1. The most important thing about buying a new bike is to make sure it fits. The only way you'll know if the bike is right for you is to size up the bike and make sure that the bike's geometry matches your body's geometry. Ask questions and do some research.
mtn. biking 101
2. If possible, try to find a shop that will let you demo the bike on real dirt. Five minutes in a parking lot won't cut it. You wouldn't buy a car without a real world test drive, and a bike should be no different.
3. Don't belive the hype. Just because your favorite rider or best friend rides a certain bike, that doesn't mean that's the best one for you. Have an open mind and be realistic about your needs and ability.
Results 1 to 22 of 22
  1. #1
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Posts
    20

    climbing hills - reading different things on the internet

    some say to apply power only on the down stroke, some say to apply power throught the whole circle. Which is best?

    I find that i get tired faster by apply power throughout the circle...


  2. #2
    local trails rider
    Reputation: perttime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    11,829
    Ideally, you should move your feet in circles. Pulling up hard is only a last resort if you are about to stall, and that should be a very rare occasion if you have a bike with more than one gear.

    Just stomping up and down is very inefficient. Get your feet going in circles and let your ankles flex a little to spread the power to a wider part of the circle. On the upstroke, lift your foot enough that it gets "out of the way of the pedal.

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  3. #3
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    4,891
    Smooth on the steeper sections so you don't break traction when standing.

  4. #4
    banned
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    2,049
    Spin it !
    It's the most efficient way to transmit power.

  5. #5
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    13,534
    Sometimes I think the usefulness of ideas like pedaling circles is more in the mental image than the reality.

    Pedaling smoothly is very important, IME.

    Pulling up on the pedals is supposed to be pretty inefficient. There was a study a while ago of where in the stroke different time trialists were developing power. The elites developed pretty much none on the upstroke, but they do take some weight off the pedals. So there's your pedaling in circles.

    I think the important thing is ramping up the force at the beginning of the power stroke and taking it off smoothly at the end. Since you're doing that 240 times/minute between your two feet and the ramp-up and ramp-down, thinking circles makes more sense for most of us. My big takeaway was just to limit single-leg and pulling-up exercises when I practice technique.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  6. #6
    mtbr member
    Reputation: borabora's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    469
    Motion should be smooth rather than temporarily stalling when one foot is up and the other down. I think that the lifting foot should have sufficient up force so that the pedal is virtually unweighted but not being pulled up.

  7. #7
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    1,244
    not something you can really improve much by reading. go out and ride.. experiment with different techniques. get better.

  8. #8
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Posts
    42
    I've also been working on getting better at pedaling. I'm pretty smooth I think but I've been trying to pedal more in "circles" by also remembering to "push forward at the top" and "scrape dog **** off my shoe at the bottom" but not pull up on the up stroke. When I make a conscious effort to do that, I find I almost instantly get very tired. It doesn't feel quite right and I'm wondering if it's likely my technique that is wrong or because I'm using different muscles that are just really weak and I need to train them up?

  9. #9
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    13,534
    Do you have a cycle computer with cadence? Before getting into some of the finer points of technique, having good leg extension and a cadence of at least 80 rpm are important, I think.

    If you don't have a computer with cadence, you can still figure it out on a service road or a trainer or something, using a stopwatch. Just count rotations for 15 seconds and multiply by four, something along those lines. Obviously that won't work very well on a trail.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  10. #10
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,152
    I have another method for approximating whether your cadence is 90 or not: I count half-rotations of the cranks (easy, because the crank rotations alternate) to the three: 1-2-3-1-2-3... The timing interval between any given number should be one second. One second is easy for most people to approximate.

    Very easy and allows you to approximate your 90 rpm cadence in just 2-3 seconds.

    As for the original topic, it's far better to rotate the cranks in a smooth fashion to keep your speed stable. Constant accelerations and decelerations (from merely pushing on the downstroke) are a waste of energy and could cause you to lose traction in a steep section.

  11. #11
    mtbr member
    Reputation: MSU Alum's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Posts
    1,051
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Sometimes I think the usefulness of ideas like pedaling circles is more in the mental image than the reality.
    I'm inclined to agree. I'm not a fan of high RPM, though. I rarely go to 80 or 90, though sometimes it's useful. I usually run lower, say around 60 or so as I prefer more of a torque-ish style. But, do whatever it takes.

  12. #12
    local trails rider
    Reputation: perttime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Posts
    11,829
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Sometimes I think the usefulness of ideas like pedaling circles is more in the mental image than the reality.
    That may well be the case.
    I first got the hang of it following advice to "Imagine that the pressure between foot and pedal remains constant". It seems that it is best to first try it with light resistance only. To spin faster, you imagine that the circle your feet are doing gets smaller....

    "it IS possible that you are faster or slower than anybody else who is having at least as much if not more or less fun"

  13. #13
    banned
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Posts
    2,049
    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Do you have a cycle computer with cadence? Before getting into some of the finer points of technique, having good leg extension and a cadence of at least 80 rpm are important, I think.

    If you don't have a computer with cadence, you can still figure it out on a service road or a trainer or something, using a stopwatch. Just count rotations for 15 seconds and multiply by four, something along those lines. Obviously that won't work very well on a trail.
    That's what I meant by spin it.

    We can't possible generate a smooth power output due to body mechanics and our relationship to the bike, but we can smooth out the power transmission by being in a lower gear and spinning faster.

    A lot of small/fast power pulses will climb more efficiently that a few powerful, standing on the pedal pulses, because the power delivery is more consistent, and the likelihood of loosing traction is reduced.

