Climbing struggles!

Forums Mountain Bike Forum Climbing struggles!


Tagged: , ,

This topic contains 12 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by 2 years, 4 months ago.

  • Author
  • #219450

    The climbs have literally been killing me. I have a 2016 Ibis HD3 with the SRAM 1×11, 175mm 30t steel ring, SRAM 11-42t cassette. I frequently find myself wishing I had a lower gear for the long climbs. I’m fine with short and steep, but it’s those long ones that get me. I can’t seem to get my cadence high enough and find myself fighting for every stroke. My fitness can obviously always be better, however, I’m riding 3-4 days a week. While I have seen improvement, I still have to hike my bike in sections that really aren’t too bad.

    Im 5′”9-5’10” on a Large frame, the medium felt too cramped. I was wondering if changing to a 170mm crank or possibly replacing the entire drivetrain would improve this. Everything is cleaned and lubed regularly. Any thoughts or suggestions are much appreciated!

    Thank you

  • #219451

    I’m no expert and I’m no mountain bike coach but I can tell you I have a riding buddy that has always been a strong rider but always stuck with XC type bikes. He decided he wanted to try a bike with more travel and bought an HD3 built up with Shimano Di2. he’s about 5-10 and also has a large frame and I agree, I’m 5-8 and I’ve ridden the bike audit is cramped. It didn’t take long for his riding, and especially his climbing to suffer. I don’t personally know what he was feeling but he said he HATED the bike on climbs and felt it slowed him down overall. he tried changing to a lighter carbon wheel set and that was no help to he moved on to the Mojo 3 built up with the same parts. The next thing you know, he’s hauling a$$ and he’s by far the most improved rider in our group.

    I’m basically saying it might be the bike. You could always go Eagle and get an 11-50 cassette with a 28 tooth front chainring too.

  • #219471

    Your gearing sounds very reasonable; most people probably run a 32T chainring on a 1×11 drivetrain, and you’ve already got an easier ring than most. You could go 28T and see if that makes a difference.

    Otherwise, I agree that it could be the bike. We recently did a podcast about ways to improve climbing and covered a number of changes riders can make, so that might be worth a listen. Here’s a basic outline from the episode you could use as a checklist to troubleshoot:

    • Bike geometry: really slack bikes don’t climb as well.
    • Tire selection
    • Suspension setup: are you losing efficiency? Can you use a lockout?
    • Weight: this includes bike, component, and body weight
    • Body positioning
    • Nutrition/hydration
    • Practice


  • #219472

    Good advice above. But my question is, if you’re riding an HD3, why are you concerned about your climbing speed? 🙂 This basically speaks to what Jeff is saying, but the HD3 isn’t made for climbing. IMO it climbs pretty well for a long travel enduro bike, but it’s STILL a long travel enduro bike.

    One thing I would recommend, though, is riding with other people if you haven’t before. If you’re trying to follow someone faster than you, you’ll be amazed at what you can do. It just might teach you how to HTFU and speed up your cadence and climbs regardless of the bike you’re riding.

  • #219555

    The only real answer is do more climbing. Even if you ride 7 days a week on mainly flat terrain, you’re climbing won’t improve.

    And stop resting. Constant stop and go means you are ruining your endurance training/climbing training. Don’t rest at the top of a climb, keep going, keep that heart pumping. Find a trail that has multiple concurring climbs.

    To be brutally honest if you’re dumping straight into 30t x 42t for climbs I’d say you’re overestimating your climbing ability. Go on a local XC ride, and get your self confidence shattered to reset your expectations. It’s always healthy to get dropped by a semi-pro.

  • #219557

    <p style=”text-align: center;”>Im no expert but i think you have the wrong bike for climbing. That bike’s geometry, suspension and gearing is built to maximize dowhills, not uphills. It’s always gonna suck more on uphills than, say a hardtail or even a even slightly less slack trail bike with 2 chainrings up front. Which brings me to the next thing that might be wrong- the 1x. I know its the latest fad but you have to realize what you are losing if you are going  to go to it- and that’s Low end and high end gearing.  I’ve havent done the math so Im not for sure, but go to a website that allows you to compare the gearing of different size chainring combos.  I’ll bet money that if you compare the highest and lowest setup of your 1x with the highest and lowest of a 2x (or god forbid an old fashioned 3x) you’ll notice a diference that might make the difference for you. Bottom line is all bikes are a compromise and are built more for one thing than another. You got a pretty spec’d out eduro bike designed to be better on downhills. By its nature its just not gonna be as good uphills. If you want a bike to maximize the downhills, then the price is its not gonna be as good on the uphills. If you ride a lot of long uphills and are getttng sick of not being able to do them, you might just need a different bike.  Sorry- that might be shitty advice but I think that’s prob ultimately your issue.</p>

