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Bay Area, Compact cranks? and climbing cadence question.

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Bay Area, Compact cranks? and climbing cadence question.

Old 07-26-10, 11:19 AM
  #1  
Hapsmo911
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Bay Area, Compact cranks? and climbing cadence question.

I bought my first road bike 6 months ago. It came with a standard crank set. I have riden at least 20 miles per day since. I would like to do all the local climbs in the Bay Area. I switched my rear cassette to an 11-28 after my first attempt at Hicks Rd near my house. It killed me with the stock rings. It works a lot better with the new cassette. I cant make it to the top without stopping but I can spin 60 or so on the steep parts.
My question is, should I swap the cranks with compact cranks? Or tough it out and ride the double, lose weight <currently 6' 205> till I gain my fitness? I like to spin over 90 on the flats and am wondering if I shouldn't be spinning faster on the hills? If you like to spin what can one expect to spin on up to 8% grades and then 8%+ grades? Thanks.
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Old 07-26-10, 11:33 AM
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It's a matter of preference, and how much you climb. Chainrings are pretty durable. If it's tough, but not causing you pain (knees), I'd wait it out.

Remember that Hicks is an outlier in that it's steep like that (15%) for extended distances. Most climbs are 5-8% with bumps up to 10 or 12. But they're bumps, not a half mile at 15%.
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Old 07-26-10, 12:45 PM
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I've given up on my compact crank with my 11-28 cassette. The hills I like to do around here are 17-19% and are 1/3 to 1/2 mile long. I can hardly turn my pedals over with the 34/28, much less "spin".

I'm having my LBS install a 10 speed MTB RD to accommodate a 11-34 cassette.

I have a PT and it has shown me that I can generate more power at higher cadences. I think that it will be especially true on hills where I've been mashing my 34/28.

If you're actually stopping because your gearing is too high, I would suggest changing to a compact crankset.
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Old 07-26-10, 12:55 PM
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IMO you should use the setup which makes it easiest for you to ride where you're most likely to ride. Your goals are the most important consideration. If you enjoy/look forward to riding that steep section now, make the swap. (If you're riding Shimano, RoboChem's route should also work. The parts can be bought on eBay.)

Maybe take some time to think thru what you want to ride. Others can make equipment recommendations, but only you can define your goals.

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Old 07-26-10, 01:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Hapsmo911 View Post
I cant make it to the top without stopping
get a compact.
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Old 07-26-10, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by RoboCheme View Post
I've given up on my compact crank with my 11-28 cassette.
you have a plan for that compact crank?


i've often asked myself this same question. more than once on hicks coincidentally.. i think the general consensus is lower gearing on climbs is a good idea. in my own experience i've noted climbing with a higher cadence / lower gear generally results in a lower heart rate if nothing else. like ericm979 says, if you can't make it to the top without stopping, you're probably over-geared.

you can sort of use a lower grade climb to test for yourself. find a hill you can spin up in your 39x28 and rinse/repeat with harder gears noting your time and HR on each effort. it won't necessarily answer your question but may give you some insight into what combination of gearing and cadence works best for you.
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Old 07-26-10, 02:59 PM
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I bought a bike with a double setup and though the same thing. After saying it several more times to myself I realized the question wasn't so much about hardware as it is about your own dedication and patience. Unfortunately I wasn't patient enough, but I was fortunate enough to have a double crankset with a 110mm BCD so I was able to convert by swapping the chain rings.

