Gears for hills

redhen

Member
Hello

I‘m new to the forum and just starting to take cycling more seriously. I have always had cheap and nasty bikes that have held me back so have decided to spend a bit more On a half decent bike. I’m interested in a hybrid bike for a small female (5ft 7, 140lbs, 49 years old) I’m a little unfit and usually struggle with my 15.6 kg bike uphills - I would like to make this a little easier if possible.
I’m currently looking at 2 bikes:

Trek dual sport 2 (small)

and

Liv Rove 3 (small)

i really like the liv as it’s designed for women and is approx 1kg lighter than the trek however it only has 16 gears with a crankset of 30/46

whereas the trek has 24 gears and a crankset of 28/38/48

I’m getting a bit confused about how much difference this would make especially to hills. Can anyone help?
Thanks in advance.
 

Pale Rider

Legendary Member
Gearing depends on a combination of tooth numbers on the back wheel and tooth numbers on the crank.

The 28 gear is the lowest of the ones you've posted, but it might not be if the other bike has a larger largest cog at the back.

Chances are both bikes are similar, so I'm going to venture the lowest gear on each bike will be about the same.

Sixteen gears is plenty, two rings at the front is slightly more reliable than three, and the kilo reduction in weight is worth having.

Given that you already 'really like' the Liv, which is arguably more important than all the technical stuff, I think it's clear which one will suit you best.
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
Hello

I‘m new to the forum and just starting to take cycling more seriously. I have always had cheap and nasty bikes that have held me back so have decided to spend a bit more On a half decent bike. I’m interested in a hybrid bike for a small female (5ft 7, 140lbs, 49 years old) I’m a little unfit and usually struggle with my 15.6 kg bike uphills - I would like to make this a little easier if possible.
I’m currently looking at 2 bikes:

Trek dual sport 2 (small)

and

Liv Rove 3 (small)

i really like the liv as it’s designed for women and is approx 1kg lighter than the trek however it only has 16 gears with a crankset of 30/46

whereas the trek has 24 gears and a crankset of 28/38/48

I’m getting a bit confused about how much difference this would make especially to hills. Can anyone help?
Thanks in advance.
You're quoting the front chaining sizes. which is fine Having more gears isn't always beneficial. Bike gearing always has overlaps in ratios, so you can get the same effort in pedalling from different gear positions.

Let me show you a graph of gear ratios it will include the gears you have mentioned and the rear wheel cassette ratios. You will see that you might be able to achieve the same range of ratios with less gears

Screenshot_20210919-131326_Chrome.jpg
 

swansonj

Guru
The Trek matches its 28 tooth front with a largest 32 tooth rear cog, the Liv matches slightly larger 30 at the front with a correspondingly larger 34 at the rear - so as Pale Rider speculated, the bottom (easiest) gear ratios are practically identical, 28/32 compared to 30/34.

For climbing hills, both of those will be easier than the gearing you'd get with a "road bike" - but be aware that neither is low enough to make climbing even reasonably steep hills, let alone very steep hills, exactly what you'd call "easy". It is possible to get gearing significantly lower than these bikes, which makes hills a lot pleasanter, but you'll have to shop around a bit.
 

si_c

Guru
Location
Wirral
In terms of gearing for hills, both of the two bikes you are looking at are essentially identical. I'd opt for the one which fits you better (try them if you can) and if that doesn't help, whichever you think looks best.
 

sasquath

Well-Known Member
On the other side of the hill Trek will allow to break 40Mph speed limits with 48/11 gearing. I spin out at 39Mph on 46/11 ;)

I'm as unfit as it gets after 5 years of sitting on my ass.
Steepest hill I could find is very short 15%.
46 front 36 rear was enough without standing up, on longer run I would probably drop to 30/28.


Key to hills is pacing yourself, attack it too ambitious and you end up walking, no matter the gearing.
My local 1 mile long 10% hill i can spin up on 46/23(or 28 can't remember) at steady 5 mph.
First attempt at 6 mph resulted in unplanned break in the middle of it, same gear, different approach.

And I'm 92kg at 6'3" so technically 6-8 kg overweight.
 
Last edited:
As far as I'm concerned, if you're not a dedicated roadie, get the lowest gears you can find. Having said that, the two choices above aren't at all bad. My two are 30/34 and 36/36. I'd go lower if I could, but currently can't. I'd say get the Liv...
 

CXRAndy

Guru
Location
Lincs
On the other side of the hill Trek will allow to break 40Mph speed limits with 48/11 gearing. I spin out at 39Mph on 46/11 ;)

I'm as unfit as it gets after 5 years of sitting on my ass.
Steepest hill I could find is very short 15%.
46 front 36 rear was enough without standing up, on longer run I would probably drop to 30/28.


