Wheel slip on steep climbs

700c
700c Posts: 59
edited September 2013 in Road general
Hi all, hope you can advise..

Out on a ride today and taking on some hills I kept on getting wheel spin on the rear when climbing out of the saddle. This really broke my rhythm and forced me back into sitting which is really not what I wanted to get up the steepest sections.

Roads were dry, muck-free, gradients probably around 10-15% when I got the wheel spin.
It seemed to slightly better when I moved onto rougher parts of the road from the smoother parts where car tyres had been. I use vittoria corsa sc with a compact / 25 biggest sprocket.

My question is, has anyone else experienced this? And if you managed to solve it, what did you do?

Staying seated would of course solve it, but is not always possible on a long, steep sections and to do this would require a bigger sprocket, for me, I think.

Thanks all.
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Comments

  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,414
    You need to keep your weight back as much as possible. If you are trying to put the power down as you are in your lowest gear maybe think about getting a lower option. There's not really much more you can do. A lot of people lean to far forward when out of the saddle though.
  • Pross wrote:
    A lot of people lean too far forward when out of the saddle though.

    WHS
    I'm sorry you don't believe in miracles
  • mamba80
    mamba80 Posts: 5,032
    yes u may be too far fwd but tbh in the dry, spinning the rear? your post didnt talk about sprinting so i would look at you tire pressures.
  • As Pross said, consider a 27t or 28t cassette and don't lean too far forward. This is where a bit of mountain biking or cyclocross experience comes in handy as on many trails you learn to "balance" fore and aft to prevent wheel spin as best as possible. The only other possible thing to do is experiment with tyre pressure on back. We're talking maybe 5 psi less. Remember it's more efficient to sit and pedal with a high cadence then to stand and grind up.
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  • desweller
    desweller Posts: 5,175
    Your torque control is key here. You can use your back foot to limit the amount of torque at the rear wheel.
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  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    Thanks all. Re position - it feels like I need to be that far forward to pull on the bars when standing, but will have a go holding a little further back on bars so my weight can remain over the rear more..

    Interesting the point about tyre pressure -mine are fairly high (130 rear) I'll try experimenting with lower pressure up the same climb.

    I always try to spin up climbs seated, as it is more efficient - it's simply that my cadence was too low to sustain a seated position, with climbs of this gradient and duration.

    This would mean looking at a bigger sprocket option, as suggested, which I can do as I have some spare larger
    sprockets in the shed, but my first option needs to be technique I reckon..

    Thanks again
  • luv2ride
    luv2ride Posts: 2,367
    Did the Glastonbury Tor sportive today. First climb (almost straight of the gate, or that's how it felt) was really greasy and covered in a mixture of moss and loose gravel - caught a lot of people out,including me. At the steepest points there seemed to be no traction whatsoever and I saw quite few people take a tumble. interesting point about keeping the weight on the back wheel, as when I was rounding a hairpin up Cheddar Gorge later on I managed an unintentional wheelie, as I clearly hadn't got enough weight over the front.

    Oh, and my pressures were roughly 95psi front and 100psi rear...
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  • navrig
    navrig Posts: 1,352
    Try not to pull on the bars.

    MTB'rs are taught to drop their elbows when seated and keep their arms flexed when standing.

    By not pulling on your bars you rely on leg strength and body weight for driving the pedals.
  • Barteos
    Barteos Posts: 657
    700c wrote:
    Interesting the point about tyre pressure -mine are fairly high (130 rear) I'll try experimenting with lower pressure up the same climb.Thanks again

    That probably explains it.
    Unless you're VERY HEAVY you're not gaining anything by running 130PSI in your tyres.
  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    Barteos wrote:
    700c wrote:
    Interesting the point about tyre pressure -mine are fairly high (130 rear) I'll try experimenting with lower pressure up the same climb.Thanks again

    That probably explains it.
    Unless you're VERY HEAVY you're not gaining anything by running 130PSI in your tyres.

    It may be a factor, yes and I will have a go at dropping the rear pressure next time I do these particular step hills.

