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Gears, hills and things....

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Gears, hills and things....

Old 01-20-22, 03:48 AM
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PeterCNX
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Gears, hills and things....

Any suggestions welcome, especially the ones that do not need to spend a fortune.

Where I live we have steep hills, people call them mountains. I call them annoying. The problem is it is difficult to go up. In places it is walk slow and push. So I was wondering if there is anything I can do to get some relief.

My bike is an 11-34 cassette (Claris RD 2400) and 50-34 chainrings (FD 3400).

Apparently the RD is to handle up to 11-32 but I have no problems with 11-34. The FD can handle up to a 53 tooth chainring but whether or not that is correct I know not.

Of course I have no idea. Should I install a larger cassette and get a new RD. Or should I focus on experimenting with the chainrings? Should I reach for 9-speed.

So I want to go up, a lot easier. To go faster would be nice but not essential.
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Old 01-20-22, 05:53 AM
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Your best bet is probably a gravel/mtb cassette and RD. 11-42 is a popular choice for a very low climbing gear on paved roads. I don't see much point in changing the front end. 50/34 is a pretty good combo for the mountains.
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Old 01-20-22, 05:54 AM
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If I read your post correctly, your low gear is 34 x 34. On an unladened bike thats a pretty low gear. I don't know your age, fitness level or the climbs you're having difficulty with but there's probably more gains to be made thru fitness rather than additional low gearing. That said, depending on the bike, you may be able to install a 30/46 crank without a derailleur change.
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Old 01-20-22, 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by PeteHski View Post
Your best bet is probably a gravel/mtb cassette and RD. 11-42 is a popular choice for a very low climbing gear on paved roads. I don't see much point in changing the front end. 50/34 is a pretty good combo for the mountains.
Thank you for your clear suggestion, this is straight forward and should be something I can quickly try.
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Old 01-20-22, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
If I read your post correctly, your low gear is 34 x 34. On an unladened bike thats a pretty low gear. I don't know your age, fitness level or the climbs you're having difficulty with but there's probably more gains to be made thru fitness rather than additional low gearing. That said, depending on the bike, you may be able to install a 30/46 crank without a derailleur change.
I am quite old but very fit. The climbs are tough, parts are hairpin bends where cars can only get round in first gear. The approach is very steep. But ... there are quite a lot of roads like this in the region and the highest peaks in the country are in the same area ....

I think I will try out a change of cassette first and then come back to your suggestion, thank you for that.
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Old 01-20-22, 08:01 AM
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Originally Posted by PeterCNX View Post
I am quite old but very fit. The climbs are tough, parts are hairpin bends where cars can only get round in first gear. The approach is very steep. But ... there are quite a lot of roads like this in the region and the highest peaks in the country are in the same area ....

I think I will try out a change of cassette first and then come back to your suggestion, thank you for that.
No problem. I'd be interested in hearing/seeing where the grades are you're talking about. I'm 62 and apart from Mt Washington I can't think of anything that requires more than a 34 x 34 for me.
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Old 01-20-22, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
If I read your post correctly, your low gear is 34 x 34. On an unladened bike thats a pretty low gear. I don't know your age, fitness level or the climbs you're having difficulty with but there's probably more gains to be made thru fitness rather than additional low gearing. That said, depending on the bike, you may be able to install a 30/46 crank without a derailleur change.
Ive climbed a 37% grade with 3432 gearing, and Im no climber. So I tend to agree with this post.

Getting the 3034 gear will probably cost a few hundred dollars, and it sounds like the OP is on a budget. But that would feel noticeably lower and easier on a steep climb.
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Old 01-20-22, 08:31 AM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
No problem. I'd be interested in hearing/seeing where the grades are you're talking about. I'm 62 and apart from Mt Washington I can't think of anything that requires more than a 34 x 34 for me.

I am your senior in age by quite a few years but even if I was 30 years younger these would still be tough......


You want to know the routes .... Google maps is your friend. Here are some examples to enter.......


