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  1. #51
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    36t up front and 11/36 cassette on my 29er but I just ordered a 32t ring because I am still trying to get into the shape I was in last year and the 36t can be a bit brutal.

    I do wonder if there is a great deal of variation on the amount and steepness of climbing that people do. Here in Northern California the climbing portion of my rides all seem to average out around 4% -- which seems embarrassingly tame as a climb. But of course, for an average 20 mile ride this adds up to ~2000' of climbing (assuming 10 miles of the ride are up and 10 miles are down). To me (old and slow) that's a respectable ride with portions that are 10-20% or short sections that are steeper. So, do you know the average % of the climbing portion of your rides and what is it?

  2. #52
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora
    I do wonder if there is a great deal of variation on the amount and steepness of climbing that people do. Here in Northern California the climbing portion of my rides all seem to average out around 4% -- which seems embarrassingly tame as a climb. But of course, for an average 20 mile ride this adds up to ~2000' of climbing (assuming 10 miles of the ride are up and 10 miles are down). To me (old and slow) that's a respectable ride with portions that are 10-20% or short sections that are steeper. So, do you know the average % of the climbing portion of your rides and what is it?
    4% may sound tame but as an average I would say thats pretty good. Odds are, if you're riding trails, you've got a couple of places in there FAR higher than that 4%, which are the places that seem tough.

    On a side note, one of the reasons roadies can get by with so much taller gearing is because the gradient on paved roads is limited intentionally, both for structural reasons and for transportation reasons. MTB trails are limited only by geology, and sometimes with creative trail builders, they're limited only by physics. In other words, a road ride averaging 4% is, IMO, generally going to be much easier than a MTB ride averaging 4%.

    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    36t up front and 11/36 cassette on my 29er but I just ordered a 32t ring because I am still trying to get into the shape I was in last year and the 36t can be a bit brutal.
    As you know 36T chainring on a 1x10 29er is nuts. I don't even think thats a matter of being in shape its just a tall gear, I suspect you'll be much happier with the 32T and there's no shame in that.
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  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by ghost_03 View Post
    4% may sound tame but as an average I would say thats pretty good. Odds are, if you're riding trails, you've got a couple of places in there FAR higher than that 4%, which are the places that seem tough.

    On a side note, one of the reasons roadies can get by with so much taller gearing is because the gradient on paved roads is limited intentionally, both for structural reasons and for transportation reasons. MTB trails are limited only by geology, and sometimes with creative trail builders, they're limited only by physics. In other words, a road ride averaging 4% is, IMO, generally going to be much easier than a MTB ride averaging 4%.
    great summation.

  4. #54
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    32 and 11/42 on my 26"

    30 and 11/42 on the 27.5"

    I spend more time on steep climbs than hauling @$$ on descents... I haven't run out of gear either way yet, so the choice appears to be right.

  5. #55
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    28 front e*thirteen crank set, XX1 11spd 10-42 rear on my 29er Ripley.

    I've gotten used to not having that granny gear on my 2x10, love the 1x11!

  6. #56
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    32-42 on my T-29. Sometimes I wish for a 30, but not often.

  7. #57
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    30/10-42 works awesome for 27.5", all trails including steeps. Have to chuckle at those who insisted 34/11-36 was good for them and anything less was not "manly". They were pushing while I continue to ride up the steepest trails. Now guess who wants me to order a 42t cog for them?! LOL To each their own...

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  8. #58
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    This thread is useless without location. The flats in the midwest is a completely different environment than high alpine in the mountain states. I'm in Colorado and spend most of my time around 10,000' (I don't do much front range riding).

    30x11-36 on my light bike

    32x11-36 on my heavy bike with a 24T granny gear that I manually switch to for the longer climbs

    30x11 isn't a high enough gear for when I want to throw in a few pedals on the downhill. I get annoyed by this a few times per ride. 32x11 actually works though, surprisingly. 30x36 is just barely passable in most situations. I only end up walking up the longer steep climbs (usually long steep dirt roads). With the heavy bike in 32x36, I definitely notice myself walking more, in general. It's not quite enough. On long sustained climbs, I manually switch to the 24T granny gear. I've liked this decision quite a bit lately. You get the benefit of 1x with a true bailout for when you REALLY need it.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post
    This thread is useless without location. The flats in the midwest is a completely different environment than high alpine in the mountain states. I'm in Colorado and spend most of my time around 10,000' (I don't do much front range riding).

