Go Back  Bike Forums > Community Connections > Regional Discussions > Southern California
Reload this Page >

Road bike gearing for So Cal mountains?

Southern California Southern California

Road bike gearing for So Cal mountains?

Old 05-22-20, 11:18 AM
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sunny so. cal.
Posts: 837
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 116 Post(s)
Liked 43 Times in 21 Posts
Road bike gearing for So Cal mountains?

I just rode GMR/GRR to Mount Baldy with a 34/28 and was pretty good for the most part but I could tell I was working harder than similarly fit friends. Going to the ski lifts with it was brutal. Im going to do more of our areas big climbs like this range, Gibraltar, BIg Bear, etc. Im thinking of getting an 11-32 (I have Ultegra 11). What gearing do you folks use?
bikeme is offline  
Old 05-22-20, 03:29 PM
Horse Categorie
calamarichris's Avatar
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Carlsbad, CA
Posts: 6,203

Bikes: '09 Felt F55, '84 Masi Cran Criterium, (2)'86 Schwinn Pelotons, '86 Look Equippe Hinault, '09 Globe Live 3 (dogtaxi), '94 Greg Lemond, '99 GT Pulse Kinesis

Mentioned: 19 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 234 Post(s)
Liked 62 Times in 38 Posts
The ski lifts are brutal even if you're riding a mountainbike with a triple.

About 10 years ago, (in the middle of my powermeter honeymoon) I couldn't believe how easily I was FLYING up GMR/GRR. It was so much easier than it was back in the 80's when I was a skinny triathlete teenager. I started envisioning being a late-bloomer, one of those 40-year olds who turn pro and stun the world!

Then it hit me on the drive home: back in the 80's, I was making that climb with a 42-21, as we all did back then, NOT the 39-27 I had just used that day.

A compact 34 should be fine, but the ride from Baldy Village to the chairlifts is going to be brutal with anything other than an E-assist bike. That's why we do it. 8D
calamarichris is offline  
Likes For calamarichris:
Old 05-22-20, 09:36 PM
lead on, macduff!
ooga-booga's Avatar
Join Date: Apr 2009
Location: insane diego, california
Posts: 6,887

Bikes: 85 pinarello treviso steel, 88 nishiki olympic steel. 95 look kg 131 carbon, 11 trek madone 5.2 carbon

Mentioned: 25 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1200 Post(s)
Liked 1,738 Times in 959 Posts
if you can squeeze an 11-32 cassette onto your steed(s)...d it. gmr/grr to baldy is 22+ miles so a longish climb. baldy grades ridiculous. gmr/grr not too bad
but a few miles before cow saddle enroute to baldy, if you haven't been crushing it lately, you're gonna need that bailout gear to recover simply due to attrition.
there are quite a few long climbs in socal where the bailout gear would come in handy because going uphill 10+ miles ain't easy even if you're pumped to do it:
gmr/grr, blg pines to ach to dawson, lone pine canyon, the 39 (especially to dawson), the length of ach in either direction, the 33 starting in ojai, the 38 up to onyx,
the 330 up to onyx, the 18 from lucerne valley (loooong) up to onyx, the 18 from lake gregory area to big bear lake, the 243 to idyllwild, the 74 (then 243) up to idyllwild from
palm desert or hemet, montezuma grade from borrego springs up to ranchita, pine valley to mount laguna store, kitchen creek, east grade of palomar mountain,
south grade of palomar mountain, gibraltar and east camino cielo from santa barbara. death valley np has dante's view climb, daylight pass and towne pass.
probably forgot one or two or three.

so those super longish grades along with ridiculous shorter but substantial grades like potrero, westlake blvd/hwy23, las flores, deer creek, corral creek in the
santa monica mountains (sammos), mt. baldy, forest falls in the san bernardinos (san berdoos), palm springs tram grade along the way. this ain't florida.
you wanna ride a majority of the best scenic roads in socal? gear up for the mountains. you won't regret it. did/done most everything in socal with a 34 x 27
as a bailout gear. grinder style doable but definitely not recommended if you can rock a 11-30 or 11-32 instead.

Last edited by ooga-booga; 05-22-20 at 10:56 PM.
ooga-booga is offline  
Likes For ooga-booga:
Old 05-23-20, 08:29 AM
Senior Member
Join Date: May 2017
Location: Hacienda Hgts
Posts: 1,436

Bikes: 1999 Schwinn Peloton Ultegra 10, Kestrel RT-1000 Ultegra, Trek Marlin 6 Deore 29'er

Mentioned: 2 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 543 Post(s)
Liked 1,133 Times in 598 Posts
Rode up GMR-GRR to Mt Baldy Village yesterday with a 34-27. Thought about the Ski Lifts but remembered doing it with a triple on my MTB last year and sucking major gas then going into stitches the last two miles. My light bike has a 50/34, 11-34 combo that would be appropriate for the Ski Lifts.

