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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm curious to know how often folks use their giant cog in the back when riding or climbing?

A related question is, when *should* you use it? (A technique question!)

I've been MTBing for many years...and over the years, I've generally found that using my big cog kinda sucks. Yes you have a lot of torque, but you move at a snail's pace—so slow that I find it difficult to remain upright without dabbing.

Maybe put differently, it seems that as you go bigger and bigger in the back, you reach a point of diminishing returns, because you're spinning like mad and barely moving.

I'll readily admit, though—my perception may be because I have shitty shifting technique and just don't fully understand exactly when to use my giant cog and when not to?

I was talking with a friend who told me that the "proper" technique is to never ride in your giant cog...except for just the **couple seconds** it takes to get over a big rock or root or something. He said when you hit the obstacle, you instantly shift into your giant cog, get over the obstacle, and instantly shift back to a smaller cog.

I've never really done this, partly because as a rule, I don't like shifting with massive pressure on the cranks. I always feel like I'm destroying my drivetrain when I do that.

But what I do kinda sucks, which is, I'll see the obstacle coming up—shift onto my giant cog, get over the obstacle, then keep spinning madly a while longer in my giant cog until I get to a section where I can relax a bit and shift back down to smaller cog.

So what is the "correct" technique?

NOTE: I'm talking about normal human riders here—not superstuds with Olympic Legs of Steel who can ride over anything on your smallest cog, LOL.

Scott
 

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I use it whenever I need it and don't use it when I don't. I don't think there's any rule of thumb other than that.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Okay...but what do you think of the "QuickTorque" shifting technique? (Shifting onto your biggest cog for all of 2 seconds to get over something then immediately shifting back down.)
 

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I don't usually use it for obstacles, because it's usually hard to maintain traction in that gear. Also I tend to use momentum as much or more than pedaling for obstacles.

I like the big gears for really steep climbs, especially with hairpins in the middle.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Forgot about the traction point—that's true (as a reason not to use the giant cog). And I agree 100%—I'd rather use momentum and speed to get over obstacles.

But what sucks is when you're on an incredibly steep slope AND you have to climb over big rocks and roots. (That's typically when I walk—without shame.)
 

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I use it whenever I need it and don't use it when I don't. I don't think there's any rule of thumb other than that.
That’s exactly my rule of thumb.
 

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Okay...but what do you think of the "QuickTorque" shifting technique? (Shifting onto your biggest cog for all of 2 seconds to get over something then immediately shifting back down.)
Your friend is dead wrong. The pie plate is for spinning up steep and sustained climbs, or when you're cashed out. It is most assuredly NOT for high-torque obstacles or moves; in fact, you always want to drop down a cog or two to get enough torque to bite on the move or obstacle. You'll spin out on those moves with the pie plate.


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I ride in whatever gear it takes to keep a comfortable cadence and heart rate. If that's the granny ring, so be it.

Sure it's better to crank up a hill, but only if you don't blow up in the process. The rest of us mortals, know when it's time to sit down and spin, to keep something left in the tank after the peak.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Your friend is dead wrong. The pie plate is for spinning up steep and sustained climbs, or when you're cashed out. It is most assuredly NOT for high-torque obstacles or moves; in fact, you always want to drop down a cog or two to get enough torque to bite on the move or obstacle. You'll spin out on those moves with the pie plate.
Thanks. This makes perfect sense to me.
 

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I'm curious to know how often folks use their giant cog in the back when riding or climbing?



I was talking with a friend who told me that the "proper" technique is to never ride in your giant cog...except for just the **couple seconds** it takes to get over a big rock or root or something. He said when you hit the obstacle, you instantly shift into your giant cog, get over the obstacle, and instantly shift back to a smaller cog.


Scott

Your friend is not to bright, sounds like a noob

Here we all use the 50t on a daily basis, its a must not an option when going 30 miles and climbing 4000 feet.

Hell we have a 3 mile climb thats a 1000 foot, and much of you dont need the 50, but no one is going up the steep sections in anything but the 50.

The real question is what size chainring does one use, most mortals her use a 32t, I did most of the year, but the steep climbs at the end of the day would kick your azz, so I went to a 30t oval chainring.

Ya if you never climb you dont need a bail out gear.

shifting liker your buddy recommends will get in you in trouble here, some cases maybe, but its not a rule that applies to a wide use of terrain
 

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I'm curious to know how often folks use their giant cog in the back when riding or climbing?