    30x11-36 on my light bike

    32x11-36 on my heavy bike with a 24T granny gear that I manually switch to for the longer climbs

    30x11 isn't a high enough gear for when I want to throw in a few pedals on the downhill. I get annoyed by this a few times per ride. 32x11 actually works though, surprisingly. 30x36 is just barely passable in most situations. I only end up walking up the longer steep climbs (usually long steep dirt roads). With the heavy bike in 32x36, I definitely notice myself walking more, in general. It's not quite enough. On long sustained climbs, I manually switch to the 24T granny gear. I've liked this decision quite a bit lately. You get the benefit of 1x with a true bailout for when you REALLY need it.
    I agree that without more information about the type of riding people do this thread is of limited use. But location or elevation don't really help. There surely are flat sections of Colorado and while riding at 10,000' sounds great (really!) it doesn't tell me what % climb and total elevation you experience while gasping for oxygen.

  10. #60
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    I agree that without more information about the type of riding people do this thread is of limited use. But location or elevation don't really help. There surely are flat sections of Colorado and while riding at 10,000' sounds great (really!) it doesn't tell me what % climb and total elevation you experience while gasping for oxygen.
    Average for the whole area for me is about 1,000' of climbing per 6-7 miles and I'm on a 29er with a 28T ring, 11-36 cassette, and I'm 235-240lbs

    Recently switched from 30T and I'm liking the lower gearing

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    Average for the whole area for me is about 1,000' of climbing per 6-7 miles and I'm on a 29er with a 28T ring, 11-36 cassette, and I'm 235-240lbs

    Recently switched from 30T and I'm liking the lower gearing
    That's about a 3% average. Is that pretty representative for CO? Pretty much in the range of what you'll find in Northern California for popular loops (counting only the climbing portion). No supplemental O2 required, though.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    That's about a 3% average. Is that pretty representative for CO? Pretty much in the range of what you'll find in Northern California for popular loops (counting only the climbing portion). No supplemental O2 required, though.
    Dunno how you did your math but 1k per 6-7 = 3% average for only the climbing sections?

    That sounds way off. I'm looking at my strava and it's showing plenty of sustained 20-30% sections with hardly anything below 10% for what I'd call a "climb" anyway

  13. #63
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    He's only counting the climbing portions. Pretty sure 1k per 6-7 miles is the whole ride. I'd say average out here is about 1k per 2-3 miles on a climb, but it can certainly get more strenuous.

    For example, my last ride on my 30x36 light bike was 8.4 miles total, with 2363' point-to-point of climbing. That's about 2300' in 4 miles:
    Ptarmigan Peak Mountain Bike Trail, Dillon, CO

    Also, there's a big difference between doing a bunch of small ups and downs (when you can use your momentum), and long climbs followed by long descents. I still think the general location and fitness level makes more sense when trying to figure out what gearing might work for you, otherwise the number of factors you have to consider become too overwhelming to lead to meaningful consideration.

  14. #64
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alias530 View Post
    Dunno how you did your math but 1k per 6-7 = 3% average for only the climbing sections?

    That sounds way off. I'm looking at my strava and it's showing plenty of sustained 20-30% sections with hardly anything below 10% for what I'd call a "climb" anyway

    1000/(6.5*5280) = 0.02913 which is 2.91%

    If the 6-7 miles (I just use 6.5 miles for simplicity) is an up/down loop then you can assume that half of the distance is up and half of it is down which would double the average climbing rate to 5.82%

    If you look back several posts you'll find mine which pretty much says the same thing: an average 4% sounds very tame but in reality it can be strenuous (at least to me). But that's also why I think quantifying these things would help when discussing gearing.

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post
    He's only counting the climbing portions. Pretty sure 1k per 6-7 miles is the whole ride. I'd say average out here is about 1k per 2-3 miles on a climb, but it can certainly get more strenuous.

    For example, my last ride on my 30x36 light bike was 8.4 miles total, with 2363' point-to-point of climbing. That's about 2300' in 4 miles:
    Ptarmigan Peak Mountain Bike Trail, Dillon, CO

    Also, there's a big difference between doing a bunch of small ups and downs (when you can use your momentum), and long climbs followed by long descents. I still think the general location and fitness level makes more sense when trying to figure out what gearing might work for you, otherwise the number of factors you have to consider become too overwhelming to lead to meaningful consideration.
    Sorry -- I got the two of you mixed up. You are representing CO and Alias530 is in CA. That makes much more sense to me. And if you are saying that climbs are 10%ish in CO that's kind of what I'd expect.

    I am not going to argue that there aren't many more important factors to take into consideration when selecting gear ratios than average climb %. The problem is that these factors can't be easily quantified.

  16. #66
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    5% at 400' above sea level is vastly different than 5% at 9k'......

