Cadence while Climbing

A light bike doesn't replace good fitness.

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by Sinicity

So I keep reading that it's more ideal to spin up a hill at like 80+ rpm versus just mashing it. Makes sense to me - I guess my issue is sustaining that kind of cadence once the gradients pick up or on long climbs. By 11%+ or for like a Strava CAT 2 grade climb, I can only maintain 50-60 rpm max without blowing up.

Is this simply a my fitness isn't at the right level yet or am I missing something else?

Some other pieces:
Running a 52/36 mid compact crank and 11-28 cassette in the back.
Pwr/KG: is around 3 watts/kg

by Weenie

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by AJS914

It sounds like you are running out of gears on the steeper climbs for your fitness level. I'd say it depends on how often you encounter these scenarios.

I've always set up my bikes for the local terrain I usually ride 99% of the time. And then 1% of the time you come across those short, steep climbs you just have to grunt out. I'm not willing to set up my bike with giant gears to cover every single scenario.

Of course, these days with modern gearing you can easily run a 50/34 up front and 11-32 in the back.

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by bilwit

It's just a fitness thing. IDEALLY you would be spinning 80rpm+ but obviously if you run out of gears and can't help but spin slowly then you don't exactly have any options. Better to look at your power zone and keeping it manageable rather than your cadence at that point. If you are targetting an event where this is a long sustained effort then I would definitely consider changing your gearing like the above poster suggests, otherwise I wouldn't worry about it. The harder it is the better it is for your fitness which will come around eventually :P

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by Marin

It's not a fitness thing, you can ride up a 25% climb with 170 W and high cadence no problem, but most road bikes won't have the gearing to go this slow.

Gearing is the only reason people fear climbs!

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by boots2000

Cadence on climbs is individual, but in a perfect world you want gearing that allows you to climb at your desired effort (power) and your desired cadecne for a majority of the climb.
My guess is that 52/36 and 11-28 is not low enough for a 3 watt/kg rider who wants to spin 80 rpms up climbs that are 6-10 km long and 1500-200 feet of vertical.

Good thing is that there are more low gearing options than ever. 34/50 up front is pretty standard- In back you can get 11-32 or even 11-34 options for Shimano 11 speed. Also, the newer Shimano derailleurs are quite adaptable to low gearing. The short cage 8000 and 9100 with take up to a 36 tooth cassette-
I even run an 11-40 on the longer cage 8000-

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