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Hey everyone,

I am going to be staying in Somerset in a few weeks and am wanting to do some riding in the Mendips.

I want to do a ride involving Draycott Steep which is 1.9km at 11.4% (https://www.strava.com/segments/659038), and seeing as I have never done anything that steep  am worried that the gearing on my Cannondale Supersix Evo won't get me through the sections which go up to 20%. I currently have an 11-28 casette and a  52/36 crank. It would be great to get some advice on whether I would I be better off switching to a compact on the front or putting on an 11-32 on the back?

I only started  cycling seriously a year ago, but seem to be among the quicker riders on the short and not particularly steep Cambridgeshire lumps. I am 80 kg  and still have youth on my side if that helps at all.

 

Thanks in advance!

41 comments

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CXR94Di2 [2118 posts] 2 months ago
1 like

You're low end middleweight, with youth and being reasonably fit, the gearing will get you up.  You may need to stand up and grind up the steeper sections but you should be fine.   A 32t cass will make it more bearable.  Its alot more expensive to change over a crankset.

 

I weigh 90+Kg, older 50+, so have easier gearing.  I like to stay seated mainly. I built my bike around climbing first, then touring, followed by sportives/club runs.  It has 44/28 crank and a 11-32 cass for general use and i then swap over wheels for mountains and have 11-40

 

Im doing my first 100 mile uk sportive this year, so standard gearing and comfy 40mm tyres to roll along with

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madcarew [741 posts] 2 months ago
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Like CRX94Di2 I'm 50 and 90 kg. We have a me any climb which is 10-13 % and 1.2km long. I go up that without too much difficulty on 39/53 11-28. (28 times in 4 hours once) I think you'll be fine but be prepared to stand up on the steeperparts

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MoutonDeMontagne [108 posts] 2 months ago
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You'll be fine with that gearing, as stated above, the steep bits might be an out of the saddle grind, but you'll get up. In the weeks before, might be worth doing some rides on shallower climbs/flat in a hard gear at a low (<60rpm) cadence to get used to the feeling of grinding, but trying to keep pressure on all the way round and not getting choppy.

I suffer on climbs when my cadence drops below around 70, so find this is a useful way of building your climbing power, plus you can do it on the flat. Just remember if you are doing it on the flat, to sit up in the position you usually climb in to help engage your core and glutes.  

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Yorkshire wallet [2058 posts] 2 months ago
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As you've said you're young and pretty fast so you should be ok. I dropped from 25 to 28 to 32 as I got braver with hills and started hitting the double digit stuff and there's not a massive difference between 28 and 32.

I guess some of it depends on whether you want to work standing up or sitting down. I was watching the power meter on a climb the other day, keeping it nice and steady about 250, got out of the saddle and started cranking and it jumped to over 400 for what seemed like not much gain in speed but a lot of gain in tiredness. Obviously it was faster but I prefer to keep my gearing low so I can still spin at the cadence I want and remain a bit fresher, at 20% though you'll probably have to get up and out.

 

 

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srchar [868 posts] 2 months ago
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I'd have thought you'll be fine.  I'm in my late 30s and weigh a couple of kilos more than you and have got up the Giau, Madeleine and a few other mountains on 36x29.

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bobbydazzler [15 posts] 2 months ago
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I've done this climb and many others in the Mendips [my club goes through various routes around there every few weeks].  I'd recommend switching to an 11-32 cassette/mid-cage rear derailleur if you don't mind the expense.  As well as the gradient,  there may also be places where the road is slippy, as it's wooded banks on either side so doesn't get much sun.

Plus if you are going to be doing more riding around the Mendips then I just think it will help with the overall enjoyment of it, and build your confidence in tackling the other steep climbs such as Ebbor Gorge/Deerleap, the climbs from Harptree etc.  If you get bored of all the climbs there are some nice flat rides out to the coast that aren't too far!

Have a great time!

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cyclesteffer [336 posts] 2 months ago
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I've done it on a compact, with a small-ish cassette so 34-25 so you'll be fine.

