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  1. #1
    No really, I am that slow
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    Climbing steep stuff

    What can one reasonably expect to climb on an SS? Once the dirt gets above about, say, 15% (guessing here) I can't maintain traction. Combine that with the fact that the energy just gets hoovered out means it's pushing time.

    It is realistic to be able to ride steep stuff on the SS that others are riding on gearies?

  2. #2
    You know, for kids
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    really all depends on your gearing

    if you have it set up for climbing you will likely spin out on flats
    if you have it set up for mostly flatland it will be harder on climbs

  3. #3
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    1 run 2:1 on my 29 ss
    I'm good up to 15% for a longer climb
    above 15% it cant be too long of a climb or I'm out of gas
    I've done 20+% for short climbs

  4. #4
    Now with 20% more fat!!
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    madcap is correct. I am geared at 34-20 for my 29er SS and can climb anything I can climb with gears. At first, it was MUCH harder to stand and climb on the SS... now it seems natural. The skills and muscles (for me) came with practice. I got better at keeping weight over the rear wheel while climbing out of saddle. If your current gearing is killing you, then try to change your cog out for something a little easier. Hang on to your current cog, because you might be coming back to it before too long!

  5. #5
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    Beyond gearing, it also depends on torque, fitness, bike geometry, tire traction, attitude, skills (ability to maintain momentum, etc.) and more.

    Occasionally I'll clean something that leaves even some my geared brothers walking. Success aboard a singlespeed depends on so many planets aligning... how long the hill yes, but how steep the hill as well, plus how you approach it and how you work it. Plus whether or not "you believe." If you can do a max burst of energy and the hill is shorter, you may find yourself at the top of something you previously thought you couldn't clean. Continue singlespeeding and you may discover you can do this more often as you subconsciously feel all the facets of SSing plus improved fitness coming together.

    It's hard to quantify but familiarity will bring belief. And belief, enlightenment. Enlightenment, ability. Ability, accomplishment.

    --Sparty
    Last edited by Sparticus; 12-20-2007 at 02:35 PM.
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  6. #6
    Welcome to the Gem...
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    a certain little engine comes to mind...

    "i think i can... i think i can... i think i can... i know i can... i know i can!"
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sparticus
    Beyond gearing, it also depends on torque, fitness, bike geometry, tire traction, attitude, skills (ability to maintain momentum, etc.) and more.
    Altitude is a huge factor in my book. Short and steep, if I can do it on a multi-geared bike, I can almost always do it on a single speed -- even at altitude (I live at 7200 feet and my riding goes up from there). But long and steep that I can grind out with 20 to 35 gear inches (think 10's of minutes of climbing) just don't get done at altitude without walking (for me). Even dropping only a couple of thousand feet in altitude makes a difference, allowing me to climb steep, long climbs better on the single speed.
    "The plural of anecdote is not data." -- Attributed to various people in a variety of forms, but always worth remembering...

  8. #8
    one chain loop
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    +1 to Sparty. In my case, i found the right tire for my trails. First, I experimented on gear ratios but found that tires are much important. Look for the lowest rolling resistance tire that will work for the hill and trails. Sure aggressive knobby tires will do the job, but it will slow you down too because of high rolling resistance. Thats my .02
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  9. #9
    MLH
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    Technique is also a factor. Sometimes climbs require a proper distribution of weight to avoid a loss of traction and the meeting of testicles to stem. Other times the rear wheel can require very little downward pressure, so it can be a little easier to spin. As for grades: there really isn't a definite limit.

  10. #10
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    If it's really steep I walk - it's faster and I enjoy the climb more.

    When I go riding I leave my ego behind, it lightens the load
    As little bike as possible, as silent as possible.
    Latitude: 57║36' Highlands, Scotland

  11. #11
    Hairshirt Rider
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    Quote Originally Posted by woe
    What can one reasonably expect to climb on an SS?

    It is realistic to be able to ride steep stuff on the SS that others are riding on gearies?
    Totally depends on whether you are riding by yourself or with others. If there is someone watching you have something to prove and owe it to all of us to ride until you fall over clipped in to your pedals.

    If you are by yourself it is okay to get off and walk the steeps.

  12. #12
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    Momentum helps to.

  13. #13
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    My biggest thing is confidence. I know I can climb anything my friends can. I do it all the time on the road and on no technical stuff. But the second I rocks or roots or nearly vertical stuff, I wimp out. And lately whether or not my chain pops has effected the outcome of a climb.
    "Don't take life too serious. You'll never get out alive."

  14. #14
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    There's a local climb that climbs about 200' in .2 miles, so about 20%. That's doable but it's pretty brutal at 32:20 on a 29er. Any longer and I'd need to start eating wheaties. I should mention that that is a short *paved* section between two trails.

