Gearing

TimKendall

Speeding Up
Dec 28, 2009
129
0
36
Nagoya
#1
I don't really consider myself to be a 'Big Gear Merchant', but certanly think that I wind a bigger gear than most of the guys around here.
I had a guy complain that I was going through too strong in a break during a crit in summer... errr... not really my problem, right!? Funnily, he eventually finished off the back of the bunch, and I was second...

It could be legacy from riding in Europe during the 80s and early 90s, and wondered whether any other Europeans/North Americans have similar feelings. Could also be because my levers are fairly long!

53x11.. all the way!! Just joking
 

Mike

Maximum Pace
Sep 24, 2007
1,066
9
58
Kanagawa
#2
Tim, I also found that I crunched a bigger gear than most J riders here. But now I try to keep a high cadence and notice I'm much fresher toward the end of rides giving me more power to sprint or generally have a nice final kick. I understand where you're coming from though.

And that guy might have had a point if you were going through too strong. Isn't the point of riding in an group so you can work together? Going through too strong can break the momentum as the guy on your wheel takes more time to come through for his turn. Now if your trying to break the group up the thats a different kettle of fish
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,670
483
103
Japan
#3
And that guy might have had a point if you were going through too strong. Isn't the point of riding in an group so you can work together? Going through too strong can break the momentum as the guy on your wheel takes more time to come through for his turn. Now if your trying to break the group up the thats a different kettle of fish
I haven't raced in years but if you aren't upping the pace taking your pulls and breaking up the momentum don't worry about what gear your pushing, but like Mike said maybe spinning a lower gear will give you more energy for attacking when the crunch time comes. Being able to push a high gear is a great way to lose hangers on though if you want to challenge the bunch though. Going up a hill in a higher gear will often have the spinners wasting energy trying to hold on.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#4
I went from a compact 50 - 34, to a 53 - 39.

When I first got on the bike, I thought "ooh, have I made a mistake here?", but after a while, I got used to it (and stronger, I guess), and now it is fine.

I suppose if I was going to ride up hardcore Toge's all day, I could stick the compact on, but for day rides without any mega climbs, and even better, when there are downhills, I like it better.

If you feel like you are pedaling too slow, I suppose you could always just increase your speed, so the gear you are in becomes one that spins more! (GRRRR!!)
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#5
53-11 and I think I can raise my hand and say Im a huge merchant of spin..... Mike will verify this.

I did a spin test about 4 weeks ago and can spin at 170-180 rpm and hold that for about 30 seconds. Spinning is essential for stage or day races where it makes a huge difference as it uses both fast and slow twitch muscles. You should be aiming at between 100-120rpm for a 140km race.

For crit racing its also good Kawagoe and Yokaichi the finishes were right after technical bends and being able to spin a real high cadence gives you a huge advantage as you excellerate out of a bend as it takes crunches a while to build up momentum, also if you can spin crazy high cadences you can pretty much clear the line before you need to change gear.
 
Sep 2, 2009
5
0
0
#6
53-11 and I think I can raise my hand and say Im a huge merchant of spin..... Mike will verify this.

I did a spin test about 4 weeks ago and can spin at 170-180 rpm and hold that for about 30 seconds. Spinning is essential for stage or day races where it makes a huge difference as it uses both fast and slow twitch muscles. You should be aiming at between 100-120rpm for a 140km race.

For crit racing its also good Kawagoe and Yokaichi the finishes were right after technical bends and being able to spin a real high cadence gives you a huge advantage as you excellerate out of a bend as it takes crunches a while to build up momentum, also if you can spin crazy high cadences you can pretty much clear the line before you need to change gear.
Interesting info.

So, you race with 53 -11? What is your rear cassette? x-11?

The stuff you are saying about being about spin out of corners makes a lot of sense too.
 

Gunjira

Maximum Pace
Oct 2, 2009
1,003
176
83
Tokyo
#7
I'm feeling you, Tim - coming from fixed gear I spin a (too) heavy gear too. I despise the small chainring, mostly working just with 8 of my 9 sprockets.

I try to spin more recently, but in the heat of the moment it feels to me that it's just takes less energy for me to spin a heavy gear. I am not measuring heart-rate, but it just feels that spinning more for the same speed drives my BPM up???

There is a definitive advantage in the first sections of a climb/small hills, because of less shifting. Other riders have to wait until their chain engages and then get up to speed to a high cadence. My initial reaction to an incline is to hold the gear as long as possible and only shift after not being able to sustain a round pedaling motion.

