Cycling is an amazing sport. It always has the ability to challenge and push you further and further. Bikes come in all shapes and sizes.
One thing that makes a huge difference to your riding is the type of bike that you are on. A common question asked by many cyclists is, “Are road bikes easier to ride uphill than other types of bikes?”.
This is a very interesting question, and in this article today, we’re going to discuss what makes a bike go uphill quickly and why road bikes are your best bet when it comes to getting up a hill fast, providing you’re on tarmac.
What makes riding up a hill easy?
Before we go into speaking about what makes a road bike such a good climber, it’s important to understand what makes going up a hill on a bike easy because it comes down to lots of different aspects.
Weight makes a huge difference when it comes to climbing up a hill. The lighter the bike, the easier it will be to get up a hill. The same goes for the rider. Being lighter makes a big difference in climbing.
Power transition is vital to getting up a hill. Having a stiff bike where the power can transfer directly into the pedals makes a huge difference. It’s a noticeable difference going up a hill on a bike with suspension and a rigid fork.
Another vital factor of getting up a hill quickly is having little rolling resistance. This means the lag of the tire and the road tend to slow you down less and help you climb faster.
Gearing is also a very big part of getting up a hill properly. Having the right gearing to get up steep gradients really helps.
It means you can set the cadence where you want it and spin up a hill, not just stand and grind.
Fitness is also very vital to getting up a hill, and having the power to push the pedals down enough to drive you up meter after meter is very important. You can have the best climbing bike in the world, but it’s pretty useless if you don’t have enough fitness.
As mad as it sounds, practicing climbing up hills on your bike goes a very long way toward making climbing easy. Finding the right rhythm and knowing when to stand and when to sit really matters.
Cyclists that live in hilly places have much better techniques than cyclists who live in flat lands.
What makes a Road Bike better at climbing than others?
Road bikes have some very interesting characteristics, which makes them amazing at climbing up hills compared to other bikes. It’s vital to understand that the design of a road bike is made to go fast, handle well, and also get up hills quickly.
Here’s what makes a road bike so good at it.
Road Bikes are extremely light
Road bikes are not made to be heavy. They are very light compared to all other kinds of bikes. A Tour de France comes in at as little as 6.8kg, which is the minimum UCI allows. Hill climb bikes go even lighter. As light as 5.4kg in recent years.
Gearing is ideal
The next thing to mention is the gearing. Gearing on road bikes is very low and has an excellent high range too. It’s not as low as mountain bikes but still enough to get up climbs that could be 25% in incline.
A compact chainset small ring goes to 34 teeth and, paired with a 34 tooth cassette, brings a whole new meaning to the term granny gears.
There’s no suspension
Although suspension is great to have on off road terrain and great for rough descents, it won’t help you get up a tarmac hill easily. Firstly it’s very heavy, and also, you find that because of the bounce, you lose power which could go to getting up a climb quicker. Hence some modern-day forks have lockouts.
They have amazing power transition
The typical materials used when it comes to road bikes are carbon fiber and aluminum. Both these materials are very lightweight and also very stiff.
It makes the bike very responsive but not only that, it gives the bike incredible power transmission. So the majority of what goes from your legs to the bike helps push you up a hill faster.
They have skinny tires
Road bikes have small tires, and because of this, you get minimal rolling resistance on the road. When it comes to climbing, you don’t need as much grip as descending, so the lighter and less laggy, the better.
If you want to make a hill climb harder, using mountain bike tires that are heavy, wide, and laggy would set you up for a lovely challenge.
Are Road Bikes better at Climbing
When it comes to road cycling, the bikes are made to get up climbs quicker than anything else. If you live in a hilly area or are planning on cycling in a hilly place, a road bike is the best bet for making the hills quicker and easier.
Compared to other bikes, they can’t be touched. If you watch hill climb events, you will typically see people only using road bikes as they are just the right tool for the job.
Robbie Ferri has spent years working in a bike shop, has worked with industry leading brands on product creation, has been a semi pro athlete, and is a fully qualified strength and conditioning coach. He has broken World Records, bikepacked all over the World and raced ultra distance at a top-level.