Just spin up it and get ready to grind for about 100 metres a bit once the tree cover starts, you look up and its quite a wall, you do have a bit of space to zig-zag up though , just look behind in case the odd car comes up it.

Its actually not that bad.

Crowcombe Combe off the quantocks, and out of Sidmouth there are two mental bastard hills - Salcombe and Peak Hill - so get down to Devon and try those as  well!

If you are staying in the area - try Prospect Place (towards Box out of Bath) and Rosemount lane (Bath) as well.

Did a 110 mile ride two year ago which did Crowcombe Combe at 60 miles and Draycott at 99 miles, that was interesting!

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shutuplegz [56 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes

Personally I'd go for the lowest gearing you can for this climb. i.e. your 36t chainring, with a 32t sprocket, or even put a 34 on the front too. If I am doing this climb (and there are a couple of other similar ones nearby) I always go for my bike with a 34/32 lowest gear - I'm 60kg and in my mid 40's and not a mega-athlete or powerful rider but I usually average 16-18mph on solo rides and I generally enjoy climbs. Whilst the average gradient might be 11% there is a really nasty bit where it goes through the trees ..... you start the climb with quite a good gradient from the very bottom in Draycott and you can get settled into a nice pace, low gears, high HR, then you round a slight bend and see what can only be described as a wall in front of you dissappearing up into the trees! On my first attempt at this hill many years ago I was on a very light bike but with a 39/28 lowest gear. At this time the road surface was very poor (resurfaced a couple of years ago, much better now) with a mixture of smooth polished and rough tarmac, including some slippery algae covered sections under the thick tree canopy. I got out of the saddle, because with that gearing it was impossible not to (for me) and lost traction! I nearly fell off! The road is quite narrow so zig-zagging didn't really work. By this time I was deep into the red anyway and nearly keeling over whilst still clipped in just raised the heart rate even more. I just about managed to stop to unclip. Then I had to walk about 50m up the road to get to a farm turning which gave me enough space to get a short run up to get moving again whilst clipping in!

It was the first time in many years that I'd had to stop on a hill for any reason out of my control and it was also the last time! For a while I was in fear of going back to it but I did with a heavier bike, as it happens, but with 34/32 lowest gear and this time I made it, still very tough and with my heart and brain feeling like they are going to burst out of my body! It was my 'nemesis' for a while though!

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BehindTheBikesheds [2033 posts] 2 months ago
4 likes

forget the humblebrag bollocks from certain posters because you will struggle on 36-28 if you haven't ridden any hills

IMO get a 33T inner ring, pointless getting a 34 when a 33 means you can have a 3% lower ratio, and see where you are at, at the very least it gives you a margain to fall back on.

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Mungecrundle [977 posts] 2 months ago
10 likes

I reckon you will be fine, but you may have to drop into the small ring.

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Rapha Nadal [847 posts] 2 months ago
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Are you seriously going to change your gearing for a climb of 1.9km?!  I think you'll be fine with what you currently have. I'm 92kg and run 36/29 as my biggest gear and that get's me up almost anything.

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Mr Pennington [18 posts] 2 months ago
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Considering your riding area with your current gear ratios, your muscle groups haven't been developed enough to attack an ascent of that grade. Go with the lowest ratio you can find 34/32. If your rear end has a short cage you'll need to turn the B-Screw almost all the way in. And going from 52/36 to 50/34 you'll need to resize the chain. IMO

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kungdog [6 posts] 2 months ago
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I do most of my riding around south Bristol and the Mendips and ridden that a few times. It's certainly one of the harder climbs around there. If you're not used to steep climbs, there's plenty of other options that kick up to similar gradients but not so sustained.

You can see more detail of that climb on here https://veloviewer.com/segment/659038

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Htc [41 posts] 2 months ago
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I ride a 52/36 and 11-28, did the tour de Yorkshire sportive this weekend. The first half of the climb out Pately Bridge averaged just over 10% for 1.5km, in the 36-28 my avg cadence was 64 and my NP was 328w to keep that gear turning over.. I weight 72kg.

