Climbing Steep (25%+) Hills on road bikes

Quote by JH:
" I tend to want to slack off after I reach the top of it since there are several more hill after that and I am on my limit red faced and sucking air through my ears and a**."

When you're mistaken for a broken down steam locomotive as you huff over the crest...

I never had Lemond's magical VO2 Max. or Armstrong's mythical heart the size of a football, but these days I swear I'm making new noises when the heart rate bangs over 180 BPM and I can't seem to force two more CC's of air into my lungs.

I did a 3/4-mile climb this afternoon that peaked at 12%. Felt plenty steep enough to me when I was trying to roll a 39 x 23 up it in a TT mode. And that little mole hill wouldn't make the 10,000th Honorable Mention on Maydog's list of pain.

I can vouch that Canton Road in Pittsburg, Pa. is rideable AND a classic wall. I've never seen anyone 'dance' up it, but I'm sure that given a track bike and a small enough chain ring a YouTube video of some young dude hopping and spinning his way to the top would be awesome...

Da hill!


Da race!

Just like others are saying. Going with a bigger cassette is the way to go. The 5701 GS cage is made to take an 11-32 cassette. I learned MANY years ago,that cycling is just like golf, you have 14 clubs in your bag, don't worry that the guy next to you is hitting a 9 iron from 185 yards and you have to hit a 5 iron. It's the SCORE THAT MATTERS! Cycling is the same.Who cares if the guy next to ya is going up in a 25. Use the resources that are out there. Always leave the EGO at home! Is it better to be sitting at the top of the climb having conquered it,or sitting at da bottom complaining.... What ya should've done. Your choice.
A few thots...

1. Shimano 10spd mountain derailleurs (Deore, XT, XTR) will NOT shift properly with 10spd STI shifters.
2. Shimano 9spd mountain derailleurs WILL shift properly with 10spd STI shifters.

Why? Shimano changed the cable pull with their 10spd mountain shifters thereby making them incompatible with the 10spd road shifters.

One can actually use Shimano 7, 8, and 9 spd mountain derailleurs with the 10spd STI shifters. The wider jockey wheels of the 7 and 8 speed make shifting a bit less precise but it works fine. Some of the Shimano 6 spd mountain derailleurs work fine as well.

For determining lowest gear - rear derailleurs have two key spec's.
- Maximum (largest) cog
- Cable wrap capacity

The max cog is self explanatory. Cable wrap just spec's how many links (teeth) difference there can be between your large/large and small/small combinations.
Ex: 50/34 crank and 32/11 cassette.
50/32 to 34/11 is a 37 tooth difference. (50+32 - 34+11)

If the derailleur can't wrap all those links, then you won't be able to use every gear combination. IMO one should always size the chain to accommodate the large/large combination, if the chain isn't long enough then an accidental shift to this combination will likely result in the derailleur going into the rear wheel. Yes I've seen this happen and it's never a happy ending. I have successfully setup a couple bikes where the RD couldn't wrap all the chain - this just meant that the last couple cogs of the cassette resulted in a chain that ummmmm sagged a bit. All worked fine as small-small shouldn't be used and if it did happen by accident the bike didn't self destruct.

As for climbing 25% and steeper hills, it really just comes down to: the gear ratio, one's strength, weight, and how quickly one wants to make it to the top. Any of the new mountain bikes with 22t or 24t small chain rings and 36t rear cogs will allow gear ratios so low that one can quite literally crawl up 25% climbs. For the lowest possible gear ratios, check out mountain bike drivetrains but be forewarned to make sure the crankset will be compatible with the frame and as noted above the derailleur cable pull is compatible with the shifter, and the front derailleur cable mount and pull must also be compatible with the frame. The small mountain chainrings do need a different shape front derailleur.

Hope this helps,
Id go 30t. Also, my approach to climbing better is losing weight, much cheaper than getting a lighter bike.