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11-34T vs 11-30T on long, steep climbs

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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

11-34T vs 11-30T on long, steep climbs

Old 08-08-21, 09:16 PM
  #26  
79pmooney
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Somewhat random thoughts from a guy who loves to climb. More than one cassette is always good. Might even be worthwhile to have a second wheel to put it on. I am a huge fan of triples, variations of the old racing gearing and tiny inside chainrings. (Now, in my late sixties, I run a 50-38-24 on my 9-speed. I use any cassette between 12-23 and 14-28 (and they are for the most part loose cog so I can do quite a lot of customizing).

And, for any gear out there, there's a hill that will reduce you to pedaling way too slow. It is very possible to grunt up hills pedaling slow. It can even be fun. I make no claims to be anything like "normal" but I've forever used huge gears on hills. Rode many of the races in New England on a 42-19 which was also my training gear. I love riding fix gear and have a pretty good list of hills I've done in my regular flat ground gear. With my age, I've compromised and had a custom built that can handle every gear available using velodrome standard equipment. Rode today up a local hill, 1100' (340m) in a little under 3 miles (4.5k) on my fix gear in a 42-24. In mediocre condition. Just because I wanted to. I went slow. You would have gotten bored counting my RPM. Last two times up I used my 9-speed with first the 28, then the 25. 24-25 is very, very different from 42-24! Today I rode more than half the hill out of the saddle and sitting simply wasn't a choice.

Unless money is tight, get the 34 and try it. Might be a real blessing or it might tell you that the best bike for you has other features (like closer gears).
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Old 08-08-21, 09:26 PM
  #27  
N2deep
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Have you considered a sub compact, 48/32 or 46/30, chain rings? Absolute black sells a set the will fit on ultegra 6800 and better that work great in the hills. The rings are ovals but work great.. PS, No I dont sell bike parts.
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Old 08-08-21, 11:25 PM
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el forestero
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Thanks for the helpful replies again, all. Sub compact chainrings and the SRAM 11-36 cassette are options I'll definitely look into.

Likewise, Kabuto, I find these hills are doable (and fun!) with a 30T in the back, with the exception of when I get two or more days in a row of tour bookings for long climbs. Without one to three days off between big climbs, it can be quite a grind for me, particularly when day two or three is a fit customer eager to smash the hills and not so interested in sightseeing stops. Once business returns, hopefully will find a backup tour guide round these parts so I can get days off when I need them. Or maybe the sub compact and SRAM 11-36 will do the trick.
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Old 08-09-21, 12:11 AM
  #29  
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The 46/30T I am using now is Shimano's GRX, and here it costs US$150. The chainline is 3mm further out than my Ultegra 50/34, but the Ultegra front derailleur handles it fine. (The GRX mechanical one isn't prohibitively expensive, either).

The SRAM 11-36T cassette is SRAM PG-1170 , and I think it was about US$100. I'm using an XTR chain, fwiw. I don't think it matters, and it might make slightly more sense to use a SRAM chain.
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Old 08-09-21, 01:11 AM
  #30  
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Oh heck, if doing that for work every day, get an ebike. There's no shame.
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Old 08-09-21, 06:06 AM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by terrymorse View Post
10-20%? For 40-120 minutes?!

Where are such R.O.U.G.s (Roads of Unusual Grade)? I don't think they exist.
Come to Pittsburgh. The steepest paved road maxes out at 37% grade.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirt...e_competition)
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Old 08-09-21, 07:54 AM
  #32  
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From a business sense, it makes perfect sense to preserve your legs and be proactive in preventing overuse injuries.
It is worth investing in a GRX 46-30 crankset and even an 11-34 cassette to prevent tendonitis injuries.
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Old 08-09-21, 08:00 AM
  #33  
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Originally Posted by Koyote View Post
Come to Pittsburgh. The steepest paved road maxes out at 37% grade.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dirt...e_competition)
But they are not 40-120 minutes long. Those are short hills

Extended climbs of that duration over 15% are exceedingly rare.
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Old 08-09-21, 12:02 PM
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Originally Posted by znomit View Post
Oh heck, if doing that for work every day, get an ebike. There's no shame.
Exactly. You are there to provide guidance, not competition.
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Old 08-09-21, 09:46 PM
  #35  
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10%-20% grades for two hours. Damn...you guys are gluttons for serious pain. That is, like a poster said, why they invented e-bikes. I'll be faster walking my bike up that. But yes...34, if not an e-bike.
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Old 08-09-21, 10:15 PM
  #36  
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Granted I ride 11-28 with a triple…

So I actually have 50/34/30 up front

what I have found going from a cassette with lowest gears of 23,25 and 28 is that I always find a use for the easier gear. It could be I’m getting back in shape or I challenge myself to steeper climbs.

