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What kind of bike would I need for lots of steep mountains?

Old 05-12-10, 06:24 PM
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What kind of bike would I need for lots of steep mountains?

Hello, I have a bike ride ( thepeaceride.com ) coming up and it's going to be 4 days 238 miles total and will be at 7,000 - 10,000 ft with 3 steep mountain climbs the first day. I've been researching and it looks like I need a touring bike more than a road bike. Any ideas of where to look for a good (or not so good) climber?

Here is the only thing I could find that might work.

https://newyork.craigslist.org/brk/bik/1736834452.html

Any thoughts?

Thanks for the help!
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Old 05-12-10, 06:31 PM
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ah.... sure.
 
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I wouldn't pay that kind of money for that. Nope.
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Old 05-12-10, 06:55 PM
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yeah, bad deal.

you should spring for a pass hunter by ALPS or Toei:

https://photos1.blogger.com/blogger/7...PSpasshunt.jpg

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Old 05-12-10, 07:19 PM
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For steep climbing you want a bike that's reasonably light and has low gears. A touring bike would have the low gears, but usually gives up some lightness in exchange for being suited to carry heavier loads, which is not something you need for this ride.

But it's not that hard to modify the gearing of most road bikes to be low enough for Colorado mountains (and they may not be all that steep - do you know the grades involved? Many of the passes are long but of moderate grade). So I'd also consider how you plan to use the bike after you're done with this trip.
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Old 05-12-10, 07:36 PM
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I'm not sure of the grade but the steepest section is coming from Durango CO to Silverton it's the Coal Bank Pass climbing 1800ft in 6 miles. This is a map of the hills. https://www.thepeaceride.com/index.html . If it can make it through that section I am happy. I don't mind modifying the gearing just for the mountains and then putting them back to normal for the city. (I just don't know how!)
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Old 05-12-10, 07:57 PM
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Prathmann is correct. Here is one of my road bikes modified for hills. 46/36/26 (will take a 24) with an 11-34 rear cassette. This is the bike I ride every day, and on weekends when hills are involved. Around here that is most of the time. My touring bike has a 44/32/22 which is really nice on "real" hills.


Most bike setups are a compromise, and it is "just" a matter of what you want to give up for what is gained. IMO- I'd go for a lower geared slightly heavier bike than a lighter bike with "road"(50/42/30) or "trekking"(48/36/28) gearing. I'm also coming from the perspective of an old fart, and you might be able to do quite well with higher gears. I don't remember ever wishing that I had higher gears. On the other hand, I used to whine a lot about not having low enough gears. Good luck on your ride.

Last edited by Doug64; 05-12-10 at 08:10 PM.
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Old 05-12-10, 08:23 PM
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Not sure about "what kind" but as far as features go look for low enough gearing to get up the hills and good enough brakes to control your descent.
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Old 05-12-10, 08:23 PM
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Being young, presumably, and having good lungs acclimated to the altitude, you should do just fine with a 48/38/26 crank and a 11-32 cassette. I climbed, very slowly, Wolf Creek and La Veta Pass with a 30 pound load with that combo and I'm old with poor lungs.

As for the bike, I'd strongly consider a Trek 7.2 FX. Reasonably priced, versatile, comfortable, and reliable. Or a road bike with trekking gears. Just make sure what ever you get fits you well. Fit is First.