    On short dirt climbs it's defintely possible to get up steeper stuff. The big breakthrough for me was learning that, while standing, pulling up on the bars will torque the back wheel into the ground to increase traction. That was counter intuitive to me since I used to fight to keep my front wheel on the ground on an old gf hardtail with a way too long top tube.

    -slide

  15. #15
    wg
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide mon
    There's a local climb that climbs about 200' in .2 miles, so about 20%. That's doable but it's pretty brutal at 32:20 on a 29er. Any longer and I'd need to start eating wheaties. I should mention that that is a short *paved* section between two trails.
    ....
    -slide
    Talking about China Camp? That's painful with gears.

    I liked Sparticus' reply. Beyond the physics... gearing, traction etc. ya gotta believe you can do it. I've brain farted too many climbs where I know I should have been able to do it. (lack of lungs may also come into play)
    Don't harsh my mello

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by wg
    Talking about China Camp? That's painful with gears.

    I liked Sparticus' reply. Beyond the physics... gearing, traction etc. ya gotta believe you can do it. I've brain farted too many climbs where I know I should have been able to do it. (lack of lungs may also come into play)
    You got it. The climb to the nike site. It is mostly mental. Gotta take that one slow and steady to make it through the steep section in the middle. I usually go for it if it's cool and overcast but on hot sunny days, fock it, I'd rather walk it. Most dedicated hardcore ss'ers make that climb consistently but I'm a part-timer.

    BTW, if you're riding cc get in touch, that's my backyard, The nike site is 1000' vertical and about 10 minutes (return) to my house.

    -slide

  17. #17
    No really, I am that slow
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide mon
    There's a local climb that climbs about 200' in .2 miles, so about 20%. That's doable but it's pretty brutal at 32:20 on a 29er. Any longer and I'd need to start eating wheaties. I should mention that that is a short *paved* section between two trails.

    -slide
    Ah, but take away the pavement. Add in some loose crud. Can you still do it? I couldn't. Guess I'll go work on my technique & fitness.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by woe
    Ah, but take away the pavement. Add in some loose crud. Can you still do it? I couldn't. Guess I'll go work on my technique & fitness.
    Me? No. There are shorter dirt sections that are steeper that I make regularly but they take a *lot* more effort and there's no way I could keep that up for an extended climb. I don't "live to climb" anymore though, I'm sure there are alot of people out there that could do it on dirt.

    -slide

  19. #19
    drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide mon
    Me? No. There are shorter dirt sections that are steeper that I make regularly but they take a *lot* more effort and there's no way I could keep that up for an extended climb. I don't "live to climb" anymore though, I'm sure there are alot of people out there that could do it on dirt.

    -slide
    I've been to China Camp twice. Can you tell what climb this is? I was on a rented hybrid with semi-slicks, and only made it about halfway. Sure was fun trying though
    "Keep your burgers lean and your tires fat." -h.d. | ssoft | flickr

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drevil
    I've been to China Camp twice. Can you tell what climb this is? I was on a rented hybrid with semi-slicks, and only made it about halfway. Sure was fun trying though
    Yeah, I know that one, where Bayview dumps out to the fire road. You must fall into the "live to climb" category

    p.s. That pic has got to be over two years old, right?
    Last edited by slide mon; 12-21-2007 at 03:36 PM.

  21. #21
    drev-il, not Dr. Evil!
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    Quote Originally Posted by slide mon
    Yeah, I know that one, where Bayview dumps out to the fire road. You must fall into the "live to climb" category

    p.s. That pic has got to be over two years old, right?
    Yup, it's from Oct 2005. How could you tell?

    I think this is the same thing, but from the bottom (from May of this year).
    "Keep your burgers lean and your tires fat." -h.d. | ssoft | flickr

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drevil
    Yup, it's from Oct 2005. How could you tell?

    I think this is the same thing, but from the bottom (from May of this year).

    Took a couple minutes to figure out what was different - there was a big slide just out of the frame on 12/30/05 (in the same storm that flooded my 'hood, and turned my yard and garage into a lake.) The trail got rerouted around the other side of that stump sometime around March of 2006. There's now a small jump to the left of the stump.

    -slide

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by woe
    What can one reasonably expect to climb on an SS? Once the dirt gets above about, say, 15% (guessing here) I can't maintain traction. Combine that with the fact that the energy just gets hoovered out means it's pushing time.

    It is realistic to be able to ride steep stuff on the SS that others are riding on gearies?
    I more often stall out before I lose traction.

    If the main limiting factor of the climb is traction it does not matter if I am of the SS or the gearie.
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  24. #24
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    all the above plus....

