Singlespeed & Fixed Gear "I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty-five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailer? We are getting soft...As for me, give me a fixed gear!"-- Henri Desgrange (31 January 1865 - 16 August 1940)

Biting the dust on hills

Old 04-14-09, 09:30 AM
  #26  
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I ride mostly long distance on the east side (longer, less steep climbs than downtown) and I run a 42/18 combo.
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Old 04-14-09, 09:49 AM
  #27  
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Originally Posted by Saberhead View Post
Do you recommend going lower?
If 71 is giving you problems then yes go lower. I consider 71 already a low-ish gearing, but there is no point in using it when you have to walk up the hills. Go lower, it will improve your spin, you will be able to climb the hills, you'll get stronger and eventually may change back and try the hills again.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:08 AM
  #28  
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I leave the roadies behind going up the hills, while they're fiddling around with their gears and trying to find the right cadence; they leave me behind going down the hills.
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Old 04-14-09, 10:25 AM
  #29  
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>Yeah thats me on an incline, while everyone else rides 100 miles per hour past me.<

1) OK - questions, OP: are you saying you ride w/ other people and you can't keep up with them? Or do you see other people on the same sort of bike as yours passing you? Or were you just using hyperbole and you actually ride alone up hills?

If you ride with others you do have a way to gauge your own strength/endurance. If you ride alone, you don't know how strong you are compared to others.

2) >it's been over a month and I'm still having to walk up the super steep hills.<

A month isn't that long, and by super steep hills, how steep are they? Seven percent, 10%, 12%, 15%? I doubt many people on any bike, much less single-geared bikes, are going to want to and/or enjoy riding up hills with a 10% or more grade.

So how steep do you think your hills are?

>Im probablly way less fit than I could be and maybe if i just keep at it, in another couple weeks Ill get better.<

I think you've answered your own concerns. You say you're "way less fit than" than you could be, so you should not be upset that you can't take a single-geared bike up a "super steep" hill. Keep riding to build strength and endurance.

It's possible that no matter how much more fit you become, you may never be able to make it up extremely steep hills. You might not have the physiology for it - some people just don't have the strength to weight ratio to let them climb steep hills on any sort of bike; you might weigh too much at the moment.

But you probably just haven't given yourself enough time, particularly if you are trying to gain the heights of "super steep" hills. Especially if you are "way less fit" than you could be.

Revive this thread, after you've become as fit as you want to be or can be, and report on how you're doing.
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Old 04-14-09, 11:56 AM
  #30  
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Originally Posted by icyclist View Post
>Yeah thats me on an incline, while everyone else rides 100 miles per hour past me.<

1) OK - questions, OP: are you saying you ride w/ other people and you can't keep up with them? Or do you see other people on the same sort of bike as yours passing you? Or were you just using hyperbole and you actually ride alone up hills?

If you ride with others you do have a way to gauge your own strength/endurance. If you ride alone, you don't know how strong you are compared to others.

2) >it's been over a month and I'm still having to walk up the super steep hills.<

A month isn't that long, and by super steep hills, how steep are they? Seven percent, 10%, 12%, 15%? I doubt many people on any bike, much less single-geared bikes, are going to want to and/or enjoy riding up hills with a 10% or more grade.

So how steep do you think your hills are?

>Im probablly way less fit than I could be and maybe if i just keep at it, in another couple weeks Ill get better.<

I think you've answered your own concerns. You say you're "way less fit than" than you could be, so you should not be upset that you can't take a single-geared bike up a "super steep" hill. Keep riding to build strength and endurance.

It's possible that no matter how much more fit you become, you may never be able to make it up extremely steep hills. You might not have the physiology for it - some people just don't have the strength to weight ratio to let them climb steep hills on any sort of bike; you might weigh too much at the moment.

But you probably just haven't given yourself enough time, particularly if you are trying to gain the heights of "super steep" hills. Especially if you are "way less fit" than you could be.

Revive this thread, after you've become as fit as you want to be or can be, and report on how you're doing.

1)People that I dont know that are riding fixed have usually gone by me on the hills that Im speaking of in Seattle. As you pointed out though,if a month isnt that long for trying to build strenght then I wont worry about it too much. I will go a bit lower on my ratio and hope that will work until I build more strength.

2) I would say they vary between 7%-15% (if thats an good estimate). It's rare that Id be going on hills that are above 10%.

