Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

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RideToWorky
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Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby RideToWorky » 1 Feb 2016, 8:13pm

Hiya all,


Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?
Bought my 1st road bike last summer - a nice entry level with a 16 speed set up.
Wish I gave the below some more thought though, before just going for a recommended sporty bike!

I'm currently having a right struggle, commuting uphill with my hybrid, It has a 24 gears triple set up. (3 x 8... I think!)
It has occurred to me now though, perhaps it could be the bike and the way I'm loading her up with stuff. she already weights a tonne, and that's before I put both panniers on her, with padlocks, toolkit etc etc.

Going back to the road bike though:
The road bike weighs so much less, much less than half easily. I really have to try her on the same commute route, with minimal essentials, and see how I get on with "Only" the 16 gears..... Could go a dream once I got her going uphill!


Which brings me to the following questions:
Hope you can advise

Q1) 16 Gears on a road bike (2x8 Shimano Claris ) - Is that really enough gears for commutes - with long up hills sections?
Q2) 22 Gears on a road bike (2x11 Shimano 105) - Does the extra 7 gears give much lower gears, or is it the higher end again?
Q3) 24 Gears on a road bike (3x8 ??) - Are we getting in mountain bike territory here?! I'm still knackered from commuting on my 24 Speed hybrid


Regards
Martin
Last edited by RideToWorky on 1 Feb 2016, 10:14pm, edited 1 time in total.

beardy
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Re: Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby beardy » 1 Feb 2016, 8:18pm

It all depends on the severity of the hills and the power/stamina of the rider.

More gears can mean higher, lower or just smaller gaps in between them.

RideToWorky
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Re: Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby RideToWorky » 1 Feb 2016, 8:25pm

Hi Beardy,

Good points!



The uphill run:
Bristol Concorde Way:
St Werburghs all the way past the MOD
St Werburghs, at the start, up past the allotments. this is the steepest section... at the very start :(
4 Ascent sections, I think
6.5 miles approx
Come friday night, I'm knackered!


45 Years old, No injuries, not much stamina though.
8st 12, skinny runt with no reserves or stamina... working on the fitness
Not expecting miracles in imnprovement! Read somewhere over the weekend - over 40yers of age - takes longer to recover from exercise etc. (Cycling weekly I think)



Hope that helps
Martin :D

beardy
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Re: Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby beardy » 1 Feb 2016, 8:38pm

No way anybody can tell from such vital statistics, only by how you perform.

If you are managing to do a ride now (assuming that you are new to this) then you will get better and it will get easier (or you will go faster) with time.

It is only if you are failing to get up the hills that you know you need lower gears. Personally I like low gears and plenty of them but that is personal style and preference. I found going from a double to a triple made life easier and faster in one quick stroke.
Sticking with a double will on the other hand toughen you up and make you a stronger rider than someone who takes the easy way out.

Bicycler
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Re: Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby Bicycler » 1 Feb 2016, 8:56pm

It isn't the number of gears, it is the high gearing. Road bikes typically come with gearing suitable for road racing, not what is ideal for your average person who wants to tour or commute to work. From the other thread your current setup is a 35/50 double with a 12-25 cassette. That gives a gear range of 37"-110". 37" is quite a high bottom gear. If you swapped out the cassette for an 11-32 one as suggested in that thread it would give a bottom gear of 29" which is appreciably lower. In contrast a triple fitted as standard to a hybrid might have a bottom gear of around 23" (though as beardy suggests you can get lower still).

I'd suggest that by far the most economical thing you can do is change that cassette and see if the gears are then low enough for you. Everyone is different, but I'd have thought that 29" would generally be okay for fit, youngish,unladen cyclists unless the hills are really severe. It's comparable with the kind of bottom gear touring bikes had back in the 80s. If it's still a struggle then persevere for a while to see if things change. It takes a while to build one's cycling legs and stamina.

Of course, if you are buying another bike then, yes, get a triple. That's an easy decision for practical cycling on varied terrain. Their usefulness far outweighs their disadvantages for most people.

Samuel D
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Re: Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby Samuel D » 1 Feb 2016, 9:01pm

Slow down while climbing the hill. It doesn’t matter what gears you have, if you slow down you do less work over time and that is easier. Usually when people say hills are a struggle they do just fine for the first 30 seconds and then get into oxygen debt and suffer. By going slower from the beginning, things may seem much easier.

