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Important gear selection tips for climbing in the mountains.

The best gears for climbing mountains. Compact triple double chainring wide range cassetteThe most important thing to remember if you haven’t ever cycled in mountainous terrain is APPROPRIATE GEARING. I can’t stress that enough. The best gearing for climbing are the following options:

1) 53/39/30 chainring with 12-25 cassette

2) 50/34 chainring with 12-28 cassette

3) 53/39 with 12-32 cassette

All of these choices provide what I call “the magic 1.2 low gear ratio” which will be perfect for climbs ranging from 5 – 10 or even up to 15% gradient. You really don’t want to go above ~1.5 or your cadence will drop on steeper climbs, you will go ‘anaerobic’ & you will struggle with endurance. Probably the best choice is the first one, because it provides an adequate high gear ratio and the gears are closely spaced. A compact crankset will provide the same low gear ratio at the expense of the higher gears. The third option is not available with 10 speed drivetrains & really messes with the gear spacing (large jumps between gears) but is probably also the cheapest solution.

I’ll give you a simple example- with any of the gearing options above, I could easily ride anywhere in Tenerife on a 500‚¬ bike, but some 10-15% climbs would be almost impossible on a 5000‚¬ bike equipped with 53/39 + 11-21 cassette. I’d also really struggle on extrended 5% climbs. Keep in mind that I am the same rider! Don’t even think about the effect of the “additional weight” of the larger cassette and chainring + extra few links of chain – these are practically negligable when you encounter steep climbs!

2 Responses to “Important gear selection tips for climbing in the mountains.”

  1. Hello! Thanks for stopping by! I’ve never been to the Canary Islands.

  2. Very helpful advice, as I was searching for info on gearing for a charity run (81 mile with a 6000ft of climb) and is probably similar to cycling in the Canaries!

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