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Is 10 speeds enough for mountain highways?

Road Cycling “It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.” -- Ernest Hemingway

Is 10 speeds enough for mountain highways?

Old 08-20-15, 02:39 PM
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Kertrek
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Is 10 speeds enough for mountain highways?

I've seen road bikes up to 30 speeds, and I really doubt I'd need a bike with that many gears. I found a carbon fiber 10 speed at an OK price. Is 10 speeds enough for the intense mountain-road climbs? I'm in a valley, so I'm surrounded by mountains.
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Old 08-20-15, 02:43 PM
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The spread of the gears is really all that matters for climbing/descending. Mostly carbon bikes aren't 10 speed, but most likely 10 speed in the back, with 2 rings up front for 20 gears.
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Old 08-20-15, 03:08 PM
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Yes.

Assuming you mean 2x10.

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Old 08-20-15, 04:17 PM
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Actually 1 speed is enough, getting down the hill you don't need any.
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Old 08-20-15, 04:23 PM
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My bad. The guy at the bike shop said it was 10 speed, and I didn't look that closely, cause I was just in for a derailleur alignment, but I looked online and the bike I saw is 18 speed. KWH 700 carbon for $1200. More than adequate.
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Old 08-20-15, 04:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
My bad. The guy at the bike shop said it was 10 speed, and I didn't look that closely, cause I was just in for a derailleur alignment, but I looked online and the bike I saw is 18 speed. KWH 700 carbon for $1200. More than adequate.
You need to concern yourself much more with the gearing range than the number of gears. Starting with a basic question, since getting up a mountain is more of a concern with getting down it.. how many teeth does the small chain ring in the front have, and how many teeth are on the largest cog on the rear wheel?
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Old 08-20-15, 04:48 PM
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Originally Posted by Kertrek View Post
I've seen road bikes up to 30 speeds, and I really doubt I'd need a bike with that many gears. I found a carbon fiber 10 speed at an OK price. Is 10 speeds enough for the intense mountain-road climbs? I'm in a valley, so I'm surrounded by mountains.
It depends on the specific grades, your power to weight ratio at various intensities, and how sensitive you are to gaps between gears.

If you weigh under 2 pounds per inch of height (140 pounds at 5'10) and train at least 10 hours a week 2x10 is usually fine with a 39 small ring and tight cassette when you're willing to stay out of the mountains on your endurance ride days or don't care about the physiological shifts from harder efforts.

OTOH, even Alberto Contador used 34x32 on the steepest climbs in the Giro d'Italia. His power to weight ratio is probably 50% better than yours if you're in great shape and 100% for merely good shape. You probably can't sustain a lower cadence then he can, and they don't make the 48 or 64 cog you'd need to.

Once you need a 34 small ring which increases front shifting or introduce 2 tooth gaps that are annoying on flat terrain it's time for a triple crank.

Last edited by Drew Eckhardt; 08-20-15 at 07:05 PM.
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Old 08-20-15, 06:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Sy Reene View Post
You need to concern yourself much more with the gearing range than the number of gears. Starting with a basic question, since getting up a mountain is more of a concern with getting down it.. how many teeth does the small chain ring in the front have, and how many teeth are on the largest cog on the rear wheel?
Yes. Cassettes are fairly inexpensive, and need to be replaced aver now & then, so it's not a big deal to get a lower gear if you need it. If you need drastically lower gears, then it gets more complicated.
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Old 08-21-15, 10:46 AM
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As others have said, gear range is more important than the number of gears. You could get the same total gearing range on a 5-speed bike or a 30-speed bike.

SRAM (wifli) and Shimano (GS) offer mid-cage RDs that can fit a 32t cog.

Mixed with a compact crank (34t chain ring), you can climb just about any road grade, and some off-road as well. 34 x 32 = 28 gear inches.

With a standard 39t chain ring and 32t cog, you have 32 gear inches.
34t chain ring and 28t cog = 32 gear inches
39t chain ring and 28t cog = 37 gear inches
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