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aegisdesign [62 posts] 2 months ago
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Well this thread has made me feel better. 

My commute has a 4.7km hill climb ranging 5 to 9% (about 1km is 9%). I've no idea what my weight is, no idea what my power output is and I can only vaguely remember I'm not yet 50.

Generally I'll ride up it in 39/26.

Occasionally if I've got shopping in my rucksack or two laptops perhaps instead of one, I'll use the 30t inner. 

I wouldn't worry about a 1.9km long climb. You'll be fine.

 

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PRSboy [285 posts] 2 months ago
5 likes

I'm sure you'll make it up, but it will be a lot easier and more fun on a 32t.

I can never understand the machismo surrounding being in too high a gear on hills.  

A bigger issue for me is that if you are doing a hillier ride than you are used to, then the cumulative effort of grinding away in too high a gear up hills will cause undue fatigue and at worst, injury ...maybe a knee or tendon, but I am also reminded of an occasion many moons ago when I was on a steep hill at the end of a long ride, out of the saddle, both quads cramped, I failed to unclip and was dumped in the road!

 

 

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StraelGuy [1444 posts] 2 months ago
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I've always run 11-28 but noticed that Miche do a 12-29 with the fabled 16 tooth cog that everyone loves. The second this cassette is toast, I'm going Miche yes.

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mikepridmorewood [42 posts] 2 months ago
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If it's 10sp there's no 16 on a 12-29. There is on a 12-27 though

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fukawitribe [2448 posts] 2 months ago
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They also do a 13-30 with a 16T... (Primato Light)

13-14-15-16-17-19-21-23-25-27-30

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nickW1 [4 posts] 2 months ago
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I would head over to the quantocks rather than the mendips some great climbs and the roads are a bit quieter 

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Martyn_K [261 posts] 2 months ago
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Lot's of questions to consider on this.........

What are you riding for?

Simply leisure, then get the best gearing you can in the most cost effective way you can. If you are 'training' or challenging yourself then take the bike as it is and see how you get on.

It is impossible to give great advice on an internet forum as nobody knows your fitness level, ability or bike handling skills. All we can do is try to prompt thought processes that will get you to make the right decision for you.

 

I mention bike handling because one thing that should not be underestimated is the challenge of going up steep inclines slowly. This year i have set myself the goal of being able to trackstand, so my slow/ static bike handling has really improved. While grinding my way up Haresfield Beacon a couple of weeks ago in the 39/25 i really needed that bike handling to stay upright. If you are confident of keeping balance and not having to panic unclip at very low cadence then your gearing will be ok. Bail out at low speed and it's impossible to get going again on the steep stuff.

There are some cracking climbs out that way. Give the Old Bristol Road out of Wells a try and Burrington Combe is a good climb without the traffic of Cheddar.

 

 

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HLaB [233 posts] 2 months ago
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I wouldn't change it for a one off but I'm only 62kg and a tightwad (although a slightly older one)  3 

Your purpose also has a bearing, eg is it pure leisure for instance and you can go at your own pace. Good Luck

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PRSboy [285 posts] 2 months ago
2 likes
HLaB wrote:

I wouldn't change it for a one off but I'm only 62kg and a tightwad (although a slightly older one)  3 

Your purpose also has a bearing, eg is it pure leisure for instance and you can go at your own pace. Good Luck

 

Also, its not just about the one-off climb... surely the elevation gain for the whole ride is important, compared to what you are used to?

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kungdog [6 posts] 2 months ago
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A Shimano 105 11-32 is just over £30, not that much to spend. You may end up using it more often in the future.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2033 posts] 2 months ago
3 likes

And the cheaper option without having to worry about if you have to change your rear mech, chain length and have a wider range cassette with the bigger jups you may only need to use once in a blue moon is to simply buy a 33 inner ring *. It also means you get to use those small sprockets that get barely any use.