Chiang Mai to Mae Wang to Mae Win to Khun Wang


Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon peak


Chiang Mai to Mae Wang to Mae Win to Samoeng


Chiang Mai to Mae Rim to Samoeng to Chiang Mai (counter clockwise loop).


I think there is a youtube channel called DurianRider and he recorded some of the routes some years ago.... search for Inthanon and you will get an idea. Google maps should give you a clear feel.

Just saw this short clip from another person, I am not allowed to post the URL but if you search for Khun Wang, Chiang Mai you will find it .......9RX3ANol9xY A couple of shots show what I mean, GoPro makes this look easy but it is not.........
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Old 01-20-22, 11:14 AM
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Sounds like a job for an ebike petal assist
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Old 01-20-22, 11:34 AM
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This has worked well on my CX bike for steep terrain. Available for various crank types.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/12370651174...3ABFBMtqTYiM9f
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Old 01-20-22, 12:12 PM
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Originally Posted by PeterCNX View Post
I am your senior in age by quite a few years but even if I was 30 years younger these would still be tough......


You want to know the routes .... Google maps is your friend. Here are some examples to enter.......


Chiang Mai to Mae Wang to Mae Win to Khun Wang


Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon peak


Chiang Mai to Mae Wang to Mae Win to Samoeng


Chiang Mai to Mae Rim to Samoeng to Chiang Mai (counter clockwise loop).


I think there is a youtube channel called DurianRider and he recorded some of the routes some years ago.... search for Inthanon and you will get an idea. Google maps should give you a clear feel.

Just saw this short clip from another person, I am not allowed to post the URL but if you search for Khun Wang, Chiang Mai you will find it .......9RX3ANol9xY A couple of shots show what I mean, GoPro makes this look easy but it is not.........
I'm not savy enough to make google maps show elevation and grade percentage. If I routinely rode where a 34x34 on road bike bike wouldn't get it done, I'd get an e-bike. If the budget didn't allow that, I'd get nice pair SPD cycling shoes/pedals and push the thing up the climb and ride down. If the climbs are as brutal as you're making them sound, there ain't a lick of difference between a 34x34 and 30x34 as far as I'm concerned.
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Old 01-20-22, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by PeterCNX View Post
Chiang Mai to Doi Inthanon peak
So I looked that up on Garmin Connect and found a couple public routes so people can see what you're talking about.

Here's one of them: https://connect.garmin.com/modern/course/84759943

7,729ft ascent over 29.84 miles. Looks like grade is largely 6-8% with some 10%+ bits.

As it appears to be a fairly popular route (based on the heatmap), have you considered waiting at the top sometime and speaking with bicyclists you see, asking about what their bicycle gearing is and how they like it?
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Old 01-20-22, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
If the budget didn't allow that, I'd get nice pair SPD cycling shoes/pedals and push the thing up the climb and ride down. If the climbs are as brutal as you're making them sound, there ain't a lick of difference between a 34x34 and 30x34 as far as I'm concerned.
As long as riding is reasonably practicable - gearing adequate for the gradient and not too technical - pedaling is generally much easier than pushing.
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Old 01-20-22, 02:20 PM
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A 1-to-1 ratio is a low gear for lots of terrain, but there's no shame in wanting even lower gears. Over in the touring forum, there is regular mention of using a 22-tooth front chainring with something like a 32 tooth cassette cog. Even a small change in cogs/chainrings is usually noticeable, and I never mind having a lower gear and not needing it.