Thank you for the good advice and Ill tell you guys if it works out. Im sure if a went a tad lower it would make a huge difference. Ill try a 19 for now
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Old 04-14-09, 03:46 PM
  #31  
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Originally Posted by Saberhead View Post
2) I would say they vary between 7%-15% (if thats an good estimate). It's rare that Id be going on hills that are above 10%.
Depending on where you ride downtown, there are some hills in excess of 20% grade. (Marion Ave. coming up to 6th from the ferry docks, for instance.)
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Old 04-15-09, 10:17 AM
  #32  
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46-16
I live in Vancouver and i do pretty well on medium hills. On the steep hills going up from the water i generally walk my bike. Try to keep a high psi (115+).... i found that that helped a lot
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Old 04-15-09, 11:48 AM
  #33  
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i live in a real hilly area and I ride 46x15 which is pretty high, but i was used to riding a heavy mountain bike in the higher gears before i switched over to my fixed so it was still easier.
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Old 04-15-09, 11:58 AM
  #34  
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I met someone off the forums who lived close by that offered a 19 rear cog. We tried to switch it out but for some reason my original 17t cog would not come off for the life of us. Im new to bike terminology so I wasn't exactlly sure what was going on, but the guy told me that it might not be coming off because it might be locktight? What is that? He was worried about messing up my bike so we just left it on and couldnt switch out. Anyone have an idea as to why this thing wouldnt budge? Again, he knew what he was doing, I just didnt catch on as to what the reason was. Any help?
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Old 04-15-09, 08:57 PM
  #35  
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When you buy some conversions they don't use a lockring because it's simply a freewheel hub (so there's no room for a lockring). But you have to keep the cog from spinning off when replying reverse resistance / pedaling backwards. So people locktite them on. It's called a suicide hub. And it is suicide. If you're riding one, I would highly advise you to abate from riding it anymore.

Edit: I suppose in some rare instance you could have an actual track hub and have a cog that is locktited on plus the lockring. But I've never seen that and don't know why someone would do that either.
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Old 04-15-09, 09:08 PM
  #36  
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Originally Posted by idiq View Post
When you buy some conversions they don't use a lockring because it's simply a freewheel hub (so there's no room for a lockring). But you have to keep the cog from spinning off when replying reverse resistance / pedaling backwards. So people locktite them on. It's called a suicide hub. And it is suicide. If you're riding one, I would highly advise you to abate from riding it anymore.

Edit: I suppose in some rare instance you could have an actual track hub and have a cog that is locktited on plus the lockring. But I've never seen that and don't know why someone would do that either.
Let me get this straight (forgive me as I said before Im new to bike mechanic/terminology so Im not quite sure); I dont have a conversion, its an IRO with all IRO stock, and Im pretty sure Formula hubs/Velocitys. We got the lock ring off, but the cog wouldnt come off..so am I way off on what you were saying? Do I have a cog thats locktited and with a lockring? Now Im confused lol

He was applying a lot of pressure trying to get the cog off but after 15 mins of trying he said he didnt want to ruin anything and wasnt sure what the deal was.
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Old 04-15-09, 09:16 PM
  #37  
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Originally Posted by Saberhead View Post
Let me get this straight (forgive me as I said before Im new to bike mechanic/terminology so Im not quite sure); I dont have a conversion, its an IRO with all IRO stock, and Im pretty sure Formula hubs/Velocitys. We got the lock ring off, but the cog wouldnt come off..so am I way off on what you were saying? Do I have a cog thats locktited and with a lockring? Now Im confused lol

He was applying a lot of pressure trying to get the cog off but after 15 mins of trying he said he didnt want to ruin anything and wasnt sure what the deal was.
Tell him to take his finger out of his vagina and it should come off.

I seriously doubt that a stock set of veeps w/ formulas and a lockring has locktite on it.
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Old 04-15-09, 09:41 PM
  #38  
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Originally Posted by Saberhead View Post
Let me get this straight (forgive me as I said before Im new to bike mechanic/terminology so Im not quite sure); I dont have a conversion, its an IRO with all IRO stock, and Im pretty sure Formula hubs/Velocitys. We got the lock ring off, but the cog wouldnt come off..so am I way off on what you were saying? Do I have a cog thats locktited and with a lockring? Now Im confused lol

He was applying a lot of pressure trying to get the cog off but after 15 mins of trying he said he didnt want to ruin anything and wasnt sure what the deal was.
Saber - I have an IRO Angus too, and I swapped out my 17 for a 19 also; I like to spin. I could not get the stock cog off of mine with a chainwhip either. My chainwhip doubles as a pedal wrench so I am not getting a whole lot of leverage, and I am sure that when Tony or whoever wrenched that thing on had one of the longer, shop quality tools that would really let you put a lot more force on that cog.

Rotafix

Do this backwards; it worked, and I was worried I was going to break something. But the cog came off and I am spinning everywhere now. If using this method, don't over-do it when tightening the cog. Also put a rag over the bottom bracket to keep the chain from eating the finish.