*TA Zephyr is £25

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StraelGuy [1444 posts] 2 months ago
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Just been playing with Excel (because I'm also looking at lowering my gearing) and these are the gear ranges with various combo's - cassettes are 11 speed:

 

34 ring, Shimano 11-28: 89.6 - 35.2

34 ring, Miche Light 12-30: 82.2 - 32.9

33 ring, Shimano 11-28: 87.0 - 34.2

32 ring, Shimano 11-28: 84.4 - 33.1

 

​So it looks like replacing your 34 tooth ring with a 32 tooth ring would give you a similar effect to replacing your 11-28 cassette with a Miche Light 12-30 and save a chunk of weight (and cost!) at the same time.

 

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rdmp2 [44 posts] 2 months ago
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StraelGuy wrote:

Just been playing with Excel (because I'm also looking at lowering my gearing) and these are the gear ranges with various combo's - cassettes are 11 speed:

 

34 ring, Shimano 11-28: 89.6 - 35.2

34 ring, Miche Light 12-30: 82.2 - 32.9

33 ring, Shimano 11-28: 87.0 - 34.2

32 ring, Shimano 11-28: 84.4 - 33.1

 

​So it looks like replacing your 34 tooth ring with a 32 tooth ring would give you a similar effect to replacing your 11-28 cassette with a Miche Light 12-30 and save a chunk of weight (and cost!) at the same time.

 

 

I think the OP is currently on 52-36, so your calculations are slightly off...!

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StraelGuy [1444 posts] 2 months ago
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Ahem... Back to Excel...

 

So, Current crankset with 11-32:              94.9 - 32.6

50/34 crankset with current cassette:    89.6 - 35.2

 

​So keeping your crankset and replacing the cassette, you get a lower bottom gear and wider range of gears overall although the jumps will be bigger.

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BehindTheBikesheds [2033 posts] 2 months ago
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StraelGuy wrote:

Just been playing with Excel (because I'm also looking at lowering my gearing) and these are the gear ranges with various combo's - cassettes are 11 speed:

 

34 ring, Shimano 11-28: 89.6 - 35.2

34 ring, Miche Light 12-30: 82.2 - 32.9

33 ring, Shimano 11-28: 87.0 - 34.2

32 ring, Shimano 11-28: 84.4 - 33.1

 

​So it looks like replacing your 34 tooth ring with a 32 tooth ring would give you a similar effect to replacing your 11-28 cassette with a Miche Light 12-30 and save a chunk of weight (and cost!) at the same time.

Unless you buy a different chainset altogether you can't get a 32 on a standard compact, or do Shimano and other 4 bolt compact allow that?

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fukawitribe [2448 posts] 2 months ago
0 likes
BehindTheBikesheds wrote:
StraelGuy wrote:

Just been playing with Excel (because I'm also looking at lowering my gearing) and these are the gear ranges with various combo's - cassettes are 11 speed:

 

34 ring, Shimano 11-28: 89.6 - 35.2

34 ring, Miche Light 12-30: 82.2 - 32.9

33 ring, Shimano 11-28: 87.0 - 34.2

32 ring, Shimano 11-28: 84.4 - 33.1

 

​So it looks like replacing your 34 tooth ring with a 32 tooth ring would give you a similar effect to replacing your 11-28 cassette with a Miche Light 12-30 and save a chunk of weight (and cost!) at the same time.

Unless you buy a different chainset altogether you can't get a 32 on a standard compact, or do Shimano and other 4 bolt compact allow that?

AFAIK you're right, it won't fit on a the standard Shimano 4/5 compact, but the Cannondale Si/Sl chainset (if the OP has one fitted) might - they have a direct mount attached spider which you can get chainrings for. The only ones i've seen myself have been narrow/wide ones, but i've not looked for dual chainrings; might be worth a look...

 

Edit : forgot, AbsoluteBlack do 110BCD oval sub-compact sets - 48/32 and 46/30 - loved to have used them but the price was a bit too steep for me at the time. No idea what they are now.

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