steep hill 2

saw those words printed on shirts you can buy and thought they were pretty “catchy”. I think most riders would agree that it is a lot more fun and enjoyable going down a hill than it is climbing it. Many have reported reaching some pretty fast speeds on their descent. I am talking 40 to 50 plus mph. Velomobile riders have reported reaching speeds in excess of 70 mph. Going down the longest steepest hill I know of around here where I live the highest speed I have ever obtained is only about 28 mph. Here below is a picture of the hill I speak of. Looking at the hill one would think that it would yield higher speeds than that. I have only ridden my trike on it once as it is a distance away and not someplace I normally ride.

Tonkel Rd. hill 2

It is said and is quite true that we must climb the hill enduring the challenge and difficulty in order to enjoy the fun and thrill of going down it. Climbing a steep hill only using our human power can indeed be challenging. And certainly our ability to do so depends upon our physical condition and the gearing we have available. Low gearing is a must for hill climbing.

This is a 3 speed internal hub with  a 10 cog rear cassette … totaling 90 speeds. I would love to have something like this on my trike.


I would settle for 81 speeds. The option to shift the internal hub instantly changing the available gear down lower would be a ‘godsend’ as they say.

My tadpole trike came with 27 ‘speeds’ (3 chainrings in the front and 9 cogs in the rear cassette). The newer ones are 30 speeds as they have a rear cassette of 10 cogs. They come with a 34 tooth cog as the largest diameter sprocket on the rear cassette. My trike originally had a 32 tooth sprocket as the largest cog on the rear cassette. I later changed it to 34 tooth which definitely helped a little bit with hill climbing. Still I could really use a smaller chain ring on the front. The hills I normally climb here where I live are not anything like the one in the picture above. I would definitely need lower gearing to tackle something like that. Either that or I would have to make numerous stops to rest. That is one thing good about riding a tadpole trike. Stopping to rest doesn’t involve having to “dismount” and then struggle to get started again like a bicyclist does. And we don’t have to concern ourselves with balancing while going slow. We can climb a hill just as slow as we can manage the pedaling involved … perhaps at 1.5 mph … maybe even slower for some of us. Try that on a bicycle.

50 tooth cog on rear cassette

In the picture above you are looking at a 50 tooth cog . I have seen 42 and 44 tooth sprockets for the rear cassette and just now I found this 50 tooth. Given enough traction and strength in the trike build I would think that a person could just about “pull stumps” out of the ground with that low gearing. 🙂 Of course, one must keep in mind that when talking about a derailleur system the rear derailleur can only handle so much gear range. Going with such a large sprocket on the rear means that the largest front chain ring would have to be smaller in order for the rear derailleur to handle things. (I have an article on rear derailleur capacity.) So what you would gain in low gearing you would lose in high gearing (fastest speed obtainable). If we live/ride somewhere that has lots of hills to climb and yet we also like to go as fast as we possibly can we have a bit of a problem. Solutions are available, but they are not cheap. There are two and three speed internal hubs for the crankset as well as various internal hubs for the rear wheel. Some fabulous gearing combinations can be had for a price … more than what some trikes cost.

Many of us have one or more hills to contend with … GET OVER ‘EM! … and


FREE GIFT awaits you!

Author: Steve Newbauer

I have a few current blogs (tadpolerider1, navysight, truthtoponder and stevesmixedbag) so I am keeping busy. I hope you the reader will find these blogs interesting and enjoy your time here. Feel free to email me at tadpolerider2 at gmail dot com (

7 thoughts on “IT’S JUST A HILL … GET OVER IT”

  1. Ian Sims{Mr recumbent they called him] he could tell you anything about gear combinations. The best all rounder was a Roholf hub with a Mt drive. Next a scram 3 X 9 he did not like the ten, He said the 10 speed chain was to fragile. With a Mt drive He found the two speed Mt drive had a much better gear range than a triple with far less crossovers. Green speed now American since Ian died make a chain tensor that is similar workings to a derailleur but only tights the chain it does not change gears. It was originally designed for racing so you only had to adjust cranks not chain to for different riders. Trisled makes a similar unit to, You may have to adjust fittings. I no a guy in America makes a geared triple with a very good range but say good bye to near a grand or 800. A mount drive the similar price. The Mt drive and the American three speed you can change gears when stopped very good if you have a high speed emergency stop. Also when a friend borrows your bike and leaves in top every thing you can change down and spit him of your pack rack.

  2. It really helps to have an electric assist with hills like these. I found BionX works well for me because you have to pedal to make it work and give you the assist you need.

  3. Aren’t the gear inches more of an issue than the number of speeds, or am I being typically dense where math is concerned? If there’s a gear inch range of, say, 18-95 (like on my GS Magnum), don’t the gears simply divide up that range incrementally, such that the lowest gear out of 90 speeds is going to be the lowest out of 27?
    I’m fairly out of shape, so I end up using the lowest gear to go up many hills. I’ve hit 26 mph going down a hill a little less steep than the second one above, mostly just coasting (long hill).

    BTW, thanks for the blog!

    1. Where is your macho image or some would say back bone, Put it in the right gear Keep the right Candance and think of the
      fun you are going have on the way down.

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