  • #219564

    Alot of it is mental. Your head will quit before your stamina does. As I climb I look about 20 feet in front and say to my self. “Ok get to that tree” Then when I get to that tree I say “Ok get to that rock” ect ect. Also take your time.

    I do climbing intervals. Start of with a 5 minute jeep trail climb. Stop at the top for 2 to 3 minutes. Go back down and repeat. X4 times.

    Then move to a clean single track and do the same. Then find a technical bit (roots and rocks ruts) and do it  in chunks. Dont let climbs blow your mind. Eat that elephant in small bites..Not all at once.


  • #219570

    I have the same bike, same drivetrain. Sorry but I don’t think you can blame the bike. For a long travel enduro bike the HD3 climbs extremely well. Maybe fit is an issue idk, i’m 5’11” on a large. Climbing sucks right up until the time that you actually start enjoying it. I have a local short loop, about 12k. There are a couple of short (1k) nasty climbs on it. When I started riding it there was no way I was making them. I’d make it maybe half or two thirds up then be gassed, end up walking or having to rest and start again. Now, if I don’t clean them it’s because I made a mental error on a switchback or something silly like that. Long story short, it gets better but it’s gonna suck until one day you realize you just cleaned climbs that used to beat you.
    I do have a full lockout on my front fork and for standing climbs I use it but don’t give up on an excellent bike.
    Put your head down and ride.
    You will start cleaning those hills.

    • #220258

      The downside of Mountain Biking is the Climb.  However, if you climbed it, then there is a downhill to be had!

      2x on many of the comments and suggestions here.

      I’ll also echo (and share) that climbing is mental.  The mind give up LONG before the body does.  Here is what I do… when I face a climb that I know is going to be a grind…

      1.  Pick the right gear

      2.  Look up the trail and try to spot a landmark or landing

      3.  10 Turns – head down and grind for 10 full revolutions (similar to interval training).  At the end of the 10 revolutions, do a quick “systems check”.  If you’re more “winded”, then try a higher gear; if you’re legs are “spent”, try a lower gear.  Make note of the adjustments/changes (this will help with #1 above as you continue to progress).  My experience (90% of the time), if you can walk it, you’re usually able to grind it (this assumes no major technical obstacles).

      4.  Repeat step #3 until you get to your landmark.  For where I ride, most of the climbs are 30-40 revolutions.  I have a couple spots that have 100+ revolution climbs.

      5.  Check the trail again and repeat from step #1.


      Happy Grinding….

  • #219583

    Echoing what a lot of folks have said, it is a combo of bike geometery and fitness (I guess unsurprising, since there isn’t really a whole lot else to change!) When I got a long-travel bike my climbing suffered too…but, I didn’t care because when rolling a long travel rig, the whole point is to go fast downhill, not up. I think if climbing is more your gig, you may want to try something way lighter, less slack, and with less travel. I think there is a real unfortunate snubbing of shorter-travel bikes in some places, I think it is even subconscious sometimes. We are trained to think that being a boss means slaying it on a long travel bike….but the vast majority of riders never get to the point where they will take advantage of the new aggressive trail bikes, and just end up with something that feels sluggish. It is a real shame imo. Maybe this comment doesn’t apply to you, if not, then apologies! It is just something I have noticed…loads of newer riders getting slack 160 rides that they wont be able to take advantage of for years (if ever) and suffering on the chill xc trails and long climbs that they end up riding.

    • #219645

      Thanks for all the tips! I’m definitely hoping it’s me and not the bike. I do just fine on the singletrack in my area. I really started to struggle when I took my bike out of town and had to ride for 3 miles up mountains to get a good downhill. I guess it’s more time in the saddle.

  • #219611

    I recommend listening to the Single Tracks mountain bike Podcast “Hacks to improve your bike climbs”

  • #219761

    Will take note of those suggestions too


You must be logged in to reply to this topic.