Hills are the most challenging and exhausting section of any cycle route. It seems like whatever type of bike you have, you will inevitably have a hard time climbing those hills. However, how about road bikes? Will road bikes make cyclists’ life easier climbing hills?
Yes! Road bikes are great for racing because they were designed for speed and high mileage. When you bring road bikes on flat and smooth roads, the distance road bikes can cover is far greater than any other type of bike like mountain bikes. However, how about hills? Do road bikes make it easier to ride uphill? Let us find out!
Are road bikes easier to ride uphill? Yes! Road bikes are easier to ride uphill. Why? Because road bikes have higher gear selection, lighter weight construction, and thinner tires which creates less friction to the road. If you compare road bikes to other bikes on a road surface, road bikes would be faster to cover long distances.
Yes! We all know that road bikes are better for climbing hills and the easiest type of bike to ride on the road. However, what are the reasons why road bikes are suitable for hill cycling? This article will explore the road bike’s construction and examine the road bike components that make it great for hills and roads. Let us proceed!
Table of Contents
Why Is Road Bike Easier To Ride Uphill?
Gearing System: Front Chainring
First is the gearing system of the road bike. The gears of road bikes have been one of the reasons that make road bikes easier to climb uphill. Why? Because it gives you a wider range of selection, which is very essential in cycling. A standard road bike has three chainring options:
- Standard chainring with 53 teeth on the big outer ring and 39 teeth on the small inner ring.
- Semi-compact chainring with 52 teeth on the big outer ring and 36 teeth on the small inner ring.
- Compact chainring with 52 teeth on the big outer ring and 36 teeth too on the small inner ring.
Among the three, the standard is the hardest one because you have to cycle more to get one rotation of the wheel. The easiest among the three is the compact because it requires slightly less effort for the same rotation.
Gearing System Cassette
If you don’t know what cassette is, it is the gearing system on the rear wheel. On road bikes, you have lots of options. The cassette of road bikes usually has nine to twelve cogs, making it a nine-speed, ten-speed, eleven-speed, or twelve-speed road bike. The number of teeth on each cog varies. However, the standard that you will see in the market has eleven teeth in the small cog and 32 in the larger cog. The more teeth a cog has, the easier it is to pedal your road bike.
It is essential to know first the appropriate gear selection before you go uphill. If you don’t know it first, you might hit the hill and not have enough power to get up the first part. You should also don’t pick the easiest gear because you might run out of gears when the climbing uphill gets higher and steeper. The best way to do this is to get the medium to easy gear on entering the hill. When the climb gets tougher, move up the gears to make it easier.
Road Bikes Are Lighter
The other reason why road bikes are easier to ride uphill is that they are lighter compared to other types of bikes.
The average weight of a road bike is around 10kg, while a mountain bike is 12kg and a gravel bike is 11kg. A carbon road bike can weigh as little as 7-8kg, which is usually easier to ride uphill. The overall weight of your bike depends on other components too, such as seat, suspension, wheels, gearing system, saddlebags, and lights.
If you desire to ride uphill easier, you should decrease the weight of your bike because all that additional gear will slow your bike and make it harder. If your road bike is lightweight already, you should have an easy time riding uphill.
Road Bikes Have Thinner Tires
The other reason why road bikes are easier to ride uphill is that they have thinner tires.
The less tire on the road surface, the less friction created, which will not slow you down. The bigger, wider mountain bike tires will have more grip on the surface that prevents slipping. However, the friction will be far greater.
You may want to have a 120psi in your road bike tires because the more air within the innertube, the less tire hits the floor. However, the tires of road bikes have minimal tread, which means no grip. It can make you slip on the road if you are not used to it yet. If the surface of the road is wet, it could be dangerous and challenging to get traction. To avoid slipping, put your weight over your back wheel.
Should You Stand Or Sit When Climbing An Uphill?
This question is hard to answer because there isn’t any specific method that is ideal for riding uphills. It solely depends on your experience and personal preference. However, to generate more power, it is best to stand. Why? Because you can use your entire body weight, taking the tension solely from your legs. Most cyclists sit and then stand up when they approach an uphill then sit down again when the uphill ride is done.
If your road bike has three chainring sets and a 12-speed gear set, you might want to sit. If you stand at high cadence, you bounce more on the pedals, which may damage your knees. However, it is better to learn to ride a bike while sitting and standing. Never avoid it because it is tough or hard! The only way to get used to something is by executing and practicing it every day.
Below, I will give you how to properly climb hills on a road bike. It might not work for everybody because some are not yet used to it but give it a try and get used to it!
How To Properly Climb Hills On A Road Bike?
When seated, keep your rear end on the seat and keep your pedaling tempo high. It will transfer your energy into power. The most efficient pedaling tempo is between 60 to 90 revolutions per minute. If you need more power while seating, lean forward or drive your rear end to the back of your seat.
Standing while pedaling allows you to have more pedaling power. It is essential when the hill gets very steep. You have to lean forward to deliver more power, keep your body straight over the weighted foot, and when the weighted foot finishes its stroke, transfer your weight to the other foot.
When your foot is at the bottom of the pedal stroke, move your foot back as if you are rubbing mud or gum off the sole of your shoes. After that, pull up the pedal and step forward until that foot is ready to deliver another stroke. You must practice your pedaling to make your pedaling more efficient when climbing uphill.
You need to learn how to shift your gears properly. You should shift your gears at the right time. It is essential to know the right timing of shifting when climbing a hill. It will help you to ride uphill easier. If you shift too soon, you might lose your momentum, and if you shift too late, you will struggle to get up the hill.
You should keep your tempo throughout climbing. As soon as your cadence starts to slow, shift into easier gear. If you want to have a smooth shifting, ease up on the pedals while shifting to take the pressure off the chain.
What gear should you use? The gear you should use when climbing an uphill depends on the steepness of the hill and your adept level. Adept, strong, and fit cyclists can climb uphill in higher gear while keeping their tempo up. Beginners usually use the lowest gear.
The best mental approach in climbing uphill is to motivate yourself and by creating a goal. Let us say there is a tree at the end of an uphill. Tell yourself that you have to reach that tree first, and when you reach the tree, you can have a water break. You can also picture yourself making it to the top of the hill.
Road bikes are easier to ride uphill because they have lighter weight, thinner tires, great gears, and allow you to be in a more aerodynamic position. If you love riding on roads and challenge yourself through uphills, a road bike is the best bike for you. Road bikes will help you to reach the top of the hill easier.