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  1. #1
    RoadBikeReview Member
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    Best woman's road bike for hill climbing?

    After reading all of the amazing advice in the first thread I posted on which bike to get, I thought I'd throw this question into the mix...

    What is the best bike out there available for road riding on large-ish hills?

    I live on top of a big hill. I don't know if I'll ever be able to ride up the hill, but I'd like to give myself a fighting chance with whatever bike I purchase.

    If you didn't see my other post, these are the bikes I'm looking at...

    Bianchi Imola 49cm
    Specialized Dolce Elite Triple 51cm
    Cannondale Carbon Six 5 50cm
    Specialized Amira Compact 51cm

    Any others you recommend I look at for helping out a gal with weak legs and a lot of hills to climb?

  2. #2
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    The best way to get better at riding hills is to ride hills. You will get better with practice even though the progress might seem painfully slow at times.

    Generally, the bike with the lighter weight, shorter chainstays and shorter headtube will be the better climber. But everyone is different so fit trumps all. It won't matter if a bike is a better climber on paper if it is uncomfortable. Having enough gears for the hill is also important while you build strength.

  3. #3
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    Make sure you buy a bike with a triple chain wheel.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trek2.3
    Make sure you buy a bike with a triple chain wheel.
    I don't necessarily agree. Yes, generally speaking, a triple will have smaller gears than a compact, but depending on the cassette you use, a compact can offer the same small gears, or at least come really close. My compact is only one gear shy of my triple's granniest of gears.

    In the end, get the bike that's most comfortable and fits/handles to your liking. If you get a compact, you can generally swap out the cassette to get smaller gears w/o too much expense. The rest is up to your engine.

    If you need help comparing gearing, use Sheldon Brown's online gear calculator.
    You can't change people. They have to change themselves. Just like babies.

  5. #5
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    While you can get low gearing close between a triple and compact setup, the triple provides better gear selection because the cassette spacing doesn't have to be as wide (jumps between cog tooth sizes).

    With some compact setups, it's difficult to find a middle gear for the predominant part of the ride due to the with the jumps from 16T to 18T or 19T.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by veloduffer
    While you can get low gearing close between a triple and compact setup, the triple provides better gear selection because the cassette spacing doesn't have to be as wide (jumps between cog tooth sizes).

    With some compact setups, it's difficult to find a middle gear for the predominant part of the ride due to the with the jumps from 16T to 18T or 19T.
    That can be true, and I'll concede that compacts have their pros and cons, but the OP's question specifically related to climbing, and I wanted to counter the argument that triples necessarily have smaller gears. In the end, it's all in the set up.

    I, personally, started off on a Bianchi with a triple, but the wide Q factor really bothered my IT band and led to chronic knee pain. In setting up a newer bike, I switched to a compact. Picking my cassette (I have a 13-26 in the rear), I definitely recognized that there were some tradeoffs between having the climbing gears I needed and the flatland gears that I tend to use most. I used Sheldon Brown's gear calculator to help me figure out which configuration would work best.
    You can't change people. They have to change themselves. Just like babies.

  7. #7
    Squirrel Hunter
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    Triple

    For truly hilly terrain a triple is a good solution, especially if you are already having problems getting up a hill.

    Quote Originally Posted by indysteel
    ...a compact can offer the same small gears, or at least come really close. My compact is only one gear shy of my triple's granniest of gears...
    Remember that she is looking at some fairly small frames and may find that the geometry will create a shifting problem with clearance when crosschaining.

    One other comment would be to remember that a good climbing bike is only have the solution. You will also be going downhill and want a bike that is nice and steady on the fast downhills.
    Luck is the intersection of preparation and opportunity.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keeping up with Junior
    For truly hilly terrain a triple is a good solution, especially if you are already having problems getting up a hill.

    Remember that she is looking at some fairly small frames and may find that the geometry will create a shifting problem with clearance when crosschaining.
    Not necessarily. I have a Trek 2.1 WSD in the 43cm frame. That's as small as commercial bikes get. No problem with crosschaining if the duraillers are properly adjusted.

  9. #9
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    I have a 50 cm Bianchi and a 49 cm Moots, both of which have been set up with my compact crank with no clearance problems.
    You can't change people. They have to change themselves. Just like babies.

  10. #10
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    stiffer lighter

    would be my first rule of thumb if one is only worried about climbing. Of your list of bikes, my suspicion would be that the Cdale Carbon 6 would be the lighteststiffest, althought the Amira could be really good too. I've not ridden those bikes.
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  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rollo Tommassi
    would be my first rule of thumb if one is only worried about climbing. Of your list of bikes, my suspicion would be that the Cdale Carbon 6 would be the lighteststiffest, althought the Amira could be really good too. I've not ridden those bikes.
    The differences in bike weights is relatively insignificant compared to your own body weight. Best way to climb is keep riding hills to develop power and lose weight on your body to improve the power to weight ratio. It doesn't matter how light your bike is if you're overweight (and not fit).

    If your really concerned about bike weight, ditch the water bottles, cages, tubes, tools and cellphone.

  12. #12
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    IMO it is the Orbea Diva. Hands down.

    FWIW I have a Look 585 Ultra. Another great climber.

    The Trek WSD Madones are good too.

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