    I have been surprised at how I can pace myself better and I actually stay
    in the saddle a bit longer than I thought I would.
    I've also been working on my spinning technique to get the most torque
    to the cranks all the way through each rotation.
    One more thing is my geared bikes all have 170 cranks and my ss has 175's
    and I am guessing the 175's are better at getting the torque down at lower
    rpm's????
    I'm really new to ss but found I am riding stronger and enjoying older trails
    a lot more than before!
    T
    WORK TO LIVE DON'T JUST LIVE TO WORK!!!!

  25. #25
    Is that Bill rated?
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    Length

    Hey,
    I find the length has more to do with what I can clean SS versus geared. Most any doubletrack/fireroad is clearable on my SS, but once you are looking at singletrack that gives a gearie pause it is mostly a case of how far you have to hump your bike to clear the section. For myself if the section requires under 10 seconds of exertion, (I.E. I can't breath level of difficulty) with no break the singlespeed is cool, but if the section is so long that I am deeply anaerobic for over 10-15 seconds to clear it I am in trouble.
    Of course your gearing can have a significant effect on this relationship; I run around a 1.5:1 ratio on my 29er which is around a 1.6:1 for you 26" folks.
    Well, it was a good try.

  26. #26
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    It's a total different technique when climbing on a SS. It takes some practice. I have many
    practice hills in my area and since I went SS some climbs are easier because I just pick a line and hammer it. Some are harder because now I tend to bonk at the top of some of the steep ones but I'm still able to climb them. And some now are just impossible, but that's OK
    just hop back on and ride at the top. My favorite climbs are the long medium grade slow ones
    standing and cranking the whole way. It's like a Stairmaster with handlebars. I feel that climbing on a SS gives you a better power transfer than a geared climb because you have to stand and by doing so you're using the full extension of your legs, not to mention the exeptional cardio benefit. (That's why I run a 34:16)

  27. #27
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    I classify my climbing on the SS in "vocal" catagories"

    "Hell Yea!" - medium length, medium grade
    "C'monDamit" - long length, medium grade
    "Fudge!" - medium distance, steep grade
    "Muther Fudger" - long length, medium grade that transitions into a step grade
    "Muther Fudger Son of a Beeotch" - long length, steep grade
    "Fudge It"! - long length steep grade at halfway to 3/4 point where I have no more to give.

  28. #28
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    JSD303: I am geared at 34-20 for my 29er SS and can climb anything I can climb with gears.

    If that is the case you are not climbing anything steep enough and/or long enough.
    My rides:
    Lynskey Ti Pro29 SS
    RM Suzi Q 90 RSL
    KHS Team 29
    S-Works Roubaix
    KHS CX 550 cyclocross

  29. #29
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    I've got 4 rides in on my 29er SS. I'm loving it. I'm riding way better than I thought I would too. My gearing is 36x24, which is pretty easy in most SSer's books. But I have lots of climbing to do, and It's working so far. Almost every ride I complete a section that I thought would be impossible given my skill, experience, and fitness. I agree that you have to "think you can". If I have even a small mental lapse I pop off the bike to walk. I did that once and was mad at myself because I hadn't really been that tired or stressed, I had just lost focus.

    Maybe we should post feet climbed and mileage ridden for a typical SS ride. I'd like to compare how I might do on other peoples rides. (knowing that new places are ALWAYS harder than the ones you do all the time)

  30. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by fishcreek
    +1 to Sparty. In my case, i found the right tire for my trails. First, I experimented on gear ratios but found that tires are much important. Look for the lowest rolling resistance tire that will work for the hill and trails. Sure aggressive knobby tires will do the job, but it will slow you down too because of high rolling resistance. Thats my .02
    What rear tires have you found to be best then?
    My local terrain is predominately loose over hardpack, with lots of 10~20% gradients less than 1/2mile long. I am running WTB Exiwolfs that came with the bike.
    Any suggestions.

  31. #31
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    Paging Norcal SSer

    Has anyone done Kennedy succesfully on a SS. By successful, I mean from bottom to the top of the wall, without stopping. Time is not a factor.

  32. #32
    one chain loop
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    Our terrain is mostly hard pack so I use Kenda K-Rad, it rolls fast and grips nice too. Bit sketchy on fast tight turns but does the job really well climbing. I tried couple of tires from WTB and Maxxis, they are plain overkill for the kind of trails I ride.

    Quote Originally Posted by juscruzin
    What rear tires have you found to be best then?
    My local terrain is predominately loose over hardpack, with lots of 10~20% gradients less than 1/2mile long. I am running WTB Exiwolfs that came with the bike.
    Any suggestions.
    everything sucks but my vacuum cleaner.

