Changing Gears While Climbing

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by jkca1, May 11, 2003.

  1. jkca1

    jkca1 New Member

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    Newbie question for you all - When coming down a steep hill heading toward a steep climb when should you change gears for the steep hill?

    The reason I ask is after a chain problem on Saturday the guy who helped fix my bike told me never to change gears while climbing. The way he explained it made sense at the time but now...? Thanks in advance.

    -Jim-
     
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  2. J-MAT

    J-MAT New Member

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    You will find an optimal cadence for climbing as with riding on the flats. It is highly individual.

    As for never changing gears, that is poor advice. If you watch an experienced rider start a climb, you will notice they often hit the base very fast. Carry your speed as long as possible. If you were flying on the flats, why shouldn't you get every bit you worked for?

    Hit the climb and hold your "flat" speed as long as possible, while possibly "floating" (not working hard) a little. An object in motion tends to stay in motion!!!

    As your speed drops, downshift until you settle into the climb. Strong climbers will usually shift to a harder gear the last portions of a climb.

    Sometimes, a course or tactics will dictate that you hit the base slow, in the pack. I can think of one 12%+ climb on a local training ride where everyone goes into the small ring .5 mile before the base, only going 15-17 mph. Later, there is a one mile 6% grade that finshes the ride. We start slow in the big ring, usually a 53x21 or 53x19 at 13-15 mph until the attacks start, and the pace can hit 17-20 mph!!!

    If you are going down a hill and facing another climb, I would spin out if possible in my biggest gear, and keep it there until I hit the base. I would then rapidly downshift while maintaining my cadence until I found the right gear. If you have to make the transition to your small ring, be sure your front derailleur is properly adjusted to avoid dropping your chain. Practice shifting on the fly and going between the small ring and big ring while climbing.

    Good luck!!!
     
  3. steve

    steve Administrator
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    I don't see any problems with changing gears on a climb. If you leave changing down to late, you may find it hard getting the chain to drop from the big ring down to the little ring if you candance is only 30 or 40 as you start a 10% climb :D

    Apart from that, the only other reason I cant think of is maybe your gears arn't setup right? Most groupsets will change really smooth these days, unlike 10-15 years ago.

    cheers
     
  4. Colonel

    Colonel New Member

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    Just a semi-newbie thought for you - it might be beneficial when downshifting on a climb to (if possible) back off on the power as the gears transition, hence reducing the stress on your components and ensuring a trouble-free shift.
     
  5. 2LAP

    2LAP New Member

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    Some of the cheaper groupsets still have troubles changing when under tension, partciularly when the chain line is unfavourable.
     
  6. Kristian

    Kristian New Member

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    Learn to 'sotf pedal' as you change down gears it lets the chan\in change while not under too much tension. It wont make that bad clunk sound and wont snap, slip or drop. If you are at the bottom of a steep hill but still hae a bit of speed only chang e to the small ring as your speed drops but not so low that cadence is like 70 or 60ish. The apter that you can start to move up your cluster to maintain comfortable cadence. Dont dump all your gears at once that may give you chain trouble. and dont go from big to small ring under alot of tension. Keep practicing and watch what the real good riders do, they mostly change at simmilar times on climbs.
     
  7. troyq

    troyq New Member

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    I think that the bike shop guy meant don't change gears under "full load" (as others have suggested).

    Not backing off while changing gears will wear your components quickly - some groupsets faster than others.

    There is definately a technique and feel to changing gears while climbing, particularly when out of the saddle. Just practice.
     
  8. tanggoman

    tanggoman New Member

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    i go back to the saddle when changing gears during climb... i just dont like the sound of the chains and chainring grinding so bad during tension... its just me tho...
     
  9. fearby

    fearby New Member

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    Of course you should change gears on a climb!
    If you cannot keep a decent cadence going you need to change down.For me the main benefit of gear change levers in the brake levers is that I don't have to sit down now to change gear so less of my rhythm is lost.Us old folk remember when gear levers where mounted on the frame.
     
  10. Carrera

    Carrera New Member

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    I got caught out twice today over this. First time I got caught up a stretch in the wrong gear and had to stop and regear.
    Second time nearly proved damaging. I descended down a very very steep stretch of road, dipped and immediately hit a steep upward slant. I couldn't quite find the right gear to hit when my speed slowed and ended up in too big a cog. No momentum was there to change down either. This only happened as I'm on a new bike and am not quite used to the gear range yet.
    At any rate I stopped, turned round and changed down and then reversed to start climbing again. Anyone tried to get their feet in the straps on an upward slant. I very nearly come off and fell right on top of my bike. In the end I decided to walk up the rest of the stretch - kind of embarrassing as mostorists would have thought I wasn't fit enough to ride up. But I really struggle to get my feet in the straps while on a hill whereas on a downward slant it's easy.


     
  11. mitosis

    mitosis New Member

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    Listen to everyone's advice but act on the most sensible.

    On a long constant climb find a gear that is comfortable and get in a rhythm while seated. Change up a cog or two when you stand up to give your body a change of muscle.

    If the grade changes, change gears, that's what they are for.
     
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