The trick is, going up hills in your easiest gear gives you no option but to work hard. When you spin your comfortable 90rpm on the flats you aren't putting yourself to that much stress on yourself to improve. It takes a lot more dedication and focus to get the same workout on a flat than it does to ride a hill. So, if you are impatient and not so dedicated as I was, get the compact. If you don't mind riding that same old semi flat route and really focusing on improving and putting in high efforts, you could probably stick with the double and be fine. Now that I've been riding in more high speed group rides, I've been noticing a lot more doubles..
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Old 07-26-10, 03:00 PM
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Originally Posted by bam View Post
you have a plan for that compact crank?


i've often asked myself this same question. more than once on hicks coincidentally.. i think the general consensus is lower gearing on climbs is a good idea. in my own experience i've noted climbing with a higher cadence / lower gear generally results in a lower heart rate if nothing else. like ericm979 says, if you can't make it to the top without stopping, you're probably over-geared.

you can sort of use a lower grade climb to test for yourself. find a hill you can spin up in your 39x28 and rinse/repeat with harder gears noting your time and HR on each effort. it won't necessarily answer your question but may give you some insight into what combination of gearing and cadence works best for you.
Bad wording - I've given up on the 11-28 cassette; I'm keeping the compact. I've used the 11-28 cassette with my triple bike and the 30/28 low gear helped a lot. My future 34/34 low gear should be wonderful.
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Old 07-26-10, 03:16 PM
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Originally Posted by RoboCheme View Post
Bad wording - I've given up on the 11-28 cassette; I'm keeping the compact. I've used the 11-28 cassette with my triple bike and the 30/28 low gear helped a lot. My future 34/34 low gear should be wonderful.
Welcome to the club. My last build has a compact 50/34 and an IRD 11/34 cassette (Campagnolo). Very handy for me on the longer, steeper ride sections, and easily ignored for everything else. The 50/11 gives me more than enough top end for my needs, and the last cog before the 34 bailout is a 28 so the 34/28 works well for all the "in-between" stuff.

Works well for me, but then I'm a poor climber and you'd probably be best served by ignoring anything I have to say on the subject.
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Old 07-26-10, 03:35 PM
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I ran across this web page last week and it seemed really appropriate to this discussion:

http://users.frii.com/katana/biketext.html

But to add my two cents, I got my first road bike four years ago with a compact crankset and a 12-25 cassette in the rear. I rode this setup for quite a while and was happy with the gearing on hill climbs. My original cassette wore out and I replaced it with an 11-26 and I found the extra low gear useful even as I became a stronger rider.

This spring I converted over to a standard crankset paired with 11-28 in the rear (long story worthy of its own thread). My low gear now (39x28) is equivalent to a 34x24.4 if you can imagine a hypothetical rear sprocket with fractional teeth

Anyway I've been able to get by with the standard crank only due to being a lot fitter than I was four years ago. The thing is that as your cadence goes up so does your power output. Likewise if your cadence goes down, power output drops too (see the graphs on that link above). So I have taller gearing now but I am climbing hills at a faster speed than I used to and thus my cadence is about the same and still within a relatively efficient RPM range. However I still would've been better suited with lower gearing on last weekend's ride (see the "southbay steep" thread).

So to answer your question, Hapsmo, it sounds like compact gearing would be better for you. Some might take pride in climbing hills in ultra big gears but it's not really a meaningful statistic. It's more meaningful to have an efficient range of gearing for the type of riding you want to do. And I dare say it's more meaningful to get the satisfaction of climbing a hill all the way to the top without stopping. The more of those you conquer the more you'll want to keep riding and the stronger you'll get.
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Old 07-26-10, 04:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Hapsmo911 View Post
I bought my first road bike 6 months ago. It came with a standard crank set. I have riden at least 20 miles per day since. I would like to do all the local climbs in the Bay Area. I switched my rear cassette to an 11-28 after my first attempt at Hicks Rd near my house. It killed me with the stock rings. It works a lot better with the new cassette. I cant make it to the top without stopping but I can spin 60 or so on the steep parts.
My question is, should I swap the cranks with compact cranks? Or tough it out and ride the double, lose weight <currently 6' 205> till I gain my fitness? I like to spin over 90 on the flats and am wondering if I shouldn't be spinning faster on the hills? If you like to spin what can one expect to spin on up to 8% grades and then 8%+ grades? Thanks.
Stay with the standard crank. You are just needing to improve fitness and strength. Personally my times up Hicks are faster on a standard then on a compact It is a difficult climb. Im about your size, love to spin on flats, but climbing at 200lbs is never easy. I really prefer the other climbs in the Bay Area. Climbs like Alpine, Tunitas Creek, Old La Honda, Hwy 9. 20 miles a day is not gonna do a whole lot for you. You need to get some longer rides in, and some longer climbs. I usually climb Hwy 9 once a week during the week. Its just around 2 hours from the front door round trip. By the way we are neighbors so if ya wanna ride let me know.