    Obviously I don't want to get in a tyre pressure debate(!), but 130 is well within manufacturer recommendations and lower pressures feel kind of squishy.. They're still comfortable at this pressure (they are tubs, and rated to 200 psi!!) . I'm about 13.5 stone...

    I reckon I should improve my core strength which might enable me to not pull on bars so much
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,414
    I think being a bit heavier makes the problem worse. Nothing to back this up other than it seems to happen to me more now than when I was a few stone lighter, could be the extra force going through the cranks or it could just be my technique is worse than it was. It happened to me today on a surfaced road with my bike running 38mm file tread cross tyres at 60psi but the surface was a bit damp and is fairly new and shiny.
  • cougie
    cougie Posts: 22,512
    You must be hanging over the bars to spin your wheel in the dry on a 10% hill.
  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    cougie wrote:
    You must be hanging over the bars to spin your wheel in the dry on a 10% hill.

    Having checked the map it's closer to average 15% than 10, (14.7% over 1.5 miles)

    Lark stoke, near Ilmington, Cotswolds, if anyone knows it..

    So whilst it's not horribly steep, the fact that it goes on so long means I had to change position a few times, seated to standing.and back, just to mix it up..
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,414
    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but Strava has that climb as 1.5 miles at 5.4% (although there are some sort sections up to 20% on it)!
  • Tyre pressure to high.
    I used to just ride my bike to work but now I find myself going out looking for bigger and bigger hills.
  • mpie
    mpie Posts: 81
    Pross wrote:
    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but Strava has that climb as 1.5 miles at 5.4% (although there are some sort sections up to 20% on it)!

    Sounds about right. It's 500ft of climb in ~1.5 miles - that's <7%.
    OP: It's neither long nor steep, so you should be able to sit and spin. Is it under trees? Might be covered in 'slime' (alge/lichen) which reduces traction considerably.
  • Strava reckons its just over 5%, which looks complete balls when you look at the OS map - 150m climbed in ~1.5km is definitely 10%. But I've found Strava tends to massively underestimate the steepness of short, sharp climbs. According to Strava, the ToB Stage 2 finish never gets above 8%. This despite a section where the road climbs about a foot in the width of a doorway... :-/

    I get wheelspin on a couple of the climbs, but mostly because the surface is terrible - all loose gravel and leaves, where its not potholed (this one). I tend to just sit back and grind in a low gear.
    There's a couple of others where I struggle to keep the front wheel on the ground (This is one (with dodgy elevation, but the relative change is about right) and This one). I'm no great climber - I like the challenge but I'm rubbish at them.
  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    mpie wrote:
    Pross wrote:
    Hate to be the bearer of bad news but Strava has that climb as 1.5 miles at 5.4% (although there are some sort sections up to 20% on it)!

    Sounds about right. It's 500ft of climb in ~1.5 miles - that's <7%.
    OP: It's neither long nor steep, so you should be able to sit and spin. Is it under trees? Might be covered in 'slime' (alge/lichen) which reduces traction considerably.

    RE Gradients - I think it depends on where you measure it to and from! (Also I think I screwed up my metric to imperial conversion), so to keep it simple in KM - the steep section is 95Meters start to 255 meters end (160 gained) over 2.6 km would put it at 16% ish?

    then again, I am looking at map my ride - God knows if that's accurate or not vs Strava, Garmin or anything else!

    surface was dry and moss free, which I why I was surprised to get the wheel slip..

    To be honest, that one wasn't my undoing - it was the hill around Winchcombe at 90km which killed me!

    If anyone else did the Four Shires Sportive yesterday would be interested to know how they found it.

    Cheers
  • Pross
    Pross Posts: 40,414
    Guanajuato wrote:
    Strava reckons its just over 5%, which looks complete balls when you look at the OS map - 150m climbed in ~1.5km is definitely 10%.

