why road bikes lack easy gears

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
Marcus Aurelius
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Re: why road bikes lack easy gears

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 12 Jan 2019, 10:28pm

thelawnet wrote:
Ontherivet77 wrote:My first road bike had a 53/39 and rear cassette that was close ratio with racing in mind I'd imagine. When I bought it I didn't really know what I was getting and just took the advice of the shop. On steep hills I invariably had to get out of the saddle to get up them. With my next bike I got a triple chainset and wide spread of gears. If I went up a climb of 20% and above I would invariably be hitting Maximum Heart Rate, whether I was spinning a gear or standing out of the saddle, so the idea of easier gears seems a bit of a nonsense. The terrain may be easier or you may find things to be easier by virtue of better fitness, but easy gears no such thing.


?

An easier gear is very simply one that requires less force to push. At 60rpm or 70rpm or whatever for a given gear you will be going a given speed.

As I understand it there is some sort of range of cadence that is efficient, so for example a very hard gear at a very low cadence would is simply inferior to an easier gear at a more normal cadence.


You have to be making a reasonable power to make 90 rpms Cadence worthwhile. It’s thought to be about 120 Watts. At that power, at 90 rpms, the fast twitch muscles are engaged in such a way, that they are fuelling most efficiently.

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Mick F
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Re: why road bikes lack easy gears

Postby Mick F » 13 Jan 2019, 9:31am

I don't think I have any fast twitch muscles. I find anything above 80rpm very tiring indeed.
I like pootling along at about 10mph in a high gear (110+ gear inches) so long as the road is flat and I'm not in a hurry.

Long term average cadence for me was 67rpm as measured by my cadence sensor (since sold). This figure was measured over years and years.
Mick F. Cornwall

Ontherivet77
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Re: why road bikes lack easy gears

Postby Ontherivet77 » 13 Jan 2019, 12:17pm

thelawnet wrote:
Ontherivet77 wrote:My first road bike had a 53/39 and rear cassette that was close ratio with racing in mind I'd imagine. When I bought it I didn't really know what I was getting and just took the advice of the shop. On steep hills I invariably had to get out of the saddle to get up them. With my next bike I got a triple chainset and wide spread of gears. If I went up a climb of 20% and above I would invariably be hitting Maximum Heart Rate, whether I was spinning a gear or standing out of the saddle, so the idea of easier gears seems a bit of a nonsense. The terrain may be easier or you may find things to be easier by virtue of better fitness, but easy gears no such thing.


?

An easier gear is very simply one that requires less force to push. At 60rpm or 70rpm or whatever for a given gear you will be going a given speed.

As I understand it there is some sort of range of cadence that is efficient, so for example a very hard gear at a very low cadence would is simply inferior to an easier gear at a more normal cadence.


If you going up a steep hill and you drop to an "easier gear" then in order to maintain forward momentum you are most likely going to need to spin that gear a little faster, so effectively what you are gaining in anaerobic effort you are losing in aerobic energy. Therefore, it is not necessarily easier as it has just changed the balance between anaerobic and aerobic energy.

Samuel D
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Re: why road bikes lack easy gears

Postby Samuel D » 14 Jan 2019, 2:11pm

Cyclists often use lower gears to enable or encourage slower climbing. It is the slower climbing rather than the lower gear that provides the bulk of the comparative ease.

I have experimented with these things and noticed that you can climb aerobically in a high gear if you have the discipline to do it slowly. But hardly anyone does. When asked to climb in a high gear, they try to achieve a familiar cadence and quickly exhaust themselves. I have the same tendencies but have ridden with slower riders and marvelled at how much easier it is to climb within one limits, regardless of gear ratio.

Lower gears do help when the climb is steep or you must climb absolutely as fast as possible (e.g. in competition). But the aid is less than I assumed before my experiments. You might guess that without experimentation from the observation that fixed-gear cyclists can climb at all in a 72-inch gear.

Marcus Aurelius
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Re: why road bikes lack easy gears

Postby Marcus Aurelius » 14 Jan 2019, 2:59pm

Power is simply your Cadence multiplied by the Torque you’re exerting ( force multiplied by distance / amount of each pedal revolution you apply the force for) you can make a power that gives you the same speed, by Cadence or Torque biasing ( so essentially pedalling faster in a lower gear, or slower in a higher gear ). The way the body’s key muscles are engaged, and the way that it fuels those muscle’s exertions is different in each case.

https://www.active.com/cycling/articles ... -pepperjam

Here’s an article that explains it quite nicely, and why ( provided you’re making sufficient power ) a higher Cadence approach should be more efficient.

thelawnet
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Re: why road bikes lack easy gears

Postby thelawnet » 17 Jan 2019, 9:05pm

I had another go up the same hill today. It was a bit of a struggle but a bit easier as a known quantity rather than an unexpected hill. 12%, 7.0mph. Apparently this is about 72rpm. http://www.bikecalc.com/gear_speed

Thing is I don't think I could pedal much slower than that. But maybe standing up?