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!


am sure many of us can say that we love our granny. Of course, I am referring to “granny gear”, not our grandmother(s) … not that we shouldn’t love our grandmother(s). Most of us probably lost our grandmothers in death long ago and many of us no doubt have lost our parents. Hey, we’re getting old! Anyway, back to ol’ granny (gear). I don’t know what I would do without her. I am pretty sure I just couldn’t make it thru life … at least not up some of the hills.

For those who don’t know what granny gear is it is the lowest gear combination … in other words when the chain is on the smallest sprocket in the front and the largest sprocket in the back.

granny gear

granny gear

When I first bought my trike it came with a 11-32 tooth rear cassette. When I replaced it I went with 11-34 and am so glad I did. Now most of the trikes I read about come with 11-34. Of course, I am talking about trikes that have an external rear derailleur and a sufficient number of gears. Most nowadays are 30 speed. I know there are trikes out there with much fewer gears … typically 8. I don’t think there is anyway I could climb the hills with that gear range. Some of them are quite challenging with my 27 speed and 34 tooth rear cog.

One thing I have never done, but thought about, is to change the small front sprocket to a smaller diameter so that I would have better hill climbing ability. If ever it wears enough to justify changing it I will probably go with a smaller one.

Another option for those with money to burn is to invest in a two speed crankset such as a Schlumpf Mountain Drive.

Schlumpf Mountain Drive

Yet another option is to employ a 3 speed internal hub on the rear wheel in addition to the derailleur system and multiple sprockets. With this setup you can shift the 3 speed internal hub while sitting still and thus change gears … something which could be very handy when you find you didn’t downshift into a lower gear but should have. That is always bad news especially when already dealing with an incline. Of course, any of these options cost money so not everybody could/would/will beat a path to a bike shop to “git-ur-dun”. It is a nice setup if you can do it.

3 speed hub with cassettes

Just think … with a 3 speed internal hub and 30 speed external that’s a total of 90 speeds. And with a two speed crank gearbox it would be 180 speeds. To be quite honest I don’t know if a 7 speed rear internal hub is available with the cassette or not. Of course, there is even a 14 speed internal hub. I doubt if these are available with the cassette but wow … what if they are … 210 speeds … 420 speeds … 840 speeds. Of course, there would be a whole lot of duplication among the gear combinations.

Well, those are some options to improve on ol’ granny. I have to settle for what I have and do my best to …