Before making too big of a change, really spend some time thinking about your current gearing and what you'd like different. Changing the cassette and derailleur (or Roadlink/Goatlink) to accommodate a 42-tooth cog may work well, but would spread each cog further apart (i.e. bigger jumps in gearing). Changing the front crank to a compact double (46 and 30 chainrings) would keep shift spacing the same while lowering most of your gears fairly evenly. Each approach has its own possible issues...
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Old 01-20-22, 04:56 PM
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Originally Posted by Bulette View Post
A 1-to-1 ratio is a low gear for lots of terrain, but there's no shame in wanting even lower gears.
Absolutely agree! The lowest ratio on my road bike happens to be 1:1, but no way is it optimum for really steep sustained road climbs. Once the gradient goes north of 15%, my cadence is often dragged down into the 50s and a lower gear would therefore be more efficient. We have a lot of 20%+ climbs locally and guys without compact gearing struggle badly on those climbs unless they are elite level. 1:1 with decent fitness and W/kg gets you up them without walking, but you could go a LOT lower without any risk of spinning out. Road bike gearing is always a compromise between range and gear spacing, but there is nothing worse than running out of gears during sustained climbing.
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Old 01-20-22, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by nomadmax View Post
If I read your post correctly, your low gear is 34 x 34. On an unladened bike thats a pretty low gear. I don't know your age, fitness level or the climbs you're having difficulty with but there's probably more gains to be made thru fitness rather than additional low gearing. That said, depending on the bike, you may be able to install a 30/46 crank without a derailleur change.
I agree that the best way to get lower gears is to decrease the size of your chainrings. Then your cogs will be closer together than if you increased the size of the cassette.

Of course the way to get fitter is to climb hard in whatever gear is necessary to allow that. If you're at your best long climb effort and your cadence is below about 78, IME you need lower gears. If you do get fitter and can climb faster, you might outgrow your cassette and want a smaller one, or just have an extra cog below what's necessary. That's my preference because things go wrong.

It's not that hard to figure what gearing you should have. Go to one of your challenging climbs with your current rig. Climb at what you think is your appropriate aerobic effort and note your speed. Enter a gear/cadence/speed calculator and and keeping in mind that speed and your desired cadence, play around with chainring and cog teeth. This is a simple one: https://www.machars.net/bikecalc.htm I like a long climb cadence in the lower to mid-80s, but everyone's different.

At 75, my climbing gear became 26 X 30.
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Old 01-20-22, 09:06 PM
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Originally Posted by woodcraft View Post
This has worked well on my CX bike for steep terrain. Available for various crank types.

https://www.ebay.com/itm/12370651174...3ABFBMtqTYiM9f
I did not know they made a 30T in 110BCD, but that is indeed a great solution. It would likely fit on the OP's cranks and at worst you'd have to shorten the chain a couple links.
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Old 01-21-22, 04:30 PM
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https://absoluteblack.cc/oval-road-c...-for-110-4bcd/
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Old 01-26-22, 11:46 PM
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I run a ultegra 52-36 with a 11-32

anyone have any experience with changing the small chain ring to a 34 with this setup? Yah or nah?
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Old 01-27-22, 01:04 AM
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Originally Posted by hasto View Post
I run a ultegra 52-36 with a 11-32

anyone have any experience with changing the small chain ring to a 34 with this setup? Yah or nah?

You'll probably want to drop the 52 to a 50 to keep things shifting smoothly
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Old 01-27-22, 06:19 AM
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Did you look at 22 x 30 x 40 crankset?
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Old 01-27-22, 07:36 AM
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I would probably swap out to a MTB cassette you should be able to get a 11-42 and use a wolf tooth road link.
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Old 01-27-22, 10:15 PM
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I think swapping out your 50/34 chainring with a 46/30 would be your best bet. This would reduce crank effort by about 12%. That's a big step. Which might make those annoying climbs no longer a problem, and allow you to power up most sections you now walk. It still allows you to cruise along at 40 kph at a comfortable 74 rpm cadence in high gear.

Considering some folks climb moderate hills regularly with a single speed bike requiring perhaps 2.5x the effort of what you have now in lowest gear, I agree a 1:1 ratio is fine for powering up some short rather steep hills, But lower is a definite advantage for longer ones, Especially after a long ride.

Last edited by xroadcharlie; 01-28-22 at 07:48 AM.
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Old 02-02-22, 01:54 PM
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im a terrible climber lol. I just try to find flat routes. I live in the mountains also.
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Old 02-03-22, 08:39 AM
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A shimano grx 46/30 crank doesn't cost much more than absolute black chain rings. A 12% lower gear can't hurt, but it won't work miracles. Gaining strength or losing excess weight are the keys to successful climbing. After being off the bike for 8 years, it took me over 10,000 miles of riding to get my strength back.
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