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2013-07-29 6:59 AM

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Subject: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
Need advice on changing my cassette/chain ring for upcoming event:  I recently purchased a Tarmac Comp with mix of ultegra/105 in order to participate in the Mt. Washington Auto Road Hill Climb this August.  The bike will be used in Savageman Half as well which is very hilly, not to mention used in the majority of my training rides.  Mt Washington is a 7.5 mile climb with average 12.5 grade, extended stints of 18 and final leg of 22.  I am getting mixed messages from the bike shop, but most advice is to get the ratio as close to 1:1, possibly put on a Mtb cassette.  The ultegra rear derailed currently can only go to a 28 (so I am told) and I have a mid compact up front that is a 36.  Any advice taking into account cost/benefit would be appreciated.  Really don't want to spend more than $300 for this change to a brand new bike...

Edited by p_woodford 2013-07-29 7:01 AM


2013-08-01 2:27 AM
in reply to: p_woodford

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Master
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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
Shimano do a 34T chainring although I'm not sure how much difference two teeth would actually make. If the rear derailleur can only go up to a 28 then I can't think of anything else that would be cheap/easy to do. You can get Ultegra cassettes with 30 teeth on the biggest cog so whether the advice you were given about the derailleur is correct or not I'm not sure. Is it an older model you have?

Another more expensive option would be to change to an 11 speed set - they go up to 32 teeth.
2013-08-01 7:07 AM
in reply to: tridantri

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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road

Thank you for your response.  I just discovered the CS 6800 11 speed cassette option the other day and am looking into whether my Shimano STI shifters are compatible.  The 11/32 does require the mid-cage ultegra derailed.  I just got the bike, but it was last year's model (Specialized Tarmac Comp).  Here are the 3 options I am considering, I would appreciate any additional thoughts:

1.  (as you said) 34 chain ring w/ 28 on the back -

2. XT Mountain Bike cassette (w/ 36) and XT derailer (just don't know that I would want to keep this set up on the bike for long, so it would be $ spent for 1 event)

3. 11 speed option contingent upon shifter compatibility (bike shop said it may not have enough 'pull') Waiting to hear from a Shimano sales rep before I move forward on this.

Option #3 is my most favored - just don't know if it will work...

Thanks again!

2013-08-02 6:20 AM
in reply to: p_woodford

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Master
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Leicester, England
Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
Option 3 would also be the one I would go with if it will work. Maybe your bike shop will just try it for you - only takes half a minute to change a cassette.
Personally I would not go with the mountain bike option as it would be a lot of money and effort for just one event and I can't see that you would use it during normal road riding.
So if the 11 speed cassette fails then I would go with the 28/34. It will make the climb slightly harder but sometimes I think that having a gear that is too low will just make you slower up a climb. You will be spinning your legs madly and not going anywhere, whereas a couple of gear higher will force you to keep pushing on.
2013-08-02 9:07 AM
in reply to: tridantri

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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
great advice - thank you!  
2013-08-15 8:15 PM
in reply to: p_woodford

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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
For Mt. Washington, most need a 1:1 gear ratio... It's seriously steep and WINDY the further up you get. I'm guessing that you would need a 34 ring with a 30 rear... as long as you can get the derailleur to clear the 30, you really don't need to worry much, you're not going to do much shifting.


2013-08-24 10:08 PM
in reply to: audiojan

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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
I'm late to the party, as I only just now came across this thread, but I thought I'd throw in my n=1 experience for future reference. Also relevant if you're doing Savageman next month.

I rode Mt Washington last week with a 34x32 as my smallest gear. It worked pretty well for me, though I was on the edge of mashing, and wouldn't have minded something smaller. I finished in 1:19.

My bike has Shimano 105 and came with a minimal 34x27 gear. I found that to be adequate for Savageman last year. The Westernport Wall happens very quickly, and at a point when you have fresh legs. There are some other steep pitches later on, but nothing like the wall. Killer Miller is probably the hardest. I was able to change that to a 34x28 when I replaced the cassette earlier in the year, and I definitely appreciated the extra tooth when I rode the Garrett Co Gran Fondo in June, which covers similar terrain to Savageman.

My LBS was able to get me to 34x32 for $2xx by replacing the original rear derailleur with a mid-length cage (I got Tiagra, to save a little $$), and then I was able to get an SRAM 12-32 cassette on there. I was expecting to switch back after Mt Washington, but now I'm not so sure. With a mid-length cage, perhaps I can just get along by switching out cassettes for different types of event.
2013-09-17 9:22 PM
in reply to: colinphillips


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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road
I'm not sure how much difference two teeth would actually make.
2013-09-18 11:52 AM
in reply to: p_woodford

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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road

Your shifter won't work with the 11-speed.

Go with an expensive long-cage (MTB) derailleur. Miscroshift would be a good option. Slap on the 34T chainring, a MTB cassette (which you can swap back later), keep the long-cage derailleur, and you're good. And likely WELL under the $300 cap.

2013-09-22 10:46 PM
in reply to: briderdt

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Subject: RE: Configuration for extreme hill climb - Mt. Washington Auto Road

one BIG BEAST - I am not much of a cyclist beyond triathlon, and realize just how under prepared I was going into it.  I thought for sure there would be the occasionally flat on Mt Washington, but I thought wrong.  NO REPRIEVE, EVER.  Awesome event!  I intend to go back and would encourage you to try do it some time.  

To those that pick up this thread and responded earlier:

Now that I have completed it, I can answer my own question.  I ended up with a 34 compact up front and a 28 in the back. While many would have had a better time with my same gearing, it was a struggle.  My back was in pain the majority of the ride as a result and I had to dismount 3 times to stretch it out.  I intend to go back, better prepared physically but also with my equipment.  Not sure of the gearing, but I needed more.  

I paid close attention to the other riders and the majority were on road bikes with MTB gearing.  Many appeared to have set-ups specifically for this one ride with only one small chain ring up front, large cages in the back with "dinner-plate" sized cassettes!  

The rule of thumb that I had heard, was to get as close to a 1:1 ratio as you can.  I would say that is good advice.  If you're bike shop tells you that you will not be able to shift to the other gears, tell them not to worry about it.  I used my 2 easiest the entire way...

I'll be back and I hope who ever reads this thread will give it serious consideration.  Btw, I had a mediocre showing at one of the toughest 1/2 Iron's a month later, SavageMan.  I got up the Westernport wall and earned the brick because of Mt Washington...

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