12-26 Cassette, How Effective Is It For Climbing?

Discussion in 'Cycling Equipment' started by Uawadall, Aug 28, 2015.

  1. Uawadall

    Uawadall Well-Known Member

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    I'll be the first to admit that I'm a novice when it comes to bike maintenance and upgrades. I've noticed when I go up hills with a grade of 8-9% or higher, my cadence becomes significantly lower.I've heard that you can swap out your cassette for the ability to lower your gearing and am wondering if it is possible with my current setup. My front chainring is a 50-34(top has 50 teeth, bottom one has 34) and my cassette is a sram pg 1070 12/26.

    Obviously my cadence will increase with training(only have been riding for 4 months), but I'm trying to figure out if its possible to lower my gearing for those especially steep hills. This is my current bike btw

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  2. mpre53

    mpre53 Well-Known Member

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    I think most--if not all--of the newer Shimano rear mechs can handle a 30t or even a 32t granny cog in the back. I know that some of the Synapse CF models come with an 11-30 cassette. Mine came with an 11-28, but I don't need a 28. I swapped it out for a 12-25.

    It takes all of about 10 minutes, tops, to change a cassette. You need the lock ring tool, a chain whip, and a 25 mm or 1" box or crescent wrech to turn the lock ring tool. And a little elbow grease. Don't lose, or forget to replace, the hub spacer. Shimano and SRAM cassettes only fit on the hub one way---the right one. So try a wider range cassette for now, and when your fitness gets better, you can put the 12-26 back on.
     
  3. Uawadall

    Uawadall Well-Known Member

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    I'm the fastest up the hills in the group I ride with on Saturdays.They're mostly experienced(5-20 years each) and range in age from 35-60, around 15 of us. I'm by far the youngest at 28 and lightest per inch of height. Pretty good uphills for a newbie, but still a newbie..

    Its the long and steep hills that get me, i'm trying to improve my time on a 1.2 mile category 4 climb. So far i'm listed at 8th place on Strava out of 33 and I want to improve on that.The distance between my score and first place is 2min 31 seconds....My breathing has gotten much better on it after 8 tries or so, but my cadence slows at some parts that on looking at the elevation data goes as high as a 23% grade at parts(it averages 6% because the top and the bottom are more shallow). I think even 1 lower gear would be really helpful.Nearly fell clipped in at the steepest part from my cadence slowing too much,lol..
     
  4. Mr. Beanz

    Mr. Beanz Well-Known Member

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    Since you're new. just keep hitting the hills, the 26 will be easy enough with time.
     
  5. Uawadall

    Uawadall Well-Known Member

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    I've never been the type to take shortcuts or try to buy myself into bike fitness, if you say it takes time,i'll just train more.My area is somewhat hilly and if I loop certain areas, I can get around 800 feet elevation gain per 10 miles...I need to research as well to find some steeper areas. One thing I can do in the mean time is do hill repeats for the one in question.

    I definitely don't compare bikes with what others are riding, but sometimes I do compare my results with others for a couple reasons. To find out what I'm doing wrong, to learn from others technique and a little healthy competition for motivation. Their are groups much faster than my current one in my bike club that I could join, but I'm more focused on bettering my technique on these rides than becoming a racehorse(for now). Some of the guys who lead the group use to be super fast,but slowed some with age. I watch their technique and try to improve on mine. When my technique has improved enough(hopefully by next year) i'll try and keep up with the fast squad.
     
  6. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    A 34 x 26 will climb a telephone pole if you could get traction. If you have the conditioning, that's plenty enough gear for short, steep stuff in the 16% range and long, steady uphill drags.

    A 34 x 26 will get you up the Mortirolo or the Angliru as long as you're not trying to keep up with Nibali as he hangs onto a water bottle.

    You've got the gear. Use it and use it when you need to.

    "Some of the guys who lead the group use to be super fast, but slowed some with age."

    I'm old. I have been slowed a little by age. But...beware! Old age and treachery trump youth and skill! :D Learn from them. They will teach you a lot.
     
  7. swampy1970

    swampy1970 Well-Known Member

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    Give it time and you should get fitter.

    Wisdom will bring patience and with that some good pacing skills. If your hill has a steep section in it that's midway up the climb, try to start the climb near the front and ride at a pace that's just below your max sustainable. When you get to the steep part you'll still have some gas in the tank for that little extra effort and to stomp up the remainder of this hills.

