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Why does one bike climb better than another?

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Why does one bike climb better than another?

Old 09-09-21, 09:42 AM
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BadgerOne
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Why does one bike climb better than another?

Loaded question, I know.

I have two bikes. One is a Breezer Doppler, the other is a Novara Buzz. Both are steel, both weigh almost exactly the same, both are sized and fitted correctly for me, both have fenders and a rack, both create a reasonably heads-up riding position, both are well maintained. Gearing is similar. Doppler has 650 X 47 wheel and tire combo, Buzz has 700 x 40.

I normally ride the Doppler, but took out the Buzz today to get some mileage under the tires. The thing feels like an absolute pig compared to the Doppler. Climbing is remarkably tougher and more exhausting on the Buzz. Even a slight change in incline and suddenly it feels like I'm pulling a trailer. I'm dropping gears and burning the quads. With the Doppler I usually don't even drop gears, I just give it a little more onion and keep cadence with no problem.

What could cause such remarkably different behavior on climbs? Rotating weight is of course a big one, but the wheel and tire combos of both bikes are close in weight. Is it all just a geometry game? What accounts for one bike climbing so much better or worse than another when the normal factors are all pretty close to one another?
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Old 09-09-21, 09:51 AM
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Originally Posted by BadgerOne View Post
What could cause such remarkably different behavior on climbs?
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Old 09-09-21, 10:18 AM
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Ever notice how riding up some inclines just feels faster than you’d expect? Maybe due to the angle of the hill and how it changes your position over the bike, or the additional resistance vs power vs gearing vs hp/torque ratio…. Could be lots of things, but different bikes sometimes feel a lot different on the same section of road or trail. Sometimes the faster/smoother/more comfortable (etc) bike is not the one we would have guessed it to be.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:25 AM
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Gear inches are different for the same gear due to different wheel size. A larger wheel diameter has to travel farther for the same pedal rotation.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Gear inches are different for the same gear due to different wheel size. A larger wheel diameter has to travel farther for the same pedal rotation.
Good point!
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Old 09-09-21, 10:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Gear inches are different for the same gear due to different wheel size. A larger wheel diameter has to travel farther for the same pedal rotation.
/end thread. Mystery solved.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:38 AM
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It might be the color also. That's really important, maybe.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:45 AM
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It's mainly down to total weight and gearing and tyres if they are dissimilar.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:52 AM
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Even though you might be properly fitted to each bike, one just might have you in a better relationship to the BB for the position you climb in to produce better power.

Though I'd favor that you haven't gotten use to what gear you need on that bike to produce your best power since you said you don't ride it often.

If the cassettes have the same size cogs along with the same chain rings and crank length and bike weight, then that leaves the wheel diameter as the big difference too that you will perceive. Smaller wheels make the same gear ratio easier to pedal.

Everyone I know that have ridden bike with a 650 road tire say that they were more sporty handling and maneuverable compared to their 700c bikes. I've never ridden a bike with 650 road tires so I don't know.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Gear inches are different for the same gear due to different wheel size. A larger wheel diameter has to travel farther for the same pedal rotation.
True, but the gearing isn't identical. Even when I drop gears the Buzz still makes me work for it in a big way.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:55 AM
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I have a Doppler, and I had a Buzz— an ‘04 aluminum model— until about three months ago, and I’d prefer to say that the Doppler, which is a 30lbs stock bike, is good to climb on, rather than saying it climbs well. I think the reason it’s good to climb on is due to the comfort factor; it’s the right geo for my riding style, the 48c rubber is smooth, and the gearing is low enough for me to pedal at a comfortable cadence on most of my climbs. The Doppler feels good to me.