Then tighten the cog. Tighten the lockring. Ride your bike fast. Tighten the lockring. Repeat.
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Old 04-16-09, 07:54 AM
  #39  
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^^^
+1
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Old 04-16-09, 08:27 AM
  #40  
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I use 46x17, perfect gear for hills and flats.
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Old 04-16-09, 08:51 AM
  #41  
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I used to suck at hills. Heres what you do...

One day a week do hill intervals. Find a hill, go up the hill, come and down rest for a minute or two and go up again. Do this for about an hour or until you got nothing left. When you are done, eat well and get enough sleep. You should feel tired/spent before and after sleep. Ride easy or don't ride at all the next day.

In a couple of months when you get stronger find a bigger hill.

If you start now, this fall you will climb like you've never climbed before.
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Old 04-16-09, 09:21 AM
  #42  
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I have ridden every gear combination possible, from 48 gear inches to 82 gear inches.

Seventy-two gear inches seems the highest I can ride without skidding (I don't believe in skidding because it takes longer to stop and it wears out good tires).

I have read some good arguments for 63 gear inches as the best all-around gear ratio.

I presently ride at 60 gear inches and I get around town as fast as I ever did at higher gear inches, but I have more fun, feel safer, and have waaay more control over the bike and myself.

I have found that most hills will yield to proper pedalling technique and bike fit.

As for fit, when out of the saddle, your bike fits right if you can visualize your knees headed towards your hands; and, if your knees seem headed towards a point either above or below your knees, then you need to adust your out-of-saddle hand position.

As for pedaling technique, you should pull yourself uphill rather than mash yourself uphill.

When you get out of the saddle, lean forward and pull the pedal up by directing your knee towards your hand.

If you mentally focus on pulling your knee towards your hand, it will correctly energize the very large thigh muscles that run from your pelvis to your lower leg bones (and which never touch your thigh bone), and the use of these muscles in pulling will cut the amount of strength and energy required in half.

If you pull correctly, you will not feel yourself mashing, but you mash nonetheless.

If you feel yourself mashing, you need to pull more.

The above requires clipless pedals.

If you ride with clips and straps, you will never climb as easily as someone who rides clipless.

Also in regards to climbing, riding at a lower gear ratio will improve your spin dramatically, making it much more efficient, to the point where you will go up hills in the saddle that you formerly had to get out of the saddle in order to get up the same hill.

When you spin, first imagine your spin as a square, with an up, down, back and forward component.

After you can see the square, change it to a teardrop, with the pointy part of the teardrop in the back bottom portion of the former square.

This imagery will require you to, and will help you to DROP YOUR HEEL into the back point of the teardrop, or the bottom rear of the square.

Dropping your heel will help you "scrape" on the bottom, and it will set you up for "pushing" over the top of your spin.

Also, riding at lower gear inches will help you improve your spin.

If you try to remind yourself to visualize your spin, or concentrate on your spin, you will find that after about two years of riding you will easily go up some hills in the saddle that formerly required you to get out of the saddle.

You'll still need to get out of the saddle for the very steepest hills, but you'll get up them easily with just a little puffing at the top of the hill.

To understand gear inches, go to the following site and play with the numbers:

http://software.bareknucklebrigade.c...it.applet.html

The person who designed the applet, above, deserves some sort of award.

Please write to him and thank him.

When you go to the above site, please note that 60 gear inches allows you to cruise at 15mph at 84rpm.

A four minute mile, easily, uphill and downhill, with and against the wind.
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Old 04-16-09, 09:54 AM
  #43  
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Originally Posted by Ken Cox View Post
I have ridden every gear combination possible, from 48 gear inches to 82 gear inches.

Seventy-two gear inches seems the highest I can ride without skidding (I don't believe in skidding because it takes longer to stop and it wears out good tires).

I have read some good arguments for 63 gear inches as the best all-around gear ratio.

I presently ride at 60 gear inches and I get around town as fast as I ever did at higher gear inches, but I have more fun, feel safer, and have waaay more control over the bike and myself.

I have found that most hills will yield to proper pedalling technique and bike fit.

As for fit, when out of the saddle, your bike fits right if you can visualize your knees headed towards your hands; and, if your knees seem headed towards a point either above or below your knees, then you need to adust your out-of-saddle hand position.

As for pedaling technique, you should pull yourself uphill rather than mash yourself uphill.

When you get out of the saddle, lean forward and pull the pedal up by directing your knee towards your hand.