Sorry just reread your post and it says at least 20 miles per day.

Sean
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Old 07-26-10, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by RoboCheme View Post
Bad wording - I've given up on the 11-28 cassette; I'm keeping the compact. I've used the 11-28 cassette with my triple bike and the 30/28 low gear helped a lot. My future 34/34 low gear should be wonderful.
ah, after re-reading your post and catching the MTB RD bit it makes sense. i had Frankensteined my steel road bike with something like a 28 or 26 inner chain ring and 12-27 cassette. you can climb just about anything with that! even hicks. but i would still like to A/B a standard vs compact on my plastic bike and see what the combination of low gearing and lightweight would do.
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Old 07-26-10, 05:05 PM
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Originally Posted by BigSean View Post
Stay with the standard crank. You are just needing to improve fitness and strength.
sounds like he's pretty strong if he can spin a 39x28 @ 60rpm on the steep bits. that's around 6.5mph which for me would be a pretty good day on hicks.
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Old 07-26-10, 06:44 PM
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Originally Posted by bam View Post
sounds like he's pretty strong if he can spin a 39x28 @ 60rpm on the steep bits. that's around 6.5mph which for me would be a pretty good day on hicks.
True, at 60 rpm on that grade my HR would force me to stop I think. Still think working on some of the longer climbs would help with the fitness part. Alpine and Page Mill are great for this. Longer climbs with some good pitch's thrown in for good measure. Being that he can spin it like that Im assuming its purely a fitness thing, and endurance strength. Again I dont put too much into Hicks. Its a brutal climb, and a rather rare road for these parts(Bay Area). I know there are plenty of steep roads, but they are really not the norm. I no longer do that climb because it kills my hips for days.
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Old 07-26-10, 07:13 PM
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On my cyclocross bike I went with compact crank but still keep an 11-34 cassette on my dirt wheel set and an 11-26 on my road wheels. This is old 9 speed stuff, because they didn't have big cassettes in 10 speed when I set this bike up, but now we can do the same thing with 10 speed, either with Shimano or SRAM's 2x10 mountain bike derailleurs and cassettes or with SRAM's new Apex road group.

Bigbossman, I'm stoked to hear about your success with the IRD 11-34 cassette for campy because I'd like to go with campy on my next cross bike build. What derailleur are you using?
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Old 07-26-10, 08:10 PM
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Originally Posted by pacificaslim View Post
Bigbossman, I'm stoked to hear about your success with the IRD 11-34 cassette for campy because I'd like to go with campy on my next cross bike build. What derailleur are you using?
Centaur 10sp long cage RD. Any Campy 10sp long cage RD should work - Veloce, Centaur, Race Triple, etc. I'm pretty sure the medium cage will work as well, but haven't tested that scenario personally.

I just now bought an IRD 12/32 cassette for one of my triple bikes. I got it from Universal Cycles for ~$126, after using a 10% off coupon. (vip10)
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Old 07-26-10, 08:24 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Lots of good info and opinions. I am leaning toward a compact for some of the reasons posted. I think it would help me have fun getting to the top of the climbs without stopping. After more time in the saddle climbing I can always put the double back on. I want to purchase another bike this winter for next season to try some crit races anyway. I could use the double for that as well. I will take advice given here and try some longer 4-8% grades to see how I do on those. I used Hicks because after work I can make it there in 30 min from my house. It is real steep in sections, and with my double I'm stopping every few hundred feet at best to rest on those portions of the hill. I do need more miles a day. Hard to find the time as I work 11 hours a day. I am going to try and get up at 4:30 and try and ride 2x a day to double my millage. Thanks for the offer on the rides, after I get my fitness up I will be taken up those offers.
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Old 07-26-10, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by bigbossman View Post
Centaur 10sp long cage RD. Any Campy 10sp long cage RD should work - Veloce, Centaur, Race Triple, etc. I'm pretty sure the medium cage will work as well, but haven't tested that scenario personally.

