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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
After several years of mountain biking, I picked up road bike at the beginning of the year on close out that has a 53/39 chainset and 12 -27 cassette. I use the bike locally on hills which are about 300metres high some with a grade of between 16-20% (according to the Garmin GPS device) I can manage those on the MTB using the middle ring (32T) and largest cog (34t) but really struggle even out of the saddle on the road bike. I am seeing some improvements but still have to stop most times halfway up to recover.

Should I continue trying to make it with what I've got or change out for a compact chainset?

Should I be aiming for staying in the saddle as I climb or is getting out of the saddle OK?

Thanks in advance
 

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Standing on climbs is just fine (although it'll tire you out a little sooner).

The answer depends- do you see more hills or more difficult hills in your future or is this the hardest climbing you'll be doing? If you want to do more harder climbing get the lower gears now. Are you already really fit from MTB riding (years of 10+ hours/week) or are you still on the steep part of the fitness curve? If you're not that fit now and you will be riding more and getting fitter, you may be able to handle that hill using your current gearing in the not too distant future.
 

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Some of the top pro riders in the world use compact cranksets in mountain stages so statements like "suck it up and get stronger" are pretty ignorant. Plus, some riders are very comfortable standing while others ride better seated on climbs. There is no right or wrong method. What is your body telling you? If your more comfortable climbing seated, then a compact may be better for you. Compacts work great, give you a nice lower gear while still giving you a decent top end (especially compared to MTB gearing).

The point of riding is to enjoy your bike, your ride, and to get excercise. Set your bike up the way that you feel is correct for you and enjoy.
 

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Where the heck do you live? Do you really have multiple hills that steep? And when you say "300 meters high," do you mean 300 meters of altitude gain in a single steep climb? If those are real figures, and I routinely rode hills like that, I'd have a triple.
 

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nic92516 said:
I am seeing some improvements but still have to stop most times halfway up to recover.
One of your problems might be lack of pacing. A lot of riders brutally attack the bottom part of a hill with all their might in the hopes "to get it over quickly" or "use my momentum to get up the hill." On anything more than a short 100-yard bump, this never works. Start your climb in a calm, measured way at a pace you think you can sustain for a long time. Once past the half-way mark, increase your effort more and more until you're over the top. If you're with a group, let the fierce "bottom attackers" go, then reel them in one by one on the last half of the climb.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
wim said:
One of your problems might be lack of pacing. A lot of riders brutally attack the bottom part of a hill with all their might in the hopes "to get it over quickly" or "use my momentum to get up the hill." On anything more than a short 100-yard bump, this never works. Start your climb in a calm, measured way at a pace you think you can sustain for a long time. Once past the half-way mark, increase your effort more and more until you're over the top. If you're with a group, let the fierce "bottom attackers" go, then reel them in one by one on the last half of the climb.
I do try and pace myself, from climbing on the MTB I learnt to sit and spin at a reasonable cadence trying to keep my heart rate below 170, once it gets past that I know that I can only maintain that level of effort for a few minutes before I need to slow the cadence down or go to an easier gear (granny ring in case of MTB) Using the road bike I find even at the easiest gearing the amount of effort required to keep a reasonable pace pushes my heart rate past 170 and once out of the saddle if I don't make it to the top I need to stop to let my heart rate recover before I can start again.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
JCavilia said:
Where the heck do you live? Do you really have multiple hills that steep? And when you say "300 meters high," do you mean 300 meters of altitude gain in a single steep climb? If those are real figures, and I routinely rode hills like that, I'd have a triple.
In the UK, Mendip hills. Up from the Somerset levels around 7m above sea level to highest point near Cheddar george which is 325M above sea level. It's not all 16-20% just some of the climbs I use, I guess the average is around 12-16%. Would have probably chosen a triple or compact when I brought the bike but as it was on close out the choices were limited.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
ericm979 said:
Standing on climbs is just fine (although it'll tire you out a little sooner).

The answer depends- do you see more hills or more difficult hills in your future or is this the hardest climbing you'll be doing? If you want to do more harder climbing get the lower gears now. Are you already really fit from MTB riding (years of 10+ hours/week) or are you still on the steep part of the fitness curve? If you're not that fit now and you will be riding more and getting fitter, you may be able to handle that hill using your current gearing in the not too distant future.
I'm reasonably fit from the MTB but lack the endurance for longer rides that require continuous spinning (although that is building up nicely as well) Yes, I definitely want to try some bigger climbs in the future. (The mountains of Wales are just a few hours away.) However before I attempt those I thought I should be able to get up the local smaller ones first:D
 

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Ah, I understand a little better

nic92516 said:
In the UK, Mendip hills. Up from the Somerset levels around 7m above sea level to highest point near Cheddar george which is 325M above sea level. It's not all 16-20% just some of the climbs I use, I guess the average is around 12-16%. Would have probably chosen a triple or compact when I brought the bike but as it was on close out the choices were limited.
Sounds like lovely country for riding. So the highest point around is a bit over 300 meters; you don't have continuous climbs that gain that much. I live in a town in central Connecticut with similar relief -- I live at about 35 ft (10m) near the river, while the highest point 8 miles from here is about 900 ft (275 m). But we have very few stretches of road that approach that steepness. This is an old town for the U.S. (English folks settled here more than 300 years ago) but I suspect your roads were laid out a thousand years earlier.

