Gradient Threshold: How to calculate the steepest hill you can cycle up


The best cyclers always want to stretch and extend their limit. However, they also know where their limit stops. If you don’t know when to stop and control your bike as a cycler, you might find yourself caught in an injury. This is why you have to learn various aspects of cycling concerning your bike. One of the most important things you can know is calculating the steepest hill you can cycle up. This is called your gradient threshold, and it can save you from crashing down and recording a severe injury when you go mountain biking. In this article, we have outlined workable steps and given examples of how you can accurately calculate the steepest hill you can cycle upon. Cheers!

Steps to calculate your steepest hill you can cycle up

Know your total weight

When you want to know how far you can go up a hill, the first thing you need to do is know your total weight. When it comes to bike touring, your total weight would be the addition of your body weight, bike weight, bike gear, food, and water. Most touring bikes weigh between 13 and 16 kg, while camping gear could most times weigh up to17kg. You would have to calculate how heavy your food and water are, and you would also have to know your body weight. When you add all these elements, you get your total weight. If you are going road or mountain biking, your weight will be far lower because you ride without too much gear, water, or food.

Calculate your minimal cycling speed

After determining your total weight, the next thing you need to calculate is your minimal cycling speed. When you are pedaling with a low cadence, you will fatigue your leg muscles, and your hearts and lungs will be less involved. You should know that most cyclists pedal from 60 rpm to 100 rpm range. To know your minimal cycling speed, you have to calculate how fast you will go when your bike is at the lowest pedaling cadence. This will show you if your bike can keep riding up when you get to a certain point and gravity attempts to reset your direction. You can input your tire size, crank length, and other necessary variables in your calculator to determine this information. You can use a gear calculator for this purpose.

Work out your power

When it comes to bike and cycling, power is measured in watts. If you want to find out your cycling power in watts, you have to use an exercise bike at the gym (preferably a recumbent bicycle). If you don’t have access to a gym, you can calculate your power manually by looking at the average body weight and the number of hours your ride all day. Doing this will help you to guess your ability in watts. However, it is best to use an exercise bike to get the exact figure, and further calculations can reflect more accurately.

Input your data into a bike calculator

After determining all the above variables, it is time to input them into your bike calculator. There are many websites and phone apps that offer bike calculators, and you could even log on to to get the tool. The online calculator works with great accuracy, and it is designed to let you determine a couple of things, including how far you can cycle up a hill. The variables you would input into this calculator include your power estimate, body weight, bike weight, and gear weight. When you input all these data into your calculator, it will give you your exact cycling speed.

After you have determined your cycling speed, it is time to start adjusting the gradient. The purpose of this is to increase the gradient until your rate matches your slowest cycling speed. This value will give you your gradient threshold, and when you ride on any hill steeper than this threshold, you would have to use more power or reduce your weight.

Take your threshold higher

After determining your gradient threshold, one of the best ways you can increase your threshold is by dropping the weight and increasing your power. When you successfully implement these adjustments, you would ride up much steeper hills and enjoy mountain biking.


When you are cycling, and you know what you can and cannot do with your bike, it saves you from the risk of injury and saves your energy. If you are a cycler and love mountain biking especially, you must learn how to calculate the steepest hill you can cycle up and ride within that range. Cheers!