    It's 155m (starts at 105m and finishes at around 260m) over 1.5 miles (2.4km) so that's about 6.5% average. It's a decent climb and there certainly seems to be steep sections but it definitely isn't averaging nearly 15% for 1.5 miles - it would be a very tough and well known climb if it was (by comparison Hardknott Pass is an average of around 16% for 1.8km and often considered the toughest climb in England).
  • mpie
    mpie Posts: 81
    700c wrote:
    RE Gradients - I think it depends on where you measure it to and from! (Also I think I screwed up my metric to imperial conversion), so to keep it simple in KM - the steep section is 95Meters start to 255 meters end (160 gained) over 2.6 km would put it at 16% ish?

    160m in 2600m is still only just over 6%...
  • mpie
    mpie Posts: 81
    Guanajuato wrote:
    There's a couple of others where I struggle to keep the front wheel on the ground

    My 'favorite' would be Swiss Hill (nr. Alderley Edge) - short, but 13% avg, >20% peak and on polished cobbles. Can just about do it in the dry, but never managed in the wet.
  • 700c
    700c Posts: 59
    mpie wrote:
    700c wrote:
    RE Gradients - I think it depends on where you measure it to and from! (Also I think I screwed up my metric to imperial conversion), so to keep it simple in KM - the steep section is 95Meters start to 255 meters end (160 gained) over 2.6 km would put it at 16% ish?

    160m in 2600m is still only just over 6%...

    D'oh! 1 in 16, or about 6% average over this distance, sorry about my crap maths, folks
  • I hate the feeling of a rear tyre slipping, as you lose the balance gained from forward momentum and also feel like you're pedalling, but getting nowhere!

    As well as your body position, tyre condition/pressure and road surface, the other factor that could well cause the rear tyre to slip up a steep hill, is if you were "pedalling squares".

    When you're seated, it's easier to pedal with a smooth cadence, but even if you're standing up, it's still possible (with a little practice) to keep a smooth-ish cadence which will keep the power going to the rear tyre continuously (instead of pulses) and help it "roll" up the hill.

    As Navrig said, you may also find relaxing your arms when standing up helps. Instead of having a vice-like grip on the bars, have just enough grip to control the bike when standing and that should allow you to keep most of your weight upright and over your pedals where you want it.

    I'm no coach, it's just what works for me :wink:
  • Being smooth certinanly helps, even on 20-30% I've not had a problem with grip or balance, being a MTBer firstly maybe? Though clearly I do with heart rate etc!
  • t4tomo
    t4tomo Posts: 2,643
    Elia Viviani was having some trouble with traction up Guildford high street on Saturday. Was great to see in the slowmo, both wheels were skating all over the place.

    I suspect he had a bit more forward momentum / speed than the OP though to not worry about it so much. It did cost him the opportunity to get past Cav though as he was closing fast until he started slipping / bouncing around.
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  • hstiles
    hstiles Posts: 414
    There are a couple of hills round my way - White Hill Lane and Barhatch Lane - where the combination of a lot of tree cover and some very steep section cause traction issues on the back wheel when climbing out of the saddle. You need to improve your seated climbing and tough them out. Worst thing with some of them is that if you shift your body weight too far back and dig in hard, the front wheel lifts.
  • Only time ive experienced the rear wheel slipping is on my heavy tourer up a 15%+ gradient on a wet greasy road on hard touring tyres (marathons). I have no idea how it can be done on a dry smooth road on softer racing tyres tbh.. I think you must have gone through patches of mud or something.
  • hstiles wrote:
    There are a couple of hills round my way - White Hill Lane and Barhatch Lane - where the combination of a lot of tree cover and some very steep section cause traction issues on the back wheel when climbing out of the saddle. You need to improve your seated climbing and tough them out. Worst thing with some of them is that if you shift your body weight too far back and dig in hard, the front wheel lifts.

    can't say I've ever had a problem with grip or balance on Whitedown/Winterfold that's not to say I don't believe that others could, as folks keep saying they do,but for myself not a problem.
  • Grill
    Grill Posts: 5,610
    Tyre pressure to high.

    Load of balls.
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  • I think the strange atmospheric conditions last weekend would have had something to do with it. The very high humidity, but lower relative temperatures meant that the roads may have looked dry but there was a thin film of moisture over them (down my way at least). My wheels were spinning on hills where it normally doesnt