Stevek76
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby Stevek76 » 1 Feb 2016, 10:43pm

Depends entirely on the available ratios between back and front rather than the number of gears. Triples typically have a larger overall range of gears than doubles but a 2x11 setup will generally just provide finer increments than a 2x8 rather than more range (depending on cassette choice)

Without more info there's no knowing what your hybrid gear range is though a 28/38/48 chainset and 11-32 cassette is not uncommon for such bikes. The other thing to consider is it may not just be the weight but also the tyres, the kind of semi knobbly tyres found on hybrids, particularly the heavier more mtb like hybrids are noticeably less efficient than the 25mm slicks your road bike has.

the snail
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby the snail » 1 Feb 2016, 11:40pm

Cutting down on your luggage would be a good start - 2 panniers? Surely you could leave some stuff at home or work, like your lock - most people leave heavy locks at work rather than cart them back and forth. Other than that it's just a matter of having a small chainring at the front and a big sprocket at the back, regardless of the number of gears. Or stronger legs. Personally I go for triple chainsets every time - I know my limits! If you're really struggling on the hills, then I'd suggest you try to find a setup where the biggest rear sprocket is at least as big as the smallest chainring, although 32 teeth is the most you can manage with the claris rear mech, you could probably go lower if you put a MTB derailleur on. If that isn't enough then you need a triple.

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mjr
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Re: Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby mjr » 2 Feb 2016, 10:19am

RideToWorky wrote:St Werburghs, at the start, up past the allotments. this is the steepest section... at the very start :(

I agree with the others that number of gears is irrelevant - it's the size of the bottom gear that determines how steep you can climb comfortably.

Just to check: you're riding past the allotments on Mina Road and onto the cycle track, not up Ashley Hill, aren't you?

One alternative would be to go via James Street, Glenfrome Road, Bridge Road, Rousham Road and Muller Road, which is half a mile further but lengthens the climb so it's a bit less steep. Another would be to head over to Cheltenham/Gloucester Road and use the bus lanes (if they're still there!) to get to Filton Avenue which adds only a fifth of a mile but isn't a road I ever enjoyed... but bottom line is that your finish is higher than your start, so the climbing has to be done some time!

You could always head for Stapleton, compress most of the climbing into half a mile up through Stoke Park and just walk the worst of it ;)
MJR, mostly pedalling 3-speed roadsters. KL+West Norfolk BUG incl social easy rides http://www.klwnbug.co.uk
All the above is CC-By-SA and no other implied copyright license to Cycle magazine.

RideToWorky
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby RideToWorky » 2 Feb 2016, 11:01am

Hi MJR,


Yup, I'm cycling up the cycle path, to stay away from traffic as much as possible!

Many thanks for the local knoweledge 8)
However, we did try some of those side roads last year, bit scary with parking both sides and kamaki drivers and people walking out etc.

This concorde way is the best "off road" cycle route we worked out that works for me and the missus

Just trying to work out a sustainable energy efficient way of doing it!


Regards
Martin

Brucey
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby Brucey » 2 Feb 2016, 11:07am

if you want to climb steep hills easily then using low gears will do it. You just have to accept that you won't be going that fast.

As per your thread about gearing, the cheapest solution is to buy

- a cassette with bigger sprockets eg CS-HG41 11-34 (8s)
- an MTB rear mech eg RD-M591 (9s, will work 8s very happily)
- new chain (best to match new sprockets, it will need to be longer anyway).

Total cost for parts is around £60, less if you shop around.

This will give you a nice low bottom gear of around 28" (c.f. with your present 28T bottom sprocket, about 34" bottom gear) i.e. around 20% lower gearing.

cheers
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NUKe
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby NUKe » 2 Feb 2016, 11:15am

just to add to what others have said. Wider spaced rear cassette and if your road bike came with a normal road bike 53 /42 front chainset look to replace with a compact double 50 34. this will allow you to keep the bike and is by far the cheapest option to give a good range of gears
NUKe
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Brucey
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby Brucey » 2 Feb 2016, 11:35am

IIRC as per his other threads he already has a compact double fitted, 35-50 or something like that.

cheers
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Bicycler
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby Bicycler » 2 Feb 2016, 11:35am

According to the other thread the OP has a compact double.

EDIT: Brucey, SNAP!

RideToWorky
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Re: Road bike Commuting up hills - 16, 22 or 24 Gears?

Postby RideToWorky » 2 Feb 2016, 11:55am

Hiya All,


Erm, looks like we are going off OP topic here! 8)
Many thanks for the in-depth technical advise on swapping out rear cassettes on the existing bike. See the other post on this.


Can I pick your brains on this new OP topic? :D
(Probably didn't word it clearly enough - perhaps next time will miss out the scenario "why I'm asking" narrative)


RideToWorky wrote:

Hope you can advise

Q1) 16 Gears on a road bike (2x8 Shimano Claris ) - Is that really enough gears for commutes - with long up hills sections?
** Think we've covered this in the above posts ok ***


Q2) 22 Gears on a road bike (2x11 Shimano 105) - Does the extra 7 gears give much lower gears, or is it the higher end again?
** This (Q2) is outstanding. Looking at (22 speed road bikes) vs (16 speed road bikes) shod with Shimanos **


Q3) 24 Gears on a road bike (3x8 ??) - Are we getting in mountain bike territory here?!
** This (Q3) is outstanding. are triples actually on road bikes? **





Hope you can advise!

Regards
Martin