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Bike for climbing hills

Old 07-18-08, 10:43 AM
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supton
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Bike for climbing hills

I wouldn't call this mountainous terrain around here, but there are plenty of short steep hills it seems. I figure it's good training. But we just had a kids bike trailer given to us, and I'm tempted to try to bike more while pulling the kids. That's the rub: our mountain bike is a bit too small (which makes it good for trails), and is not what I enjoy cranking up a hill. Especially while standing. And it's a bit worse for wear anyhow. Would something like a Surly LHT (or similar; a road bike but meant for loaded work, with wide gearing and moderately wide tires) be much better for road riding?

I've toyed with using my current road bike, but between the skinny tires which would totally not work in dirt and lack of truly deep gearing, I've not bothered. 25mm tires w/no tread, while pulling a trailer around anything other than pavement? Deepest gear is about 32 gear inches (30x25, 700c rims). The MTB goes down to 22 gear inches (24x28), which I haven't used yet, but I've been standing in the 30 gear inch gear to climb hills already. Besides, it's my fast bike, so I really don't want to mess with it. Everyone needs more than one bike, right?
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Old 07-18-08, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by supton View Post
....Everyone needs more than one bike, right?
Yes, everyone needs more than one bike. I've built some very strange looking bikes, in an attempt to make an all purpose bike.
I've currently got a mountain bike, retrofitted with BMX handlebars and riding on 26"x2.125" slicks,
A semi recumbent bike with a fiberglass cargo box, which I use as a Utility bike,
A BMX with a 1982 Suzuki GS fairing with two 50 watt headlights, 4 marker lights and 4 directional blinkers. And I replaced the rear hub with a 3-speed.
And I've got an Electric Bike with front and rear baskets that I use for grocery shopping.
I've also got a Nordic Trac fitness bike and an automatic transmission Autobike, that I don't use but I figured they'd be collectors items someday.

What I don't have is a road bike. I had two road bikes, but my Mother gave them away to the Mexican landscapers. They were cheap "sport touring" bikes, neither good for racing nor touring.
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Old 07-18-08, 01:35 PM
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J.C. Koto
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You seem to be looking for an excuse to buy a Long Haul Trucker. If so, than just do it! (Even if you have to sell the kids and ditch the trailer J/K)

...If not, pretty much any bike will do, provided it has a low enough gear, and toe clearance to avoid any toe overlap on those tough hills ("whatcha sayin, Willis"). If I were you, and since you need to hit those hills, I'd look for something that has a generous mountain triple and long(er) cranks. This will give the double-whammy leverage advantage for nailing those steep hills with the trailer and kids. My MTB has short cranks, and I never realized how much I really hate them until I got my LHT.

One thing to keep in mind: some hills are literally impossible to climb with a load, unless you have enough momentum. Too low a gear will spin out, and too high will require *way* too much torque to even think about pedaling. I don't know how steep and what terrain you have there, but it's something to think about. Especially with kids in the back.
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Old 07-19-08, 12:11 PM
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supton
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I originally thought about an LHT before I got my Pilot--so it's still high on my list.

The hills are short but seemingly steep. And often there seems to be one every 5 minutes. One of these days I'm going to get an inclinometer--I saw one at Home Depot--and try measuring, for the fun of it. You know, stop half way up, take a measurement or two. When I've looked on mapmyride, it seems most are 3-5%, but I suspect they are too short for it to show up properly. At any rate, there are times when I feel like standing on my regular bike!

I did some mapmyride mapping in the past, and my "flat" ride, 20mile round trip, had something like 800 or 1000' of climbing. I'd like to take the trailer on that sometime, as there are some reasonably flat sections, and a really nice shoulder. For reference, my 26mile "hilly" ride came in at 1800', including one hill with an 8% warning on it (which shows up after a couple miles of 3%). Doesn't seem like much, but by golly, I wore myself out today doing on my unloaded road bike.
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Old 07-19-08, 02:40 PM
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It's going to depend on how fast you want to get up those hills. On a light road bike on which you are properly-positioned, you can go up hills faster than you usually can even on an unloaded touring bike. A touring bike is meant for going up hills just the same, except that the emphasis is on low gearing. Low gearing gets you up the hills easier, but slower. But if you're going to be pulling any kind of trailer, I don't think you have much choice but to get a bike that has very low gearing. This won't usually be even a road bike that comes with a triple (these are usually racing triples, not touring ones). The gears aren't low enough for touring type riding.
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