But Mike is right, the longer distance you ride in a heavy gear, the more explosivity you loose. Plus, if you blow up on an uphill with heavy gear, usually you will drop speed quite significantly compared to when spinning.
 

kiwisimon

Maximum Pace
Dec 14, 2006
2,670
483
103
Japan
#8
My initial reaction to an incline is to hold the gear as long as possible and only shift after not being able to sustain a round pedaling motion.
i was the opposite, spin with all the others and change up to a heavy gear before you reach the apex of the hill, stand on the peals a few revs and the spinners will be expending energy to keep up. Shift silently and you're in their head as an awesome climber.
 

Sikochi

Maximum Pace
Sep 13, 2010
1,181
74
68
Kochi
#9
Can I post this link to an article I found useful on cadence with reference to the old Ullrich vs Armstrong style debate.

http://www.trifuel.com/training/bike/cycling-cadence-and-pedaling-economy

I always favour high gears over high cadence as my muscular capacity is greater than my cardiovascular one, which is why I am concentrating on aerobic training at the moment. However, I still had fun fitting in some hill repeats on my 20+ kg mama chariot on the way home from work this week.
 

FarEast

Maximum Pace
May 25, 2009
5,528
538
193
Yokohama
#10
@Owen: Im using 53-39 and 23-11 but this is for criterium racing. For the Stage race in Cameroon I used a 28-11 as I didn't know the terrain and Im glad I had it as at the end of a 160km stage the final was at the top of a very nasty set of climbs.

For races like Shuzenji where I need to be able to stick with the climbers I will use 50-34 and 11-28.
 

GSAstuto

Maximum Pace
Oct 11, 2009
945
242
103
tokyo
www.roadfixie.com
#11
Interesting topic - according to the 'Bible' (Agnostic Cycling) By using larger chainring on front you gain in efficiency due to the wider torque range afforded by the output of the large muscles. We did a bunch of hillclimb tests trying many combinations of large-large and small-small gearing. And also 'mashing' vs. 'spinning'. Since we are on the light / slight side - we found personally that smaller ratio in the 'large large' combination was the fastest overall. However for steady state climbing over a distance increasing the stroke cadence per whell travel (small small) tended to be more efficient. Resulting in less ventures into the lactic acid intolerant zone. At the end of the day - you need to figure this out yourself because everyone has different cardio / lactic acid ratios and different musculature. I spin less than when I was in my 20's and 30's because my VOmax is substantially lower now. However - my leg strength is not much different - so, I prefer larger gearing and am training mainly to increase my Lactic Acid tolerance. So - know your body! Go out and get tested - the Meiji Gym offers vey low cost VOmax /LAT testing. You can do this with your bike computer and known grade (or Powermeter) - but its better to reference a 'standard condition' of Ergonometer and proper bloodgas analyzer. The numbers don't lie. If ur like Lance (in the 80's), and ectomorphic, then spinning will probably result in higher over speeds. Incidently - Greg LeMond had much higher VOmax than Lance. And look at Eddy Merckx - definitely NOT a spinner and won more significant races in his career than both Lance and Greg combined.
 

andywood

Maximum Pace
Apr 8, 2008
1,685
1,323
133
Niigata
#12
“I always favour high gears over high cadence as my muscular capacity is greater than my cardiovascular one, which is why I am concentrating on aerobic training at the moment.”

I think the relationship between these two things is the key. On a climb it is one of these two things that is the limiting factor stopping you going any faster.

Early in the season, I find my cardiovascular to be the limiter. As the season progresses it is strength that becomes the limiter.

Every year I say I’ll do weights once a week to keep strength but who wants to do that when they can ride outside???

Anyway you need to balance these two things to get the best speed out. For me, I aim for 80 cadence / 180 HR for hill climbs and races of less that an hour. For longer races, I aim for 90 cadence / 150 HR.

I had the pleasure of watching Armstrong go head to head with Ullrich in the 2004 Alp d’ Huez time trial. We had a great spot on a steep hairpin. All the riders were out of the saddle laboring over the handlebars. 2nd last on the road was Ullrich. He went straight around the hairpin in the big ring on aerobars! Next up was Armstrong. High cadence but seated all the way. The one thing that really hit home how fast they were going was the speed of the entourage of vehicles following Armstrong.

Anyway, two great riders with two completely different riding styles so I guess you’ve just got find what works best for you.

Andy

www.jyonnobitime.com/time