Video: Gearing & Line Choice Tips To Help Make Climbing Easier

Mar 4, 2021
by Pinkbike Originals  

We're back with more climbing tips. This time, Christina Chappetta elaborates on proper gearing techniques and how to pick lines for the climb.


  • 97 1
 the prize for doing climbs is the friends we make along the way
  • 21 0
 deepest comment on PB ever
  • 27 1
 Upvoted. Doing shrooms and commenting on PB sure is a winning combo
  • 8 0
  • 5 0
 Heck Yes! It's true, friends that suffer together....have better stories to tell?? Something like that..
  • 3 1
 I like to lose them on the descents.
  • 2 0
 thats 5D chess comment
  • 38 3
 Nothing improves climbing more than dropping lbs./kgs. off your fat ass.
  • 9 0
 Yeah, it’s the most cost effective way to shave some serious grams. But it won’t make your buddies jealous like expensive new carbon bits...
  • 1 0
  • 5 0
 ahh the ol' power vs weight.... don't want to get too skinny though or the strength goes away too. Great way to save money though haha no carbon and no food!
  • 1 0
 Quite right - it's my biggest motivator for not eating, so I can perform well on the climbs. And the older we are, usually it's not only harder to keep off the weight, but we're not working with as much energy to push extra lbs.
  • 1 0
 @njcbps: #self control
  • 6 0
 Dropping 35 pounds in the past year has been the best upgrade for my climbing and descending in the last decade. Another 10 pounds and I will be really happy. I convinced myself for years, my weight was fine. It wasn’t, ask my cholesterol and triglycerides. Getting older sucks, but man, dropping the weight gave me years back.
  • 1 0
 @carym: Good job on the weight loss ... not having to carry an extra 35lbs up hills is a great benefit.
  • 1 0
 Also one thing that helps me when I’m on a rocky punchy climb is sitting up out of the saddle but only enough to fit say a credit card between your arse and the seat. Helps generate traction
  • 24 1
 Step 1 : To make climbing easier call your friends and see if they want to shuttle
Step 2 : Smash Strava climbing PRs because you forgot to turn it off while in your friends Tacoma
Step 3 : Do it again next weekend
  • 3 1
 hahaha love this!
  • 2 0
 100% man
do this all the time!
  • 18 0
 If you want to improve your climbing just dump your drive train in favor of single speed, then even when you still suck you've got a better excuse. Works for me. haha
  • 24 0
 “You never have to worry about being in the right gear on a single speed because you’re always in the wrong gear”
  • 5 0
 Oh I remember my SS days. Didn’t get quite as upset over some hike a bikes.
  • 2 0
 Oh boy! When I lived in Colorado soooo many people did the SS game. Looks heinous if you ask me! But much respect
  • 1 0
 I usually just blame it on being on too big of a bike
  • 9 0
 I think something super important that wasn't covered in this video is where NOT to pedal during a tech climb - or dramatically reduce your torque - over wet rocks, roots, and other obstacles. I think it's one of the most important principles of climbing tech jank stuff!
  • 9 2
 1 thing I noticed about pinkbike presenters when they talk about climbing is their body position on the bike. They all dont put enough body weight upfront and they hold their hands (elbows) too wide.

Please check XC guys, they sit down on their bikes (rear wheel traction), they transfer weight fwd (chest down) and they put elbows close.
Please try that, you will climb technical stuff more easy.
  • 3 0
 It seems that the communication by Pinkbike presenters for keeping weight forward is good, but there could be more emphasis on maintaining a semi-seated position for steeper, sustained climbs.

Standing is good for really short, punchy stuff like rocks or water bars, but for rear-wheel traction while maintaining steering a hunched, seated position with your face/head forward almost touching the handlebars is necessary. This tends to keep the weight centered and low on the bike which is the ultimate goal.

Standing, mid-low gear: Usually good for quick, steep sections where you need da powr
Crouched, face near handlebars with pressure on (extended) seat in low gear: Usually good for all climbs while maintaining both steering and rear-wheel traction
  • 5 0
 @A-HIGHLY-EDUCATED-PROFESSIONAL: awesome info! We did cover a lot of that info in the "Body Position" climbing video released last week. I'm trying not to cover toooo much info at once bc it becomes not-so-digestible I find. I try to stay seated as long as I can until the incline doesn't allow me to (like in the cover photo) or if I'm punching up and over something like you mentioned.
  • 1 0
 Heya! Thanks for the response there. We did cover most of that info in the "Body Position" climbing video released last week. In the picture of the article you can see I'm climbing up a pretty steep rock face and IF I had stayed seated here, I'd have fallen over backwards, even if I did crouch forward. So, while I do try to stay seated most of the time while climbing to maintain traction on my rear wheel, sometimes getting out of the saddle is what is needed.
  • 1 1
 @christinachappetta: Thanks for keeping the vids short and to the point! Great content and easy to watch. I've been enjoying the riding technique and maintenance stuff a lot and it definitely has the opportunity to bring a lot of people up to speed on useful topics. (As opposed to only talking about expensive bike parts!)

