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How many of you often use your lowest gear?

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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

How many of you often use your lowest gear?

Old 06-17-10, 12:25 AM
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How many of you often use your lowest gear?

I don't care if it's 28, 25 or 23, how often do you use that bailout gear? While you're thinking about how you will respond, I'll answer my own question. I have a 11-28 cassette, which I bought specifically because where I live I'm surrounded by little else but hills, many of them long and steep. I'm not talking Alpe d'Huez long and steep, but challenging nonetheless. Because of where I mostly ride, I have gotten myself into physical shape to where I don't have to use the lowest gears anymore.

My favorite gear for climbing most of the moderate challenging grades near me is the 34x22. I know my limits however, and won't hesitate to drop it down to the 25 or even the 28. After long rides especially, and with any headwind on a final climb, I can't find the 28 fast enough. On a recent long and tough climb (over 7K of elevation, much of it at least 6%), I took note of the gearing everyone used. Almost everyone -- no matter the bike frame material (the vast majority were on crabon), or the size and sheen of their guads and galves -- was rocking the bailout gear. Including yours truly.

Do I want an even lower gear? Honestly, no. If I can't climb using the 28, then I have no business on that ride. That's just me. To answer: I probably use the 28 just a few times a month. Maybe once a week.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:26 AM
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All the ****in time. I live at the top of an 800ft high climb, in the middle of the Taconics and Berkshires. 39/25.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:27 AM
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Every time I'm on a hill that can't be trampled in 10 minutes. Which is pretty often. 34x25.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:30 AM
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I use my lowest gear on every ride. I live at the bottom of a hill that starts at 12% grade and is 16% in the middle of it.

When I commute, I ride down into an underground parking garage, and it night I have to climb out of the garage and then ride up a 20% grade for a block from a standing start.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by BengeBoy
I use my lowest gear on every ride. I live at the bottom of a hill that starts at 12% grade and is 16% in the middle of it.

When I commute, I ride down into an underground parking garage, and it night I have to climb out of the garage and then ride up a 20% grade for a block from a standing start.
You didn't mention what that lowest gear is. We need to know to properly compare and respond and or mock.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:56 AM
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I use my bailout gear quite a bit. The other day I was rocking it, and needed to shift down again, went to shift, but my shifter wouldn't move. Looked down only to have the thought cross my mind "crap! I'm already in the 26?!" Granted, as I was coming down the hill earlier in the ride, I had the same problem on the opposite end of the gear spectrum, needing something bigger than my 52x12.

Next bike will have a 50/34 and either an 11-26 or 11-28.
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Old 06-17-10, 12:58 AM
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On my road bike the lowest gear is 36/28. I use it sometimes, but don't need it. While climbing I try and keep a high cadence (about 90). Sometimes I'll shift from the 25 to 28 in order to change my cadence.

There is one hill route I like to do when I ride solo. It involves four different hills where the grade reaches 15-20% at times. I do need the 28 then.

I wish I had a 12-25 though. The 11-28 has too big of gaps.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:11 AM
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38x27 here. I use it on one stretch of about 1.8 miles at 10% av., which I rarely ride because it's a misery. I can do my local ski-hills in 38x21 with dashes of 24.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:17 AM
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Originally Posted by ptle
On my road bike the lowest gear is 36/28. I use it sometimes, but don't need it. While climbing I try and keep a high cadence (about 90). Sometimes I'll shift from the 25 to 28 in order to change my cadence.

There is one hill route I like to do when I ride solo. It involves four different hills where the grade reaches 15-20% at times. I do need the 28 then.

I wish I had a 12-25 though. The 11-28 has too big of gaps.
I'd be willing to trade. If only you were on 9s. Actually, if I were on 10s it'd be nicer.
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Old 06-17-10, 01:32 AM
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My rarely used 39/23 was employed yesterday climbing a moderate grade into a face-distorting headwind. I use it everyday on holidays in the mountains, though. There, it rarely seems low enough.
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Old 06-17-10, 03:01 AM
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34/28, and use it proudly all the time. Normally I don't break it out until the grade hits 8% or so, but I've been known to just say f-it and give in to the inevitable.
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Old 06-17-10, 03:32 AM
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39 x 25 baby. All the friggin time.
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Old 06-17-10, 04:10 AM
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My town makes pancakes look hilly. Sometimes I change into my lowest gear just to check that it's still there.
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Old 06-17-10, 06:33 AM
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My local area is stupidly hilly. Most places around though I can stay out of the botom gears and just stand and dance up the steeper sections. I do have very low bottom gears though.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:28 AM
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I live around a lot of steep hills and sometimes have to resort to my 34x27 when I get stuck. I force myself to gear up whenever possible though. I'm trying to build strength in my legs and have read that climbing in higher gears will help with that.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:30 AM
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40/21. Often!
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Old 06-17-10, 07:35 AM
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34 x 26 on long/steep climbs. I stopped using my triple this year, don't need it anymore
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Old 06-17-10, 07:44 AM
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34/26 all the time. Especially for high cadence climbs.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:46 AM
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But I should add that I really would like a compact crank on my next bike.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:49 AM
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Enough that I'm glad I have it. But unlike my highest gear, I change my lowest gear as appropriate for the conditions I will be riding in.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:50 AM
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34\25 with great regularity.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:53 AM
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30x27, use it pretty often. Good thing I'm a chick b/c I'd lose the ****-measuring contest if I had one.
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Old 06-17-10, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by KiddSisko
You didn't mention what that lowest gear is. We need to know to properly compare and respond and or mock.
Comparing gears is also useless w/o knowing weights.
A 190# guy will always need lower gears than a 130# guy on the same hill.
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Old 06-17-10, 08:11 AM
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Highest gear, lowest gear...
Maybe we need a thread about every possible gear.
"How often do you use your 53/17?"
Ditto for every possible combination.
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Old 06-17-10, 08:14 AM
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Originally Posted by Shimagnolo
A 190# guy will always need lower gears than a 130# guy on the same hill.
That is so not true. It's about power to weight, not just weight. Just because a guy is light doesn't mean he is also strong.
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