Good job bikeme getting to the top with a 34-28 combo.

Last edited by CAT7RDR; 05-23-20 at 08:41 AM.
CAT7RDR is online now  
Likes For CAT7RDR:
Old 05-23-20, 08:42 AM
Sophomore Member
Lemond1985's Avatar
Join Date: Jan 2019
Posts: 2,690
Mentioned: 12 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1624 Post(s)
Liked 1,048 Times in 627 Posts
Not familiar with this specific climb, but I like to have a 1:1 gearing ratio (for me 34x34) for the really steep stuff. If that's not a low enough gear, than I'm just not trying hard enough. YMMV.

I find that if I use a triple, and drop into the granny gear, all that happens is that my spinning rate increases, and my speed goes way down. There's something about pedalling such a tiny ring that seems inefficient. And I really don't feel any better. But hey, for the couple of grams a granny ring weighs, why not have one just in case?
Lemond1985 is offline  
Old 05-24-20, 02:23 PM
Junior Member
Join Date: Jul 2019
Posts: 22
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked 4 Times in 4 Posts
I love the ski lift portion of that ride it's alot of fun and time flies also I would recommend getting the easiest gears you can since spinning is more efficient than grinding at like 60 rpm
DeathCurse7 is offline  
Likes For DeathCurse7:
Old 05-25-20, 01:54 PM
TrojanHorse's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: Whittier, CA
Posts: 13,347

Bikes: Specialized Roubaix

Mentioned: 147 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 1106 Post(s)
Liked 63 Times in 46 Posts
Well, having a 32 back there is a nice warm blanket in case things get ugly. If you don't need it, you don't have to use it. One of my bikes has a compact 34 up front and 11-32 in back and that's the bike I grab for ski lifts, tramway and a few streets near my house just because the slope gets unfriendly.
TrojanHorse is offline  
Likes For TrojanHorse:
Old 05-27-20, 01:12 AM
Senior Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Sunny so. cal.
Posts: 837
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 116 Post(s)
Liked 43 Times in 21 Posts
Originally Posted by DeathCurse7 View Post
I love the ski lift portion of that ride it's alot of fun and time flies also I would recommend getting the easiest gears you can since spinning is more efficient than grinding at like 60 rpm
At one point, before Iron Gate St., I was at 46rpm and 4.4 mph, lol! I'm getting the 11-32!!
bikeme is offline  
Old 06-15-20, 12:52 PM
stuff shredman
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2020
Location: Pasadena, CA
Posts: 58

Bikes: 2020 S-Works Tarmac - Sagan Edition /// 2016 Intense Tracer T275C ///

Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 28 Post(s)
Liked 53 Times in 28 Posts
I have the Campy Super Record 52/36 paired w an 11/32
For me, that's more than enough range for GMR/GRR, but the last few miles on Mt Baldy road before the ski lifts, I wish I had something lower so I could keep a higher pedal cadence
Those last few miles are brutal for me
stuff shredman is offline  
Old 06-16-20, 11:27 AM
Tycho Brahe 
Senior Member
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Amateur Coachsurfer
Posts: 933
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 229 Post(s)
Liked 71 Times in 53 Posts
I have done the ski lifts three times. Once in 2017, 2018 and 2019.

First time was with a mid compact (52/36) and an 11/28 cassette
Second time 50/34 and 11/28
Third time 50/34 and 11/30


Those last four miles are grueling. Will attempt again in the fall.

I think the new default 50/34 and 11/28 will work in most places, but you might need something lower for roads like Baldy Lifts and a few climbs in the Santa Monica Mountains like Decker, Deer Park, etc...
Tycho Brahe is offline  
Likes For Tycho Brahe:
Old 06-25-20, 03:21 PM
Just Keep Pedaling
Beachgrad05's Avatar
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Lakewood, CA
Posts: 3,355

Bikes: 99 Schwinn Mesa GS MTB, 15 Trek Domane 5.9 Dura-Ace, 17 Trek Emonda SL6 Pro & 18 Bianchi Vigorelli

Mentioned: 30 Post(s)
Tagged: 0 Thread(s)
Quoted: 250 Post(s)
Likes: 0
Liked 65 Times in 34 Posts
I can only dream about doing the ski lifts right now even on my 34-32 combo. I am getting lighter tho so maybe someday it can be more than a dream. Right now getting to Baldy Village is good for me. I might even join on 4th of July!
Beachgrad05 is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy - Privacy Statement - Terms of Service - Do Not Sell My Personal Information -

Copyright 2021 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.