Last edited by Cyclebum; 05-13-10 at 10:51 AM. Reason: correct typo. thanks BWF.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Being young, presumably, and having good lungs acclimated to the altitude, you should do just fine with a 48/38/36 crank and a 11-32 cassette. I climbed, very slowly, Wolf Creek and La Veta Pass with a 30 pound load with that combo and I'm old with poor lungs.
No way. Have you done this Durango to Ouray ride Cyclebum? I have and it's a killer. My low gear was a 24x34 and it wasn't low enough. I recommend using mountain bike gearing with 22x34 or even lower. Beautiful ride. Ouray is one of my favorite places.
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Old 05-12-10, 09:29 PM
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Cyclebum, hey wait, I just realized you must of meant 48/38/26 and not 48/38/36?
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Old 05-12-10, 10:12 PM
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I am no physical specimen, but I've survived and even enjoyed that gorgeous ride in different combinations several times over the years on a 1990s no-suspension mountain bike with slicks. I'd worry more about my physical conditioning than my bike. The hardest day is Durango to Ouray, which I think is about 5,000 feet of climbing over 70 miles. Some climbs are long (the first uphill from Durango is 25 miles to the top of the first pass) but not brutally steep, especially since you're doing a supported ride with someone else hauling your gear.

If you live in an area with hills, I'd spend most of my training time riding them. If you're a flatlander, then try to train by riding hard and long into headwinds, or building leg strength at the gym on fully inclined treadmills, rotating stair machines (The Gauntlet), or kettlebells.

Besides the awesome scenery, the best thing about that ride is the terrific hot springs waiting for you at the end of the day in Ouray. Pack a swimsuit!
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Old 05-12-10, 10:39 PM
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I'm doing the Bicycle Tour of Colorado in June. There looks to be some brutal days over big passes. Slumgullion Pass 11,361 8% grade, Spring Creek Pass 10,900 7.5% grade (both on day 1), Wolf Creek Pass, 10,800 6%, and others, etc.

My bike for that ride is set up like Doug64's bike, but I have a 30-34 low gear. I have done many local climbs in that gearing: Colorado National Monument and Grand Mesa. It was fine.

I did Ouray-Silverton-Durango in two days on a loaded touring bike with a 22-34 low gear. It was slow but I made it.

Be ready for t-storms on those big passes. Started out from Silverton blazing hot in the morning, by the time we got to Coal Bank Pass it was raining and thunder. Down in Purgatory we stopped at the quicky-mart there to get coffee and hot cocoa to thaw out after a cold descent in the rain.

My BTC bike has a light pannier rack on it and I'll carry a rack trunk for knee/leg warmers, skull cap, full finger gloves and a good rain jacket. I expect wild weather.
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Old 05-12-10, 10:45 PM
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NOOOO, WTF are you all talking about???!!!!

It's a road ride, use a road bike, with a road triple or compact double. The climbing isn't steep - nothing more than 9% - there's just an awful lot of it. You're not carrying your own gear, so you don't need a tour bike.

Also, don't buy some crappy vintage bike and expect repairs to be easy to deal with. Those shifters are prehistoric. If anything brakes, you're going to have to send freaking time machine back to 1980 to get parts. Get something decent, go to a bike shop and get a professional fit before you pick a bike. For a ride that long, you're going to need to train some decent length back-to-back days, so go get a bike from a store, not craigslist, as soon as possible, and start riding it to sort out your fit adjustments.
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Old 05-12-10, 10:49 PM
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a bike with air in the tires and sufficiently low gear, which pretty much describes most of the used bikes you'll find. If you aren't familiar with long climbs and descents you'll discover the bike won't matter once you get into the effort.
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Old 05-13-10, 07:29 AM
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I have not attempted the LONG climbs that you will attempt, but I regularly climb shorter hills in the 10 percent range. I have not experienced a hill on a paved road yet that a 24t front and 32t rear won't work on for me, but it is a function of how many feet per hour you can climb. I tried a 20t front but I was going so slow that I had trouble holding a straight line for extended periods of time.

Each person has their own limit for how many feet they can climb in an hour and you can always install a lower gear to climb a steeper climb, but you reach a limit when you can't pedal fast enough to hold a straight line. My limit is about 3.5 to 4 mph, any slower and I have trouble staying upright. With my lowest gear of 20.7 inches and a cadence of 60, I calculate that my speed is 3.69 mph. On a 10 percent grade, 3.69 mph calculates to roughly 2,000 feet of elevation gain per hour. If you are capable of climbing 5,000 feet per hour, this gearing would be too low for you unless you have a cadence of 150 rpm.

