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Ok Hill Meisters. What’s Your Gearing??

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Ok Hill Meisters. What’s Your Gearing??

Old 12-24-19, 08:34 AM
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Ok Hill Meisters. What’s Your Gearing??

Those that are logging monster miles of climbing gain, what is your gearing? Please post your chainset and cassette numbers.
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Old 12-24-19, 08:52 AM
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Not sure if I qualify for that monster miles of climbing merit badge (235K feet of gain this year out of 4,300 miles of riding), but I’ve got a 50-34 crankset and a 11-32 cassette. Rarely get into the 28T cog and can’t remember the last time I got into the 32T cog.
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Old 12-24-19, 09:17 AM
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I live in southeastern Wisconsin, we have short but steep hills here, so I donít accumulate as much vertical as some cyclists. However, almost every ride includes a 15% climb that takes more than 5 minutes to finish.

2x11: 48/31 & 11-32

2x11: 46/33 & 11-36

3x10: 50/39/26 & 12-27

3x8: 48/36/26 & 12-28

Last edited by Barrettscv; 12-24-19 at 09:33 AM.
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Old 12-24-19, 09:51 AM
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I like old school triples, and run the standard (or what used to be the standard) Shimano road triple in front with a 30 tooth chain ring. In back, the largest cog on the cassette is a 28. So I have this combination: 11-28 (10 speed) in back and 52/42/30 in front. That puts me at just under a 30 inch gear for my lowest.

I know triples are passe ... but I still prefer them for a variety of reasons.
  • Can keep it in the middle ring almost all the time. The only exceptions are long climbs and long descents. Probably less shifting over all.
  • Closer gear ratios in all 3 chainrings. That's helpful in both climbing and endurance racing, as you're less likely to be caught between gears with one a little to high and one a little too low.

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Old 12-24-19, 10:02 AM
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Originally Posted by gevad View Post
Not sure if I qualify for that monster miles of climbing merit badge (235K feet of gain this year out of 4,300 miles of riding), but Iíve got a 50-34 crankset and a 11-32 cassette. Rarely get into the 28T cog and canít remember the last time I got into the 32T cog.
My go-to 20lb Cannondale Criterium Series has a 50/34 with 12-28. This next season will be a good test over the previous road double it replaced. I like speedy descents and thinking Iím not giving up much with the new (this past year) FSA 50/34.

Iím in the middle of trimming bdy wt (the worst hillclimb antagonist) from 195 to 165, my prime weight.
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Old 12-24-19, 10:15 AM
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Mountain bike:
3x8: 48-40-28 (I have a 24 I swap in for really steep hill work, but the 24-to-40 shift has to be done very slowly and with finesse) / 12-13-15-17-19-21-24-28 made out of parts of two 7- and 8-speed cassettes

I try for a nice 1.5-step plus granny. I may replace the bottom end 21-24-28 with 22-25-30.

Bianchi road bike:
2x6: 50-42 / 14-16-18-20-23-26 (pushes the 1980 Campag. rear derailleur about to its limit)

The secret to getting a decent low gear from vintage racing equipment is to lower the top gear a bit. I have no need for anything bigger than 49 or 50T up front, even less if I had a 12T high in back.
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Old 12-24-19, 10:20 AM
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I do a lot of hill climbing, but mostly on mountain bikes.

My “newest” road bike is a classic Cramerotti, which is the worst hill climber I’ve ever ridden. I don’t have the gear numbers in front of me just now but at the lowest it is 2:1 (42X20 or so) - but it’ll sure go fast on the flats! Unfortunately, here in the mountains, flats are the exception. So I’m in the process of change the gears out to something more realistic for around here.

Great work on decreasing the load you have to pedal uphill. That is probably the key to climbing.
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Old 12-24-19, 10:52 AM
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Originally Posted by Barrettscv View Post
However, almost every ride includes a 15% climb that takes more than 5 minutes to finish.

