Should I admit defeat and go to a 30/29?



jsull14

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Nov 26, 2005
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Hi,

I have been cycling for only a few months and I love it. I want to go on a cycling tour in France one of these summers and climb the same hills Lance has. Problem is, I can hardly spin a 30/27 on any grade more than 10%.

I am pretty athletic and in decent shape. I can run for miles. But I have realized that climbing a hill on a bike is a whole different story.

Should I, dare I say, go to a 29 on the rear? Or maybe I should use a bigger gear and climb hills less steep to build strength??

Am I that weak or does it take time to be able to climb big hills?

Thanks
 

artmichalek

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Sep 15, 2004
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jsull14 said:
Hi,

I have been cycling for only a few months and I love it. I want to go on a cycling tour in France one of these summers and climb the same hills Lance has. Problem is, I can hardly spin a 30/27 on any grade more than 10%.

I am pretty athletic and in decent shape. I can run for miles. But I have realized that climbing a hill on a bike is a whole different story.

Should I, dare I say, go to a 29 on the rear? Or maybe I should use a bigger gear and climb hills less steep to build strength??

Am I that weak or does it take time to be able to climb big hills?

Thanks
It's not defeat if it works for you. Climbing big hills does take some time to get comfortable with. Keeping a bigger gear and spinning it at a cadence you're not comfortable with isn't going to make you stronger. It's just going to keep you from developing a good technique.
 

dhk

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Sep 1, 2003
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jsull14 said:
Hi,

I have been cycling for only a few months and I love it. I want to go on a cycling tour in France one of these summers and climb the same hills Lance has. Problem is, I can hardly spin a 30/27 on any grade more than 10%.

I am pretty athletic and in decent shape. I can run for miles. But I have realized that climbing a hill on a bike is a whole different story.

Should I, dare I say, go to a 29 on the rear? Or maybe I should use a bigger gear and climb hills less steep to build strength??

Am I that weak or does it take time to be able to climb big hills?

Thanks
If you think you need the lower gearing, get it by all means. Use your aerobic strength to spin, rather than forcing a higher gear. It's smart to get the equipment you need to do your best, not defeatist.

With a strong aerobic base from running, you just need time and miles to build cycling-specific capillary and muscle adaptations. Bet you'll see good progress over the first season of cycling. Even when you're climbing faster, it never hurts to have a bail-out low gear for the really steep walls, or bad days. Even 30/29 beats walking.
 

gclark8

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Apr 13, 2004
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I see nothing wrong with trying a mountain cassette, 11-30, 11-32, it should work with most road triple rear derailleurs.

What brand and model is the current gearing?

Both my bikes are triples, 30/42/52(road),53(try)
with 13-23 on the Felt (700c)
and 12-25 (training wheel) 12-23 (race wheel) on the Wheeler (650c).
I would have no hesitation in using a MTB cassette if they throw a big long hill at me.
 

RapDaddyo

Well-Known Member
May 17, 2005
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My drivetrain is 34/50-13/29 and I feel no embarrassment whatsoever using it. BTW, I rarely climb 10% grades. Get the drivetrain that allows you to ride at your preferred cadences and don't worry about what others use.
 

jsull14

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Nov 26, 2005
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Thanks for the replies!

I have a standard Shimano 30/42/52 (I think those are the teeth counts). I have really only been studying up on the small ring.

I was actually looking at the 13/29 cassette, but maybe a mountain cassette is an option. I want to limit the overall gears though to 24, otherwise it can stress the chain so I've read.

Thanks again and I'll visit my local bike shop soon.

Joe
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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How about riding somewhat less aggressive hills while you build your fitness a bit? Grades steeper than 10% are real monsters, and represent close to the worst that you'd expect to find in a TdF mountain stage.

If at all possible, I'd try to find a somewhat flatter route and work on building up distance first before re-working your drivetrain. As your power improves, you'll be able to turn a bigger gear with less problem.
 

gclark8

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Apr 13, 2004
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jsull14 said:
Thanks for the replies!

I have a standard Shimano 30/42/52 (I think those are the teeth counts). I have really only been studying up on the small ring.

I was actually looking at the 13/29 cassette, but maybe a mountain cassette is an option. I want to limit the overall gears though to 24, otherwise it can stress the chain so I've read.

Thanks again and I'll visit my local bike shop soon.

Joe
Is the rear an 8 or 9 speed??
 

Ozark Bicycle

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Oct 28, 2005
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Steve_in_NH said:
Salsa (and others) have rings down to 24 that you could use in place of the 30.

Getting a 52/42/24 to work smoothly with an STI front brifter is difficult. Smaller outer and middle rings would make it more possible.
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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artmichalek said:
Even those aren't over 10% for their entire length:
http://www.northeastcycling.com/Global_Climbs.html
Mt Washington however...:eek:
Agree. The point was that unless the OP lives on the top of Mt. Washington and has to commute home from work everyday, it might be a little early in his cycling development to start re-working his drivetrain based on an inability to spin comfortably over climbs >10%.
 

Ozark Bicycle

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Oct 28, 2005
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frenchyge said:
Agree. The point was that unless the OP lives on the top of Mt. Washington and has to commute home from work everyday, it might be a little early in his cycling development to start re-working his drivetrain based on an inability to spin comfortably over climbs >10%.