I particularly like the Doppler on gravel climbs, I think for the longish wheelbase, but to be clear, the Doppler does not climb fast.
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Old 09-09-21, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by seypat View Post
It might be the color also. That's really important, maybe.
Dammit, I knew buying a matte gray bike was a bad idea. It's just so....ordinary. Maybe I should try painting it a fluorescent yellow/hot pink fade and see what that does. Clearly the electric blue metallic is working for the Doppler. Krylon rattle cans, here I come!
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Old 09-09-21, 10:55 AM
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maybe one has a sharper fork? Really grabs at the hill versus pecking into it..
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Old 09-09-21, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by chaadster View Post
I have a Doppler, and I had a Buzz— an ‘04 aluminum model— until about three months ago, and I’d prefer to say that the Doppler, which is a 30lbs stock bike, is good to climb on, rather than saying it climbs well. I think the reason it’s good to climb on is due to the comfort factor; it’s the right geo for my riding style, the 48c rubber is smooth, and the gearing is low enough for me to pedal at a comfortable cadence on most of my climbs. The Doppler feels good to me.

I particularly like the Doppler on gravel climbs, I think for the longish wheelbase, but to be clear, the Doppler does not climb fast.
My thoughts exactly and better worded than my original post. The Doppler may be a lot more manageable and comfortable on the climbs than the Buzz, but it's all relative. It is still a slug compared to my Ti road bike, and it had better be.
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Old 09-09-21, 11:03 AM
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Originally Posted by BadgerOne View Post
Dammit, I knew buying a matte gray bike was a bad idea. It's just so....ordinary. Maybe I should try painting it a fluorescent yellow/hot pink fade and see what that does. Clearly the electric blue metallic is working for the Doppler. Krylon rattle cans, here I come!
Matte gray? What were you thinking?
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Old 09-09-21, 11:04 AM
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Bright red or bright orange is the fastest!
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Old 09-09-21, 11:05 AM
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Originally Posted by Troul View Post
maybe one has a sharper fork? Really grabs at the hill versus pecking into it..
Hmm...I like that. The Pecker fork. Maybe even some slick marketing and call it the Sharpecker. Not to be confused with the Cannondale Pepperoni but in the same spirit as the Ibis Hakkalugi.

Wanna preorder one from my Kickstarter page?
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Old 09-09-21, 11:16 AM
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Originally Posted by MattTheHat View Post
Matte gray? What were you thinking?
REI was never known for commissioning bikes that were exactly attractive....it's probably what they had the most of/was the cheapest in the Chinese factory. It might have been off white to start, but they left it out in the urban pollution for a week and environmental fallout turned it this color.

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Old 09-09-21, 11:19 AM
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Originally Posted by BadgerOne View Post
Hmm...I like that. The Pecker fork. Maybe even some slick marketing and call it the Sharpecker. Not to be confused with the Cannondale Pepperoni but in the same spirit as the Ibis Hakkalugi.

Wanna preorder one from my Kickstarter page?
nah, I'm waiting on the Sharrtork. Uses a special gas for the cylinders & is supposedly a blast of an experience.
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Old 09-09-21, 11:41 AM
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difference in tires rolling resistance.
difference in geometry which affects feel.
difference in bike weight.


Take your pick. Probably more possibilities too.
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Old 09-09-21, 12:01 PM
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Originally Posted by livedarklions View Post
/end thread. Mystery solved.
Ha. As if.
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Old 09-09-21, 12:13 PM
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Originally Posted by Hermes View Post
Gear inches are different for the same gear due to different wheel size. A larger wheel diameter has to travel farther for the same pedal rotation.
Probably not a big factor here. Wide 650b tires tend to have higher volumes than narrower 700c tires and, as a result, the difference in overall wheel diameter is often minimal. Also, he never said that he has the same gearing on both bikes.
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Old 09-09-21, 02:38 PM
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The bikes I tend to see going faster uphill tend to be piloted by a rider not named DBT.
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Old 09-09-21, 02:59 PM
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Ha! Mine was a matte grey, too!


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Old 09-09-21, 05:27 PM
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I guess it might help to know if you timed each bike up the same climb.

John
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