That sounds like some nice riding. Merry Christmas.

i have 34x27 on my main bike and 34x32 on my winter bike and all I do is climb the same Mountain over and over, including a 300m section we call The Wall. I would describe my gearing as a little too conservative.
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Old 12-24-19, 10:55 AM
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Currently, it's an 11-28 in back and 50-34 in front. Works perfectly on these crazy volcanoes around here.
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Old 12-24-19, 11:32 AM
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No idea of my vertical miles, but it is a rare ride that has less than 1500' total and most are 2000'+, so at 15-17 rides/month
that would in the 300k vertical feet for a year, probably closer to 400k. No hills more than 1.5-2 miles most under 0.5m and
a few hundred feet elevation. Nothing like what jppe does. Last rebuild I took down my final triple and went with 48-32 CW
and 11-34 cassette for a gear in the 25 range. I use it now and then but 32/25 or 32/28 is enough for most hills. My other
bike is 50-34 and 11-32 cassette. My mid drive recumbent gets down to the 22gear range, again rarely used but it has
a 12-34 6 spd cassette in the middle and an 11-28 cassette in the back on a 406 wheel. It is a slug on hills.
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Old 12-24-19, 12:44 PM
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My three road bikes all have 50/34 chainrings. One has an 11-25 cassette, one has an 11-26 cassette, and one has an 11-28 cassette.
My gravel bike has 48/32 chainrings with an 11-32 cassette.
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Old 12-24-19, 12:56 PM
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9 speed triple. Lowest gear is 26 X 30. When I was a 58 y.o. kid, 16 years ago, that was 30 X 25. So 53-39-26 front, 11-30 rear, Ultregra.
Results matter
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Old 12-24-19, 12:58 PM
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Well, my bike is a trek 520 loaded up with tools, spare parts, etc, so it weighs about 50 lbs. It came with 48-36-26 and 11-32. Swapped out the small ring and the cassette, so it's 48-36-22 and 12-36. The low is about 17 gear inches. Haven't walked a hill since.
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Old 12-24-19, 01:21 PM
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I don't do anywhere near the amount of climbing as some but my area includes a lot of rolling hills and a lot of short steep climbs, e.g. 1/4 mile at 15% grade. The bike I've been riding has a triple with 30/25 being the lowest gear and it does get used. I just picked up a new bike with a 50/34 and 11/34 cassette which should be able to tackle just about anything.
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Old 12-24-19, 05:31 PM
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I live on Soledad Mountain in SD so I can leave my house and start climbing immediately and there are 5 roads to climb the mountain. The mountain is by name only since it is an 18 to 20 minute climb versus when we lived in NorCal, most mountain climbs were 40 to 90 minutes plus. I will do 2 to 3 climbs up Soledad for a climbing workout.

For gearing, I have a compact double 50/34 and use an 11/32 11 speed rear cassette. We have a lot of punchy stuff so the 34/32 combo is nice to have prior to being warmed up. Otherwise, gear and cadence selection is more about the goals of the workout. There is nothing wrong with doing a big ring climb to work on strength and keep the cadence low and conversely, an 100 rpm 2 to 3 minute high power climb is great for building high end.
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Old 12-24-19, 06:31 PM
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My Trek 29er MTB has a Deore Triple 44/34/24 and 11-34 9 speed cassette. The bike is 37 lbs but with this combo I can climb every hill I have encountered up to 15-16% in my area. I was even able to take this up GMR-GRR-Mt Baldy Ski Lifts and struggled to keep 5 mph in the last two miles.

My Kestrel road bike has a 50/34 compact and five months ago I swapped to an 11-34 cassette from an 11-28. I am 210 lbs and the extra gears allows me to "rest" and spin at 7-8 mph up 6-8% inclines rather than mashing in my old 25-28 cogs. Climbing is more enjoyable but losing 20 lbs would make it faster and more enjoyable.
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Old 12-24-19, 06:53 PM
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Am I old school?
53/39 12-30 on the roadie
48/38/28 12-28 on the touring bike

Since I turned 60 a couple of years ago, I have considered making some changes but I'm not there yet.
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Old 12-24-19, 07:07 PM
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Strava sez 249,000 feet elevation gain this year, for just over 6,000 miles and 352 rides. Pretty sure that includes about 20% indoor trainer sessions.

I'm not a strong climber so I converted my steel road bike from 52/42 chainring and 13-24 freewheel to 50/39 and 13-25, then currently 50/38 and 13-28. But I've gotten stronger and don't often need the 38T chainring and 28T big cog anymore. Not many long steep climbs here. Mostly short punchy steep sprint-climbs, and some 2% grades over 2 miles or so.