I just now bought an IRD 12/32 cassette for one of my triple bikes. I got it from Universal Cycles for ~$126, after using a 10% off coupon. (vip10)
I got an IRD 11-30 cassette from Robinson's Wheel Works in San Leandro a couple of years ago for the same kind of money (don't remember exactly what I paid). Chris made it work just fine with a SRAM Rival short cage RD (which is only supposed to work up to a 28t cog). Chris has set up a few friends' bikes with mountain bike derailleurs for tough climbing rides if they can't make the gearing they want work with their current derailleur.

JB
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Old 07-26-10, 08:36 PM
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thanks for the details!
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Old 07-26-10, 09:17 PM
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Get and use the compact until such time as you are able to climb hills with little to no trouble then, go back to a standard set in order to continue building your strength and climbing skills.
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Old 07-26-10, 09:22 PM
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Originally Posted by obiwan kenobi View Post
go back to a standard set in order to continue building your strength and climbing skills.
no offense, but that doesn't make any sense. The only need to ever go back to a 53 is if you decide to race and need the additional top speed for descents. If you have 34/28 and want to go faster, shift to 34/25/22/19 etc...
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Old 07-26-10, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Hapsmo911 View Post
Thanks for all the replies. Lots of good info and opinions. I am leaning toward a compact for some of the reasons posted. I think it would help me have fun getting to the top of the climbs without stopping. After more time in the saddle climbing I can always put the double back on. I want to purchase another bike this winter for next season to try some crit races anyway. I could use the double for that as well. I will take advice given here and try some longer 4-8% grades to see how I do on those. I used Hicks because after work I can make it there in 30 min from my house. It is real steep in sections, and with my double I'm stopping every few hundred feet at best to rest on those portions of the hill. I do need more miles a day. Hard to find the time as I work 11 hours a day. I am going to try and get up at 4:30 and try and ride 2x a day to double my millage. Thanks for the offer on the rides, after I get my fitness up I will be taken up those offers.
Another idea for ya, since your right there anyway. I do repeats on Kennedy. Doing repeats on a 5-7 minute climb allow you to go pretty hard, recover for 10 minutes and repeat. There are places to recover a bit if needed, but try and get to know how to hit it at your max and do so all the way up.
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Old 07-26-10, 09:30 PM
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My $.02:

Compact. Without a doubt. You are carry some heavy weight up these hills. Your knees will thank you later.

As you start to lose the weight, and gain strength, then think about the standard.

Until then, use the compact w/ 11-27.

BR
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Old 07-26-10, 09:33 PM
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Originally Posted by BigSean View Post
Another idea for ya, since your right there anyway. I do repeats on Kennedy. Doing repeats on a 5-7 minute climb allow you to go pretty hard, recover for 10 minutes and repeat. There are places to recover a bit if needed, but try and get to know how to hit it at your max and do so all the way up.
Ill give Kennedy a go for sure. I did find a nice climb that only has like two houses on it that I was doing repeats on right off Hicks. I think it might be Pheasant rd. No traffic at all.
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Old 07-26-10, 09:53 PM
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Originally Posted by obiwan kenobi View Post
Get and use the compact until such time as you are able to climb hills with little to no trouble then, go back to a standard set in order to continue building your strength and climbing skills.
or one can just shift few gears down on back wheel. Compact provides options and allows to maintain higher cadence even when grade goes up. Only real downside is the cross chaining.
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