  33. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Loll
    Has anyone done Kennedy succesfully on a SS. By successful, I mean from bottom to the top of the wall, without stopping. Time is not a factor.

    You mean this Kennedy ?

    http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/i...kValue=3624848

    SS Kennedy is all about pacing yourself up the hill, I have only cleaned the last wall twice with the SS on a non stop climb and it helps to have a little moisture in the dirt for the last bit of traction.

    I typically use 32 X 20 gearing on my 29er for Kennedy

    Many local SS clean Kennedy, rensho and francois come to mind.

  34. #34
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    To begin with, I could barely clean Kennedy nonstop on a geared bike.

    Now on my 26" 32:17, last wall is pretty much impossible. I climb about 20% of it and have to walk the rest.

    Ali

  35. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffh
    You mean this Kennedy ?

    http://trail.motionbased.com/trail/i...kValue=3624848

    SS Kennedy is all about pacing yourself up the hill, I have only cleaned the last wall twice with the SS on a non stop climb and it helps to have a little moisture in the dirt for the last bit of traction.

    I typically use 32 X 20 gearing on my 29er for Kennedy

    Many local SS clean Kennedy, rensho and francois come to mind.
    May be someone else has already answered this, but how does a 29er SS feel compared to 26 SS on long climbs like Kennedy? btw, you wouldn't be the guy on a orange niner during the turkey ride this year right? Cleared the last wall that day.
    yeah...Francois beat me up sulfer @ demo on his single speed.
    Last edited by Loll; 12-26-2007 at 02:59 PM.

  36. #36
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    I did have my orange Niner out on the turkey day ride, But it had a 5 liter keg of rootbeer strapped to the handle bars that day, My guess is that it was rensho on his orange niner who you saw clear the last wall that day.

    The 29er seem to have better traction then the 26 inch wheeled bikes for climbing, but I think either bike can be made a good climber, try and keep it light and gear it right.

    BTW: if you fit on an XL frame, I have a 08 Gary Fisher Rig 29er SS that you could try out some time. Just send me a PM if you would like to go on a ride.

    Jeff
    Last edited by jeffh; 12-26-2007 at 11:40 PM.

  37. #37
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    Climbing on SS requires just what everyone here siad. The biggies to work on first are fitness (build power by climbing more or accelerate your progress in the gym), skill and set up.

    Skill: On SS, momentum is king- if riding with gearies, drop back about 100' way before the climb and hit it with some speed. Dropping back keeps you from running into them midway up the hill. Pedal turn over (rpm) should be high at the start and will taper as you go. Line choice is important too. Try not to roll over small roots, rocks or bumps and ride around them if the trail allows. If not a small weight shift to the rear as the front hits it and a likewise shift for the rear tire (think a bunnyhop type motion with tire only skimming obstacle-practice on a 4-6 inch curb if you need) keeps you moving and conserves energy. Body position is important and try to think economy of movement. Stand up and concentrate on keeping weight as far back as possible without making the front wheelie. It is a balance point you can learn over time- don't crawl up over the bars. As you are stalling and pedal rpm drops to 1 per second- you find yourself loosing traction. As you take that lumbering pedal stroke (the one that breaks traction usually) try to pull up on the opposite bar (left pedal down, right bar up) in a syncronized motion. That puts downward force on the rear tire to help increase traction. Also be smooth on the downstroke as you can. This is where a nice wide bar comes into play. As you get better at that style- add in some power and smoothness with the upstroke pedal. If you run tubeless, run a lower pressure if the terrain allows, giving you more contact patch and more traction. The body position stuff is hard to do well, lots of different movements that may not feel natural and requires practice for most. Practice track stands on flat ground and get good at them. Going slow climbing requires good balance and if you don't have it, your excessive body movement to save it takes away from climbing form. If racing- watch the speed- if you are doing less that 3 mph, you might want to dismount and portage the rest. But just riding- under three and still going is a matter of pride.

    I ride in AZ desert which is usually very hard ground covered with a 1/4 inch of pea sized granite and baby head sized rocks both loose and half in the ground and this technique works very well for me and those I have helped in the past.
    Vassago Cycles, Shadetree Bikes, Flat Tire Bikes, Galfer Brakes USA

  38. #38
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    July 2006 page 102 " Single-Speed Secrets" these technics used by Travis Brown are used and work. The effort is about shifting your wieght through the dead zone. Depending on the grade % will depend on the amount of shift, in-witch the grade will depend on how much wieght to shift backwards for traction and then foward in continous motion, of course this is out of the saddle. The one exersize that helps my climbing are leg curls in the gym, use more of these muscles will help your climbing. We tend to concentrate on pushing not pulling, split your effort with both, your ride will last longer.

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