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by UtahJohn View Post
    5% at 400' above sea level is vastly different than 5% at 9k'......
    I think it really depends whether you are acclimated to the altitude or not. It's a huge factor if you are not but not such a big deal if you are. Of course even in the Rockys most people don't live at 9k' even if they may bike there.

  18. #68
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    Acclimated or not you are climbing slower at elevation, and may need a gearing change to accommodate things. There is stuff you can get away with down low that you'll get punished for up high, acclimated or not. I ride at elevation, and feel like superman below 3k', and could easily put a 2T bigger ring in the front down there and hardly notice.

  19. #69
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    1x drivetrain crew--what size is your chainring?

    It's not all just how much climbing you do. It's the type. When I lived in AZ I rode plenty of 25-30 mile rides with over 5,000 feet of climbing throughout AZ, CO, and CA. Many at or over 10,000 feet in elevation. I was fine on a 32 t there. Here is PA there are no 5 mile long burner climbs, the longest being maybe a mile. And I am at 1,000 feet elevation. I typically still gain about 1,000 feet in 7-8 miles though. And 30t is more appropriate. There are times I wish I did 32 t, but a rock garden on a climb (which is pretty much what PA is) means you need a lower gear.

  20. #70
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    I run a 30t up front with a 11-36 cassette.

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  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by patrick2cents View Post
    34t with 11-36.
    Same here. 26er. And I'll admit that a 40t cog seems attractive once in a while, but not so attractive that I've actually gotten off my @$$ to order one yet.

  22. #72
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    30T and 11-42T on a Giant Reign SX that I use for all mountain rides that include going both uphill and downhill.

  23. #73
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    26t on a 10-42 x01 29er
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  24. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    It's not all just how much climbing you do. It's the type. When I lived in AZ I rode plenty of 25-30 mile rides with over 5,000 feet of climbing throughout AZ, CO, and CA. Many at or over 10,000 feet in elevation. I was fine on a 32 t there. Here is PA there are no 5 mile long burner climbs, the longest being maybe a mile. And I am at 1,000 feet elevation. I typically still gain about 1,000 feet in 7-8 miles though. And 30t is more appropriate. There are times I wish I did 32 t, but a rock garden on a climb (which is pretty much what PA is) means you need a lower gear.
    I find the opposite. It's the long slow high-grade climbs that I need a lower gear. When going through rock gardens, momentum is your friend, and I do better now than I did before with a granny gear.

  25. #75
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post
    I find the opposite. It's the long slow high-grade climbs that I need a lower gear. When going through rock gardens, momentum is your friend, and I do better now than I did before with a granny gear.
    I guess different (pedal) strokes for different folks, eh? lol I agree on momentum being your friend in rock gardens, especially those I encountered out West. But the ones I encounter here you can only keep so much momentum for so long. After a while being able to crawl through them is a much.

    But then there are plenty of people here who ride bigger rings up front too.

  26. #76
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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    36t up front and 11/36 cassette on my 29er but I just ordered a 32t ring because I am still trying to get into the shape I was in last year and the 36t can be a bit brutal.

    I do wonder if there is a great deal of variation on the amount and steepness of climbing that people do. Here in Northern California the climbing portion of my rides all seem to average out around 4% -- which seems embarrassingly tame as a climb. But of course, for an average 20 mile ride this adds up to ~2000' of climbing (assuming 10 miles of the ride are up and 10 miles are down). To me (old and slow) that's a respectable ride with portions that are 10-20% or short sections that are steeper. So, do you know the average % of the climbing portion of your rides and what is it?
    My last ride averaged 8% with a max of 15%. The way in which it is measured is a bit of a mystery to me (it's off Runtastic) but it's about 3200 feet of climbing in 18 miles, round trip. The majority of the climbing is in the first 8.6 miles. That's Park City, Utah. Sweeny's to John's to Steps, up Puke Hill.

  27. #77
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    30t x 11/36 on process 153 in Vermont. 1200' vert over 2 miles on resort access road left me wishing for a better sit n' spin option but I will get stronger. In very rocky, technical terrain the gearing/geometry leaves me wishing for something more. But that's the trade off for riding a bomber and I don't think smaller ring would help much. I've found that climbing out of the saddle in the second or third biggest cog is the best way to approach super tech. I did have to upgrade the freehub to ti xtr to handle gear mash.

  28. #78
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    1x drivetrain crew--what size is your chainring?

    34x10-42 on my BLur LTC, 36x10-42 on my 29er HT. The Blur is usually used in terrain where a bigger ring would get hung up on rocks, and is steep enough that gravity does the vast majority of the work.


