Bike Setup for Climbing?

Road cycling & upcoming rides
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Postby GregPankhurst » 16 Sep 2012, 09:30

Lo All

I'm trying to improve my climbing significantly over the next few months (for a delusional attempt on the Three Peaks in March), and just wanted to see how I should adapt my bike setup (if at all)?

I'm currently riding 53/39 and 12-25, and to be honest I really feel like I'm struggling to stay on top of my gearing when I'm climbing. I usually end up in the lowest gear very early in the piece and then just try to desparately muscle it up the climb rather than ever hitting a tempo or rhythm.

I was contemplating either sticking on either a compact crankset or a 12-27 (it's 9 speed Shimano) on, or is this is something that I just need to work through regardless if bike config. And what am I better off changing (or should I change both?)

And yes, I'm aware losing weight and practice are probably likely to give me the biggest gains. But I just want to make sure I'm not limiting myself with my steed.


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Postby Strawburger » 16 Sep 2012, 10:20

Put a 12-27 on the back. It will be the cheapest thing to change and it will give you a far more pleasurable ride without sacrificing the want to get stronger. Put a compact on the front and 12-27 on the back will make you a lazier rider (ie spin at a comfortable level without pushing yourself as much as you want).

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Postby mikesbytes » 16 Sep 2012, 13:12

Hi Greg, it does depend on where you are if your personal optimal cadence and what you are describing is insufficient cadence. However you should do a test on a hill, that is not too steep so you can select different gears and watch your speedo to see if you faster or slower at the same perceived effort. This should give you an indication as to whether a lower gear will assist you on a steeper hill.

Equipment wise, I agree with Strawburger, get a 12-27 cassette, in 9 speed they are dirt cheap.

Diet wise, the common problem that many have, is that have excess concentrated foods, in particular sugar in their diets and insufficient fresh vegetables.

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Postby GregPankhurst » 17 Sep 2012, 10:57

Cheers guys. 12-27 it shall be

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Postby Karzie » 17 Sep 2012, 15:20

And the vegetables...?

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Postby JoTheBuilder » 17 Sep 2012, 15:36

Vegetables are overrated... Just ask Christian.

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Postby GregPankhurst » 17 Sep 2012, 16:23

My body is a temple.....

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Postby Philip » 17 Sep 2012, 16:42

At the risk of being one of those weight loss bores, I know just saying that automatically makes me one of those weight loss bores. So, regardless, let me vouch for Mikes to much sugar comment. I have lost in excess of 10 Kilos by giving up sugar. Half of that loss happened before I started riding seriously. My wife who does very little exercise has lost 5 kilos, also just from giving up sugar.

While I'm in confessional mode, I also have a compact crank set. I'm also happy to slide into granny gear when the going gets tough.
I figure if I'm going to carry Granny up the hills she needs to earn her keep.

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Postby T-Bone » 17 Sep 2012, 17:41

You're probably still going to have a hard time with the 27 in some sections on the three peaks, but as long as you are reasonably comfortable with it on a climb like the one out of RNP to waterfall, you'll be fine for the majority. Generally there's not much that can be done when the road really kicks up.

On the off topic side of things.... What i do probably won't work too well for anyone else, but generally you should have a good idea how your body reacts to training loads and diet, then work from there.

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Postby rhys » 17 Sep 2012, 18:13

A lot of guys had some great success in the 90s with EPO. It's apparently pretty expensive, so I'd go a 12-27, or even a 12-28. I run an 11-28 on the back just because it was lying around, and the spacing isn't toooo bad. Then again, I climb like a tractor in reverse (some would say that's being generous) so find something that works for you through practice.
Last edited by rhys on 17 Sep 2012, 20:02, edited 1 time in total.

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Postby marc2131 » 17 Sep 2012, 18:36

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Postby Stuart » 17 Sep 2012, 18:48

Compacts and an 11-28 .... works for me.

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Postby GregPankhurst » 17 Sep 2012, 18:56

I'm pretty sure that I'll be jamming on a compact for the Three Peaks ride itself. More a question of what I do in the interim to build for it.

I can muscle the 39 x 25 out of Audley now, but there isn't a bloody thing comfortable about it

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Postby Richard » 19 Sep 2012, 19:46

I did the Alpine 250 a couple of years back using a compact with an 11-28 on the back. The course is essentially the same as the 3 peaks.

I climb like a block of cement so I needed every gear granny could spare.

There were a couple of short sections where I swore I wanted a triple but at that stage in the ride I think I was just swearing a lot.

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Postby Dougie » 19 Sep 2012, 21:35

One one bike I have a compact 34/50 and 11-28 on the back and the other I have a mid compact 36/52 and a 12-27 on the back. I have ridden both through the Adelaide hills and I have found the mid compact far more comfortable to achieve a rhythm than the compact set. My legs were spinning like a hamster on codrals

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