A related question is, when *should* you use it? (A technique question!)

I've been MTBing for many years...and over the years, I've generally found that using my big cog kinda sucks. Yes you have a lot of torque, but you move at a snail's pace—so slow that I find it difficult to remain upright without dabbing.

Maybe put differently, it seems that as you go bigger and bigger in the back, you reach a point of diminishing returns, because you're spinning like mad and barely moving.

I'll readily admit, though—my perception may be because I have shitty shifting technique and just don't fully understand exactly when to use my giant cog and when not to?

I was talking with a friend who told me that the "proper" technique is to never ride in your giant cog...except for just the **couple seconds** it takes to get over a big rock or root or something. He said when you hit the obstacle, you instantly shift into your giant cog, get over the obstacle, and instantly shift back to a smaller cog.

I've never really done this, partly because as a rule, I don't like shifting with massive pressure on the cranks. I always feel like I'm destroying my drivetrain when I do that.

But what I do kinda sucks, which is, I'll see the obstacle coming up—shift onto my giant cog, get over the obstacle, then keep spinning madly a while longer in my giant cog until I get to a section where I can relax a bit and shift back down to smaller cog.

So what is the "correct" technique?

NOTE: I'm talking about normal human riders here—not superstuds with Olympic Legs of Steel who can ride over anything on your smallest cog, LOL.

Scott
I see the “so slow you can barely stay upright” thing in just about every discussion on gearing, and I really don’t understand it.

People have been throwing shade on granny gears for as long as I’ve been riding. My first MTB had a 28x28 low gear. I remember our scoutmaster explaining that 1:1 ratio meant that we could ride up any slope we could walk.

If you’re spinning like mad and barely moving, then yes, you are probably in the wrong gear. I definitely see riders default to their lowest gear any time the trail inclines, or stay in it where the grade slackens. If they dropped a few cogs they wouldn’t work any harder but would move faster. I’m a masher and willing to push a bigger gear than a lot of my friend, but there are many inclines that have me on my largest cog.

I’m in complete agreement with waltaz on your friend’s technique suggestion.
 

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No known cure
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Never. The single speeder in me climbs out of the saddle. I'd be happy with nine speed really.
 

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When I need it or want it.

Nothing original in my answer. I like to climb. Sometimes I like to climb a bit easier. I can not imagine my biggest cog making me so slow that I would fall over.

I just ordered a bike with a 52 tooth cog. I'll have to report back if I fall over. I'm not expecting problems over my current 50 tooth.
 

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Go climb to the top of 401 Trail in Crested Butte. You will quickly realize that those huge cassettes exist for a reason.
Or the climb up Teocalli. Or the climb in the middle of the **** trail. And there's that one spot towards the top of Doctor. In fact, if you want to justify having bought an Eagle cassette, just go ride in CB.

I use my full range all the time, but that's because I generally refuse to drive my car to ride my bike.

A point the OP is missing with the question requires the chainring size too. If you're running say 24/52, then yeah, you might fall over. I run 34/50, and am nowhere near falling over even when my cadence dips down to 60rpm.
 

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I'd say it's pretty terrain dependent. For my local trails, I run a 36 chainring and 11-42 cassette and am hardly ever in the 42. We only average about 400ft of climbing per 10 miles of trail. But I was on a trip where we averaged 1000 feet per 10 miles and I was in the 42 quite a bit, especially on those steep, uphill switchbacks.

BTW, I don't understand your friend's suggestion. I have never been able to clear technical obstacles with a burst of power in the granny gear. I usually spin out . I usually drop a gear and lay down a burst of power because you get better momentum.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Seems like a part of this equation is mashing versus spinning. Is it true that spinning is more efficient? And as a goal, should I spend hours doing leg presses to where I can jack up my car using only my legs (and mash my way up anything in a high gear)?

Or am I better off learning to make my feet a radial blur and spin like mad?

(I know it doesn't have to be all or nothing either way...just wondering generally what people prefer, and what physics says?)

From the top Google hit on spinning v. mashing:

"The prevailing theory is that spinning is a more efficient use of your strength and energy. Many cyclists revert to mashing, however, because it feels faster. But, not only does mashing produce more lactic acid, it predominantly uses what's called fast-twitch muscle fibers, which fatigue faster than slow-twitch fibers (used in spinning)."

At a glance, it seems like most of the info online about this is based on road biking—seems like it may be very different for MTB?
 
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