    Hills like this have a requirement for aerobic and anaerobic fitness. The really steep stuff will cause you to start to go anaerobic. With time and proper training you will be better able to handle this. Short, very hard repetitive intervals work well for this - since you're fairly new, rather than doing structured efforts use those very short hills, small bridges and overpasses to sprint up.

    The more riding you do you'll develop aerobic fitness. Do some solo rides where you can keep the effort fairly hard throughout the ride.
     
  8. Uawadall

    Uawadall Well-Known Member

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    I was wearing my new road shorts(have been wearing mt bike ones up until now) and feeling confident on this Saturdays ride. Everything felt so much easier than even a month ago to the point that I should switch to a faster group.....but there he was...The group leader has kids my age and he's a bigger guy 250 at least...but he was destroying the hills and staying up front the entire time. I stayed right with him, but he made sure it didn't come easy,lol...I can't imagine how fast he must have been 20 years and 100 pounds ago..

    I usually ride alone twice a week and a group ride on Saturday. I ride with my brother maybe twice a month and lets just say I'm up the hill minutes before him. If anything, I feel like I'm meant to climb hills,but everyone has to earn it. Maybe I'm expecting too much progress for only being 4 months in. One positive thing is, I'm pretty sturdy and know how to not beat my body into the ground with overtraining. I have 5 days off from work this week and will tackle that hill as many of those days as possible(hopefully at least 4).BTW, the difficulty of this hill has made most of my other climbs feel really easy. Some climbs that I use to have to stand up for, I can sprint through now...Guess it just takes time.
     
  9. CAMPYBOB

    CAMPYBOB Well-Known Member

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    "The group leader has kids my age and he's a bigger guy 250 at least...but he was destroying the hills and staying up front the entire time. I stayed right with him, but he made sure it didn't come easy,lol...I can't imagine how fast he must have been 20 years and 100 pounds ago.."

    250 pounds? And you're staying on his wheel now?

    When you get some conditioning in your legs you will be dropping him like a stone when the road starts going up. It takes a lot of Watts to haul 250 pounds up a hill.

    I re-read your post...23% is insanely steep. For that a 34 x 26 might not be low enough. How long is the 23% pitch, linearly? A 28T bailout gear might be something to consider for that hill...'if' it's a long enough in length and 'if' you're riding that hill a lot. Eventually, you might not need the 28 and you may find you like riding insanely steep stuff and want to keep the 28.

    Personally, I base my low gear on the steepest stuff that I ride all the time. For the once-in-a-blue-moon walls I come across or when I'm completely blown up I just gut it out.
     
  10. Uawadall

    Uawadall Well-Known Member

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    I look like a cyclist, he is a cyclist,lol... :D . I'm still in my first season and this guy has been riding for longer than I've been alive. Hes one of the people who started the club 20 years ago and use to ride with the AA group 20-23 average pace. He and his wife bike 3-4 times a week and take bike vacations. I think a few years ago they climbed one of the worlds steepest mountains in Hawaii.

    I'm in the B- group right now (15-16), I usually hold a speed between 15.5-17.5 on solo rides depending on how steep things are. I've chosen the group that's 1 below my current pace because this was my first time riding in a big group. I'm use to big groups now and next season will hopefully join the B+ or 17-19 mph group(may get dropped at first, but so what)

    The hill in question appeared pretty uniform to me, but checking on strava, it seems to have quite a range. Also, the road is pot hole central...Takes a lot of energy to climb and dodge holes at the same time. I want to eventually ride even steeper stuff and it would be nice to have the cassette just in case.For this season though, I'll just climb more with my current setup.
     
  11. BrianNystrom

    BrianNystrom Active Member

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    To get faster and stronger, you need to ride with people who can push you. Once you get to the point that you can hang with the leader of your group and you feel comfortable with group riding, you should jump up a level, even if you only do it once in a while at first. As you move up, you'll likely encounter current or former racers and the skills needed for the group may change somewhat. The other riders should be willing to help you with learning how their group operates.

    I wouldn't worry about your cadence, as it's a personal thing. On level roads, most riders will be in the 85-95 RPM range. Although some riders can sustain a high cadence while climbing, it's normal for your cadence to drop a bit when climbing. I've been riding for 45 years, including a few seasons of racing, and my cadence has always dropped on climbs. If I try to force myself to use lower gears and maintain my flat-road cadence (~90 rpm), my legs tie up in knots. If I just ride at a cadence that feels right, I'm fine.

    Where are you riding that you find 23% grades on pavement? That's pretty unusual.
     
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