My '93 Trek 5900 weighs 5 lbs less so I've kept the 52/42 Biopace (different, interesting) and various freewheels and cassettes ranging from 14-28 freewheel to 11-28 cassette. I do use the 42/28 combo pretty often.

I've been working on climbing and don't dread it quite so much. I'm very middling on most Strava climbing segments, but there are a few where I'm top ten or close to it. My guess is it's a combination of relatively few people tackling those segments, and something about the pavement and wind conditions suiting me well. On paper those climbs where I'm faster don't look any easier. But in actual riding conditions they feel very different. Smooth asphalt instead of chipseal. Inline with prevailing winds. Even a barely perceptible 3 mph tailwind helps. Or I just happened to have good legs that day. Dunno. I'm very inconsistent on climbs. It's more of a mental game than most riding conditions.
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Old 12-24-19, 07:12 PM
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Iím a big believer in having plenty of gear inches for climbing. Iím not a great climber but I can climb about anything at a steady pace.

I have two bikes I use for hilly rides. One has a 50/34 crank with a 10 speed 11-32 cassette. The 50-11 is perfect for keeping the speed up long downhill descents. I usually train avoiding using the 32 cog, but love it when itís needed. Iíve been able to climb everything using that combination.

My other newer 11 speed bike has disc brakes whoís ideal for twisty downhill descents, especially when itís wet. That bike has a 52/36 crank and an 11-34 cassette. Itís about the same gear inches for the easiest gears. The 52-11 is really nice for super straight and long downhills. We had a long downhill from Crater Lake and also Diamond Lake in Oregon this past September. I was able to move out in front of our group and really keep the speed at a maximum with the 52-11.

My Pinarello has a 50/34 crank and a 12-29 cassette. Itís good gearing for my riding around the house.

I just put a 46/30 crank on my gravel bike with an 11-34 cassette. I had a 34 crank on it before and I think the new 30 is going to be a keeper, although I havenít tried it out yet.
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Old 12-24-19, 07:26 PM
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Beginning with April, Strava says 418,035 feet over 7689 miles. I'm pretty slow up hills but it seems I can't avoid them. 50X34 and 11-34 works for me.
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Old 12-24-19, 09:56 PM
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I'm not getting in 'monster mileage', but I do have two almost identical bikes I ride, the main difference being the gearing. I've got one with a 50/30 up front, 12-32 in back, and the other has a 53/39 front and 12-28 rear. Both can handle the local hills, but when I load up for a light touring/credit card touring adventure the lowered-geared bike wins, especially in an area with larger hills than I normally ride around my home turf.
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Old 12-24-19, 10:39 PM
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I only logged 1,115 miles but 64,500 ft elev gain this year according to my Strava account. My quick 3 has a 50/34 crank and had the rear cogs swapped out with a 11/36. My Topstone runs the stock 46/30 cranks - 11/34 cogs. I don't run the hills fast but I do climb a constant grind.
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Old 12-24-19, 11:30 PM
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My main bike has a 50/34 crank and a 12-29 cassette. I climb about everything on the 34x29 low gear, including sections of 15%. If I had a lower gear I would use it. When we had 7 speeds I had a 42x28 low gear for everything which was lower than any of my friends had.

My older bike has a triple and the last two times we did a trip to ride in the Sierra Nevada I took that bike and borrowed a cassette with a 30 so I had a 30x30 low gear and I was glad to have it.
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Old 12-25-19, 08:44 AM
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34 - 50 and 11-28 normally, but when I do any serious climbing (the Alps, Mont Ventoux etc. in France), I swap out the rear for a 11-32.
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Old 12-25-19, 08:54 AM
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My road bike has a 50/34 and 13/26, and for NYC that is plenty low, even when I go outside the city. When in San Francisco I rented a bike with 50/34 and 12/34 gear in the back and I used the 34-34 combo a few times on my ride. Those SF city hills can be killer with the traffic around you too so you don't want to stall.

If I ever take my own bike on a climbing trip I'll put at least a 13-29 on, the largest Campy 10sp I can use with my existing setup. Anything else will require a larger RD.
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