I was just trying to reiterate some of the things that were mentioned in the videos and emphasize what I think of most: The balance between front and rear wheel traction as well as the ability to move about the bike. I thought that maybe the tradeoffs between the two could use another mention in a comment section.

And yeah, that steep part in this video looks like it could only be conquered by more speed, especially in the damp!
  • 2 0
 Nino Schurter actually suggests keeping the elbows wide when bringing the chest down. Any reason you think bringing the elbows inside provides more advantage?
  • 1 0
 Keep in mind XC bikes tend to have much slacker seat angles. That affects pedaling position.
  • 1 0
 I did notice that too, but there are lots and lots of variables to consider

Sections which are shown on the videos are way steeper than they look, not as bad as gopro effect, but definitely steeper. So from our desktops it might look very climbable but irl is a different beast.
Handlebars are shorter in XC bikes, so keeping your elbows in is easier when compared to a handlebar of 780mm and above.
Modern Enduro Geometry is good for climbing FIREROADS but not technical terrain. It is very hard to follow the recommendations mentioned above on Modern Enduro frames, for XC bikes it might be easy and intuitive but not for enduro bikes.

Also certain positions depend on the terrain, we might say, elbows should be in or elbows should be out, but it really depends on the terrain, how long you been riding, what kind of bike do you have, whats your physical condition, etc….
  • 2 0
 Another thing about weighting not mentioned and often overlooked is saddle position. Most saddle are long enough to have a few different ways you can sit on it. Shifting your weight to the nose of the saddle while seated climbing technical steeps can make a huge difference to traction and give you a less stretched position, making it easier to breathe. That's especially true on older bikes with a slacker seat tube angle.
  • 9 1
 All of the people who are saying "just get an ebike" are obviously oblivious to the fact that nailing a techy climb is enjoyable to some people.
  • 2 11
flag slow-af-rider (Mar 4, 2021 at 11:53) (Below Threshold)
 Nailing a tech climb on en eBike is rather enjoyable too!
  • 17 14
 How i made climbing easier, speaking from experience:

1) lost about 2kg
2) practiced on some climbs afterwards
3) still sucked and got progressively more angry because i still sucked after losing another 1kg
4) rage-bought an ebike
5) i can now climb with a smile on my face but deep down i'm killing myself with guilt LOL
  • 10 0
 e-biking uphill is akin to 'walking' up the stairs on your Stannah Stairlift
  • 11 2
 Soooooo, instead of getting better at something you just bought a bike with an electric motor so you don't need to get better at that thing?
  • 3 5
 @HB208: well I get more distance on the eBike and since I’ve had it I’ve lost a further .75kg so something is working.
  • 7 2
 @slow-af-rider: That's fine, but still, it is dumb to go on a thread about climbing and say that you should just get something to make climbing a non-issue. Of course you get more distance on an eBike... so would I. Point is that some people get enjoyment on getting faster on the uphills and crushing techy climbs.
  • 2 10
flag slow-af-rider (Mar 4, 2021 at 11:51) (Below Threshold)
 @HB208: dumb eh? Wow. Someone got butt hurt. Get off the keyboard and go do a climb.
  • 2 1
 @slow-af-rider: Misguided? I don't know. Either way...
  • 1 0
 @slow-af-rider: This is intriguing, would not have guessed that would happen. There is something to be said for being able to ride farther. Moving through terrain quickly does have a way of motivating oneself to ride farther and I suppose if your e-bike encourages you to ride far enough you would burn more calories albeit at lower intensity.
  • 1 1
 It's true, an ebike makes climbing easier, but then so does taking a car to the top, so yeah, probably not the comment to add to a climbing article ...
  • 1 0
 @HB208: I absolutely love climbing, weird as it sounds. Not only because of the earn your turns BS, but I actually enjoy tackling the steep, technical stuff.