The OP expressed the intent to go to Europe and ride in the Alps and/or Pyrnees. Seems to make sense to set the bike up for worst case conditions before taking it overseas. Just having a 27in. gear doesn't mean you have to use it, but it might come in handy.
 

Steve_in_NH

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Aug 31, 2005
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Ozark Bicycle said:
Getting a 52/42/24 to work smoothly with an STI front brifter is difficult. Smaller outer and middle rings would make it more possible.
Yeah, with a 24 I dropped the chain sometimes. But 26 and 28 work fine with 52/42.
 

frenchyge

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Apr 3, 2005
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Ozark Bicycle said:
The OP expressed the intent to go to Europe and ride in the Alps and/or Pyrnees.
Yeah, "one of these summers." He also said he's been cycling for "only a few months."

Ozark Bicycle said:
Seems to make sense to set the bike up for worst case conditions before taking it overseas. Just having a 27in. gear doesn't mean you have to use it, but it might come in handy.
Well, he already has a 30/27, which I think would get anyone of appropriate fitness over most of the TdF climbs that he mentioned.

Am I the only one here that's hearing a lack of experience/training issue that should probably be addressed before setting up the bike to tackle grades over 10%? I guess I'd like to hear if there aren't some piddling 8-9% grades in the OP's area that could be practiced on before "admitting defeat and going to the 30/29."

Hey, the OP's free to do what they want, but I'm just wondering if the rest of us aren't missing the forest on the advice that's being given.
 

bernmart

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Jun 4, 2005
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jsull14 said:
Thanks for the replies!

I have a standard Shimano 30/42/52 (I think those are the teeth counts). I have really only been studying up on the small ring.

I was actually looking at the 13/29 cassette, but maybe a mountain cassette is an option. I want to limit the overall gears though to 24, otherwise it can stress the chain so I've read.

Thanks again and I'll visit my local bike shop soon.

Joe

I have the same standard Shimano chainrings up front. Soon after I got my bike last spring and started wheezing up hills, I swapped out the 12-25 cassette for a 13-27 for slightly lower gearing. I was told that was the biggest I could get w/o going for a mountain bike cassette. A 13/29 would be great for that extra edge; where did you find it?

Actually, my ideal rig would have a smaller granny chainring up front (say a 27), with a pretty close-ratio cassette except for a BIG bail-out gear, a 32 or bigger even, to be rarely used but there when needed. Any of you find this feasible?
 

lugger

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Jun 15, 2005
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bernmart said:
I have the same standard Shimano chainrings up front. Soon after I got my bike last spring and started wheezing up hills, I swapped out the 12-25 cassette for a 13-27 for slightly lower gearing. I was told that was the biggest I could get w/o going for a mountain bike cassette. A 13/29 would be great for that extra edge; where did you find it?

Actually, my ideal rig would have a smaller granny chainring up front (say a 27), with a pretty close-ratio cassette except for a BIG bail-out gear, a 32 or bigger even, to be rarely used but there when needed. Any of you find this feasible?
How about a Shimano 105 Triple 52, 42, 30 for the front and a Shimano 105 9 sp 11-32 for the rear? Shimano also makes a Nexave 9 sp 11-34 cassette which has replacable cogs, so you can modify it however you like. Got mine from Nashbar. The Nexave fits a 105 hub.

Shimano LX rear derailleur can take a 34 tooth cog, but mine hit that cog so I replaced it with a 32. (My derailluer hanger is too short.)

I ride up a short 12% hill and by the time I am at the top, I am spinning slowly in 42x30 or 42x32. Sometimes I bail down to 30x32 and go extremely slowly.

Do they make 27 tooth front chainrings? If so, wouldn't you be going so slowly that you would almost fall over if you were in 27x32? With a bigger rear cog, you probably would not need a smaller front chainring.
 

dhk

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Sep 1, 2003
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frenchyge said:
Yeah, "one of these summers." He also said he's been cycling for "only a few months."


Well, he already has a 30/27, which I think would get anyone of appropriate fitness over most of the TdF climbs that he mentioned.

Am I the only one here that's hearing a lack of experience/training issue that should probably be addressed before setting up the bike to tackle grades over 10%? I guess I'd like to hear if there aren't some piddling 8-9% grades in the OP's area that could be practiced on before "admitting defeat and going to the 30/29."

Hey, the OP's free to do what they want, but I'm just wondering if the rest of us aren't missing the forest on the advice that's being given.
You're right...totally missed the "forest" here. Changing from a 30/27 to a 30/29 isn't going to mean much vs hill training. He's already got a low gear on his triple, and the small additional change certainly isn't going to make a 10% grade easy.

For a new rider, a few more months of training and hill climbing is going to make a lot more difference than a small gearing change.
 

waxbytes

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Aug 4, 2004
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jsull14 said:
Hi,

I have been cycling for only a few months and I love it. I want to go on a cycling tour in France one of these summers and climb the same hills Lance has. Problem is, I can hardly spin a 30/27 on any grade more than 10%.

I am pretty athletic and in decent shape. I can run for miles. But I have realized that climbing a hill on a bike is a whole different story.

Should I, dare I say, go to a 29 on the rear? Or maybe I should use a bigger gear and climb hills less steep to build strength??

Am I that weak or does it take time to be able to climb big hills?

Thanks
It's not defeat to protect your knees, especially if your new to uphill riding.