Winter bike gearing v Summer bike gearing

I am not very bike technical so I hope this makes sense. I have two bikes, a Specialized Diverge Sport A1 2016 that I use in the winter and a Condor made bike that I use in the summer. The Condor is 20 years old and was bought as a TT bike. The gears have now been changed from a TT setup to a road setup.

The Specialized has 34:50T - 11:32t, 10x speed gearing. I have been using structured training for a while and switched to Trainerroad about a year ago. I can now spin up hills much better than I used to. I was a stomper. I can spin at 100rpm without issue so have plenty of room to spin when I go up hills.

My Condor has Campagnolo 39:53 - 12:27, 9x speed gearing. I find I run out of gears on some of the same hills I can spin up on the Specialized. I have to get out of the saddle. On most of my hills (compared to where some of you live, these would be minor blips, not hills :slight_smile:) this is not a problem. Last week though I did Leith Hill and just about made it to the top.

My question really is, how do you all train for out of the saddle climbing? Not many of the workouts cover this. @chad wants us to spin up a hill where possible. I found I recovered really well and could continue at a decent pace (for me) over the top. I feel it was a lack of practice that was the issue and using my muscles in a different way.

I was wondering if it was worth doing more out of the saddle climbing in a bigger gear than just using an easier gear and spinning up all the hills just to get used to it.

39 & 27 is 35% higher gearing than 34 and 32. No wonder you are running out of gears.

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You can work on the training, or you can work on the bike… most probably you are limited to that 39T small chainring (maybe 38T, not sure on Campy), and maybe a 50T large chainring (which would not solve your problem). Easier would be to change the cassette - you could maybe get a shorter (higher tooth count) cassette on your Condor. This could be limited by your derailleur capacity as well as which cassettes are available for this config; but if you could get a 12-32, it would get you closer to your winter setup.

Maybe a silly question, but how come you are using a 20 year old (presumably steel) frame with 9 speed gears as your summer bike? Why not just use the Specialized all year round and change the wheels/tires depending on the season?

To your question, you need more gears. Leith Hill really isn’t that steep (if that was hard then whatever you do don’t go up Whitedown Lane which is just the other side of the A25!), you should have enough gears to spin up it. There is some merit in my view in practicing how to climb smoothly out of the saddle, and also in doing some lower cadence climbing. But better to have enough gears that you can choose when to do this, not be forced into it every time the gradient approaches 10%.

@rocourteau I’m told that is the best cassette that this bike supports. I changed it from a 39:53 - 12:23. I changed it after going up Leith Hill with that and said I would never make it 55 miles into the London 100. I did it after 3 when I went for a practice.

@cartsman You have a very good question. This bike is actually lighter than the Specialized. It also has sentimental value. It was bought with some money left to me by my Grandma. At the time I never knew 20 years later I would be using it like this. Leith Hill felt steep last Tuesday :slight_smile: I live in East Hertfordshire and we have nothing like Leigh Hill around here.

I think I knew it was the bike, not me :smile: One day I will get a new bike, but I need to get a trainer first.

One relatively inexpensive option would be a drivetrain update on the “summer” bike - changing to a compact (34-50) crankset, and to a 10- or 11-speed config (Campy cassette bodies and derailleurs are compatible 9-11 speed if I’m not mistaken). At first glance, this would mean a set of shifters, a chain, a cassette and a crankset. You could maybe find the 2 most expensive parts (shifters and crankset) used, more so if you use 10-speed. The Veloce 10-sp goes to 29T, with a 34 in front you’d be in better shape - well, the bike would be anyways.

I did a 7->10 speed update on my trainer bike, Shimano 105 equipped, for under $250 CAD. Kept the crankset/chainrings, changed the shifters, cassette and chain, add a new set of cables and bar tape, and she’s ready to go. I sold the old shifters as well…

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I will speak to my bike shop about that and see what they say. Happy to pay for it when there is nothing wrong with the bike.

I did the work myself - no clue what a bike shop may charge, nor if they would play with second-hand parts. So your mileage may vary…

In the end I decided to change completely. The wheels are twenty years old as well. I’m going for the full Shimano 105 groupset with Shimano rs330 wheels.