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    My GT Distortion has a RaceFace 34t narrow/wide ring up front and an XT 11/36 rear cassette. I've been happy with that so far, but that's what the bike came with and, truth be told, this is my first MTB since 96/97... so I don't really have anything to compare it to. Been interesting reading what everyone has though.

  30. #80
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    34 hope x 11-40t-rex 29er

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    Quote Originally Posted by pointerDixie214 View Post
    I guess different (pedal) strokes for different folks, eh? lol I agree on momentum being your friend in rock gardens, especially those I encountered out West. But the ones I encounter here you can only keep so much momentum for so long. After a while being able to crawl through them is a much.

    But then there are plenty of people here who ride bigger rings up front too.
    I think my riding style agrees with yours. On long, steady, drawn out climbs I usually don't need to use the lowest gears as when my cadence starts to drop I can just stand up for a few pedal strokes to speed back up. Its the technical climbs--either short, extremely steep sections, or rocky/rough sections--where I use the short gearing to keep from, basically, stalling out.
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  32. #82
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    1x drivetrain crew--what size is your chainring?

    Funny, I do the exact opposite. I sit and spin in a low gear on long climbs - most are too steep to do anything but the lowest with 1x10. On steep rocky stuff, I rush into it and stand up to keep from stalling while keeping momentum up. IfI were to sit and spin, there'd be no way I'd have enough momentum to clear ledges and roots.

  33. #83
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lindahl View Post
    Funny, I do the exact opposite. I sit and spin in a low gear on long climbs - most are too steep to do anything but the lowest with 1x10. On steep rocky stuff, I rush into it and stand up to keep from stalling while keeping momentum up.
    lol thats funny. to clarify, i'm usually standing and rushing and trying to build momentum as you say for shorter rock gardens. it's when they're so long or so steep that i can't build enough momentum to make it through the whole thing that i sit and either 'rock crawl' or spin like an airplane prop.
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  34. #84
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    after switching to a 1x10 with a 42t Wolftooth Giant Cog & a 32t chainring a few months ago, I've found that my riding style has changed dramatically. Previously, I'd use my granny gear to tackle most steep climbs and initially, after installing the GC, used it for most of my climbs, as well. However, after 4 months with the 1x GC setup, I've found that I'm doing the majority of my climbs in either the 28t or 32t cogs and only use the 36 and 42t for bailouts on the hardest, most lung-busting climbs
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  35. #85
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    after switching to a 1x10 with a 42t Wolftooth Giant Cog & a 32t chainring a few months ago, I've found that my riding style has changed dramatically. Previously, I'd use my granny gear to tackle most steep climbs and initially, after installing the GC, used it for most of my climbs, as well. However, after 4 months with the 1x GC setup, I've found that I'm doing the majority of my climbs in either the 28t or 32t cogs and only use the 36 and 42t for bailouts on the hardest, most lung-busting climbs
    Was the 42 t cog pretty straightforward to install?

  36. #86
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    yep. on a bare freewheel hub, install the 42t cog, remove either the 15 or 17t cog & spacer, install cassette & lock ring, ride. It was recommended to remove the 17t cog, but I found that I would spin out on the 19t and the 15t was too high to switch to & I'd lose momentum. Instead, I removed the 15t and found the transition much more tolerable. That said, Wolftooth is developing a 16t cog for a better transition. I may get one when it is available.
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  37. #87
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gigantic View Post
    yep. on a bare freewheel hub, install the 42t cog, remove either the 15 or 17t cog & spacer, install cassette & lock ring, ride. It was recommended to remove the 17t cog, but I found that I would spin out on the 19t and the 15t was too high to switch to & I'd lose momentum. Instead, I removed the 15t and found the transition much more tolerable. That said, Wolftooth is developing a 16t cog for a better transition. I may get one when it is available.
    Thanks. I'm kind of confused by the the 16t. You would add the 42 and 16 and remove what exactly? 15 and 17?

  38. #88
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    Quote Originally Posted by 802spokestoke View Post
    Thanks. I'm kind of confused by the the 16t. You would add the 42 and 16 and remove what exactly? 15 and 17?
    You can get a 16 from a road bike cassette too

    Add the 42, remove the 17, and replace the 15 with a 16

    11-13-16-19 vs 11-13-15-19. Better spacing.

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    OneUp is now sending a "free" 16t along with their 40 or 42t. I'm assuming they are now trying really hard to deal with all of the competition and some lower-priced options.

  40. #90
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    one up 16t is hit or miss, depending on your setup. i found best for a zee rd is to clock the cog in between sr & sh, but ditched it for an xt 16t.

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