Enjoy the riding. I'd still advise getting the triple, especially if you plan to tackle the mountains of Wales in the future.
 

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nic92516 said:
Using the road bike I find even at the easiest gearing the amount of effort required to keep a reasonable pace pushes my heart rate past 170 and once out of the saddle if I don't make it to the top I need to stop to let my heart rate recover before I can start again.
Makes sense, especially since it looks as if lack of a smaller gear forces you out of the saddle. Just riding out-of-the-saddle will increase your heart rate because you're adding the muscles that hold you up and off the saddle to the ones doing the cranking.

I second the triple suggestion. No doubt, a compact would give you some relief over your 53-39, but it's not all that much. Keep in mind that 3 front teeth = only 1 rear tooth. The triple small ring would allow you to do some serious climbs, with the middle and large ring giving you classic road bike gearing. A few years ago, I tried a compact briefly, then put my touring 48-36-26 triple back on.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thanks for the info,

I thought I might try the compact as it would only require swapping the chainset over and I could continue to use the existing brifters. If I go to a triple I think that I may need to get a new set. The ones on there are 07 Shimano 105 with the trim function, can I use a triple with that or do I need a new one?
 

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nic92516 said:
Should I continue trying to make it with what I've got or change out for a compact chainset?

Should I be aiming for staying in the saddle as I climb or is getting out of the saddle OK?
I made the same change you're making, six months ago.
MTB riding and road riding are both on bicycles, but they're
two different styles. This hasn't hit you yet.

On MTB you have so many obstacles, the bike is expected to
make life easier (easier gears, suspension) On a road
bike, you are expected to "perform" more. The bike is simply
a stiff means to allow this.

You're probably afraid to move the bike, and get aggressive on
climbs. This is what road biking is all about. MTB'ing expects you
to gently "sit and spin" over rough terrain. In road biking you man-handle
your bike and perform over longer and smoother distances.

You can't sit and spin a road bike over terrain. They expect
guys will be standing, grunting and sweating to fly as fast as they
can up a hill or over any terrain. That's why they're stiff. You'll
get used to it.
 

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rsosborn said:
I made the same change you're making, six months ago.
MTB riding and road riding are both on bicycles, but they're
two different styles. This hasn't hit you yet.

On MTB you have so many obstacles, the bike is expected to
make life easier (easier gears, suspension) On a road
bike, you are expected to "perform" more. The bike is simply
a stiff means to allow this.

You're probably afraid to move the bike, and get aggressive on
climbs. This is what road biking is all about. MTB'ing expects you
to gently "sit and spin" over rough terrain. In road biking you man-handle
your bike and perform over longer and smoother distances.

You can't sit and spin a road bike over terrain. They expect
guys will be standing, grunting and sweating to fly as fast as they
can up a hill or over any terrain. That's why they're stiff. You'll
get used to it.
What, you can't? Like Lance can't? He spun past grunters to seven TDF victories. It was his improvement and Carmichael's coaching to stay seated in climbs that made the difference. That and a good team, oh yeah and a Madone.
 

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EasyAZ said:
What, you can't? Like Lance can't? He spun past grunters to seven TDF victories. It was his improvement and Carmichael's coaching to stay seated in climbs that made the difference. That and a good team, oh yeah and a Madone.
if we're referring to his high lactose tolerance and the resulting high-cadence pedal style he pioneered, yes. for most others, no. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
edhchoe said:
Isn't 14% slope like the mountain stages at TdF? I would just find a different route to get my biking done.
Unfortunately I live at the top of the hill so any riding ALWAYS involves a climb at the end:D , granted some routes are not as steep as others, but those tend to be main trunk routes (UK A roads with 60mph traffic) so I try and keep off those as I hate being passed by trucks at those speeds as I fear one day I'll be sucked into the traffic by one going too close :eek:
 

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edhchoe said:
Isn't 14% slope like the mountain stages at TdF? I would just find a different route to get my biking done.
With that attitude, you're gonna miss all kinds of biking fun. Steep hills are fun; that's why they make bikes with all those gears. Power up, scream down. I often go out of my way to ride the steepest hills in my neck of the woods. As I said a few weeks ago, it sounds like nic lives in a great place to ride.

But those lorries do suck, I'll wager ;-) Like nic, I often choose steeper routes over the more heavily-trafficked ones.
 
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