I described my gearing in post 25 at this link.
https://www.bikeforums.net/showthread...aring-question.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:26 AM
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All I'll say is that not having a low enough low gear is a lot worse than not having a high enough high gear when you're carrying a touring load. I have a 46/36/24 crankset and an 11-34 cassette on my LHT. So far I've never felt like I needed something lower, but I use the lowest gear a lot on hills. If I was concerned (or maybe when I get a little older) I'd even go a little lower with a trekking- or mountain-style crankset with a 22-tooth granny.
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Old 05-13-10, 08:46 AM
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I would like to respectfully shift the conversation slightly......the better your personal conditioning base is.....the more successful your ride will be. Clearly your gears are important, BUT, it's really about your engine, your body, I've passed lightweight guys on $5k bikes in the mountains and I've been passed by clunkers ALL because of the rider's ability and pre-existing conditioning base. It's about the dues you have paid prior to the ride itself.
Remember, when in doubt, downshift and spin! Have a great ride.
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Old 05-13-10, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by BigBlueToe
All I'll say is that not having a low enough low gear is a lot worse than not having a high enough high gear when you're carrying a touring load. .
All these bikes with 100-120" top gears is like putting an over-drive gear on a car that could only be used on 8% downgrades. It makes no sense.
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Old 05-13-10, 09:05 AM
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Thanks everyone for the info. Leg strenth is good, I'm coming from, powerlifting, but don't have any bike riding experience. I'm sure it takes a different kind of muscle endurance. I'm light too at 165lbs. Only the 1st day of the ride looks hard, the rest seems to be quite a bit easier.

So as I can gather I need a road bike, triple, with low gears. What is 46/36/26? It sounds like a brickhouse. Is this the frame size, bike height, and wheel size? Thanks for the help! I just don't want to get mauled by a rattler as i'm struggling up hill!
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Old 05-13-10, 10:23 AM
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here ya go: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle_gearing
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Old 05-13-10, 10:51 AM
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Get a 26" wheeled MTB and put slicks on it if you're worried. Put on some barends and you'll survive.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:02 AM
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Originally Posted by misagro
What is 46/36/26? It sounds like a brickhouse. Is this the frame size, bike height, and wheel size? Thanks for the help! I just don't want to get mauled by a rattler as i'm struggling up hill!
Noooooo...It describes the number of teeth in each gear. The more teeth, the higher the gear, the harder to pedal, the faster you can go. On the front. On the back it's the opposite. The more teeth the lower the gear, the slower you'll go, the easier to pedal.

Condition your legs for cycling by riding a lot in low enough gear that you can pedal comfortably at a high cadence, like >70-90 rpm.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:08 AM
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Originally Posted by misagro
What is 46/36/26? It sounds like a brickhouse. Is this the frame size, bike height, and wheel size?
It's a chick with a really big rack, and really small hips.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:48 AM
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Originally Posted by Cyclebum
Noooooo...It describes the number of teeth in each gear. The more teeth, the higher the gear, the harder to pedal, the faster you can go. On the front. On the back it's the opposite. The more teeth the lower the gear, the slower you'll go, the easier to pedal.

Condition your legs for cycling by riding a lot in low enough gear that you can pedal comfortably at a high cadence, like >70-90 rpm.
More specifically, that is the number of teeth on the three chainrings (front gears) - the smallest one in front should be no higher than 30. In the back, more teeth = easier, in the front more teeth = harder.

When you see something like 30x27 low gear that means the lowest gear is 30 teeth in front and 27 in back. 30x27 is kind of the lowest "normal" road gear. Mountain bikes go as low as 22x34.
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Old 05-13-10, 11:52 AM
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To the original question, you need one of these: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vgh5Y5RhdfM
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