How Fast Can You Climb On A Heavy Bike?

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biketown council hill climb heavy bike how fast

In this day of lighter and lighter components, tiny gains in aerodynamics, and the race to toss extra poundage from our bikes (this flat-fixing kit is just SO HEAVY), what part does the bike’s engine play in a cyclist’s ability to go fast?

Well, Castelli, Obra, and Biketown got together and answered this very question. The challenge: get some of Portland’s top racers together on 65lb bicycles, and make them climb nearly 1,000 feet.

Of course, the competition was quite friendly, and everyone kitted up in their fastest of Castelli kits to race to the top on Biketown share bikes (the rentable bicycles system sponsored by Nike and the Portland Bureau of Transportation).

While the main purpose of the race was to show that “anything is possible on a Biketown bike,” the winner’s time sheds a bit of light on just how well a fit rider can climb.

biketown council hill climb heavy bike how fast


The grind up to one of Portland’s highest points, Council Crest Hill, measured 875 ft and lasted for 2.7 miles. The average grade at 6%. Every rider sported soft-soled shoes–no clipless pedals here–and carried any extras in a sweet orange basket.

The winning rider reached the top in 18 minutes and 45 seconds. This put them in at just over an average of 8.2mph. On a 65 pound bike.

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NBD, right? Well here’s the full scoop from Strava’s leaderboard on the Council Crest. It is what Strava considers “hazardous,” which means that you take full responsibility for any physical distress you experience as a result of attempting the full climb for a KOM.

While the Biketown course race was not quite the full climb (about one mile shy), the all time leader for the full climb, according to Strava, averaged 11.3mph, and completed the ride in 19 minutes and 43 seconds.

If we finish the math here (OK, actually Strava did it for us), that would have the Biketown riders coming in at just over 27 minutes for the full climb (27:16). A difference of 7 and a half minutes.

A decent shaving, eh?



So what do you think? We like this kind of racing.

About Shane 40 Articles
SLO Cyclist's resident triathlete and cyclocrosser, Shane makes our site look pretty and is our official 'Cross and Triathlon Editor.

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