So when my old man invited me to demo e-mtb's with him I was rolling my eyes a bit because I honestly expected it to be the most boring thing ever. I was curious though, and it turned out I was wrong. If you so choose, uphills can be just as gruelling and technical as if you were riding a normal mtb, you simply go a lot faster. Sure, you could go max power and air-pedal up steep fire roads at 25kph, which obviously has it's benefits too to some people, but man, I've climbed more and covered more distance within five hours than I usually do on day-long weekend rides, while still blowing my pedal pistons like never before.

Also the thing descended like it was on rails. I've managed to ride it down some serious stuff without flinching, and (I think) I've heard Reece Wilson and Kade Edwards say this on IG that they love their e-mtbs so much for this very reason.

Just for context, that ride was mostly on gentle rolling terrain as my dad has no experience riding gnarly stuff, and I can totally see eebs being a great choice on such terrain where otherwise you would have to pedal for hours on end for 30 seconds of worthwhile descending.

So the takeaway (for me) is this: eebs = mo climbing speed = mo riding for the same time and effort.
  • 1 0
 @nhlevi: This does kind of drive the crux of the argument against ebikes which is somewhat counterintuitive. Because of the assist, the bikes are able to move more quickly and are thus also able to transfer more power to the ground. That additional power transfer is viewed by many as a contributing factor in trail erosion, but there is a noteworthy difference between a dirtbike and an ebike. An ebike is very unlikely to senselessly spin its drivewheel in the abscence of traction since pedaling is still required. On the other hand, being able to cover more distance in the same time as an unassisted bike will surely lead to more trail erosion, but is that erosion necessarily bad? Ebikes again are no more prone to spin the drive wheel on climbs (I think) than conventional bikes, and the power assist has no direct influence on the formation of braking bumps (but you could argue that since the power assist permits attaining higher speeds in shorter durations of time it also contributes to a greater demand for braking). On rolling terrain though, I think the contribution and consequence of erosion would be harder to characterize. Is it nice to be able to ride farther in given amount of time, certainly. Are you adversely impacting the condition of the trail by being able to ride like that, uncertain. Erosion can be contributed to both the bike both and also equally to the rider's skill level and style.
  • 1 0
 @SuperHighBeam: you have some valid points.. Where I live, trail erosion isn't that much of a concern as we have very few purpose built bike trails, plus I prefer to build climbing specific trails for easier access as we usually have several trails starting from the same point or are branching off from the main trail. But I can totally see how it could be an issue int the PNW for example where it's wet most of the year and there are endless miles of trails.
We rode in the worst winter slop we can have around here, and I did spin out more often than on a regular bike, though probably because I had no past experience with how ebikes deliver the extra torque and I've found myself in the wrong mode a lot. But if I had a chance to get used to it, as will anyone who buys an eeb, I would learn how not to skid out all the time, losing momentum is pretty annoying. On the downhill side, I don't see how they would be more destructive for purpose built trails, I think rider responsibility and riding style has much much more to do with erosion as you wouldn't really get a chance to pedal hard enough. Plus theres a 25kph speed limit to the pedal assist in the EU and you can't turn that off on the trails.
  • 1 0
 @nhlevi: I mostly agree with your line of thinking here. I would add though, that in the case of downhill runs that require frequent braking and bursts of pedaling between tightly linked turns an e-bike would likely result in more substantial trail erosion due to the ability to accelerate harder than an unassisted bike. I am inclined to agree that when climbing an e-bike rider would learn to modulate and prevent slip. The jury is out though on what impact being able to climb faster than an unassisted bike is...that would again come back to grip and how solid the trail is. If you can apply more force to the ground the ground is more likely to break loose and erode.
  • 3 0
 The key thing I see people doing wrong on steep punchy technical climbs is they don't charge the climb.
They get intimidated and prepare themselves....look at the steep a bit....put it in an easier gear....scope out their line..... All lovely but in the process they blew all their speed and momentum that woulda carried. them 3/4 of the way up.....smash that thing with speed!

I'm constantly noticing this riding with others, as I'm running them over leading into climbs that are normally easy for me but nearly impossible at the speed they enter them.

Christina shows this reasonably well at 1:33

  • 2 0
 Thanks ... it's hard to teach a skill that has become intuitive.

I recently switched over from 26" to 29" (Norco Optic XL) and am surprised how well this larger bikes climbs. Modern geo is an asset here.

