like a much better bike overall. And the 40/36 combo should be more than enough to get you over the gentle climbs in the area. One can add up some gain on the rolling hills around Irvine.


Nice bike and as you said, if you have to walk up a steep one, no biggie. But you'll be returning to Florida so you only have to sweat it out one weekend.

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Old 04-14-21, 01:52 PM
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One thing to keep in mind besides gearing is that people unaccustomed to climbing often go way too hard uphill and exhaust themselves quickly. Pace your climbs and avoid pushing so hard that you feel like you're at your limit. You won't get any breaks on a climb the way you can on flat terrain. Any bit more that you can ride instead of walk is a victory.
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Old 04-14-21, 01:59 PM
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Hey OP. Look for some local Bridges that you can ride ride laps on and give it a go.
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Old 04-14-21, 04:42 PM
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Gearing

Without knowing the number of teeth (both front and rear) and wheel size of each bike, we can't really help.

Once you know there there are many calculators (Like This One) that will allow you to do a comparison.

Barry
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Old 04-14-21, 04:54 PM
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UCantTouchThis
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Originally Posted by Barry2 View Post
Without knowing the number of teeth (both front and rear) and wheel size of each bike, we can't really help.

Once you know there there are many calculators (Like This One) that will allow you to do a comparison.

Barry
So, the front chainring imo looks the same size in the images. 40 according to the website.
The frame is much better seeing the old bike is a step through.
The rear tire looks much more narrow on the new bike. The rims as well vs the MTB looking wide tires on the old bike with wide rims.
The low gear on the new bike looks like a lasagna dish, sure it's a pretty good low gear, 36 according to the website.
The new frame is alum vs the old one that looks like a Wally World steel tensile frame (Raleigh).
The new bike has disc brakes vs the old school brakes on the old Raleigh.

This is a no brainer imo, of which will climb better. Just looking at the images, I'd rather ride the Giant on hilly ground. Though I would pass on the front suspension if it were my choice.
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Old 04-14-21, 05:06 PM
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SoFloGirl68
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I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who responded. I really appreciate you taking the time and I got a lot of helpful advice and things to think about!
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