I say go for the 34. If you don’t need it change it back and sell it used
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Old 08-09-21, 10:46 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by 79pmooney View Post
Somewhat random thoughts from a guy who loves to climb. More than one cassette is always good. Might even be worthwhile to have a second wheel to put it on. I am a huge fan of triples, variations of the old racing gearing and tiny inside chainrings. (Now, in my late sixties, I run a 50-38-24 on my 9-speed. I use any cassette between 12-23 and 14-28 (and they are for the most part loose cog so I can do quite a lot of customizing).

And, for any gear out there, there's a hill that will reduce you to pedaling way too slow. It is very possible to grunt up hills pedaling slow. It can even be fun. I make no claims to be anything like "normal" but I've forever used huge gears on hills. Rode many of the races in New England on a 42-19 which was also my training gear. I love riding fix gear and have a pretty good list of hills I've done in my regular flat ground gear. With my age, I've compromised and had a custom built that can handle every gear available using velodrome standard equipment. Rode today up a local hill, 1100' (340m) in a little under 3 miles (4.5k) on my fix gear in a 42-24. In mediocre condition. Just because I wanted to. I went slow. You would have gotten bored counting my RPM. Last two times up I used my 9-speed with first the 28, then the 25. 24-25 is very, very different from 42-24! Today I rode more than half the hill out of the saddle and sitting simply wasn't a choice.

Unless money is tight, get the 34 and try it. Might be a real blessing or it might tell you that the best bike for you has other features (like closer gears).
yeah tripples are super underrated. People laugh at the granny gear but it really saves the day when you need it to, like if youre injured or just want to spin up a hill. OP 4 extra teeth is very significant, will make it easier
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Old 08-09-21, 10:56 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Chandne View Post
I'll be faster walking my bike up that.
If you're geared appropriately, that's highly unlikely. People tend to visualize "walking speed" as whatever their brisk walk is in day-to-day life, but walking speeds that are trivial when unencumbered on flat ground can be very hard efforts when pushing a bicycle up a steep hill.

Steeper gradients do diminish the advantage of riding a bicycle versus walking it, but as long as things remain reasonably rideable (which on paved roads is nearly always only limited by appropriate choice of gearing), it's just about always faster to ride.

Originally Posted by LarrySellerz View Post
People laugh at the granny gear but it really saves the day when you need it to, like if youre injured or just want to spin up a hill.
Having a lower gear is downright faster if it allows you to maintain good fluid pedaling form, or if it allows you to ride less conservatively on the shallow parts of a climb since you don't need to "save up" your matchbox for torquing through the steep spots.
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Old 08-10-21, 10:27 AM
  #39  
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Well, I have mountain biked up some 20% grades and it is simply easier/faster for me to walk the darn slope. There is not enough weight over the front there though and the ground is pretty loose on those steep slopes due to water flow when it rains. Road- yeah, if geared low enough, I just hang over the front and grind it out. Sometimes, I'd rather walk.
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Old 08-10-21, 10:50 AM
  #40  
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Originally Posted by HTupolev View Post
If you're geared appropriately, that's highly unlikely. People tend to visualize "walking speed" as whatever their brisk walk is in day-to-day life, but walking speeds that are trivial when unencumbered on flat ground can be very hard efforts when pushing a bicycle up a steep hill.

Steeper gradients do diminish the advantage of riding a bicycle versus walking it, but as long as things remain reasonably rideable (which on paved roads is nearly always only limited by appropriate choice of gearing), it's just about always faster to ride.


Having a lower gear is downright faster if it allows you to maintain good fluid pedaling form, or if it allows you to ride less conservatively on the shallow parts of a climb since you don't need to "save up" your matchbox for torquing through the steep spots.
I agree with this.

I can't say I've ever been passed by a cyclist walking their bike up a hill either on or off-road. I've had runners go by me on really steep hills, but they don't have a bike in tow and they are wearing running shoes. The biggest grindfest of a riding event I did this year saw plenty of guys walking up the 25%+ slopes. I was barely moving on the bike, but I was still passing anybody who was off and walking.

I also agree that you can't really have a low enough gear once you get over 20% slopes. Anything that increases your cadence once you are forced into grinding below 50 rpm is simply going to be better. For me a 50/34 front and 11-34 cassette is still pretty marginal if there is a lot of seriously steep climbing involved. On the ride I mentioned above it was right on the limit above 20%. I think that's why a lot of guys were forced to walk. Some of them were stronger than me, but just didn't have the gears to keep cranking over.
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