If you mentally focus on pulling your knee towards your hand, it will correctly energize the very large thigh muscles that run from your pelvis to your lower leg bones (and which never touch your thigh bone), and the use of these muscles in pulling will cut the amount of strength and energy required in half.

If you pull correctly, you will not feel yourself mashing, but you mash nonetheless.

If you feel yourself mashing, you need to pull more.

The above requires clipless pedals.

If you ride with clips and straps, you will never climb as easily as someone who rides clipless.

Also in regards to climbing, riding at a lower gear ratio will improve your spin dramatically, making it much more efficient, to the point where you will go up hills in the saddle that you formerly had to get out of the saddle in order to get up the same hill.

When you spin, first imagine your spin as a square, with an up, down, back and forward component.

After you can see the square, change it to a teardrop, with the pointy part of the teardrop in the back bottom portion of the former square.

This imagery will require you to, and will help you to DROP YOUR HEEL into the back point of the teardrop, or the bottom rear of the square.

Dropping your heel will help you "scrape" on the bottom, and it will set you up for "pushing" over the top of your spin.

Also, riding at lower gear inches will help you improve your spin.

If you try to remind yourself to visualize your spin, or concentrate on your spin, you will find that after about two years of riding you will easily go up some hills in the saddle that formerly required you to get out of the saddle.

You'll still need to get out of the saddle for the very steepest hills, but you'll get up them easily with just a little puffing at the top of the hill.

To understand gear inches, go to the following site and play with the numbers:

http://software.bareknucklebrigade.c...it.applet.html

The person who designed the applet, above, deserves some sort of award.

Please write to him and thank him.

When you go to the above site, please note that 60 gear inches allows you to cruise at 15mph at 84rpm.

A four minute mile, easily, uphill and downhill, with and against the wind.
Thats very good advice, thank you! Im definitly going to go lower, Im at 71 gear inches right now, and as much as I like it on flats, the hills are too steep here to use it (at least for me). If I use better climbing technique with a slightly lower gear Im sure I wont have any more issues.

Originally Posted by captsven View Post
I used to suck at hills. Heres what you do...

One day a week do hill intervals. Find a hill, go up the hill, come and down rest for a minute or two and go up again. Do this for about an hour or until you got nothing left. When you are done, eat well and get enough sleep. You should feel tired/spent before and after sleep. Ride easy or don't ride at all the next day.

In a couple of months when you get stronger find a bigger hill.

If you start now, this fall you will climb like you've never climbed before.

This is also something i was thinking about doing so I could get practice and build strength. Also good advice

Originally Posted by spaceballs View Post
Saber - I have an IRO Angus too, and I swapped out my 17 for a 19 also; I like to spin. I could not get the stock cog off of mine with a chainwhip either. My chainwhip doubles as a pedal wrench so I am not getting a whole lot of leverage, and I am sure that when Tony or whoever wrenched that thing on had one of the longer, shop quality tools that would really let you put a lot more force on that cog.

Rotafix

Do this backwards; it worked, and I was worried I was going to break something. But the cog came off and I am spinning everywhere now. If using this method, don't over-do it when tightening the cog. Also put a rag over the bottom bracket to keep the chain from eating the finish.

Then tighten the cog. Tighten the lockring. Ride your bike fast. Tighten the lockring. Repeat.

Maybe we werent giving it enough of a push, I dont know. When I get the correct size cog to switch out Ill try it again this way. Hopefully itll work!
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Old 04-16-09, 10:49 AM
  #44  
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Ken Cox wrote:

>I have found that most hills will yield to proper pedalling technique and bike fit.<

All of what you said seems like good advice.

I just started riding a fg bike. A few weeks ago I took it to Griffith Park, in L.A., and pedaled up about 950 feet in four miles - the last quarter mile or so is about 10%.

Ordinarily I would make that ride in about a 43 inch gear on my road bike. On my fg bike, at the beginning of the climb, with my 70 inch gear, I assumed I'd turn around after a few hundred yards. It turned out to be far easier to make the climb than I thought it would be. I pedaled slowly - very slowly - but steadily. It was slow enough so that I didn't run out of breath, but I was definitely working.

Halfway up I shot by a group of young guys on clunky mountain bikes spinning much faster than me. I thought I was going slow! A lot of my ability to pedal to the top of the park came, I realized, from from technique, as well as strength, and I think you have offered some great ideas for novice hill climbers.

My only slight quibble might be your claim that riding a lower gear will improve spin. Not that it isn't true, but it seems to be an argument leading to an reductio ad absurdum conclusion.
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Old 04-16-09, 12:33 PM
  #45  
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Originally Posted by icyclist
My only slight quibble might be your claim that riding a lower gear will improve spin. Not that it isn't true, but it seems to be an argument leading to an reductio ad absurdum conclusion.
Well, let me expand on my thoughts and let's see where we agree or not.

