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With What Shall I Climb It, Dear Liza, Dear Liza…

July 2016
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Mrs. Bgddy and I were off, on our way to a hill climbing adventure when I began singing the title of this post to lighten up her nervousness.  

She was not as amused as I’d hoped.  I completely messed her up because she feared having that song stuck in her head whilst, and at the same time, climbing hills.  Fortunately, when I saw the first incline I forgot all about it… as did my wife.

This begs an interesting question though…  With what shall I climb?

My choices:

The Venge

16.7 pounds, 52/36 Pro Compact S-Works crankset, 11-28 10 speed cassette.

The 5200

21 pounds.  52/42/30 Ultegra triple crankset, 11-25 9 speed cassette.

I’ve climbed with both bikes and the Venge is nice because. FIVE POUNDS.  On the other hand, that 36/28 last gear is a little harder to get around on double-digit grades.  So the question comes down to the weight of the bikes:  Is the ease gained by the triple crankset cancelled out by the weight of the bike?

The Trek is the better climbing bike. 

I make no bones about the fact that my Venge is the better all-around ride even if it is a thoroughbred race bike.  It’s slightly more comfortable, a lot easier to make go fast, and better in a pace line.  It’s also infinitely more reasonable at speeds over 50 mph (what goes up, no?… and if we’re coming down, it may as well be fast).

All of that notwithstanding, the actual “going up” part is hardest and the Trek isn’t that bad on the descent to warrant opting for the Venge.  I can hit an easy 50 mph on the Trek without worry and Michigan hills can rarely beat Escape Velocity (45 mph) anyway.

If there must be a point, my friends, it’s this:  We enthusiasts, myself included, can get bogged down in the bicycle weight weenie discussion.  The thinking that weight is everything when talking about inclines is rampant.  Weight is important but there are other factors that can counter overall weight as well, as is the case with measuring my Venge against the Trek.  By all means, if you want that 15 pound bike and have the  $5,000 handy, buy it!  You will feel the impressive difference on the way up…  On the other hand, if you don’t have that kind of money, look at the gearing and save $4,700.  

Of course, my Venge with 50/34 chain rings and a 12-32 cassette could match the Trek’s gearing and I’d still get the five pound benefit… but who puts a compact crankset on an aero race bike?!  Sheesh.

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