Key to hills is pacing yourself, attack it too ambitious and you end up walking, no matter the gearing.
My local 1 mile long 10% hill i can spin up on 46/23(or 28 can't remember) at steady 5 mph.
First attempt at 6 mph resulted in unplanned break in the middle of it, same gear, different approach.

And I'm 92kg at 6'3" so technically 6-8 kg overweight.

50rpm is not spinning 85+rpm is spinning

Your gearing is below with relevant speed. The first column is 50rpm with 5rpm per column upto 90rpm.

Screenshot_20210919-162741_Chrome.jpg


I've used this bikecalc website for years and applied its gear calcs to real world. I run 50/36/26 with 11-40cass for mountains. I can spin up at 85rpm in virtually any gradient upto 30%

This is one of my climbs in Tenerife. From memory I mainly used gearing 36t front 32/36t rear. You can see I averaged 82rpm for 19miles of the climb holding Z3 heart rate
20210919_165456.jpg
 
Last edited:

roubaixtuesday

self serving virtue signaller
My local 1 mile long 10% hill i can spin up on 46/23(or 28 can't remember) at steady 5 mph
Not sure if you have the same meaning for 'spin ' as most do. It generally means high cadence, low torque.

Even if it's a 28, 46x28 at 5mph gives a cadence of just 39rpm.

By any definition, that's grinding rather than spinning. Which is absolutely fine, if that's how you like to do your hills.

It's a very high gear.

610025
 
Last edited:

Dogtrousers

Kilometre nibbler
I’m getting a bit confused about how much difference this would make especially to hills. Can anyone help?
Thanks in advance.
First of all ... Welcome to Cyclechat. And congratulations on putting your finger on one of the key factors when choosing a new bike - how low is the bottom gear?. For those of us who are not particularly athletically gifted, and for beginners, it's crucial. An over-geared bike is one that can be horrible or impossible to ride up hills. It can completely ruin the cycling experience and put you off cycling altogether. An under geared bike is no problem, so the lower the better in my view.

Looking at the two bikes in question

Liv Rove 3: 30/46 (chainset) 11-34 (cassette). Gives a bottom gear of 30/34
https://www.tredz.co.uk/.Liv-Rove-3-DD-2021-Hybrid-Sports-Bike_229858.htm

Trek Dual Sport 48/38/28 (chainset) 11-32 (cassette) Gives a bottom gear of 28/32
https://www.teamcycles.com/bikes/hy...sport-2-equipped-hybrid-bike-in-silver__19126

Both of these are roughly equivalent. The Liv bottom gear is marginally lower than the Trek, but it's very close. They are both roughly a 24 inch gear*.

A 24 inch gear is what I'd consider a good low gear. It's not an exceptionally low gear, such as those used by cyclo-tourists to haul tents and luggage up huge mountains, but it is a low gear, and it's about as low as you'll get on an off the peg bike.

So to answer your question I’m getting a bit confused about how much difference this would make especially to hills. The answer is "not much difference at all". They are very similar.

So go for the bike you prefer.

* "Gear inches" is just a number, don't worry how it's defined. My personal calibration is: Less than 28" is really low; 28"-40" is low; 100" is high; more than 100" very high.

"24 inch gear" is also a cycling in-joke. 24 inches is 2 feet. So some people use this as code for walking up hills. Just forewarning you in case anyone makes this joke.
 
Gear inches is the way to compare different bikes
https://patricktaylor.com/bicycle-gear-inch-calculator/

V low gears are used by MTBers and loaded tourists. I use a 24" low gear and it is much easier than walking. No one can tell you which low gear you need. Variables inc Gradent, road surface, weight, strength, crank length,

1kg is quite a difference in weight. Can you link to the bike models do we can check other specs and details like tyre clearance.
 

cyberknight

As long as I breathe, I attack.
50rpm is not spinning 85+rpm is spinning

Your gearing is below with relevant speed. The first column is 50rpm with 5rpm per column upto 90rpm.

View attachment 610021

I've used this bikecalc website for years and applied its gear calcs to real world. I run 50/36/26 with 11-40cass for mountains. I can spin up at 85rpm in virtually any gradient upto 30%

This is one of my climbs in Tenerife. From memory I mainly used gearing 36t front 32/36t rear. You can see I averaged 82rpm for 19miles of the climb holding Z3 heart rate
View attachment 610027
had this with the two newbies in our club, triatheletes who are strong but struggle with hills , corners and changes of pace as they are smashing big gears all the time , i average for a whole ride including the hills where i power is 80 plus, on the flat more like 90 plus
 
Top Bottom