I think by lowering one's gear ratio and increasing one's spin rate, at least two things happen.

First, a lower gear allows a climber to stay in the saddle longer, and to practice a full spin longer, and see how an efficient spin can get him or her up a hill easier than will getting out of the saddle.

Like icyclist, I go very slow up hills, and yet I find myself passing people.

Once I get out of the saddle, though, I find I fatigue much more quickly, given the amount of work accomplished, because I just DON'T have as efficient a spin out of the saddle as I do in the saddle.

Secondly, a lower gear ratio and a higher spin means the rider encounters "bounce" earlier and more often.

This might seem like a bad thing, but it forces the rider to study WHY he or she bounces and make corrections for it.

When you start to understand the "bounce" and start getting rid of it, all of a sudden you will see a quantum leap in effortless spin rate.

The lower gear ratios require the ability to spin at very high rates in order to make the lower gear ratios usable.

When I first started spinning at high rates, it fatigued me terribly because I didn't know how to do it.

Then I had a happy accident, in that I put a Cane Creek Thudbuster seatpost on my ice bike, and when I would spin at a high rate, I would start bouncing at a much lower spin rate because the suspension seat post ALLOWED me to bounce earlier.

If a person wants to spin at really high rates, effortlessly, he or she might try borrowing a good suspension seat post, like a Thudbuster, and riding it for a few days to see what he or she might learn about the "bounce."

If you can overcome the "bounce," you can spin at silly-high spin rates without even thinking about it.

So, anyway, I guess I recommend the lower gear ratios sort of as a way of putting yourself in a situation that forces you to learn something new.
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Old 04-16-09, 01:33 PM
  #46  
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Also, a lower gear/higher spin ratio is a better combo for a better workout. Running a higher gear ratio requires more strength, which is akin to lifting weights, good for building muscle, but not for burning calories.

A lower gear ratio will make you spin more, along the Ken's aforementioned very good advice. This lower impact method will make you burn more calories, get into shape faster, and help your muscles gain that "muscle memory" that help improve your technique.

I started out around 70ish and now am running 48/17, which works well for me here in hilly San Francisco.
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Old 04-16-09, 05:14 PM
  #47  
Ken Cox
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I don't want to insult Saberhead nor her friend, but I must ask whether or not they first removed the lock ring.

The cog goes righty-tighty lefty-loosey.

The lock ring goes the other way: lefty-tighty righty-loosey.

With a really tight cog, it sometimes helps to roll the wheel up against a wall and then use the chain whip in the direction of the wall while pushing down on the wheel so the wheel won't slip and turn.

Use a lock ring wrench/spanner for the lock ring and a chain whip for the cog.

My apologies if I've explained something Saberhead already knows.
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Old 04-16-09, 05:18 PM
  #48  
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Originally Posted by idiq View Post
If you do a lot of hilly climbs but also have some flats I've found 46 x 16 and 46 x 18 (as flip-flop) to be pretty useful. The only thing you have to worry about with 46 x 16 is the 1 skid patch, but if you avoid skidding and save your knees, it's not a big deal at all.

46 x 19 is really low.

I ride 46 x 15 / 14, in Richmond, VA, some hills
46 x 16 has 8 skid patches
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Old 04-16-09, 07:10 PM
  #49  
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Originally Posted by jch3n View Post
42x17 gets me around pretty much everywhere in the u-district.
Sup gearing buddy?
I have two major climbs going in to school, and three on the way home, and this gets me up them all. The downside is I cant hold more than 25mph for more than a few min. However, as an unexpected benefit, I found that this lets me spin 90 rpm at 18 mph, perfect for the flat parts of my commute.
Also, I do cheat sometimes. Climbing up to Queen Ann I usually end up zig zagging up the hills, which is a great energy saver on long climbs with low traffic. I guess this wouldn't work in heavy traffic though.
I found the key for getting up a steep hill fixed is to just keep up the momentum. If you get slowed down to much, you wont be able to get going again, or you'll be putting in even more effort while going even slower. It also helps to rest a bit before the hill, and then start sprinting to build up some steam right at the foot of it.
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Old 04-16-09, 07:11 PM
  #50  
Adam G.
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Originally Posted by JohnDThompson View Post
I leave the roadies behind going up the hills, while they're fiddling around with their gears and trying to find the right cadence
No offense but I find that very hard to believe. Either these roadies don't give a crap that you are there or something is wrong. I road bike as well and when the time comes when a fixed rider beats me on a uphill, downhill or whatever hill, it's time I hang it up.
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