I did notice that similar gear ratios were easier to push on the 26". It makes sense, but wasn't anticipating.
  • 2 0
 Excellent vid! To add to this, I would be cool to have moves (other than the wheely) to practice on an other video. More or less: why bunnyhop is relevent for climbing, rear wheel lift ( without clip shoes ;-) ),etc.
  • 2 0
 We'll get our xc champ, Tom Bradshaw, on that one... He loves it!
  • 6 3
 I climb a lot but I'll also shuttle given the chance. Never met anyone I'd consider fast that says you've got to earn your turns.
  • 1 1
 hahahaha, truth
  • 5 2
 I think that saying is more common in skiing circles. You do appreciate the descents more, though, if you have to climb to do them and there is something to be said for that emotional experience.
  • 2 1
Nah, I appreciate those lifts quite a bit.
  • 1 0
 On steep climbs where I'm both trying to weight the front to maintain control and the rear to maintain traction, I find engaging my core to lever down on the rear, but not shifting weight, to be effective. Anyone else find this works?
  • 3 0
 Is Levy at "Curling Camp" again? He should be doing this one...with Wade Simmons.
  • 1 0
 Levy is out testing bikes hahaha I don't think he has much interest in tutorial vids.
  • 2 1
 1) I always need tips on technique.

2) ...blah...yada...blah...FITNESS...blah...wait...ffs.

3) My heart rate has made addicts out of my legs. What is this "air-oh-bick"? TAKE THE ACID!
  • 2 0
 hahah right>?!?! That tricky little thing we tend to forget...
  • 2 0
 awesome advise every time from her! I would add keeping your front wheel as straight as possible will get you to the top quicker with less pain.
  • 3 0
 I find it annoying that enjoying climbing is always presented as being taboo.
  • 2 1
 Look how long her bike is in the thumbnail. No bmx start gate max power plus more rear tire traction available. Not that that’s everything
  • 3 0
 I am climbing a quite steep rock roll here hahah so yeah, my body weight is a bit more forward than usual. As you can tell by me saddle placement here. Just makes me stronger. I mean, who neeeeds a tiny little xc bike really?
  • 4 1
 Want easy climbs? Buy a lift ticket! Beer
  • 3 0
 if I could just remember to BREATHE!
  • 1 0
 @christinachappetta 32 seconds of the vid, you can see your grips are twisted uneven. Is this on purpose? Is it just a trick of the camera?
  • 20 18
 Tips to make climbing easier 1 - buy an ebike
  • 1 0
 e-caliber??? vs riding up dh wordl cup tracks
  • 6 1
 You wanna make climbs even easier? Buy a motorcycle.
  • 3 0
 @HB208: ebike vs dirt bike???

levy i got you challenge
  • 6 0
 @Lukefuelex: And then do dirt bike vs Jeep. Because why not just climb better on a mountain bike by buying something that isn't a mountain bike.
  • 2 1
 Tip to win a fistfight: buy a gun
  • 1 0
 Awe c'mon. I suppose the bait was too tempting to ignore.
  • 1 0
 Jokes on you guys. I walk up a good bit. Who needs an e bike. Save energy for the descent.
  • 1 0
 when in doubt, hike it out! Practicing "enduro walking" is actually a thing. I wrecked my achilles a while ago when doing a mega hike-a bike multi-day-race. Sometimes you can't actually ride everything and it pays to have those lower legs in shape too.
  • 1 0
 @christinachappetta: thanks Christina. And now I have a name for it! Haha
  • 2 0
 I thought we were going to make Levy do this one.
  • 6 5
 I feel like this was kind of a given, " Uhm duh", but #content
  • 8 0
 I think it depends what you're into really! NOT everyone loves climbing. Some people don't even do it at all, ever, they prefer chair lifts and I don't blame them. Unless you love climbing, then I would say this info is not a given. It's all the things my friends never told me when I began xc riding and I had to figure out on my own. Just trying to help folks learn by my mistakes of the past :-)
  • 6 0
 @christinachappetta: chairlifts get boring fast. The amount of terrain that you are missing out on because you aren't willing to climb is absurd.
  • 1 0
 O my greatnesssss! @christinachappetta: replied to my comment #IamSoExcited. I completely agree, I learned to kind of love climbing a lot, seeing as shuttles are rare and chairlifts total 1 in South Africa. The comment was meant in good-spirited sarcasm. Keep the good stuff coming. Big fan Big Grin 3
  • 2 0
 crank pound
  • 2 1
 dick pound
  • 1 0
 "Nose to Ass" - it's the only way to climb with a full suspension bike Wink
  • 1 0
 I dont ride hills I only ride downhill
  • 1 3
 Or you can buy a automated shifting motor for Effigear/Valeo if you need to put your brain on the ground
  • 1 0
 Shuttle with the broskies

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