  14. #14
    Cow Clicker
    Reputation: wmac's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    2,349
    ^Stay seated if possible, shift to the lowest gear and pay attention to how much effort you are using with your non-dominant leg. If you are pushing AND pulling, you are using twice as much energy and will be tired faster.
    No, YOU don't understand. You're making an ass of yourself for all of eternity.

  15. #15
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,152
    Sometimes I've found that lowering the gear ratio (and speed) would indeed help to get a smoother and more "constant propelling" rear wheel than using a higher gear and lower cadence. Especially if the climb is technically easy but very steep, low gears are king. But as soon as you attack a more technically challenging climb, maintaining a decent speed is important to get over obstacles and navigate around them without losing balance.

    You've probably tried riding your bike really slowly on a smooth surface and noticed how it's squirmy and you can't even think of letting go of the bars. At a higher speed the bike becomes stable and you can ride without holding the bar. Well, this principle doesn't go away when you're on the trail: speed means stability.

    Moral of the story: choose a gear that allows you to spin the cranks fast enough, but don't go too easy on yourself. Maintain the speed and you'll be able to climb better, even though it takes more physical effort.

    Oh, and look ahead, not down. You'll reach the top more easily if you look at it. Looking down at the front tire and seeing all the rocks and roots go past the front tire makes climbing incredibly hard.

  16. #16
    Fat-tired Roadie
    Reputation: AndrwSwitch's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    13,534
    <-- likes to lower the gear and not the speed.

    Though there are those little kickers that can benefit from maintaining gear ratio and speed and just applying more force. My heart never explodes after that. Not ever.
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  17. #17
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
    Posts
    10
    It's the most efficient way to transmit power.

  18. #18
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,460
    Quote Originally Posted by Saul Lumikko View Post
    Oh, and look ahead, not down. You'll reach the top more easily if you look at it. Looking down at the front tire and seeing all the rocks and roots go past the front tire makes climbing incredibly hard.
    I find the opposite on longer climbs; my preference is to put my head down, look just far enough ahead not to run into a tree, settle in and grind away. I find this 'fools' me into not thinking about the incline. As soon as I look up and see how far I have to go, it sucks some life out of my legs. Of course it's all just mental, but everyone's wired differently, so YMMV.

  19. #19
    mtbr member
    Reputation: theMeat's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2010
    Posts
    4,448
    Climbing more gets you better at climbing more. It's a matter of conditioning, even when it comes to rpms. I am used to and spend most my time around 60-70 rpms so that's where I'm most productive. Sitting on the nose of the saddle is best for keeping traction but getting up on the pedals before the climb I use often to get some momentum going into it first. I agree with mofo ^ that looking way up the hill just changes my position and find it better to look down closer, and usually stand briefly to look to the top if needed. Find it better to just look down, get in the zone and grind. Alternating between standing and sitting when possible is a good way to keep your legs also. I would also recommend trying to power up the hill instead of dumping gears all the time to learn when and where it's best to do what.
    Round and round we go

  20. #20
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Posts
    42
    Quote Originally Posted by slapheadmofo View Post
    I find the opposite on longer climbs; my preference is to put my head down, look just far enough ahead not to run into a tree, settle in and grind away. I find this 'fools' me into not thinking about the incline. As soon as I look up and see how far I have to go, it sucks some life out of my legs. Of course it's all just mental, but everyone's wired differently, so YMMV.
    I imagine where you choose to look probably depends on the person somewhat. The advice I got was to not look all the way up the hill, but pick a point not too far up the hill and mentally "pull" yourself up to that point. . .then, you find another point part way up the hill, rinse and repeat. Mentally, that seems to work pretty well for me. Looking too close in front of me tends to slow me down because it appears I'm going faster than I really am (same thing for me when I'm jogging). On the other hand, looking all the way up the hill sometimes makes the task seem impossible.

  21. #21
    mtbr member
    Reputation:
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Posts
    1,460
    Quote Originally Posted by IslandCrow View Post
    I imagine where you choose to look probably depends on the person somewhat.
    Very true. Also, depends on the type of climb. The longer, steeper and less tech, the closer my gaze gets to my front wheel, and the lower gears I push. Shorter and more tech, I mash a higher gear and charge for the top. Lotsa variables mixed in there...

  22. #22
    mtbr member
    Reputation: Saul Lumikko's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
    Posts
    1,152
    Slapheadmofo, IslandCrow: The reasoning behind looking up is a technical one, as it helps you plot a line beforehand and keeps you from running into obstacles - which you mentioned.

    Psychologically it might be good not to look too far, either. So I agree about the long climbs and not looking all the way to the top.

    Looking just far enough to keep you going is good.

Similar Threads

  1. Dumb beginner question - proper technique for climbing hills
    By BigRed390 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 22
    Last Post: 08-06-2012, 04:53 PM
  2. Having problems climbing hills after fork upgrade
    By NoVA_JB in forum Shocks and Suspension
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 04-22-2012, 06:35 AM
  3. Climbing hills
    By crash926 in forum Beginner's Corner
    Replies: 34
    Last Post: 11-25-2011, 02:03 PM
  4. Sustained Climbing or Climbing Repeats? What to do.
    By vetprowanab in forum XC Racing and Training
    Replies: 9
    Last Post: 06-18-2011, 11:06 AM
  5. Problem Climbing Hills
    By Kaotic in forum General Discussion
    Replies: 45
    Last Post: 05-22-2007, 02:36 PM

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •